Whether your farmer’s market is officially open for the season now or just holding a few special winter edition sale dates until warmer weather really ushers in most are now operating in one way or another. If they’re not they likely will be very, very soon.
But what can we — and maybe more importantly, should we — be shopping for now? That’s a very good question; one that can only be answered with the following: Thank goodness for greens! The long dark days of winter would be even longer and darker for locavores without them. Okay, maybe not the only way, but they certainly do make up at least a majority of what’s in season now.
More specifically, look for cold weather crops. Lettuces, spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, garlic and leeks are most common — and even better, easily prepared. Stretch your other foods further, especially those you’re not able to find locally right now, by serving a salad with every meal; experiment with coleslaw recipes of every type, one of our favorites is an asian variety that we eat with sweet and sour basted chicken that was grown in our backyard; add spinach to just about any dish for a nutrient punch. The options truly are endless.
Of course produce that has been stored in a root cellar or shed over the winter is also an option. Potatoes, apples, onions and squashes — among a few others — should they make an appearance near you will be just as good now as they were last summer. Scoop some up!
Things that were once ‘on the hoof’ are almost always in season and that’s not limited to meat — though looking for meats is never a bad idea, especially those that are raised humanely and sustainably. Eggs and cheeses, both products of animals, are also available year round from most producers.
Likewise, while their components are not necessarily in season keep your eyes peeled for preserves of all kinds. Traditional jams and jellies are nice for breakfast but heartier fare like canned tomatoes can also be found and when they are it adds a whole new dimension to the end of winter. Of course, if you’re like me it also makes you yearn for tomato season that much more.
Not sure where to find a farmer’s market near you? Check out Local Harvest for help. Not sure how to shop a farmer’s market? Never been before? Check out the farmer’s market guide that was featured right here at Try Handmade last year for tips! Happy shopping and happy spring!