Valley-made products -- from chocolate fudge to pistachios -- are in demand this holiday season.
"People ask, 'What's made here? What's local?' " said Diane Rosetti, owner of the Biscotti House in Clovis. "They want to brag about it out of town or back East."
With just a few days left to ship such holiday gifts -- Wednesday is the deadline for priority mail packages -- local food producers are busy baking, wrapping and shipping.
Sales are up at the Biscotti House, at the southeast corner of Clovis and Sierra avenues. The business makes everything from chocolate bark with chunks of biscotti in it to a "San Joaquin harvest cake" that is baked using Calimyrna figs, walnuts, apricots and pecans from the Valley.
Rosetti said she hired two more seasonal workers this year -- for a total of 12 workers -- to help with all the baking.
"We just have gotten slammed," she said. "[Customers] really are into buying local."
Buy local efforts have been around for years, but something is different this time around, said Stephen Paul, owner of the California Gourmet Co., which includes the Bouquet of Fruits store at West and Bullard avenues.
"Our customers are coming in wanting to make sure the money they spend stays in this county, stays in the community," he said. "There's actually dialogue about it now."
The company rebranded itself to California Gourmet Co. last summer, broadening its focus to include foods made and grown in California in its store and on its shopcgc.com website.
He said the store's traditional chocolate-covered apples are selling well, but so are new products such as local olive oils, locally roasted coffees and pickled jalapeños from Fresno-based Deb's Gourmet Jalapeños.
Darren Schmall, owner of ApCal (short for Appellation California), said he's also hearing from more customers looking for local products.
Schmall runs the wine-tasting and visitors center at Avenue 7 and Highway 99 in Madera. The business sells wine from 25 Central Valley wineries, along with locally made beer, honey and biscotti from Firebaugh-based Hottie Biscotti.
Customers often buy a bottle of wine for a holiday party, as a gift or as part of a gift basket.
"With all the national hype about corporate greed and all those kinds of things, I think that people [want] to shop with the little guy whenever they can," he said.
That's particularly true for gifts under $50, he said.
"They don't want to go to Walmart to buy a gift for their boss," he said. "They want to get something special, and that's where places like us come in."
Customers may also be turning to local products because of the economic downturn, said Stacey Grote, Simonian Farms' operations manager.
"People are thinking, 'If times are hard, I'd rather buy someone something to eat than something they may not even use," she said.
It's the first holiday season the Simonian Farms store at 2629 S. Clovis Ave. in Fresno has sold its $14.99 pomegranate wine. It's popular, along with gift baskets featuring persimmons, walnuts and pecans, Grote said.
Part of the increased attention to Valley-grown products may be simply because people want what the region offers, said JoAnn Sorrenti, owner of Sierra Nut House's two Fresno locations and its longtime online business.
Online orders, which come from all over the country, have doubled this season, she said.
She's not exactly sure what's driving the big increase, but she said the Valley and California have the quality products that consumers are looking for.
Nuts and fruit, including raw almonds and other healthy versions of local food, are selling well, she said.
"Every kind of nut and dried fruit from California, that's always been our most popular," she said.