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Thursday, February 14, 2013

The How to Be a Winter Locavore Series: #1 Finding Local Foods in Winter

Carrots, available locally in winter

  So you want to support the local economy, farmers and businesses.  But it’s winter (at least for some, sorry Aussies, save this one for later!).  It’s cold, and not much is growing.  Sure, some people will shake their finger and say “You should have been preparing in summer.  You should have canned and frozen things, you should have dried and preserved.” 

Yes, great, thanks.  But maybe you were the grasshopper instead of the ant this year (you know, that kid’s story about the grasshopper that sang all summer and starved in winter until his buddy, the food hoarding ant, called him inside?)  

What if you didn't can and preserve and dehydrate, but now you want to go local?

Well I won’t be your ant, but hopefully this new series will provide some suggestions for budding locavores, and maybe even you ants will find something useful, too.  

So this is the first in a series I’ll be writing over the next few weeks on being a locavore in winter.  This week I’ll be talking about how and way to find local foods and products

I also want to share ways to make use of some of the things you can find at the markets.  Not everyone knows what to do with watermelon radishes, or turnips, so I’ll be showcasing different winter veggies each post with suggestions on how to make use of them and hopefully you'll share some of your suggestions as well! 

Rest assured, there are ways to find and support local farmers and companies in the dead of winter! 

 At the bottom of the post you’ll find a list of websites that allow you to search for local, organic and sustainable farms, markets, and CSAs in your area.

First, a short list of reasons to support your local farmers and food producers through the coldest months of the year: 

1) It’s eco-friendly.  Food travels less distance to your table, so less pollution is produced.  

2) It puts money into the local economy.  Shopping local creates jobs and keeps money in the area, rather than sending it to some corporate headquarters in far, faraway land to people who don’t care about you. 

3) It builds relationships between consumers and farmers.  Whys is this good?  Because you get to know where your food comes from and what’s put into it.  Also, it means that farmers are able to get feedback quickly, and can adapt to the desires of their customers quickly, rather than the small chance that your preferences will get passed on to corporate land. 

4) It sends a message to “the powers that be.”  Hopefully, if we stop putting money into a broken system that exploits workers in other countries and to big, faceless corporations with no concern for our health and well-being, the gov’t will stop providing subsidies for these companies, and start subsidizing the little local guys, thereby making local and organic products more affordable.  

5) Find new foods and encourage food diversity! (updated Feb 18) I totally forgot to mention this, and this is probably the best part!!  When you get stuff from a CSA box or farmers market, or small produce stand, you can find super cool and unusual seasonal or heirloom fruits and veggies that don't make it to the regular markets because of low demand, and people not knowing what to do with them.  Heirloom veggies have a stronger chance of surviving when people support the farmers who grow them.  For example, you might not find gorgeous Watermelon Radishes at Wal-Mart, but you will see them at the farmers market.  To use them, try Dill Pickled Watermelon Radishes!
So where can you find local food in winter?

1) Winter Farmers Markets: The obvious place to start your search is your local farmers market.  Local farmers bring in their stored produce, and the cold weather crops. 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s blog, they are now listing 52% MORE winter farmer’s markets than last year.  So if you’re in the US, you can check out the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory

Canadians: My apologies, guys!  I can’t seem to find one site that provides a full listing of markets across Canada, but if you check out the links at the bottom of the page you can search by postal code for local, sustainable food sources.  Also, I’m sure if you search for your city/province you’ll come up with something.  For example, if you’re in the Vancouver area, you can check out a listing of markets in the area at  

2) CSA boxes: Ok, some of these are done for the winter, and usually require signing up well ahead of time, but there are still ways to get involved in Community Supported Agriculture.  While produce *might* be slim in the CSA boxes, some farms offer meat, dairy, and eggs through the winter.

3) Co-op shopping: Local co-operative businesses often carry local produce throughout the year when it’s available, as well as other food products.  This is usually marked, too, so you know where your food comes from.   

