Winter may seem like a time when nothing is growing and produce is at its most expensive. Fear not—you have options! A winter farmers’ market, a farm share, and finding local products at your grocery store are just a few of the ways you can buy seasonal produce throughout the year.
What’s In Season?
First, if you want to buy local produce, you need to know what fruits and vegetables are in season. Talk to local growers and consult guides, like this one from Field to Plate, to know what’s currently being grown and harvested where you live. This is helpful in a couple of ways: You can purchase produce at its freshest, and you can plan your meals further into the future. For instance, if you freeze or preserve berries and other summer delights at their peak ripeness, you can enjoy them again in the winter as an added fruit in baked goods or as a jam.
Join a Winter CSA
Supporting a farm by purchasing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share is a convenient way to obtain seasonal produce. While CSAs have more available during prime growing seasons, there are farms that offer boxes throughout the year. However, the frequency might change. In high season, boxes of fresh, local produce are typically available weekly, while in winter months boxes might only be available biweekly. Decide which option is best for you, and then find a CSA.
Some areas of the country have weather that allows markets to stay open all year. In other states, farmers opt to move their stands indoors for the colder months. This is especially helpful for farmers who are using techniques to extend their growing seasons, like hoop houses or row covers. They need to sell those crops! So, you might actually find a winter farmers’ market close to home. If you’re looking for a winter market, seek out a list of markets available around the country.
Purchase Local Products
Even if there isn’t a winter farmers’ market near you, you may have local products available at your favorite grocery store. Read labels, and pay attention to where your food is coming from. You may have access to local salad greens, eggs, and cheeses without changing your shopping routine.
Grow Your Own
While it’s not possible to bring your entire garden indoors, you can grow herbs, sprouts, and other greens inside. If you have a sunny spot, like a windowsill, these homegrown delights can provide a nice addition to your winter meals.
Don’t let the winter months get you (or your grocery list) down. Follow these steps to get the best produce you can. Where do you find local foods in winter? Tweet us @TomsofMaine!
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