Can a person really eat locally produced food in New England in the wintertime? The short answer is yes.
I enjoy cooking and baking, in fact it's one of my favorite passtimes. When I first heard about the "Eat Local Dark Days of Winter" challenge back in November, I knew I wanted to get on board.
The challenge specified that ingredients needed to be sourced within 150 miles of where you live. The challenge also calls for cooking a meal each week featuring sustainable, organic, local, ethical (SOLE) ingredients. It started right after Thanksgiving and runs until the end of March. A time when places like the Farm Hill Farmers Market in town is a memory of summer and something to look forward to come June. Not particularly helpful when you're shooting for a local food shopping trip in January.
Winter Farmers Markets
One of the big resources for local food near Stoneham is the Somerville Winter Farmers Market on Highland Avenue. Held on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. from mid-November to the end of May, this market has consistently delivered for our local food needs. Some of my favorites coming out of this market include:
- Artisanal cheeses with names like "Barndance" and "Tekenink Tomme"
- Bushel bags of apples
- Cape Cod wines
- Heirloom purple potatoes
- Romanesco cauliflower
In fact, Massachusetts is experiencing a boom in indoor winter markets this year unlike anything it has seen before.
Keeping Local Shops Busy
Some items I cannot find grown within that 150 mile radius the challenge calls for - things like sugar, spices, and tropical produce like avocados, bananas and pineapples. So I create two grocery lists; one for local foods, the second for non-local foods that I can still get at a local store.
My first list takes me to places like the winter markets, and both lists takes me to places like the Natural Food Exchange in Reading that carries honey from Stoneham, Green Street Natural Food in Melrose that carries Miso from Conway, and Calareso's Farm Stand in Reading that carries Olivia's organic greens and a variety of New England produce year-round.
I love that I have the option of running out in January and grabbing a pineapple grown in Hawaii. However, I really love that I can also chat with a local farmer and hear his or her story about the care and attention that went into growing vegetables and fruits right here in Massachusetts.
The Dark Days challenge is halfway through, but I think this Stoneham gal will keep on buying local food so long as the farmers, cooks, orchards, and tortilla makers keep growing and making delicious local options!
What local food secrets can you share with the community?