Eating Locally + Seasonally All Winter Long
Throughout spring, summer and fall, when the sun is warm, the farmers markets are bustling, and the produce is abundantly diverse, eating local, seasonal foods is a breeze. But as winter sets in, it becomes more and more challenging to keep up the good habit. While some of us are simply unaware that local food is available at farmers markets all winter long, others struggle with what might seem like meager offerings. Even for devoted locavores, the produce available in winter’s long, dark months can seem monotonous and tired. Although there’s nothing quite like the thrill of the season’s first strawberries, asparagus or tomatoes, winter is a beautiful time of year, and it can be delicious, too. Read on for some ways to stay inspired to eat fresh all year round.
1. Try something new.
By the end of January, we are all a little burnt out on root vegetables and cellared apples. Maybe it’s because we’re in a veggie rut! Do you find yourself buying the same sweet potatoes every week? There’s a surprising amount of “unusual” vegetables available at the farmers market, even in winter. Maybe it’s time to give celeriac, kohlrabi, or sunchokes a try. It could be the vegetable you never knew you loved! Ask your farmer how to store and prepare it, check out our vast recipe archive, or ask your trusty friend Google. Try: Winter Root Vegetable Soup or Spaghetti Squash with Jalapeño Cream
2. Put a fresh spin on an old classic.
Similarly, you can breathe new life into old standbys like sweet potatoes, apples, onions, and winter squash by trying adventurous new recipes. Taste your favorite produce in a new light by using a using a sweet fruit in a savory dish, trying a foreign cuisine, or simply improvising. Try: Apple-Beet Salad or Sweet Potato Biscuits
3. Hunker down and stock up.
Winter is the perfect season for stocking up on staples. Fill your kitchen with onions, carrots, whole grains, honey, yogurt and more from the farmers markets. Then put on your apron and make big batches of chicken or veggie stock, soup, beans, oatmeal, granola, and other basics to get you through the week and the winter. You can live off large batch staples throughout the week, or freeze portions for later. Bonus: if you froze berries or preserved tomatoes over the summer, now is the time to reap your reward! Try: Slow-Cooker Black Beans or Basic Chicken Stock
4. Switch to whole grains.
Our farmers and producers sell way more than fruits and vegetables! Did you know Next Step Produce (at Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market) sells grains? You can find wheat berries, oats, barley, amaranth, wheat flour, buckwheat flour, rye flour, and even rice – all grown organically in Maryland! Whole grains are rich in nutrients like fiber, iron, and many vitamins and minerals. Try: Slow Cooker Oatmeal or Struan
5. Celebrate citrus season.
It’s too bad that our climate in the Chesapeake Bay watershed isn't warm enough to grow citrus fruits locally – but, many citrus fruits are in season this time of year. That means you can find the most delicious and least expensive citrus in supermarkets right now. And it’s fitting to eat citrus in winter, when the cold and flu are also in season! Since we all have to supplement our farmers market finds at the grocery store, take advantage of what’s in season further down the east coast. A little orange zest or lemon juice can completely transform a dish and brighten up any winter meal. Try: Tuscan Kale Salad or Sweet Winter Squash with Orange
For regular updates on winter farmers markets, the produce available, and ideas for how to use it, sign up for the FRESHFARM Markets eNews. Stay warm out there!