March 14, 2013

A Locavore in Winter

Many thanks to Reduce Footprints, whose Change The World Wednesday challenge this week features my suggestion to find ways to eat locally in winter time. All in the quest to minimise food miles.

There are lots of ways to do this, including planning ahead when you buy seeds for your vegetable garden, and preserving the summer bounty found at CSAs and farmers markets.

Photo Sarah Charlesworth

Since my gardening skills are practically nil, and because I'm lazy (and because my freezer is too small to contain a winter's worth of food), I have opted for pushing my CSA farmer to start offering winter shares. I am happy to report that such a scheme is in the works for next winter. For this winter I've been hitting up the farmers market, which is much reduced from its summer glory but still operating, offering winter vegetables like cabbage, brussels sprouts (which is actually sweetened by snow fall), and a large array of root vegetables and winter squashes.

The farmers market in town (the one I can reach by bike) opens just once a month. For the rest of the time I go to the local health food store, which tries very hard to source its produce locally.

Yesterday's meal was a creamy vegan cauliflower and kale soup, with a spinach and mushroom salad (confession: dressed with non-local Niçoise olives). The day before we had an East-African groundnut soup: a vegetable soup enlivened with garam masala and a few spoonfuls of peanut butter.

For salads I'm also learning to use winter staples. For instance, I found a recipe for kohlrabi apple slaw, light and refreshing, and very pretty when served on some dark greens.

I'm re-discovering all the staple recipes lovingly developed by our grandmothers, as well as quite a few new ones, all available online through a simple search. One of my latest discoveries is punchfork.com: it's Pinterest for foodies, with lots of enticing photos. This week, with CelloDad going through a mild cleanse (fruit and veg only), I've been cruising their paleo-vegan soup recipes - if that isn't too much of an oxymoron; basically it's paleo without the meat.

Speaking of meat, that I get mostly from my milk farmer, so it's local and grass-fed, but we eat it only every one or two weeks. Backing off from daily meat is better for our health, and better for the planet.

Our other indulgence is (sub)tropical fruit: bananas, citrus, mangoes, pineapples and such. I mean, if we have a craving for those, we might as well eat them in the wintertime when the choice for local fruit is limited to stored apples. That way, when the local fruit comes into season, we can throw ourselves wholeheartedly onto the berries, peaches and other summer goodies.

Care to share your ideas for eating locally in winter?



Shared at Green Sisterhood's Weekend Reading List and at Small Footprint Fridays


  1. Other than bananas and dried fruit we pretty much go fruit free in the winter...that way we are SUPER excited when the first spring fruits are available and we gorge all summer. :) We "try" to eat seasonal as much as possible with all foods. Eating paleo helps helps because it includes lots of meat and root vegetables and hardy dark greens (which can be grown in winter).

    1. I'm re-discovering those roots and dark leafies in a big way! When I started I worried it was going to be potatoes and cabbage every day, but we've seen plenty of variety on the dinner table. But I may have to re-think the fruit: I might really have an insurrection if I tried to leave it out.

  2. I hate winter for eating fresh local fruits or veggies. We crave fruits and we get bored with citrus by March. "No more oranges mom!" my kids yell. Can't wait until I can get a hold of a juicy watermelon....or peaches.....or berries...

  3. I know what you mean! That's why I relax the "local" for fruit in winter, and get the (sub)tropicals. Nothing from the opposite hemisphere, though: it's worth the wait for summer to get berries locally!

  4. Oh nice ... I'm so happy that your CSA is responding in a positive way!! We grow veggies in containers on our patio so we're not able to grow enough to preserve. So I bought from the farmer's market and canned tomatoes and dried fruit. I actually dried the fruit in the car ... yep, we lined cookie sheets with sliced apples and set them on the dashboard of the car which is parked in a sunny location. Within a couple of days, we had perfectly dried fruit ... which we've munched on all winter. And, what a great fragrance in the car. I'm not sure if it'll work for juicier fruit but it works great for pears and apples. This year I'm thinking of canning peaches, which grow locally. Thanks, again, for suggesting this challenge ... it's been a lot of fun ... and I'll be thanking you this winter.

    1. A car's dashboard is the best demonstration of the greenhouse effect! I do hope you dried those fruits in a car that has lost its new car smell, you wouldn't want all that toxic offgassing to end up coating your nice dried fruit.

  5. Our CSA this year has winter shares, so I'm looking forward to joining that. Otherwise, it's canning and dehydrating for me.


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