As Maryland continues to navigate the realities of social-distancing and local businesses face uncharted territory, the quest to maintain normalcy is at the top of everyone’s list. Keeping healthy and fresh food on the table has never been more important. While access to food products and restaurants have become more limited, and trips to the grocery store have become a bit intimidating, numerous alternatives have started to “sprout up” all over the state!
The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in an era in which the importance of supporting local businesses and farmers has become magnified. Under Governor Larry Hogan’s Stay At Home Order, food and agriculture businesses remain essential, including grocery stores, farmers markets, farm stands, and restaurants offering carry-out and delivery service. Many of these businesses have struggled to stay involved while consumers are left wondering how they can continue buy local. Fortunately, Marylanders have a cornucopia of resources right at their fingertips.
Maryland’s Best, a program of Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), is working to connect consumers with farmers and seafood producers that are open and providing fresh, local food products. This interactive map features information on local agricultural and seafood producers from across the state. Each business listing has information on product availability, how to order, and options for pick-up or delivery. Many Maryland farmers markets also remain open with protocols in place to promote social distancing, as well as effective cleaning and sanitization.
There has also been a push toward carry-out and delivery options that provide a safe alternative while still keeping local bars, restaurants, and food establishments afloat. The social media campaign “Keep Calm and Carry Out” is a partnership between MDA, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Department of Commerce’s Office of Tourism, and the Maryland Restaurant Association. This campaign promotes restaurants across the state that continue to offer your favorite dishes. A full list of these restaurants can be found here.
“The Maryland Department of Commerce’s Office of Tourism has been working to keep our citizens engaged with supporting restaurants and other food and beverage-related businesses that are essential and remain open,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz. “We are pleased to partner with our sister state agencies to encourage support of our local food chain, from farmers and seafood producers to restaurants and ultimately to someone’s dining table.”
In a time that is full of uncertainty, one thing is for sure—buying local and supporting Maryland businesses has “farmed” a new edge. Farmers, food producers, and establishments have continued to remain creative and flexible in an effort to serve Marylanders fresh and local products in a safe environment. Marylanders working together to overcome obstacles has provided for a new start and kept our favorite foods and fresh products on the table.