LocalHarvest Newsletter, September 23, 2011

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

Last fall, a couple of weeks before the farmers market was to close for the season, signs started appearing on the public bulletin boards around my town. "Buy out the farmers on the last day of the market!" It was my favorite little bit of food activism all year. We who shop were reminded of the benefits of stocking up on storage crops, and got to express our appreciation for our farmers by filling their pockets with cash on the last day of the season. On the big day I found myself bellying up to a table loaded with the most beautiful winter squash I'd ever seen, and taking home a trunk full. (What does a family of three do with 25 winter squash, you ask? Put them in the basement. Bake three at a time every week, and eat one. Scoop out the flesh of the other two and freeze in large yogurt containers to use in quick winter squash soup all winter.)

Stocking up in the late summer and fall extends the buy-local produce season. Garlic, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, apples, beets, carrots and other root crops all store easily and well for weeks or months in the basement, garage or frig, depending on the crop and your local climate. (If you are uncertain about how to store particular crops, the Internet has many resources, including these two from the University of Minnesota and Washington State University.) If you are up for canning, drying, or freezing some food, fall offers oodles of fun weekend projects that will set you up well for delicious winter meals.

Stocking up goes a long way toward answering the perennial question of what's for supper. