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Monday, November 14, 2011

Keeping Warm as the Weather Cools


It’s here.  You knew the inevitable was coming.  When we turn our clocks back an hour, it’s a sure sign that the New England growing season will quickly come to a close and that we are doomed to 6 months without the fresh bounty of summer.  Not only must we endure the drudgery of imported food, but what will we swap?  

When winter comes, the options for fresh produce dwindle and we have to turn our attention to different everyday foods and swap items.  To help you weather all things cold and dark, we want to bring you some ideas for nutritious, sustainable, local, and swap-worthy foods all winter long.

Photo Courtesy of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

Winter Markets

Although most of the produce grown in the Northeast lacks the hardiness to endure our winters, a few intrepid vegetables remain.  Most winter farmer’s market fare consists of root vegetables and leafy things grown in greenhouses.  To find the holdouts, you can go to one of the state’s winter farmer’s markets.  A few of the markets will get you through your holiday feasts and the rest will sustain you in to the spring.  A new market (that didn’t make it on the official state listing) will launch in Cambridge this year in case you were worried where you could find winter produce close to the city.  At the winter markets, you will not only find the few vegetables our farmers still grow, you will also find dairy products, meat, eggs, locally prepared goods, crafts, and activities.

A New Twist on the CSA

Even if you can’t bear trekking to the winter market in the January snow, you can still enjoy a healthy taste of New England all winter long.  If you act fast (the deadline is tomorrow!), you can still score a share at the Pioneer Valley Heritage Grain CSA.  For about $200 you can get a half share of unmilled grains that will keep in a glass, plastic, or burlap container for the whole year.  Supporting heritage grain producers not only makes your diet more nutritious, it also helps promote a bio-diverse ecosystem.  

The challenge with unmilled grain is finding a mill when you want to use your CSA haul.  Although her listing is expired, this woman in Arlington has a bike mill that she will let people use for a fair swap.  If you’re nice, she may even let you use it – burn the calories in advance and earn the resulting carbs!  If you needed another reason to try the grain CSA, think of how warm your house will be in the winter when you churn out hearty fresh bread.

A Tipsy Twist on the CSA


When all else fails and you just can’t bear another below freezing moment, there is always wine to keep you warm.  When we were planning the Community Sourced Potluck, we learned about the Farm to Table wine subscription program at the Wine Bottega.  This CSA-like program brings 6 or 12 wines to your doorstep via Metro Pedal Power each month.  The wines chosen are small production varieties and most are organic or biodynamic.

Armed with a few new arrows in your healthy, sustainable, or local food quiver, you will be ready for anything winter brings you.  If you need some ideas of what to do with your winter treats, check out the Lovely Locavore Ladies of Boston.  They spent a year eating only local food so their archived posts from last winter will help you find new ways to use your winter treats.

Lastly, we plan to bring you food swaps through the winter so you can enjoy some home-cooked variety!  To start, we are planning an epic cookie swap with the events team at Swap.com in support of Cookies for Kids with Cancer with the help of Glad.  We will link when the event details are announced but, in the meantime, start plotting your cookie voyage for December.

Do you have any good swap-worthy ideas for getting through the winter months?  Great recipes you plan to make with your grain CSA?  Share them here!

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