Have you started your Christmas shopping?
I will admit that it has been on my mind, but I haven’t gotten far. I’m sure many of you have a similar problem as me — most of the folks in your life already have what they need and get for themselves what they want.
My husband, Kevin, is notoriously hard to buy for, whether it’s his birthday or Christmas. He doesn’t need or want much. But when he does come across something, he doesn’t have the patience to wait and instead buys it himself.
This holiday season, I am going to be much more intentional about supporting Missouri farmers, ranchers and processors with my purchases. I can decorate my house, buy gifts and throw a party even Martha Stewart would envy with items purchased right here in the Show-Me State.
A perfect place to begin is with the Holiday Gift Box from the Missouri Grown team here at the Missouri Department of Agriculture. This is the second year of the gift box, after an extremely successful debut in 2020.
The 2021 version offers products from 10 Missouri Grown-member companies, including pecans, creamed honey, chocolate and meat sticks. As the team likes to say, “From pears to pork, hundreds of fresh and nutritious products are grown by the men and women of Missouri agriculture.”
Receiving the gift box could not be easier. Order online at missourigrownusa.com and have the box shipped anywhere in the continental U.S. Show your Missouri pride by sending a box to friends or family, then order a second box to enjoy yourself. Whether you are buying for yourself or a loved one, you will not regret it.
Do you remember the Pace picante sauce commercials of the 1990s where locals chastised any salsa they deemed not worthy of the Lone Star State? Those ads were humorous and certainly to the point about the superiority of their product.
You don’t have to look to Texas for delicious salsa, because several Missouri producers are bottling products that you will want on your holiday table. Find them at missourigrownusa.com.
There, you can also search and find everything from dip mixes to turkey, barbecue sauce to eggs. All the producers have terrific stories to tell. And don’t forget to visit locally owned boutiques on the courthouse square. Stores like those all across Missouri carry sauces, jellies and other items made by people right down the road. I bet you find some other hidden gems as well.
Holiday table staples
No celebration is complete without protein at the center of the table. We are pork and beef producers, so our holidays generally feature ham and prime rib.
Missouri is also a top producer of chickens and turkeys. Visit a meat counter or a butcher shop in your area to find the perfect choice. There is a good chance you can also buy a rub or seasoning made right here in Missouri that will take your main course over the top.
A few farmers markets are open all year, where growers offer root vegetables and other late-season produce that will complement your main course. A list of year-round markets is available at the Missouri Grown website.
Top off the meal with Missouri wine. Today, the state’s 129 wineries produce nearly 1 million gallons of wine, ranging from dry to sweet, and continue to win awards on all levels — both national and international. Go directly to the winery for a tasting, or pick up a bottle of Missouri wine at any retail location. You can also find a list of wineries at missouriwine.org.
Don’t forget the tree
Besides food and wine, there is one more staple to every holiday gathering — the tree. Did you know there are more than 30 Christmas tree farms across the state where you can pick that just-right tree to sit in front of your picture window?
Many have other fun activities such as gift shops filled with ornaments and other holiday decorations. At Horse Shoe Pines Farm in Jackson, Buster and Buddy, a team of Percherons, will pull wagons filled with visitors out to select their perfect tree. At that farm or any of the others across Missouri, make it a family memory.
There are so many ways to support Missouri this holiday season. Make Missouri agriculture the feature of your holiday table and your home decorations. Show your state pride and support your neighbors.
My Missouri-grown Christmas tree is already up and decorated. Now I am headed out to buy Kevin a jar of salsa and a bottle of Missouri wine. Maybe he isn’t so hard to buy for after all!
Merry Christmas everyone!
Chinn is the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and a hog producer from Clarence, Mo.