Local Food Inspiration for Vacation
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Spring is here, and the warm weather is beckoning us to spend more time outdoors and to take vacations in the months ahead. No matter what your flavor of holiday fun is (ex. camping, day trips to interesting places, or staying for a few days at the beach or mountains), food is often at the core of our vacation activities. Have you thought about taking advantage of the local foods available at your vacation location, or stocking up on some to create healthy, tasty meals to fuel your vacation travel? Let’s dig into some options you can explore for using local food in your warm season
Stocking Up on Local Food for Camping Fare
Whether backpacking or “glamping” is more your speed, there are great options for healthy, local food snacks that you can pack for your adventures in the great outdoors. Planning your menu ahead of time can help you be efficient with selecting what and how much food to pack to cover all your meals. Consider foods that are ready-to-eat (ex. fresh fruits, nuts, etc.) or that can be easily cooked in a skillet or on skewers. If you have access to a cooler, protein sources like eggs, cheeses, and yogurt can be good options if eaten earlier in the trip before the cooler warms up. Making fruit leather from seasonal fruit, like strawberries or blueberries, or jerky from lean cuts of meat, are also great options that travel well. You can even make your own locally-inspired trail mixes with dried seasonal fruits and NC-grown peanuts (which are always available!) paired with a healthy granola recipe made with local honey.
Local Food Travel Packs for Road Trips
Whether you are out for a day trip or on the road traveling to your destination to stay a while, chances are you will get hungry along the way. Take advantage of the nearby farmers’ markets and roadside stands opening up around us to stock up on some easy-travel local grub to give you good fuel for the road ahead. Why not use seasonal fruits to bake some muffins, or incorporate them into a mixed green salad? How about making quesadillas stuffed with locally-raised meat, cheese, and seasonal veggies? And for kids (and us adults that are still young at heart), how about a NC-peanut butter and honey sandwich on whole grain bread? All these meals can be packed in small plastic containers or bags and stored in a cooler to make meals on the road quick, healthy, and often cheaper than eating out.
Connect with Local Farms in Your Vacation Destination
Last but not least, what if you could skip the trip to the grocery store and have food waiting for you when you arrive at your holiday destination? A newer program emerging across our state is Vacationer Supported Agriculture (VSA), where local farmers, Extension Agents, realty companies, and tourism join forces to help supply vacationers with local food for their holiday stays. Local farmers work with realty companies to offer customers options to pre-buy orders of local food and have them ready when vacationers arrive at their destination. VSA programs provide vacationers with easy access to local foods while supporting the local farms and communities in the areas they are visiting. Most of the existing VSA programs are available in counties along the coast (and a few in the mountains), and efforts are being made to expand these programs across the state. Current numbers from 2018-2021 estimate that 4,175 produce bags have been sold through VSA programs in NC through the efforts of 24 realty partners and 69 growers in 11 counties working together with their local Extension offices.
Hopefully now you have some inspiration to include local food in your holiday activities ahead! For more ideas on how you can find and incorporate local foods into your home, work, and vacations, contact North Carolina Cooperative Extension at the Lee County office and ask for Meredith Favre, our Local Foods Agent, for more information.