Food & wine in New York State
Agriculture is the biggest industry in New York State and although the finger is often pointed at the USA for the chain store massacre of the farming industry, I was impressed by the omnipresent support for farmers on my travels here. In New York City it may still be the domain of the more privileged income groups who shop at the famous Green Markets
or have a vegetable box delivery scheme, but they are still prolific. And impressive. There is a tangible connection between people and local food here and so when you visit, it is easy to tap into the real taste of New York.
There are various ways to sample local food and drink in New York. Farmers markets, farm shops, pick your own and, for me, one of the most fun, is the simple farm stand. These are roadside market stalls selling the nearby farm's produce, many of which you find scattered all over the state. Most of them are unmanned and work on an honesty box (or honor) basis. It is hard to pin them down, but that is half the fun of it really, suddenly coming across a pretty white stand packed with fresh, seasonal fruit. And OK, it might not all be organic and it might not be as chilled as the supermarket mass produced version, but it's the real thing. There is a wonderful website called Pick Your Own
, which maps out all the places to do just that, and most of these have farm stands too, so it is worth checking out to see if there is going to be one in the region you are visiting.
You will find farm stands packed with fresh flowers in the spring, as well as some vegetables that survive in cool storage through the winter. In summer you will want to stop just to take a photograph of their splendid displays but don't leave empty handed. In the fall, the pumpkins and apples start to take centre stage and, in winter, some of them even stay open to sell canned fruit or veg, root vegetables, baked goods and so on.
A shout out for supermarkets must be given to one exception, however and that is Wegmans
. A chain of stores which is committed to sourcing as closely as possible to its store, as well as owning its own organic farm which works with partner growers, it was also listed as one of the top 100 companies to work for in 2013 by Fortune Magazine. It is a very lovely place to shop too, as I experienced in the Finger Lakes region, where I picked up picnic supplies to pop in my pannier before heading off on a cycle around one of the lakes. It goes way beyond the usual token gesture, its website giving weekly details of seasonal produce arrivals, an excellent farm fresh blog and they have an app so that you can locate a store on your travels or check here for a New York State list
Find out more about the farm to fork
movement and wineries & microbreweries
in New York State.