If you're concerned about the environment, resist the temptation to order exotic foods from far-flung locales when Christmas catalogs start arriving in the mail. It takes a tremendous amount of fossil fuel to transport those foods.
Instead, think locally. Many Kentucky food producers offer high-quality items that are ideal for nearly everyone on your gift list, and buying local keeps your money circulating in your community.
At last month's Incredible Food Show, Kentucky producers presented dozens of products that received accolades from those who attended the two-day Kentucky Proud event.
There were awards for best sweet, best savory and people's choice. The Sweet Shoppe in Hodgenville won best sweet for its pumpkin fudge. Hosey's triple-crown honey received honorable mention. Bluegrass Dairy & Food in Springfield won best savory for its smoked cheddar, and Nancy's Fancy Cheddar Snaps of Lexington received honorable mention. The people's choice award went to the asiago sun-dried tomato cheese spread from Dad's Favorites of Lexington.
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There are plenty of other items worthy of being stocking stuffers, in gift baskets, or a present for a loved one. Beer cheese and cheese spreads
■ Allman's Beer Cheese. Go to Allmansbeercheese.com. The cheese-and-beer concoction made famous by Johnny Allman's restaurant on the Kentucky River in the 1940s is probably the most popular appetizer in Central Kentucky. Johnny Allman's grandson Ian Allman and his wife, Angie, of Mount Vernon, make small batches of beer cheese using the Allman family recipe.
■ Bruce's Beer Cheese of Paris. Call (859) 987-8413 or (859) 621-6307. Packets of seasonings are used to make beer cheese, or flavor-baked beans.
■ Catering by Ann in Richmond. Call (859) 624-5574. This company sells pimiento cheese, beer cheese, spicy pickles and barbecue sauce.
■ Dad's Favorites Cheese Spreads of Lexington. Go to Dadsfavorites.com. James Caudill (Dad) and Susan Bratton, founders of Dad's Favorites, offer smoky pimiento cheese, asiago sun-dried tomato, green chili Jack, chipotle cheddar and Swiss cheese spreads.
■ Evans Gourmet Food and Kentucky Beer Cheese of Nicholasville. Go to Kentuckybeercheese.com. The company was founded in 1987 and is one of the earliest beer cheese companies in the Bluegrass.
■ Howard's Creek Authentic Beer Cheese of Lexington. Go to Howardscreek.com. It's a two-time winner of the Winchester Beer Cheese Festival.
■ Confused Confections Bakehouse & Gifts of Lexington. Go to Confusedconfections.com. Decorated cakes, chocolate-dipped strawberries and gift baskets are available.
■ Lean Lifestyles Healthy Cuisine of Elizabethtown. Go to Leanlifestyleshc.com. Energy bars created by dietitian Lisa Smith.
■ Love at First Bite of Lexington. Go to Love-at-first-bite.com. Laura Manning makes a variety of fruit, cream and nut pies.
■ Nancy's Fancy of Lexington. Go to Nancysfancy.com. Traditional cheese straw recipe, but it's in the shape of a wafer. Nancy's Fancy Cheddar Snaps have a little kick and are made by hand in small batches.
■ Sassy Sweets of Georgetown. Go to Mysassysweets.com. Rebecca Stopher makes monogrammed cookies, cupcakes, cheesecakes, pies and brownies.
■ Triple Crown Cookies of Covington. Go to Queencitycookies.com. The springerle cookies are an elegant form of pastry art.
■ Weikel Foods of Louisville. Go to Weikelfoods.com. Pie in a Bottle is a great item to keep in the pantry. Simply combine with 2 eggs and 1½ cups of other ingredients, such as pecans and cherries, and pour into a pie shell.
■ Weisenberger Mills of Midway. Go to Weisenberger.com. The mill sells more than 30 mixes for breadings, batters, muffins and breads.
Meats and cheese
■ Bluegrass Dairy & Food of Springfield. Go to Bluegrassdairy.com. Smoked cheddar cheese and butter.
■ Brownings Country Ham, Paris. Go to www.paulwbrowning.com/ countryhams/index.html. Country ham by the pound, party trays, whole cooked hams and biscuit slices.
