Winter — A time of relaxation and peace, a time to reflect. A perfect time to give thanks to our environment and all it provides for us. But how natural is it to consume foods from all corners of the world all year round? While I am grateful for every farmer and whose efforts don’t go unnoticed, I wonder how natural it is to eat, say, an imported watermelon in the north during the winter. Does the earth provide us with what we need right here where we are?
Every winter is a struggle to listen to my body versus what is available at the grocery store; which I might add is approaching a point that is not affordable for every household large or small. Can consuming locally be a solution to issues like rising grocery prices?
It sure can, and it can contribute to much more!
Let's jump into the pros of eating seasonally and locally…
1) You are supporting local businesses - which strengthens our local economy.
2) Most local produce is grown organically, if not within a reasonable distance from where you live; therefore increasing the overall quality of food and your health.
3) Supporting locals supports the environment by reducing your carbon footprint (which is hard to do these days, even when you are conscious about it). Every local purchase is a vote.
4) Sticking to the 80/20 rule, we should support fair trade and goods that a country is particularly good at producing.
5) Each week/month is something new to look forward to; you may be more likely to venture out of your comfort zone and try different local fruits, herbs, and vegetables.
6) The best part is cooking with the best flavors and quality that different seasons can offer us.
Going back in time to spring when the dandelions are popping up to say hello, and the bees and all the insects are zooming around looking for flowers to pollinate. Then arrives the fiddleheads, morel mushrooms, spring onions, and asparagus, oh my!
Moving into summer where everything is in full bloom from anything you want to grow; to the short season of saskatoons, raspberries and a variety of mushrooms— if you are confident enough to pick.
Fall is here. All the brassicas and root vegetables are ready for harvest, apples, garlic, squashes, and oh so many wonderful treats to eat still.
Hello, winter my old friend. I am so grateful for all that was provided to me. Walking through the bush there are high-bush cranberries to snack on for vitamin C (or the stinky sock jam version made in the fall— which is delicious by the way).
I am often stuck wondering what to make today.
Thankfully I thought ahead and was fortunate to be able to pickle onions, garlic, beets, cucumbers, cabbage, and purchase local jams and preserves. These are all just snacks and light breakfast options.
Luckily there is a world out there full of locally made things that I find affordable. As long as I am not purchasing chips, cookies, and all the things my body does not need. These items are easier to find than you think, all it takes is a little venturing out.
Here in Manitoba, I have a long list of items that I rely on especially during the winter. Local kimchi, sauerkraut, our mushroom farm produces all year long, pickled treats, frozen berries, dried herbs, local cheeses, maple syrup, apple ciders, cold-pressed oils such as canola or sunflower, wheat berries, wild meats, and of course, the creator's gift to us, wild rice. Just a few ideas that help me get through the cold winter months.
Winter does not mean we can not find locally grown produce, there are so many options available and each are unique based on where you live. So this winter, I challenge you to reflect and appreciate the unique gifts this season brings.