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Home » From the Commissioner

From NH Ag Weekly Market Bulletin

New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food (December 15, 2009)

Excerpted from NH Dept. of Agriculture, Markets, and Food Weekly Bulletin

December 9th, 2009

Lorraine Merrill, Commissioner

As we were polishing off the last of the leftovers from the Thanksgiving feast, I read with interest a New York Times feature on the most searched-for recipes online in the run-up to turkey day. The popular website analyzed the most-used search terms across the country and state-by-state. The top category for the U.S. was ‘sweet potato casserole.’ But not for New Hampshire cooks. Pies are definitely the hot category here, with the highest rate of searches for ‘apple pie,’ which ranked #5 nationally. Second most popular search for our state was ‘pumpkin pie,’ also number two nationally. National #4 ‘pecan pie’ was even bigger for our state, a stand-out hotspot in the northeast region otherwise lukewarm on pecan pie. Of course the best pecan pie is made with maple syrup, a New England improvement on the southern standard. Regional patterns are obvious when viewing the interactive maps on the New York Times website. ‘Green bean casserole’ is clearly a Midwestern phenomenon, so popular through the heartland that it ranks #3 overall. Not so much in New Hampshire, where searches were 42% below the national rate. And at, which draws recipes from upscale Gourmet and Bon Appetit, ‘Brussels sprouts’ scored in the top ten recipe searches.

The New York Times website has another interactive map accompanying the article about USDA’s recent report on the increased use of food stamps in the last two years. What most people still call food stamps is now properly known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. USDA has also recently reported on the increase in ‘food insecurity’ experienced in the U.S. with this severe economic recession. Numerous counties, mostly in the South and Plains states, have nearly half their population receiving food assistance. Reflecting its affluent demographics, New Hampshire has smaller portions of its population seeking food assistance—but even here SNAP participation is up sharply. The article reports a pattern of sharp increases, albeit from small bases, in affluent areas. Rockingham County is a good example, with just 3% of the overall population—and 6% of children—receiving SNAP benefits. But those numbers have increased 38% since 2007. Coos County’s rate has increased at a slower rate of 22%, but has the state’s highest rates of food stamp usage: 13% of total population and one out of four children.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced five appointments to the 15-member National Pork Board. Best known for its ‘The other white meat’ promotions,the Board runs the mandatory check-off program funded by producers, and designed to strengthen the position of pork in the marketplace. One of the new appointees is the secretary of the New Hampshire Pork Producers Council (NHPPC). Lisa Colby raises swine at her farm in Newbury, Mass., in partnership with her husband Bill, who is the NHPPC president. Farm & Forest Expo visitors have likely seen or talked with the Colbys at the NHPPC booth.

Governor Lynch has appointed two new members to the Agricultural Advisory Board, which met recently. K.C. Wright of Elkins is publisher and editor of Edible White Mountains magazine (, and succeeds Linda Burroughs of Hampton in representing advertising and communications. KC is a nutritionist who brings experience in health care, education and business to the magazine. Rick Simpson of Portsmouth is the new Rockingham County representative, succeeding Caroline Robinson of Berry Hill Farm in Stratham. Rick is a graduate of the Thompson School applied horticulture program at UNH. He and his wife Beth own and operate Rolling Green Nursery, a nine-acre retail and wholesale growing operation in Greenland. Rick is a past president of the New Hampshire Plant Growers Association and currently chairs the NH Horticultural Industries Council. We thank Linda and Caroline for their service on the board, and welcome KC and Rick.

Lorraine Merrill, Commissioner

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