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  • States:
    New York
    North Carolina

All across the USA, chefs are exploring the country’s culinary roots by letting local ingredients inspire menus.

This farm-to-table journey is a delicious one to follow: Seeking what’s in season and sustainable gives you the essential tastes — and experiences — of the region you’re visiting.

Great Ways to Enjoy Local Foods in the USA

The diversity of the local foods found all around the USA is stunning evidence of nature’s perfect recipes. The crisp air of the Northeast rouses sap from sugar maples and blueberries from the wild, while its cold, coastal waters deliver the perfect clams for chowder and lobsters for steaming. States from Oregon and Washington in the Pacific region to North Carolina and Virginia in the Southeast have world-renowned wine regions, but California’s wine country is also known for its fresh, light cuisine.

Warm days, cool nights and fertile terrain nurture grapevines and a wealth of other produce, so your salad greens or grilled pizza might be topped with tender artichokes or meaty olives. The warmth of the South ripens Georgia peaches and Florida citrus — oranges, tangerines, pink grapefruit — to colors as sunny as the days. In the Midwest, wide-open farmland nourishes dinnertime staples like corn and potatoes, influencing heartier dishes.

Across the country, microclimates foster specialties: Tart and sweet cherries that grow near the shores of the Great Lakes are found in the delicious cherry pies served throughout Michigan. Cranberries peek from cold-weather bogs in Massachusetts and are served as a crimson garnish in regional dishes. In Hawaii, volcanic soil, tropical climate and mountain elevation yield the superb Kona coffee bean, which is brewed and served throughout the country.

In many restaurants across the nation, you'll find locally grown ingredients and menus that emphasize the farm-to-table movement. They might be down-home or upscale, and their efforts may be bolstered by chefs who forage wild areas or tend their own gardens. Follow their lead to pick-your-own fields and orchards.

If you simply can’t wait for a taste, pause at a roadside farm stand en route (they tend to cluster in rural areas, as do farms that offer tours, hands-on activities and even overnight stays). Urban farmers markets bring fresh, delicious produce to U.S. cities. For example, Union Square Greenmarket in New York City is an established favorite. In the heart of the city, local farmers set up stalls, and cooking demonstrations illuminate what’s in season.

Along your journey, talk to the farmers, producers and chefs. You’ll hear stories of family land tended over generations, of a commitment to sustainable and organic practices. You might even come away with a recipe or suggestion for enjoying a whole new food in a way you’d never imagined.

  • Taste your way through hundreds of family wineries in California’s wine country.
  • Visit Vermont during “sugaring season” (late February to April), when artisans collect sap from sugar maple trees for syrup. Pour newly made syrup over fresh snow for a sweet treat.
  • Plan a farm stay at one of hundreds of farms that welcome visitors across the U.S. — such as east Tennessee’s luxurious Blackberry Farm, where you can join a cooking demonstration that begins with gathering produce on-premises.