Think Local, Even in the Colder Months
While being a “locavore” takes more effort than picking up whatever is in the grocer’s produce section, Sacramento’s rich agriculture provides more options than most areas of the country. Think eating local during colder months is impossible? Think again.
Think CSACommunity-Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for people to directly access farmers without making a physical visit to a market. Simply put, you can order produce directly from local farmers. Every CSA operates somewhat differently, but you can always expect similar benefits no matter where you choose to purchase. As a CSA member, you’ll receive a box of extremely fresh food, weekly or bi-weekly (your choice), full of flavorful fruits and veggies that are packed with vitamins. Depending on the farm you choose, the sizes of the boxes vary. Expect to pay between $16 and $25 a week for two to three people. Additionally, many farms have options for adding bread, eggs and meat to your purchase. Some farms will deliver to your front door—perfect for those who are busy—and others will have you pick up the box at a neighborhood location. Picking up your CSA box is always a nice way to meet other locavores who might share recipes or tips on how to prepare the food in your box. Many farms will include a list of recipes—helpful when a veggie arrives that you’ve never cooked before.
“The best part of a CSA box is you’ll get produce you wouldn’t think to buy at the supermarket. It’s fun—and you realize how many types of vegetables you’ve never tried before,” said Cory Glaeser, wellness chef at Arden Hills.
Think CreativeThe most common reasons people have difficulty eating a local diet in the colder months are misconceptions around produce availability, variety and taste. Perhaps in other areas of the country, winter can be more difficult for locavores, but not in Sacramento, where sunshine and rain bless the fields with an abundance of food options. The only difference with winter produce, compared to warmer months, are people’s mindsets. “There’s less variety of items people are familiar with, like corn and tomatoes,” said Randy Stannard of Soil Born Farms. Truly the key to enjoying nutritious winter veggies is learning to prepare them, which requires some planning and a little bit of creativity. Consider purchasing a juicer to make homemade carrot juice, or serving your eggs sunny-side up over a bed of fresh lettuce.
Think CanningTo balance out fall and winter’s abundance of root vegetables and greens, many people opt to can favorites such as tomatoes, apples, berries and stone fruits. A craft once practiced mainly by older generations, canning has gone mainstream, as evidenced by surging sales of Mason jars and a slew of bloggers writing about their tales in the kitchen.
Canning doesn’t have to be a difficult process, although it can take time if you’re doing it in bulk. Many families make the process fun by hosting canning parties where everyone helps in the process. To get started, you’ll need a basic canning kit, Mason jars and a bounty of fresh produce from your CSA box or farm stand. September is a perfect time
to stock up on tomatoes, pears and apples. Once done chopping, boiling and sterilizing, you’ll have delicious and healthy food in your pantry during the months when you least want to brave stormy weather for the grocery store. Arden Hills’ nutritionist, Melissa Edman, said, “When you can your own food, you avoid the chemicals and pesticides found in so many food products today. Canning is a great way to feed your family when access to fresh food is limited.” The canning process retains most of a fruit or vegetable’s essential nutrients, although there may be a small loss of vitamin C during the heat processing. To ensure a nutritious end product, Edman said, “Make sure to watch the amount of sugar and salt you add with the canned or jarred item.” One of the most valuable rewards for eating seasonally, even during the colder months, is how your body benefits. “If you’re eating seasonally, you know you’re probably getting the nutrients and vitamins you really need at that time of year,” said Stannard, who also suggests citrus fruit as a natural way to provide needed vitamin C during months when colds and flus are widespread.
By Guest Author Lesley Miller