Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Vegetables In The Winter?!?!

When I first moved to upstate NY from WA State, it was such a change in terms of buying produce. Since we arrived in August, the shock wasn't so apparent until the winter months. My favorite produce/farm stand closed down in December. That's when reality set in. What am I going to eat???

This is when I really started focusing on learning even more about nutrition. Hence the addition of this ol' mom going back to school. I digress. I started learning that sometimes us Americans have gotten so far away from nature, that even in our eating patterns we have really done ourselves a disservice. What do I mean?

Aside from the fact that many of our very own children don't have a clue about where food comes from besides Price Chopper/Albertsons/Safeway, some children are even mortified by the fact that their food grew in the dirt, and maybe even had bugs on it(Vitamin B-12- another post). How did we get to this point? It is just too easy to go into the store and pick up the first box with pretty writing that says 'All Natural' if it was truly all natural would it be in a box? So many people say, I can't afford to buy vegetables right now. Why? We are programed that we are supposed to eat salad EVERY day to be healthy, truth be known that spinach doesn't grow in upstate NY in the winter. So What do I do? Of course out of season vegetables are going to be more expensive when they are out of season. Ever tried to buy a watermelon in February? Not only is it expensive but it is not tasty, nor did it retain it's nutrients for the thousands of miles it's traveled. So why buy it?

Winter has its own vegetables that grow, harvest season by nature is in October! This is when SO many of our fabulous winter vegetables are ready to be eaten. Nature is an amazing thing and we should all spend more time thinking about how much we have deviated from this and how to get back to it. It's amazing because, I went to visit a local farm a few weeks ago and stocked up so now in my basement (used to be known as a root cellar because that is where all root veggies were stored for the winter) I have spaghetti squash, delicata squash, acorn squash butternut squash and about 70 lbs of fresh local grown spuds! This is where most of my winter meals will come from! When bought in season these vegetables are cheap and are in their best nutritious state! Ever bought a pumpkin in May? Of course not, this is because you can't get them. This is the thought process we should have for MOST veggies. Sadly most of us don't.

I have to admit that I have struggled with this myself. More last winter than I will this one. It doesn't mean that I wont miss my cucumbers, it will mean I will love them that much more next summer. I can't say that I will never eat them all winter. I will spend more time focusing on what's available and in season, knowing that all my favorites are coming back next year and they will taste even better.

The reason that winter vegetables and fruits cycle is amazing. In the summer when it's hot we need more water, we do not necessarily drink all we need, so nature has provided us with high water content foods like watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes and berries. In the winter when we need warmth, although the media would disagree, we would naturally need more insulation hence heavier foods that may even put a few pounds on us. This is a natural process for humans that goes way back. We didn't used to gain weight from Christmas cookies so please don't get confused with that. This winter, try to stick to warming soups and chilli's that use produce in season or closer to it. Not only will your health notice but so will your checkbook. If you must splurge once in awhile do it, but just remember it is not your only option.

Changing our thinking is hard, however, we can do this in a slow process and be successful in it. The rewards will be there, in every way. I am looking forward to sharing more great winter recipes with all of you! We can eat our veggies in the winter. Fruits too.

PS: I am practically living off of apples right now, I can't even express how grateful I am to be living in a such a place that is so full of delicious apples!! Yummy!!


Angie said...

If only you lived here in Okinawa ... their veggies/fruits are way different so preparing them can be quite an experience!

Just the thought of those apples makes my mouth water! Yummy!

Permission to Mother said...

I love the pumkin analogy.

I thought of another winter tip--Sprouting!

You can have fresh alfalfa, clover, lentils and more sprouts all year round. It only takes a few days to harvest and they grow on your counter. Search amazon or google.

fitncrafty said...

Denise... You are so right about sprouts. I really need to get that going, this would be a great time!

Angie, I would love to hear more about the veggies in Okinowa.. and how you are cooking them. Sounds like a great post to me!

crispy said...

What you are describing was just what our pioneer ancestors dealt with. If you go back and read the Little House Books, you can learn all about storing some of the veggies. And eating by seasons.

THanks for the inspiration. And I do wonder if you will finish all those spuds. =)

crispy said...

One more thought...do you can? Canning might be a way.

fitncrafty said...

Crispy.. Yes this is what our pioneer ancestors did, there was no other way. Hence why I feel it is so important to change our thinking....
I love the little house books, my daughter is reading them now.
I have not learned canning yet.. this summer I focused on freezing vegetables, I learned how to make applesauce (for freezing) and I hope to read up on it this winter so I can do some canning next summer.....

Tammie said...

Oh I love your thoughts! So well said! I grew up learning that we eat things "in the season thereof" so, so true! I also really enjoy the parts when they talk about how they prepare for winter in the Little House books! Good stuff! I think the closer we can get back to our roots the better off we will be in so many ways!