Spring will be here in a few short weeks but much of the Northern Hemisphere is still knee-deep in snow. So I’m pleased to publish today’s guest post by Jenn Greanleaf who shares with us how to eat healthy, local foods in the winter.
When most of the country is covered in snow during the winter, eating local is a challenge because there is too much snow and not much of anything else. It IS possible to eat well in the middle of winter, and here’s how!
Year-Round Farmer’s Markets
Did you know that there are year-round farmer’s markets? These winter farmers markets are found throughout the country, including where the biting cold typically keeps people inside. Some year-round farmer’s markets have as many as fifty vendors or as few as five depending on the area of the country you’re living in. Scan the Internet to help you find these markets and, in some cases, they are advertised in your local newspaper.
Don’t Forget the Hunters
Deer meat, otherwise known as venison, is a favorite of many. However, some hunters have a surplus of this meat and they don’t want it to go bad. Consider purchasing meat packages from hunters, or bartering for something they are in need of. Keep in mind that venison has a “gamey” taste that some people don’t find palatable. Therefore, it is a good idea to make sure you like it before you start buying packages or trading goods.
Root cellars are popular among those who like storing garlic, apples, potatoes, squash and onions. Select the dampest part of your basement and make sure you are next to an outside wall in order to keep temperatures as close to the dirt’s as possible. There are dozens of plans for building a root cellar available in books and on the Internet. Choose a plan that best suits your home and the size of your basement.
(Root cellars are not limited to just potatoes. Image courtesy of http://sxc.hu)
Learn How to Can
Canning is done by some as a hobby and by others as a way of life. There are many foods that can be preserved in these air tight jars such as pickles, apple sauce, jams and honey. If you are canning soups that contain meat, you must use a pressure canner. Otherwise, using a water bath canner is fine. This is another opportunity to trade items with friends who have canned items you do not have stock of and vice versa.
Cook and Freeze
This is a lot of fun, especially if you are doing it with a group of friends. Because anything can be frozen, the biggest challenge is learning how to blanch vegetables and ensuring you have bags that are air tight. There are food preserving machines available that make quick work of cooking and freezing. Focus on baked goods, soups, produce, casseroles and meats. Make sure the bags are as flat as possible so you can fit as much in your freezer as possible.
Breads are just one of the options for cooking and freezing. Image courtesy of http://sxc.hu
If you have the space on your property, consider raising chickens. They are low maintenance and only require chicken feed, hay, water and a chicken coop. Depending on how many chickens you decide to raise, the size of your coop can remain relatively small. Just make sure they have laying beds and a place to roost. On average, you will see one egg per day per chicken if they are laying daily.
As you can see, there are a number of ways to continue eating locally throughout the winter season. Just because it’s freezing outside doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the bounties of the summer. The trick is to plan ahead, set up trades with friends or other locals, and make a budget for what you would like to buy.
About the Author
Jenn Greenleaf is a freelance writer who likes writing about parenting, education, news, and legal matters. You can check her out on Reputation.com.
This past year I’ve spent a lot of time with a friend who’s a hunter, fisherman and cook extraordinaire! I’ve been exposed to a traditional way of living, like eating wild rabbit and rooster (which I helped slaughter – what an experience that was) and I’ve been loving it. And for many years now, I’ve been wanting to do much of what Jenn suggests, like learning how to preserve. (Me thinks this year is the year!) Do YOU participate in any of these activities?