December is upon us and as each day passes it is more and more likely that snow will make eating locally more difficult. I fear a long winter ahead.
Having started my challenge late in the fall, I always knew that I wasn’t exactly making things easy on myself- I just knew that I needed to make this change in my life, and it couldn’t wait. That being said, today is the first of December- and suddenly I see winter just around the corner.
I’ve been freequenting various seasonal guides to make sure I know what I will be dealing with each week at the farmers market, and I must say- for what seems to be a big push in the direction of eating locally, some of the sites aren’t all that helpful! Take for example the chart on the mass.gov farmers market page.
Nothing grows in Massachusetts when it isn’t summer??? I’d be in a lot of trouble if I believed this!
I knew Simplesteps had a good website with very useful information, so I decided to check with them about seasonal selections… but I ended up feeling equally disheartened. According to them, in the early part of December, in Massachusetts I can eat/ get locally: Christmas trees, oysters, snap peas, turkey and wreaths. What about eating my vegetables!?!?! Am I honestly supposed to consider greenery as my greens?
Luckily for me I live in New England, and each state is so tightly packed amongst the rest that eating locally for me includes Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Connecticut! So… what do these other states have to offer? It seems New Hampshire and Vermont have the same fate as Massachusetts…. wreaths are the big ‘green’ this time of year. But surprisingly enough, Maine (which I would have guessed to have even less than we do due to its more Northern location) is growing apples, beets, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, onions, potatoes, rutabaga, squash, snap peas, oysters, and turkey in addition to wreaths and christmas trees! Brilliant! If I source to New York I can add broccoli, cauliflower and turnips to my table, and Connecticut brings me pears and mushrooms! Now I feel like I have something to work with!
Knowing what is available feels like half the battle. It must be creativity and outright stubbornness that gets you the rest of the way though, because eating root vegetables and greenhouse leaves all winter cannot be an easy task! Luckily for those of us on the east coast, we also have a great variety of fish during the winter, which can help to liven-up an otherwise tired meal. I will try to post recipes and ideas for utilizing these local items as I manuever my way through the winter world of New England offerings!
If you are looking to start eating locally, the best advice I can give you is to start slowly and know that it is going to take a lot of planning. What foods will you be able to get this week? Are you going to be able to cook them so they are ready to grab when you run out the door in the morning? And always have some snacks with you!