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Eating Locally Year Round

Of course, we all know the environmental benefits of eating locally grown food.   In much of the country, it's still tricky to eat locally year round.   It's tricky, but not impossible.  

Here are some tips to help you:  

  • Become a seasonally savvy shopper and learn what’s in season in your neck of the woods and when.  This makes it easier to shop for local food.  Epicurious has an easy-to-use map, making it quick and simple to learn what’s in season.  You can even click on the list to get recipes in case you're stumped.  
     
  • Whole Foods Markets often have locally grown produce, even in the winter.  Many of these items come from local greenhouses and root cellars.  Even if the local produce pickins are slim, Whole Foods Markets often has other local foods, such as meat, baked goods, tomato sauces, ice creams, and more.  Every Whole Foods Market in the North Atlantic region has a Forager.  Kathleen Connolly, Forager at the Newton, Massachusetts Whole Foods Market explains:  "Every Whole Foods Market in our region has a forager whose duties, in addition to their everyday responsibilities, are finding local companies whose goals and mission are similar to ours and helping them bring their product to sell at Whole Foods."
     
  • Get familiar with LocalHarvest.org.  They are a fantastic resource to help you find local foods – even during the off-season.  You might be surprised to find winter farmer’s markets (I just found one near me!) and CSAs offering greenhouse grown produce, vegetables stored in root cellars, and meat.  
     
  • Think about what our ancestors did:  they made their food last throughout the winter.  You can freeze, store root veggies, or can.  I’m a big fan of canning. How about some tomato sauce, salsa, jam, or applesauce?  PickYourOwn.org is a helpful resource for canning practically anything.  Freezing is an effortless option.  Most recently, we’ve frozen pesto sauce (which you cannot can, so freezing is the best option to preserve), apple pies using apples that we picked at local orchards, and marinara sauce from backyard tomatoes!Back in the olden days, many homes also had root cellars.  Root vegetables and squash are readily available in chillier climates right now, so stock up!  Get your hands on some local yams, squash, carrots, and turnips and store them in a damp, dark spot in your basement.  Here are some tips on building a root cellar.  If your house is old, it may already have a root cellar!  It's too late to can stuff for this winter, so when planning your garden, think about things you can preserve for next winter.  

  • Start an indoor garden.  We have an Aerogarden in our kitchen, which allows us to have fresh homegrown produce year round.  It uses hydroponics, so there’s no soil or mess.  Check out the photo below...we just started getting tomatoes!  They're not ready for harvest so I can't tell you how they taste, but we'll find out soon and I'll report back.

Aerogarden TomatoesAerogarden Tomatoes

This was originally posted on February 12, 2012.