Can you eat local in winter? Of course you can!
In the deep cold of winter it’s hard to remember those days of endless sun and diverse produce, isn’t it? These days, when we talk about the “eat local” movement, a comment reaction is, “sure, that’s easy to do in summer, but I don’t want to just eat root vegetables all winter long!”
Certainly, root vegetables can get a bad rap when we’ve been eating them for too long, and there’s no denying that after a few too many rounds of roasted potatoes you are craving the luscious berries of summer. But if we’re looking to eat more sustainably, we have to start thinking out of the box, and it means thinking about how to eat local not just when there’s an abundance of food, but in the quieter harvest months as well.
When it comes to thinking about these questions, Meghan Boledovich has got a pretty cool gig: don’t you wish you could tell people you were an in-house forager? That’s exactly what Boledovich gets to do thanks to her role as in-house forager at New York City’s PRINT restaurant, a space well-known for its culinary sustainability efforts. In her role, Boledovich does everything from maintaining relationships with local purveyors to managing the restaurant’s rooftop garden.
As the restaurant aims to cook seasonally and locally, she’s just the one to give us some tips on how to ensure that we’re not just eating locally in the good weather, but deep in the depths of winter as well.
1. Think out of the box
There’s more to winter than root vegetables, I promise. “There are a lot of other items available locally that are produced through the winter other than vegetables, which can become mundane in the dead of winter. For instance, try grains, dairy, micro greens, dried chillies, legumes, etc,” says Boledovich.
2. You can make exceptions, but you should still know where your food is coming from
There are certainly some foods that don’t come from nearby that you might no be willing to give up. That’s ok says Boledovich, but do what you can to know what you’re getting, and that it’s of the highest quality. “Our [restaurant] motto is “If it’s grown in the region, we eat it in season.” That means for things like citrus and coffee, that never grow in our region we must source from other regions and countries. Even with these products we take great care to work with family farms and fair trade products,” says Boledovich.
3. If you can, shop around
“Source from various locations, go to a farmers market to find niche speciality items (seafood, speciality produce, breads, cheeses, etc). Join a food co-op or find a grocery store with local bulk items that you can stock up on (grains, beans, etc). Find a good butcher shop that sources local meat and buy affordable cuts for stewing and braising,” says Boledovich.
4. Make your own food
Wanting to eat local more often? The easiest way to ensure that what’s on your plate came from nearby is to make it yourself. Cooking “is the most affordable way to eat local and produce less waste, especially when you use scraps for stock, save leftovers, and bring your own lunch!” she says.
5. Make a boring food in a different way.
“Cabbage may seem boring, ” says Boledovich, “but if you make it into kimchi or sauerkraut, it preserves it into a tangy condiment that can be used for sandwiches, stews, and other dishes.”
Related on EcoSalon