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Cambridge Mayor Victoria Stanley-Jackson, left, shops at the Cambridge Farmers Market.
CAMBRIDGE – Generations of agriculture in Dorchester and neighboring counties have produced a culture keenly aware of where our food comes from. From the slaughter houses to dirt fields laced between cities. Regardless of what you do and where you work, if you were born on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, there is a good chance you have also put your hands in the dirt and felt the rich earth producing your fruits and vegetables, know a poultry producer, and recognize the distinctive color of John Deere green. Over the past decade, Cambridge has become a food destination, largely because of the quality seafood and farm-raised ingredients restaurants have right in their backyard. May 7 will be a celebration of the produce, meats and dairy as well as the chefs, breweries, wineries and others who use them. The Cambridge Farmers’ Market opens its season at Long Wharf from 3-6 p.m., and will feature close to 20 producers and live music by Chuckie Hayward. The market is free to the public. The Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual Celebrate Dorchester events from 5:30-9 p.m. at Governor’s Hall-Sailwinds Park that same night. Tickets for Celebrate Dorchester are $35 each – or $250 for a table of eight — and can be bought by calling (410) 228-3675, or through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. The band Blackwater will provide entertainment and food will be provided. “How many people notice that local restaurants are already using foods produced locally?” asked new Cambridge Farmers’ Market manager Cheryl Bramble. “As you become more familiar with local producers, you will start to notice them on your menus. Honga Tonk Oysters and crab meat from Dorchester Crab Company will be available in the Farmers’ Market, and you can find their products on menus in the D.C. area.” “An oyster from the Choptank River tastes entirely different than an oyster from the seaside of Virginia’s Eastern Shore,” said Ocean Odyssey chef Travis Todd, who will be at Celebrate Dorchester and locally sources everything from bison and oysters to produce, breads, coffee and beer. “An ear of corn picked locally tastes different than an ear of corn on the grocery shelf. With locally sourced ingredients, we have the ability to eat a product at the climax of freshness.” Fresh foods also provide a healthy alternative to fast foods. The National Restaurant Association listed healthy food options for children and minimally processed foods among its top five food trends this year, and nutrition ranked third among the trends expected to remain for the next decade. “The tomatoes you get from larger corporate distributors can go through all kinds of processes to keep them fresh longer while they are in transit,” said Chef Patrick Fanning, whose restaurants Stoked and High Spot wil be represented at Celebrate Dorchester, as well as his bakery Black Water, which will also be a regular and serving made to order donuts at the Cambridge Farmers’ Market every Thursday. Mr. Fanning purchases duck eggs, dairy products, and coffee from local providers, and also pointed out that the large distributors are also offering restaurants local products. “The wings at Stoked are bought from one of the large distributors, but they are actually offering us chicken from a Delmarva provider. So, there is value to this for everyone.” Purchasing local products also has an immediate effect on the local economy, bolstering businesses whose employees will turn their money around in local shops and restaurants. In Dorchester County, where agriculture represents about 25 percent of our local industry, this is even more true. “Right in our own backyards, we are producing a large variety of products,” said Deborah Divins, the executive director of the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce, which hosts Celebrate Dorchester. “By buying local, we have a real impact on stimulating the local economy, eventually creating jobs for people in or community and creating disposable income to be used in restaurants.”