Even in perpetually sunny states like California or Florida, keeping your diet full of fresh, local foods can be a challenge during the winter months. Many popular fruits and vegetables are out of season, and fresh herbs also tend to be more expensive. Thankfully, you can still embrace what your local region has to offer on a budget, even when the temperature drops below freezing outside.
1. Focus on greens, citrus and root vegetables.
Sure, certain foods may be dwindling in supply by this time of year, but other fruits and veggies are just picking up steam. Dark leafy greens (particularly collards, kale and Brussels sprouts) are some of the hardiest winter vegetables, and extremely nutritious. Meanwhile, root veggies like carrots, turnips, parsnips and rutabagas are not only plentiful, they also store well for long periods of time. (Need some tips on cooking with root vegetables? Click here.)
In terms of fruit, citrus is at its peak right now—including grapefruit, oranges, tangerines and clementines.
Other winter produce to keep an eye out for:
2. Join a winter CSA.
If your local farmers’ market is closed during the winter months, consider signing up for a CSA. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is becoming an increasingly popular way to buy local, seasonal food directly from farmers in your area. CSAs come with countless benefits for both farmers and residents—you get ultra-fresh food harvested at peak flavor and nutritional value, and farmers receive payment early in the season, which helps them maintain a healthy cash flow throughout the winter. Plus, nothing beats the opportunity to develop a relationship with the people who grow your food. Knowing exactly where your meal came from shouldn't be a luxury; it should be a standard.
To find a CSA in your area, visit localharvest.org/csa.
3. Look for local food products.
Many grocery stores stock food products made by local vendors that are available year-round. Keep an eye out for locally-produced spreads, pickled foods, poultry, eggs, bread and fruit preserves at your natural retailer.
4. Grow herbs and microgreens indoors.
You don’t need a green thumb to grow fresh herbs and microgreens on your windowsill all year long. For herbs, all you need are some small pots, organic potting soil and your choice of seeds. Microgreens grow best in a shallow tray as opposed to a pot. Most microgreen seed packs come with detailed instructions on how to grow them.
5. Freeze and preserve summer fruits.
Nothing beats a fruit salad in the middle of winter made with stone fruit, berries and other summer treasures. Canning and freezing fruit at peak ripeness is one of the best ways to enrich your wintertime diet. Never made your own preserves? Trust us: It's not as hard as it sounds, and the results are so worth it. Pick up one of these how-to books in time for the coming summer bounty.
What are some ways you strive to eat local during winter?