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Eating Local All Winter in Stoneham

Skipping the big box supermarkets, this Stonehamite finds local food grown in Massachusetts in the dead of winter.

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 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?

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Melisa Passanisi Thorne February 08, 2012 at 03:38 PM
That cauliflower looks awesome? What fabulous meal did you make with your local-loot?
Amy Kreydin February 08, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Melissa - we made an out-of-this-world cauliflower soup using those gorgeous Romanesco cauliflowers, some of that artisan cheese and Shaw Farm's milk. It was so tasty! The apples were turned into a mouth-watering Bourbon Molasses Apple Butter and a batch of Apple Lemon Lavender Jelly. Mmmm!
Richard Auffrey February 08, 2012 at 04:50 PM
What often seems to be lacking in these "local food" challenges is consideration of "local beverages" as well. Local wines, beers, hard ciders, meads, sodas, milk, etc. It happens at restaurants too who tout their local foods and ingredients, yet fail to add local wines and other beverages onto their menus. A recent positive change was the new law that allows local wineries to sell their products at local farmers markets. For example, at the Farm Hill Farmers Market, the good people at Still River Winery offered their apple ice wine. Other local farmer's markets have other wineries too. Local beverage products deserve patronage too.
Amy Kreydin February 08, 2012 at 05:03 PM
This is true Richard, I think a lot of folks end up being surprised at how much is really produced right in their area! We brew our own beer (very popular at our Superbowl party!), source all of our dairy needs locally, and purchase almost all of our wines from Massachusetts vineyards. Eat local. Drink local.

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