Be a Local Hero Even in the Winter

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Lately I have really been missing the abundance of fresh produce from my family’s farm share that extends from the beginning of May to the end of October.  Until last summer, I was never particularly concerned with buying locally.  I wasn’t exposed to any grocery stores that offered local products.  Oftentimes, I was shopping at larger supermarket chains like Stop and Shop and Big Y.  My family still shops at these stores for bulk items, however, after joining a farm share last summer we now see the value in supporting local agriculture and we strive to support more local farms.   

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ImageLast summer I found many smaller independent grocery stores in surrounding towns that support local farms and ever since finding these stores we try to buy some specialty products and produce. In the summer it is especially easy to buy locally because in the summer it is common to pass by a farm stand or find a farmers market (at least where we live). Even though there is an overwhelming amount of local, fresh produce during the summer here; local produce are scant in New England during the winter.

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The indoors winter farmer’s markets in New England offer: root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, turnips, onions, parsnips…), squashes, mushrooms, apples, ciders, hearty greens (kale, chard), bread, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, cheeses, jams and chutneys

ImageI decided to look around and see if there was such a thing as a winter’s farmers market around here.  Sure enough there was one twenty minutes away from me so I decided to check it out.

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There are so many advantages to buying locally.  You know where your food is coming from, which is so difficult in today’s food industry.  Since local farms operate on a much smaller scale than government factory farms they’re often concerned with animal welfare and they usually strive to make sure their produce are organic.

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Farmer’s markets and farm shares help you know what produce are in season.  They can only sell or offer what they have available on their farm.  If you start to buy locally you will notice that your food tastes better because your ingredients are fresher because they are picked at the peak of ripeness.

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I spent between $20 – $30 at the winter’s farmer’s market and I got: a dozen eggs, a bag of purple potatoes, a bag of carrots, 4 apples, a butternut squash, 2 red onions and a loaf of French bread.

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The local produce you buy oftentimes will outlast your conventional produce because they are being picked fresh before you buy them, rather than sitting in a warehouse and being shipped cross-country.  Also, because they are picked closer to when you buy them they have a superior taste.  Farmers do not have to pick them pre-maturely and treat them with chemicals because they do not have to travel a far distance.

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These carrots were so much sweeter than conventional grocery store carrots.

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It is so easy to find genuine-free range eggs at farmer’s markets. The have a superior taste and texture as a result of the chicken’s varied diet.

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If you are interested in starting to buy locally here are some links that might help you find farmer’s markets near where you live: http://www.buylocalfood.org/, http://www.farmaid.org/site/c.qlI5IhNVJsE/b.6534425/k.DD48/Find_A_Winter_Farmers_Market.htm, http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/farmersmarkets