Eating locally is one of the best ways to support your local economy. Your food dollars are put towards supporting the farmers in your area and less money is wasted on the fuel and transportation costs that accrue while trucking foods in from all over the world. But unless you live in a tropical or warm climate, how do you continue to eat locally during the colder winter months? Here are 5 tips on how to eat local in the winter.
How to Eat Local in the Winter
The most important thing to remember when planning a local diet, is to plan ahead. You need to know your growing season, even if you don’t grow anything yourself (which you should, by the way!). You need to know when strawberries, peaches and apples are ripe and ready to be picked. You need to know when all your favorite summertime vegetables are at their peak. If you know these things you can use the knowledge to plan ahead and stock your pantry and freezer for the months when things won’t be so plentiful. When things are green and growing, get out there and…
- Visit pick-your-own farms and fill your freezer with fresh berries
- Buy tomatoes, potatoes, squash, etc. in bulk from a local farm or farmer’s market and can, freeze or store the bounty
- Visit a local orchard and can fresh peaches, applesauce or other tree fruits
- Start your own garden and eat fresh all summer, and store the excess for the colder months
Taking these steps will ensure you have a full stock of local foods to eat when the ground is frozen and the trees are barren.
Eat Your Roots and Greens
Roots such as turnips and carrots can be grown in cold frames or under cloches even in very cold temperatures. The same goes for many greens, such as collards and kale. If you don’t grow your own, search out a local farm that grows these crops throughout the winter. Add these to your stored potatoes and squash, or your local meat, eggs and cheese and you will have a feast!
Find a Winter CSA
CSAs aren’t only for the summer. Search your area resources for many of the “winter CSA” options that are available. Pickings will be slimmer, but you will still get a box of fresh, local produce each week to add to your meals. Some areas, such as here in Western North Carolina, there is even a winter CSA that provides customers with preserved foods- they spend all summer collecting and preserving the summer bounty and then pass it out to customers all winter long.
Sprouts are a highly nutritious and filling addition to any meal and they are quite easy to grow. It takes less than a week and you can have a constant supply of fresh sprouts or micro greens for your meals.
Eggs, Meat, and Dairy
These things are all available year round locally. In the summer months it is easy to fill up on fresh veggies and fruits, but in the winter consider upping your intake of these high proteins- they will keep you full and warm in the cold months!
If you try to eat a mostly or all local diet, how do you keep your promise in the colder months? I’d love to hear your suggestions on eating local in the winter!