Every family has one: that one individual who doesn’t need or want anything for Christmas. They don’t have a list, and they can’t think of anything when pressed to pick something — anything. I’ve found that almost every hard-to-buy-for person can be pleasantly surprised by a new food they can try.
The importance of buying local has never been so important. COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on our communities, no matter where you live. Small businesses, like the hundreds of members of our Missouri Grown program, need our financial support this holiday season.
I thought of three ways you can support Missouri businesses in your area this holiday season:
1. Christmas trees. One of my favorite Christmas traditions was heading with our small family to pick out a Christmas tree. I can still remember my husband, Kevin, and my daughter, Rachelle, weaving through the rows of trees at our local Christmas tree farm.
I held the tree steady while they cut the trunk loose from the base. When we went inside the heated building to pay for our tree, Rachelle and I would get a cup of peppermint hot chocolate. Those are memories I’ll never forget, and they remind me of the importance of agritourism experiences. Our Missouri Grown team has a list, searchable by zip code, of more than 30 Christmas tree farms you can visit on its website.
2. Missouri wines. Although we covered the importance of Missouri wine country last month, a holiday gift list would truly be incomplete without a mention of the more than 125 wineries across our state. To find seasonal releases and specials, visit MissouriWine.org.
Our Missouri Grown members offer thousands of local products you can buy for your loved ones this holiday season, such as baked goods, meat, dairy products, eggs, snacks, beverages and a variety of household products. In the warmer months, you’ll, of course, find options for fruits and vegetables as well.
3. Holiday gift boxes. We’ve taken some of our most favorite products and created a holiday gift box that you can buy for yourself or ship directly to a family member. As an added bonus, the ordering and shipping system will adhere to a contactless process that will be safe for all Missourians despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are limiting our first year of sales to 200 boxes, so be sure to hop on our website and order yours as soon as possible — we’ve sold more than half of our inventory as I write this.
Our 2020 Missouri Grown holiday gift box includes:
- Merry Mistletoe candle from Giddy Up Soy Candles, Freeburg
- Harts Original sauce from Harts Smokin Sauce, Florence
- Pork stick from Schneider Farms, Hermann
- Dip mix from Thompson Farm Soups & More, Wentzville
- Salsa from Two Men and A Garden, Fenton
- Candy-covered black walnuts from Hammons Black Walnuts, Stockton
- Red Dirt meat rub from JB’s Spice Blends, Ozark
- Beef stick from Nadler’s Meats, Wellington
- Bar of soap from Blue Mound Soap Co., Cowgill
- Missouri honey from Guyla & Jim’s Busy Bee Apiary, Hillsboro
The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of an important lesson: the more we support our local communities, the more successful and independent we can be long term.
When our state saw a shortage of personal protective equipment and other critical supplies, Gov. Mike Parson engaged more than 200 businesses to shift their production lines immediately to meet that need. Our small- and medium-sized processors stepped up in a big way to be sure that farmers had a place to sell their livestock, and that consumers had access to protein when grocery store shelves looked bare.
Americans have always had strength in manufacturing the goods we need. That independence is something many of us will look back proudly on. Let’s do our part individually to be sure these small businesses survive and thrive beyond the pandemic.
To learn more about Missouri Grown USA and explore the more than 1,000 members they represent, visit MissouriGrownUSA.com.
Chinn is the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and a hog producer from Clarence, Mo.