Oh, December. It’s about this time of year I start to notice how my diet quickly devolves from that of a fairly well-balanced vegan to that of a brown rice pasta-loving machine. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with pasta (and lots of it, in my book) but one cannot live by carbs alone (though they’d like to). Especially if one has a toddler. But the more I learn about eating seasonally (and organically), the harder it is to transition from gorgeous fresh, local produce to items that come from the grocery store cooler. This doesn’t mean that I make like No Impact Man and eat only root veggies until the ground thaws — my freezer is home to a wide variety of frozen vegetables and I’m not ashamed to use them — but in general I find the winter to be a most uninspiring time in the kitchen.
There’s a couple arguments for eating local/seasonal. One is environmentally based: The natural resources used in storing and transporting perishable produce from one side of the country to another (or another country entirely) takes its toll on our fair Mother Earth. The other is based on health: From a macrobiotic perspective, eating fruits and vegetables not native to your home climate can disrupt your internal balance. Eating a pineapple in the dead of winter in Upstate New York is like putting super gas in your tank when all you need is regular; the expansive (yin) energy of the fruit has nowhere to go in a body that is trying to conserve or constrict energy (yang). By eating that which grows close to home we can keep our bodies finely calibrated to our natural environment, and so will enjoy greater health and vitality. And who doesn’t need some of that mid-winter?
Whatever your reasons for eating local — or reasons for not — be grateful that we live in a region with a number of winter farm markets to keep you supporting local agriculture and feeding your family fresh though our long cold season. Click here to find a winter market near you.
Readers, what favorite dish makes your toes curl in your slippers on cold winter days or nights? Share them (and recipes!) in the comments below!