‘Tis the Season

The majority of winter vegetables are root veggies.
Photo Source/Picasa user duy

As the holidays fast approach and the weather cools down, there are a lot of changes in the organic community. In my hometown of San Diego, it’s easy to eat whatever, whenever, because the weather is relatively consistent.

But when snow is a factor, things start changing. One of the aspects of eating locally is that one must also eat seasonally. That means a lot of root vegetables. While I’m out today, I have a winter stew of carrots, kohlrabi, potatoes, beets, radishes and celery (which, yes, I bought out of season) brewing at home in my slow cooker. If it grows underground, it’s in that pot.

And it makes sense: Food that grows underground is protected from the elements. Thus, it doesn’t wither and die in the cold New England weather.

With the changing produce, there are other seasonal consequences, as well. Because nearby farms are no longer yielding surplus produce, there are fewer opportunities to get one’s hand on local food. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs typically end in September or October, as do many of the regular farmers markets.

So what now?

I reached out to my twitter following and asked how they got their hands on winter produce. The following are a couple of tips:

  • Eat seasonally. I know I mentioned it before, but it is important to develop a taste for those starchy root vegetables. I’m not advocating that one survive on potatoes alone, but eating seasonally will save money, as well.
  • Investigate winter CSAs. Though they’re not all traditional programs, various Massachusetts farms do have programs in the winter: Busa Farm in Lexington, which allows members to pick produce and show their farm stand; Red Fire Farm in Granby, who delivers their CSAs to pick-up locations throughout the city; and Enterprise Farm, which has the longest going winter CSA (November-May) and will deliver to the Boston area.
  • Shop in the snow. There are some markets that extend beyond the typical October end date. Search “winter” on the Massachusetts Farmers Markets database of markets. Heather and Carrie, of Local City Chicks, recommend the Somerville Winter Market.
  • Buy non-perishables. Though I much prefer fresh fruits and veggies, you can still get organically-grown goods in cans. Also look for organic canned soups and stews…. the warm stuff always feels better during the cold.
  • Get festive. During their off-season, many of the farms focus more on seasonal festivities and community outreach than produce. Meander your way through a corn stalk maze, take a hay ride with a cup of organic cider, pick apples, outfit yourself with all the necessities for Thanksgiving (which uses mostly seasonal food: yams, potatoes, cranberries, pumpin).

Many thanks to @LocalCityChicks, @MAFarmMarkets and Stonewall Farm for their tips and ideas. As more come in, I’ll be sure to add them.

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