■ Four Hills Farm of Salvisa. Go to Fourhillsfarm.com. Four Hills fresh lamb now is available at Kroger stores. Lambs are grazed on pasture and are never given antibiotics or hormones.
■ Glier's Goetta Co. of Covington. Go to Goetta.com. Goetta is a German breakfast sausage that blends the textures and flavors of pork, beef, whole-grain steel-cut oats, fresh onions and spices.
■ Vito's Italian Sausage of Lexington. Go to Vitositaliansausage.com. It's a classic Old World Italian sausage made from an old family recipe. Grill it with onions and peppers, and serve in a hoagie bun.
Salsa, sauces, jellies and seasonings
■ Applecreek Orchards of Nicholasville. Go to Applecreekfarms.com. Products in the line include jams, preserves, fruit butters, marinade, barbecue sauces, rubs, salsas, relishes, and caramel and chocolate fudge sauces.
■ City Grocery of Frankfort. Go to Citygroceryfoods.com. Bourbon jelly is great over cream cheese or served on hot biscuits.
■ DeeFelice Foods in Covington. Go to Deefelice.com. Tomato-based sauces seasoned with Cajun spices. Simply add meat for a quick dinner. Seasonings and spices also available.
■ Dr. Dressings of Fort Thomas. Go to Drdressings.com. Gluten-free salad dressings, marinades, sauces, pesto and dips.
■ Fire on the Ridge Farm of Bracken County. Go to Fireontheridge.com. Hot pepper sauce and spicy barbecue sauces made with peppers grown at Fire on the Ridge.
■ Kentucky Specialty Sauces of Lexington. Go to Kyspecsauces.com. Bluegrass Steaks and Everything Sauce is Nancy Ward's signature sauce. She has added pineapple chutney, bourbon chocolatier sauce and Blanton's connoisseur sauce.
■ Maria Louisa Salsa of Louisville. Go to Marialouisasalsa.com. "Family friendly" salsa is made with roma tomatoes, an assortment of peppers and onions, plus cucumbers, garlic, cilantro and spices.
■ Rattlesnake Hill Farm of Bloomfield. Go to Rattlesnakehillfarm.com. Garlic jellies are great for roasting or grilling fish, and they're good on pork and poultry. Garlic powder and smoked garlic salt also are for sale.
■ Salt Rox of Lexington. Go to Saltrox.com. Salt products include a cooking block that goes into the oven, on the stove or on the grill to cook fresh vegetables, seafood, poultry or beef.
■ Screamin' Mimi's Salsa of Lexington. Go to Screaminmimis.com. Salsa was the first product Screamin' Mimi's offered in 1992. The lineup now includes wine and pepper, spicy sweet-and-sour and garlic sauces, bourbon marinade and corn chips.
■ Shell Bee's Gourmet Sea Salts & Spices of Louisville. Go to Shellbees.com. Bourbon-smoked peppercorns and sea salt and Demerara sugar are available in gift baskets.
Honey and candy
■ Hosey Honey of Midway. Go to Hoseyhoney.com. Richard and Dianne Hosey sell local raw honey in a variety of flavors.
■ KC Candy of Owingsville. Call (606) 782-2231. The company makes homemade cream pulled candy.
■ The Lexington Fudge Factory. Go to Lexingtonfudgecompany.com. Small-batch fudge comes in 8-ounce silver tins. Flavors include bourbon toffee, espresso bean, cherry cordial and lemon drop.
■ Mom Blakeman's Creamed Pull Candy of Lancaster. Go to Momblakemanscandy.com. This creamy candy is handmade in small batches.
■ Mrs. Rogers' Popcorn and Sweet Shoppe of Nicholasville. Go to Mrsrogerspopcorn.com. Popcorn is drizzled with white chocolate, and flavor additions include Heath toffee bits, Reese's peanut butter pieces and cinnamon Red Hots.
■ Ruth Hunt Candy of Mount Sterling. Go to Ruthhuntcandy.com. This company has been in business since 1921. Blue Monday candy bars make great stocking stuffers.
■ The Sweet Shoppe of Hodgenville. Go to Sweetshoppefudge.com. Patrick and Paula Durham make 40 flavors of fudge in double-boiler kettles.