January 3, 2022

Seasonal Eating Guide: Winter Edition

Enjoy healthful, delicious local food all year round!

Seasonal eating. It’s in our name. It’s who we are. And it means eating what grows locally each season of the year – all four of them. Spring, summer, fall, and yes, even winter.

Right now in Virginia and Maryland it’s cold outside. Leaves have fallen and we’ve already had snow. Other farmers markets may have closed for the winter, but with Seasonal Roots seasonal food delivery service, you can still eat local. Our stocked cupboards are never bare!

Many of our farmers are still farming – some in the fields, some in greenhouses. Our food artisans are still cooking and baking. All through the winter, the Seasonal Roots online farmers market provides fresh produce delivery right to your doorstep, plus dairy, meats, baked goods, and artisan fare – all good for you and the planet, all year long.

So settle in with our Guide to Eating Seasonally: WINTER Edition!

It’s got tips, recipes, and more to help you enjoy the local comfort-food pleasures of seasonal eating this winter.

IN THIS ISSUE

 

farm fresh seasonal eating

“Right-from-the-farm groceries — you can really TASTE THE DIFFERENCE.” — Hamilton


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BENEFITS & USES of Winter’s Surprising Bounty

Below are some of the health benefits of seasonal eating. Even in winter, it’s amazing how much local produce farming is still going on! Most of it is grown in local fields and greenhouses. Some is grown further south, but still in our region.

Because all our produce is harvested nearby for home delivery, it’s packed with nutrients and flavor and really good for you. Much better than produce that has to travel a long way to the grocery store.

Need some inspiration for turning all this local bounty into fresh, delicious meals? Check out some of the Seasonal Roots team’s favorite recipes HERE.

BEETS

local beets seasonal eating winterBENEFITS: Vitamin C, folate, potassium, magnesium, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
USES: Roast alone or with other root veggies as a side, or add to salads. Add to baked goods, like beet brownies, as a sweetener.
HARVEST: Year-round

BRUSSELS SPROUTS

BENEFITS: Vitamin K, plus folate and iron.
USES: Serve as a side or atop salads and meats, steam or roast, serve with salt or add tangy or savory sauces like balsamic vinegar.
HARVEST: September-March

CARROTS

local carrots seasonal eating winterBENEFITS: Vitamin A, potassium, lutein, with antioxidant properties.
USES: Delicious raw or supercharge the sugars by roasting or grilling. Add to stews and soups. They even sweeten up baked goods like carrot cake.
HARVEST: Fall, winter, spring

KALE, COLLARDS, HYDRO BIBB LETTUCE, MICROGREENS

BENEFITS: Vitamins A, C, K, iron, and disease-fighting phytonutrients.
USES: Raw in a salad or smoothies, steamed as a stand-alone or baked into other dishes. Cooking makes it easier for our bodies to digest its nutrients.
HARVEST: Year-round, but it gets sweeter after the first nip from Jack Frost

LEEKS

local leeks seasonal eating winterBENEFITS: Vitamin A, C, K, potassium, lutein, with antioxidant properties.
USES: Add this member of the onion family to stews, stuffings, and stir fries, or serve as a stand-alone side.
HARVEST: September-April

PARSNIPS

BENEFITS: Potassium, fiber.
USES: Sweeter and nuttier than carrots, roast alone or with just about every other fall vegetable.
HARVEST: October-April

RUTABAGAS

BENEFITS: Vitamin C, fiber.
USES: Like a cross between a turnip and a parsnip, delish in casseroles, or puree with turnips and carrots for soup, or roast with ginger, honey, or lemon.
HARVEST: October-April

SWEET POTATOES

local sweet potatoes seasonal eating winterBENEFITS: Vitamin A, iron, with anti-inflammatory properties.
USES: Roast like a potato or cut up like fries, add to salads and stews, puree into soups. Best of all: Sweet potato pie!
HARVEST: September–December

TOMATOES (greenhouse)

BENEFITS: Vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, phosphorus, with antioxidant properties.
USES: Add to salads, sandwiches, sauces, stews, stir fry, kabobs, pizza, or just enjoy them plain with a little salt.
HARVEST: Year-round

TURNIPS

local turnips seasonal eating winterBENEFITS: Vitamin C (roots), vitamins A, K, folate (leaves).
USES: Steam, roast, or boil the roots. Flavor with fennel, bread crumbs, or brown sugar. Adds a slightly bitter complement to sweet parsnips, carrots, or mashed potatoes — or mash them alone. Steam or stir fry the leaves.
HARVEST: September–April

WINTER SQUASHES

BENEFITS: Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A.
USES: Acorn, butternut, delicata and more have thick skins, and can be stored for months. Bake, steam, or roast plain or with cinnamon and ginger, add to salads and stews, puree into soups.
HARVEST: October–February

PLUS REGIONAL WINTER PRODUCE

regional oranges seasonal eating winterCITRUS: oranges, grapefruit, tangerines rich in vitamins C, B, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Also: cucumbers, peppers, yellow squash, zucchini packed with vitamins A, C, E, K, magnesium, potassium, manganese, beta-carotene, and more.