4) Your Local Market: Many markets are starting to carry, and label, local products.  While this might not always include local produce, you can start by choosing local canned or prepared food products over ones that come from the other side of the country (or another country!  How can meat be a product of the USA, Canada AND Mexico?!)  If they don’t label local products, ask them.  The more people that ask, the more likely they are to listen. 

5) Your Workplace: Some companies actually buy into a CSA as a group, spreading the cost among participants.  Ask your company about the possibility of arranging something like this with your local farmers. 

 These links will help you find markets, CSAs and other ways to find local foods in North America.

For more in the Winter Locavore series, check out: 

#2a) Quick Dill Pickled Watermelon Radish 

How do YOU find local food in winter?  
Beets, available locally in winter

This post was shared on the following great linky parties: Musings of a Housewife, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Natural Living Monday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Tasteful Tuesdays, Fat Tuesday,Gluten Free Wednesdays, Wheat Free Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Tasty Traditions, Foodie Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Healthy Vegan Fridays, Foodie Friday, Fight Back Friday, Small Footprint Fridays,


  1. Interesting article! We don't have access to markets and CSA's easily here because of where we live, but we try to eat winter vegetables in the winter and eat garden veg when we grow it. I like it this way because I always seem to crave the vegetables as they come into season and take a break from the ones we eat like crazy (mostly zucchini!) Although I did break down and buy a bunch of small zucchini's marked down at the store the other day...I couldn't resist! Thanks for sharing this series...I will be reading!

    1. Hi Nancy, it's awesome if you can grow your own! I'm envious of those who can - I have a small apartment with no deck and no access to a community garden :( I hope you enjoy the series!

  2. Awesome tips! I'm sharing this on my FB page and pinning it.

    Since we may stop vegetable gardening for a few years until the kids get a little older (I have 5 kids), I've started looking into CSAs and local farm markets. I can't wait to check out your links.

    I would love for you to link up your post on my other blog's Fabulously Frugal Thursday linky (

    1. Hi Barb, thanks for sharing the post, and the invite, I'll be by later this week :) So glad you enjoyed the post!

  3. I hope to do a winter CSA next year. I miss my summer bounty and it is so hard to find good local produce at the grocery store in the wintertime.

    1. Winter CSAs can be hard to find, but you might get lucky and find ones for meat or dairy products as well as some produce :)

  4. I did sign up for a local veg box over summer but never felt like eating carrots, onions and cabbage when all I wanted was salad. Now I'd probably make it all into soup so should really make the switch again!
    I would love it if you shared this with Healthy Vegan Fridays, a blog hop co-hosted by 3 bloggers. I'm sure our readers would really enjoy this. You can submit a post from Friday to end of Tuesday:

    1. Perhaps next year when you get that box of carrots, onions and cabbage you could make coleslaw to satisfy your salad craving ;p Thanks for the invite, Katherine!

  5. I like this post because we don't eat much local food from Nov-May up here! I will have to search around!
    I hope you'll consider entering it in the Saturday Round-Up, the new blog hop over at A Joyful Mother! I'd love it!

  6. There aren't any winter farmer's markets in Canada because nothing can grow through 3 feet of snow. :(

    1. Lol, well Vancouver, BC at least has a winter farmers market! There usually isn't much snow, if any, in winter, but there isn't a ton of winter produce either. Instead they sell alot of preserves and other types of local stuff. Even in Wisconsin, where I am right now, there's far more snow than Vancouver, but there is a winter farmers market where they sell meat, cheese, baked goods, etc.

  7. I have been trying to buy local and seasonal.. not only is it great to support local farmers it is great to eat more variety in my food. This winter alone I have discovered several root vegetables that I never eaten before including celery root and rutabaga.

    1. Hi Diane, that's so great you've tried new things! I love that about going local, I've discovered so many different items that never make it to the big supermarkets.


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