8 Ways to Eat Locally & Sustainably in Fairfield County

Analiese Paik

National Farmers’ Market Week is over, but to raise awareness for this event, Connecticut’s Commissioner of Agriculture issued a CT Grown Challenge, asking state residents to eat one locally grown food a day in support of our local Famers. Yes, the official challenge is over, why not make eating locally a goal every week?

Here are 8 fun and possibly new ideas for sourcing CT Grown food, wine and artisanal products that make it easy to rise to the challenge...

1. Visit your local farmers’ market or farm stand and buy some veggies, fruits, eggs, dairy products, meats, seafood, bread, cheese, herbs, honey and baked goods so you’re stocked for the week. Peaches are in season and can be sliced in half, pitted, lightly brushed with honey or maple syrup, and grilled until warm and caramelized for a delicious but casual dessert which easily doubles as a topping for ice cream or frozen yogurt. Visit the Fairfield Green Food Guide’s Buying Guide to search for farmers’ market and farm stand locations and hours in your town. I highly recommend The Double L Farmstand at 3611 Post Road in Southport. There you’ll find everything from foraged raspberries and blackberries to fresh mozzarella and I guarantee whoever waits on you knows the provenance of every item in the store.

2. Visit Sherwood Farm on Sport Hill Road in Easton because it is conveniently open seven days a week and offers over 80 varieties of organic and conventionally grown vegetables and flowers, many of which are heirloom, plus fruits, eggs and honey. Tomatoes, beans, garlic, cucumbers, onions, squash, potatoes, lettuce, corn and cabbage are among the current crops being harvested fresh daily from this nearly 300-year-old farm. To make Insalata Caprese sandwiches, buy some local bread, slice it sandwich style and layer one piece with a few slices of fresh mozzarella from Double L Farm Stand, add thinly sliced tomato and fresh whole basil leaves to cover from Sherwood Farm, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with some coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, and cover with the other slice.

3. Go to a farm to pick your own. The CT State Dept. of Agriculture and pickyourown.org both offer extensive lists of pick your own farms in the state and it’s really a fun family outing. Crops available for picking right now include blueberries, corn, peaches and tomatoes. Jones Family Farm in Shelton offers blueberry picking that’s good old-fashioned family fun. Call the crop hotline at 203-929-8425 to obtain that day’s pick your own information.

4. Buy from a local specialty or independent grocer that makes it a point to carry locally grown food. Palmer’s Market in Darien, Walter Stewart’s Market in New Canaan, The Pantry and Fairfield Cheese Companyin Fairfield all carry locally grown or harvested foods and artisanal products. Whole Foods Market in Westport has all local products visibly labeled and sponsors a Summer Farmers’ Market Series in the parking lot from 4-7 pm on select Thursday evenings.

Photo: c/o The Dressing Room5. Eat at a restaurant that sources local ingredients. Health in a Hurry in Fairfield buys locally and grows some of their own food, Fairfield’s Café Lola serves fantastic burgers made fromOx Hollow Farm’s grass-fed beef, and The Dressing Room in Westport countsOx Hollow Farm, Riverbank Farm and Beltane Farmamong their purveyors. Other restaurants sourcing ingredients locally include Bloodroot Restaurant (read review)Cobbs Mill Inn Restaurant in Weston, David’s Catering and Napa & Co. in Stamford, and Woodway Country Club in Darien.

6. Order online from CT Farm Fresh Express, the Amazon of CT Grown, by midnight Tuesday for a Friday home delivery. You pick what and how much CT-grown food you want from their online store and they deliver it to your door. No minimums, no membership fees and no ongoing commitment. Even if you can find vegetables and fruits locally, this is a great place to find scallops, flounder, tofu and specialty vegetables like Maitake, Shiitake and oyster mushrooms. Just leave a cooler with ice packs on your doorstep if you won’t be home to receive the order.

7. Take a drive to Stonington to buy some scallops, shrimp or fish right off the fishing boats as they pull in to the town dock.Or ask for the prized Bomster scallops atStonington Seafood Harvesterson 5 High Street in Stonington, which is open Monday through Friday from 8-5 and Saturday form 9-12. You can’t get fresher or more delicious scallops because they’re flash frozen on the boat within hours of being shucked. Bring your cooler.

Photo: c/o Jones Family Winery8. Buy some Connecticut wine directly from a winery or wine shop that carries local wine. I just attended the Connecticut Wine Festival and some standouts were Sharpe Hill Vineyard’s Ballet of Angels, which is the number one selling white wine in New England and perfect for summer; the award-winning wines of Hopkins Vineyards;Miranda Vineyard’s Seyval Blanc and Woodridge WhiteLand of Nod’s Bianca; and Taylor Brooke’s TraminetteConnecticut Valley Winerywon the award for Best Small Winery 2009 in the Big E Wine Competition and after tasting their Chianti and port-style Black Bear, I can see why. Chances are your wine shop only carries a small sampling of Connecticut wines, so visiting a winery to do some tasting is a great way to sample the full line and choose what you like. Jones Family Winery in Shelton offers Wine Down Fridays, a celebration of local food and Jones’ wine from 4:45 – 6:45 pm for $28 per person.

Are you taking the Challenge? Let us know what you’re eating, where you got it, how you prepared it and how you’re enjoying it.