Whether you’ve already begun your holiday shopping and have it under control, or haven’t even begun to think about the whole gift thing yet, one thing is certain—food is almost always bound to be popular. But consider alternatives to the usual high-calorie sweets and gift baskets of highly processed foods.
Indeed, with New Year’s resolutions right around this corner, this is a great time to give someone—or yourself—a way of eating better and more healthfully.
With a little exploration, you can find your own local resources in your community. Here’s our rundown of fun, meaningful gift ideas that can support better eating as well as local food, farms, and businesses (and don’t forget these as corporate gifts too):
- Our own Bounty from the Box cookbook! This is an amazing 700-page resource that covers over 90 different fruits, veggies, and herbs, with 360 recipes that are sure to delight and overcome any cooking rut. If you subscribe to a CSA farm, shop at a farmers market, or grow your own, this book helps you figure out what to do with all that luscious bounty. Also, for a limited time, when you order the book from my website, enter the promo code HDY20 to save 20% on the book’s $35.00 price (a savings of $7). It makes a great gift for that hard-to-shop-for someone or foodie.
- A CSA subscription. Do you know someone who could benefit from getting a weekly box of fresh, local food? Many CSA (community-supported agriculture) farms across the country offer gift shares or gift certificates that can be applied toward a weekly share or products at their farm stand. For instance, Eatwell Farm in Dixon, California, offers flexible gift subscriptions for produce and eggs. And don’t forget that CSAs aren’t just limited to veggies either—many offer meat, eggs, dairy, baked goods, honey, flowers, herbal products, and more.
- A gift card or cooking class from your local food co-op, natural foods market, kitchen store, or even cookbook store. This is another great way to support local eating, and it can help open up a world of food and education to someone who wants to eat better or learn more. PCC Natural Markets in the Seattle area, for instance, offers gift cards for their cooking classes and in-store merchandise.
- Products from your local farmers market or farm stand, or gift certificates to them. Just about any local farmers market offers gift certificates good for any products or foods by their vendors. Some, like San Francisco’s CUESA, which runs one of the largest farmers markets in the country, offers market coins that can be redeemed at any of their outdoor stands, as well as all sorts of tasty treats from their vendors. And many farm stands offer holiday gift baskets and gift cards of their own—Our Table Cooperative in Portland, Oregon, for instance, offers beautiful baskets full of local food products.
- A gift certificate to a restaurant that serves food raised or grown locally, or organization that puts on farm-to-table dinners. It’s time to support our neighborhood restaurants that source their meat, seafood, dairy, and produce from local farmers, fishers, ranchers, and artisans. Be sure to check them out (not all restaurants are scrupulous in their claims of local sourcing). A farm-to-table dinner is another fantastic way of supporting local eating, and it often combines tourism with great dining (see our blog post on this subject).
- A donation through a local food co-op or CSA farm to a community food bank. Again, many food markets and CSAs sponsor programs or partner with local food banks and pantries whereby they donate basic bulk food or even grow a quantity of produce for the less fortunate in the community. Contact your local market, CSA farm, or food bank to see if they offer such arrangements.
- A donation to a land trust. If you take the long view of conserving land for future food production, this is a great way to get involved and ensure that local, sustainable food will continue for generations in your community. Organizations like Washington State–based PCC and American Farmland Trust work to preserve land threatened by development for family farmers and environmental conservation.
- Gift of garden seeds, plants, and supplies. Know someone who loves to garden? Or has children? Give them a gift certificate to a seed company like Seed Savers Exchange or a garden nursery, where they can pick out their own plants and seeds. Or buy packets of seeds, pots of herbs, seedlings, etc., for them. This is an especially terrific way to introduce kids to growing plants and seeing where their food comes from!