Food labels are confusing, and often times, either misleading or unnecessary. A recent trip to upstate New York finally introduced me to a food label worth looking out for. Fellow New Yorkers, take note: more here on the NYS Grown & Certified program.
If you’re familiar with this blog, you’re well aware of my stance on food labels. In short, they drive me nuts, and I urge you to care less about label claims and more about the nutrition facts panel. You can read more on that, here.
Now back to the good stuff. In my current geographic locale, it’s all too easy to forget the lay of the rest of the land that is the great state of New York. Much of that land is farm - nearly a quarter of the entire state - and dairy is New York’s top agricultural commodity. It’s the third-highest ranked state for milk production (and number one for cottage cheese)!
My family and I are strictly dairy - no plant-based substitutes for us! - for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, we rely on the nutritional benefits. Second, it’s delicious (two words: ice cream). Third, developing relationships with dairy farmers has deepened my respect for all the hard work that goes into producing milk. The best way to thank them is to load up my cart with their goods.
Digging in to some of my favorite ice cream on the planet - Stewart’s, I noticed a sign denoting locally-grown ingredients. I’m not normally a stickler for the word “local” when it comes to food (where would I get my coffee from here in the northeast if I were resigned to only purchasing local? My precious mangoes and avocados? You get the picture), but when I can support fellow New Yorkers in the food industry, it feels like a win. While seemingly mostly an upstate phenomenon, The New York State Grown & Certified label is one I’ll be looking out. If you’re a resident, I encourage you to do the same. Here’s why, courtesy of certified.ny.gov:
“-Safety and sustainability - This voluntary program for New York State certifies farms are protecting natural resources and using safe food handling practices, with audits that verify that products are handled in a manner that minimizes the risks of food safety hazards.
-Good for our farms. Good for New York - Buying New York State Grown & Certified products not only supports local farms, it supports local jobs and local economies. Agriculture supports over 250,000 jobs and is especially important to New York's rural communities.”
Living in New York State and looking for Grown & Certified products in your neck of the woods? Click here to find restaurants and retailers.
Just curious: how do YOU define local food? Drop me a comment below!
Enjoy your food. Enjoy your life!