Read on to learn what qualifies as “regional” produce!

 

local microgreens seasonal eating winter


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ORGANIC vs SUSTAINABLE vs LOCAL – Which Is Best?

We lovers of seasonal eating all just want to eat nutritious, safe, non-toxic, eco-friendly food. But who has the time to research every item we eat?

You could go by the government’s “Certified Organic” label. That sure seems like a convenient shortcut to eating healthfully without harming the planet. But here at Seasonal Roots online farmers market, we focus on sustainable and local rather than the government designation of “organic.”

Here’s why:
1. WE PARTNER WITH LOCAL FARMERS

  • Many are multi-generational, so they care for their land, crops, and animals with the next generation in mind.
  • They use sustainable practices, what we call old-school organic, like rotating their crops to avoid sucking all the nutrients out of the soil.
  • Many don’t spray. That would jeopardize the integrity of their land. If they do spray, it’s minimal and only as needed. This is true whether or not our farmers are organic, because the FDA allows organic farmers to use certain pesticides. Either way, organic or not, we don’t partner with spray-happy farmers.

2. “ORGANIC” DOESN’T EQUAL “LOCALLY GROWN”

  • Anything shipped long distances has a bigger carbon footprint. That’s not eco-friendly.
  • Even organic produce loses flavor and nutrients when it’s picked early and then travels for a long time to reach your kitchen.
  • An organic label has nothing to do with food safety or working and living conditions for farmers, laborers, or livestock. The only way to really know what goes on at the farm is to know the farmer.

3. THERE’S NO STANDARD DEFINITION FOR “LOCAL” OR “REGIONAL”

  • We’re upfront about how we define it: Within about 150 miles of our delivery areas.
    Most of our local partners are in Virginia, a few in eastern North Carolina.
  • To maintain a healthy variety of options during winter, we partner with sustainable farmers in Florida. We call that produce REGIONAL because it can get to us within a day of harvest without resorting to flying (a major carbon producer).
  • Seasonal eating afficionados who prefer to eat only what’s in season locally can opt out of our winter-time regional offerings, which are clearly labeled in our online farmers market — the description for every item includes who grew it or made it, and where.

 

local acorn squash seasonal eating winter


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3 Reasons Why REAL FOOD Is the Best Food

What is “real food”? To us, it’s fresh, local food. Food that’s still in its natural state, or freshly prepared using ingredients you can pronounce. Healthy, yummy food your grandmother would recognize. Real food is designed by nature for seasonal eating.

It’s important to eat real food because…

1. REAL FOOD IS BETTER FOR YOU

Antioxidants like vitamin C may help prevent or delay cell damage – but only when you get your antioxidants from real food.

Why does reducing cell damage matter? Because undamaged cells can improve your cognitive function and help fight cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses. Antioxidants may help make all that happen.

Meanwhile, unlike the antioxidants you get from real food, antioxidant supplements have not been proven to help prevent diseases.

2. REAL FOOD TASTES BETTER

Fresh fruits and veggies absorb flavor (and vitamins and minerals) from the sun and earth – right up until the moment they’re ripe.

But! Pick them early to ship long distances and they will never reach their full-flavored potential… even if they eventually look ripe. Or process them by cutting, peeling, reshaping, cooking, or canning and they lose some of their original great taste (and health benefits).

One exception is freezing. Fresh produce that’s frozen hangs onto most of its taste and health benefits, though in some cases the texture changes. That’s easy to do at home, using real food from local providers.

3. REAL FOOD IS BETTER FOR YOUR PEACE OF MIND

The only way to really know if your fresh food is safe from contamination and excessive pesticides is to know your food providers.

Here at Seasonal Roots, we know our farmers and food providers… and so do you! When you shop your online farmers market, information about the source of the food is provided so you know exactly where each item comes from.

local tomatoes seasonal eating winter greenhouse


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Try This Easy NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION: Eat Healthy in 2022!

(Hint: You can make or renew this resolution any time of the year.)

Healthful seasonal eating is simpler than you think. Click here to explore how to keep it easy-peasy.

sustainable farming local food

“I love that Seasonal Roots cares about sustainable farming and that they SUPPORT LOCAL FARMERS who are doing it right.” – Ruth

Have a happy healthy new year with local food

 

About Seasonal Roots

Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our neighborhood market managers – who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grass fed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.