Sponsored by Hy-Vee (Columbia)
Polly and I love the farmer’s markets in our town of Columbia, MO and enjoy much of the local produce and products that our farmers and vendors have to offer. But, honestly, it can be a pain sometimes to drive across town and only at certain days/times of the week and for only part of the year.
That’s why I’ve loved seeing our Hy-Vee stores support and carry more and more local products. In fact, each of the local Hy-Vee stores here work with over 100 vendors, many of whom have at least 10 varieties of products. I’d like to share with you today 10 local items that I’m really enjoying and think you will, too. First, though, let’s chat about buying local. What does it mean and why is it worth it?
What is Considered Local?
This term seems to be applied differently across the board. Sara Fuller, an Assistant Manager of General Merchandise at Hy-Vee, explains, “Many stores say they carry local produce, but they use the term VERY loosely. We (Hy-Vee) can only call an item locally grown if it comes from within 200 miles of our store.”
Dan Elston, a Produce Manager says that Hy-Vee makes locally grown produce and other products a priority. “During the locally grown season, it is the focal point of my department and we have lots of custom designed signage to tell the story to our customers about the farms and famers we support.”
You can identify local items at Hy-Vee from signs on the shelves and even in the freezers that look like this:
Often the signs give even more information about the products you’re buying, including where they are from and how far they traveled to the store.
Why Buy Local?
From supporting small businesses to helping the environment to eating healthier, buying local makes a positive impact in several ways. Elston says, “Local produce is often cheaper than non-local. (It) is usually grown more sustainably and with fewer or no chemicals. Much of the local produce that I buy is organic but it’s not certified so I cannot sell it as organic.”
Fuller added, “When we buy local foods, that is keeping the money in our community and building it up from within….It also means we are supporting the environment. When we buy from local businesses and farmers it means there is less travel involved, less fuel used, shorter time frames between goods or services issued, fresher, better quality products, etc. We purchase anything from t-shirts to salsas to frozen tamales to wine…a large variety of local.”
Top 10 Favorite Local Items at Hy-Vee
As you guys may know by now, Polly and I love healthy food and the idea of making an impact in our community. Buying local makes me so happy as I know I’m doing that and more! Over the years, I’ve tried many local products, but here are 10 of our favorites at our local Hy-Vees right now.
I have a soft place in my heart for these tasty, high-protein, gluten-free frozen waffles. That’s because our good friend, Clint Matthews, helped start and runs Start Right Foods. He and his business partner make every single one of these waffles. My whole family loves the taste of them, and we think the winning flavor is Chocolate Espresso!
2. Bekemeier’s Pure Raw Honey
I always look for local raw honey because of the many benefits of consuming raw vs. the pasteurized counterpart, including helping combat seasonal allergies. Read about all the health benefits here.
3. Local Coffee
I know, I know. The beans aren’t grown locally, but the hands that roast, package, and distribute them are locals! Hy-Vee offers several varieties of locally roasted coffee. My husband’s and my favorite, which is now our Christmas morning tradition, is Kaldi’s Highlander Grogg. It might just change your life.
4. Goatsbeard Cheese from Goatsbeard Farm – This cheese. This cheese is like no other goat cheese and is perhaps my favorite cheese of all time. Serve with crackers for an awesome snack or appetizer. Look for it in Hy-Vee’s HealthMarket.
5. Show Me Farms Beef
We’ve eaten Show Me Farms’ ground beef, roasts, and steaks many times over the years. a) Their beef just tastes awesome. b) They feed their cattle a proprietary blend of flax seed and other healthy ingredients, increasing the Omega-3 content in the beef by over 600%!
6. Show Me Farms Whole Pasture-Raised Chicken
Conventional chickens are pumped full of antibiotics and chemicals to keep them alive. These pasture-raised chickens, though, are grown the old-fashioned way, at a family farm where they care about their animals and provide them with good, healthy diets and lifestyles. The meat is healthier, tastier, and better for you than industrial chicken. Here’s what I consider to be about the best way to cook a whole chicken.
7. Bacon and pork from Patchwork Farms
Like Show Me Farms, the animals on Patchwork Farms are raised the old-fashioned way using sustainable and humane growing standards. This, in turn, means the meat is healthier and tastier! Try my No-Fail Bacon recipe or Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin using one of their products.
8. Granola Bars and other breads from Uprise Bakery
Skip the Kind bars and go for these! Uprise’s granola bars are delish and full of all good-for-you ingredients. I consider them a treat! I’m also a big fan of the homemade bakery breads offered at various times of the week at Hy-Vee. Disclaimer: I couldn’t wait until I got home to start eating my granola bar, so this is the photo you get!
Homemade and healthy, these loaves are worth the cost! There are no preservatives or additives in this product like the ones that sit on the shelves for weeks. But hurry, they sell out fast when they are brought in to Hy-Vee weekly. I personally like the Honey Oat the best.
10. Local eggs
All the Hy-Vees carry different brands of local eggs, and I think I’ve tried just about all of them. The yolks are almost always brighter orange (read: healthier!) and the prices are usually lower than organic. I also like knowing that the chickens are treated humanely and oftentimes are pasture-raised. Some local egg brands you might see are: Stanton Brothers, Linnenbringer Farms, and more.