Building a Culture of Food in the Adirondacks

We are in the midst of a paradigm shift with food in the United States. More and more people are very aware that what we eat and how it is prepared has a direct correlation to how we feel.

Paul Sorgule

Food has always been the center of the family, the core of a developing culture, a portal for historical events, and in the case of the Adirondacks, a significant reason why people choose to visit the area. This attraction has become even more significant in recent years as a new generation of farmers, craft producers, and chefs has chosen to make this pristine region his or her home.

There was a time when discussions about Adirondack farming were limited to a few very hearty crops, local game, and short supply only available in the warmer months. After all, the term "Adirondack" means "barkeater," referring to the only ingredient available during the long winter season. Thanks to an alliance through Adirondack Harvest - farmers, cheese makers, livestock farmers, and specialty canners have now aligned with chefs to provide a true interpretation of Adirondack Cuisine. As visitors learned of this connection, they became aware of the Adirondack region as a food destination, as well as a sport and recreation one.

Chefs understand that the key to an exceptional meal in restaurants is as dependent on the quality of ingredients as the talent of the cook. It is hard to top the snap of same-day pea pods in the spring, beautiful asparagus, or rhubarb and strawberries touched by the warmth of early summer sun. Local corn in early August and plump summer heirloom tomatoes need only a spoonful of first press olive oil and a pinch of sea salt to make a meal memorable, and the heartiness and shelf life of root vegetables like beets, carrots, turnip and parsnips can carry a chef's menu well into the winter months. Thanks to this new generation of Adirondack farmer, all of these ingredients are available to local restaurants and to the home cook through community supported agriculture (CSA's) throughout the Adirondack region.

The following is just an example of the connections that are being made within the Park:

Farmers Markets from mid-June till October:

  • Lake Placid – St. Agnes – Wednesdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Keene – Marcy Airfield – Sundays 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Keeseville – Riverside Park – Wednesdays 9 a.m. – noon
  • Willsboro – Thursdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Elizabethtown – Adirondack Historical Museum – Fridays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Port Henry – Main Street – Wednesdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Saranac Lake – Riverside Park – Saturdays 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

A Sampling of Farmer/Producers:

  • Windy Knoll – Natural Beef, Chicken, Pork, Fresh Eggs, available through Scott Florist in Saranac Lake
  • Sugar House Creamery – Milk and Artisan Cheese, Keene, New York
  • Rivermede Farm - Vegetables, Herbs, and Baked Goods, Keene Valley, New York
  • Fledging Crow – Certified Natural Vegetables, Keeseville, New York
  • Juniper Hill Farm – Vegetables, Corn, Strawberries, Wahdams, New York
  • Asgaard Farms – Artisan Goats Cheese, Goat and Chicken, Ausable Forks, New York

Additionally, there are 15 food pantries in the region helping to support needy families and many schools within the Park have adopted a farm to plate approach using local ingredients.

As you enjoy your time in the Adirondacks, take a moment to notice and even talk with your restaurant hosts about their connection to the source of local ingredients, support for farmers, and commitment to providing their signature on the incredible bounty that is present within the region.

For more information, and a complete list of farmers, producers and participating restaurants, visit the Adirondack Harvest Website at: www.adirondackharvest.com

About the Author …
Paul Sorgule
Paul Sorgule is a seasoned veteran of the food business and the current president of Harvest America Ventures, a consulting and training firm for the restaurant industry. He lives in Saranac Lake with his wife, Sharon, where they raised three kids.
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