Locavores, 5 ways to keep it local during the winter!

Locavore: A person who endeavors to eat only locally produced foods

How you define ‘local’ is depends on you. Most people consider local to be grown and consumed within 100 miles of where they live, but others think of local on more of a regional level depending on the ease to acquire food. Some of us are incredibly fortunate to have a large number of farms within 50 miles of us, but others might have to include 400 miles to garner the same number of farms and variety.

Heading into winter months, we say goodbye to all the wonderful produce easily found at the various farmer’s markets within an hour’s drive and say hello to the supermarket. The strawberries of June, the kale of July, the peaches of August (I make myself sick yearly), and the tomatoes of September are becoming nothing more than a distant memory. It may seem that winter leaves us with no options other than iceberg lettuce, Granny Smith apples, and California oranges, but wait… there is still hope.

Yes, it is much easier being a locavore during the warmer months since there is an overabundance of choices, BUT there are still goodies to be found on the off season if you are willing to adjust your diet a little and do some research and planning.

  1. Purchase Your Favorites During the Spring/Summer/Fall: We have a chest freezer that we use for our long term storage and throughout the summer we purchase some of our perennial favorites such as blueberries and corn. These are purchased at their peak, washed, dried and then put into freezer bags so that we have corn chowder created with corn from the Davis family in Jamuary. Blueberries make their way into our muffins, pies, and freezer jams. There are a number of online sites such as Freezing Vegetables from your Garden to help you get the most from your produce. We even cook and freeze our Halloween pumpkins so we can have pumpkin treats throughout the winter.
  2. Canning: This year we had a ridiculous number of tomato and pepper plants which meant that there was a LOT of them all at once. As much as I love both there is a point where just the smell of them is enough to make me long for any… other… vegetable. Thanks to a wonderful birthday gift, we were able to dive into the canning world and save all the tomatoes and peppers we could not consume or give away. The Ball’s canning book is fantastic, but if you are not ready to invest in the book you can visit their Preserving Recipes page to get started. Canning sounds scary, but it is actually pretty easy if you are willing to invest in the time. During the summer, seek out some canning classes if you would like to have a pro on stand by while you take your first steps.
  3. Winter Farmer’s Markets and Farm Stands: More and more farming is a year round adventure and although the outdoor farmer’s markets have fled with the cooler temps, you can still find places to purchase directly from your local farmers. I am going to list some local options for those in the Groton/New London area, but if you are outside our area, take heart there are places!!
    1. Connecticut Farm Fresh Express: Currently working with 49 farms scattered throughout CT, you are able to view the most current listings for those farms, put your order in online, and then wait while they deliver it to your door. You can still get green tomatoes, herbs, meat, cheese, milk, root vegetables, and a whole lot more.
    2. Conventry Farmer’s Market , Fiddleheads Coop, and Stonington Winter Market  : All are having winter markets!!!
    3. Farm Stands: Ask your favorite farms if they have a year round farm stand located at their farms. Our farm stand operates year round since we are not dependent on a growing season, but even more and more vegetable producers are using heated greenhouses to extend their growing season.
  4. Your Local Supermarket: Believe it or not, but a lot of grocery stores are trying to include local farms. Look for the ‘Locally Produced’ signs which should also include the name of the farm. This will not fill up your shopping cart, but it will help.
  5. Pick What to Keep Local: During the summer it is easier to keep things local so during the winter be kind to yourself and do not make yourself crazy trying to keep every thing local. Pick a few things to keep local and do not limit your options. Find a local bakery that bakes daily. Most dairies run year round so you can add cheese, yogurt, butter, and milk to your list. Any farm that focuses on meat will continue to have a supply throughout the winter (we will and do!). Seafood is another local option for protein.

We wish you the best of luck in keeping it local and hope that we will see you at one of the winter farmer’s markets!!!