The transition from Summer to Fall is a beautiful thing. The landscape of the Llano Estacado is particularly vibrant this year, with a wide range of colors portrayed in changing leaves, grassland, and striking sunsets. For a localvore, however, the coming of Fall is a little bittersweet. The changing of the leaves is a visible reminder that many of our favorite farmers markets have closed for another year.
If you find yourself a little saddened to see the market season come to a close, we hope you find this post an encouragement. There are still many ways to enjoy eating locally, even as the temperatures begin to drop. Here are some of our best tips for enjoying the best the Local Llano Foodshed has to offer, even in the Fall and Winter.
Shop Your Freezer and Pantry
We’ve shared before some basic tips on preserving produce to enjoy during the lean winter months. These frozen fruits and vegetables, canned goods, and homemade jams and salsas will help bring a taste of fresh fruits and vegetables to soups, casseroles, smoothies, and omelets for many months.
To maximize your supply of canned goods, consider holding some sort of exchange with others who have preserved their summer bounty. Connect with friends, post an event on Facebook, or hold a listing on Craigslist or an online garage sale group on Facebook.
While strawberries won’t be available in November, there are some things that have a growing season that extends into the cooler months of Fall. Winter squashes and some lettuces can still be grown even when the temperature begins to drop. Incorporating these into your diet is a great way to eat nutritionally, inexpensively, and locally.
Contact CSA Owners
During the summer months, many members of the Llano Estacado take advantage of area CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture). At the end of the season, some of these CSA’s might have extra produce available. If so, take advantage of this excess and freeze or can it to enjoy later. Even if they don’t have extra from the summer, you can also ask if they will have any winter produce available. Some of them may even offer a winter CSA.
Find a Producer with a Green House
If you used the market season as an opportunity to build a strong relationship with area producers, you can take advantage of that relationship to find a producer who uses a green house. A green house allows area producers to extend their growing season a little longer.
Look for Other Local Food Items
Finding locally grown fruits and vegetables in the fall and early winter months can be difficult. But, that doesn’t mean you need to give up on eating local food. There are still many locally raised food items that aren’t as hindered by the colder temperatures. Here are just a few of the items you can enjoy almost year-round (note that the production of dairy products will slow a bit as the weather grows colder):
- milk and cream
- breads and baked goods
To help you in your quest to eat locally year-round, we have compiled a list of area producers and farmers markets. While the markets will begin to close, the contact information provided should help you connect with area producers who will still have locally raised food year round.
What is your best advice for eating locally in the winter? We would love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!