My heart goes out to urban dwellers with no access to a winter Farmer’s Market. Just as the twinkle lights on trees and houses offer comforting pinpoints of light in the dark winter nights, farm stands with freshly made products remind us that good local foods (not to mention other treats) are available even if the landscape around us is barren.
Here are some of the treasures you might find:
- Light or dense and grainy, savory or sweet, freshly baked goods make a meal special.
- During this cold season when fresh greens are hard to come by, sprouts are extra-nutritious, easy to grow indoors in winter, and fun to sprinkle onto a variety of foods: baked potatoes, salads, soups, and so on.
- Speaking of soups, they are a great way to enjoy winter vegetables such as squashes, potatoes, beans, and onions. You can add mushrooms, meats, dried herbs, and canned tomato sauce or juice. I would love to see a selection of homemade soups available at a winter farmer’s market — does yours have such a thing?
- Specialties of the region might include wine, honey, olives, lavender treats and crafts, or any other creative use of locally abundant materials.
- At Farmer’s Markets, you can get to know the people who grow your food, including the meat that you eat. You can learn about animal care and feeding practices, cuts of meat and ways to use them, while supporting a local farmer during the lean season.
- Bringing plants indoors can boost your mood and your health, especially in winter. These can be houseplants; live cuttings or seedlings to be moved outdoors when the weather warms; fresh cut greenhouse-grown flowers; bouquets of natural materials such as dried flowerheads, berried or lichen-spotted branches, and evergreen boughs; or cut branches or bulbs for forcing.
These morsels of sensory pleasure help to make the winter brighter and more festive. They give us reason to celebrate this season, even as we look forward to the advent of spring.
I say, if you have a winter Farmer’s Market in your town, be quick about visiting it. While you are there, spend freely. And if none exists, work to make it happen.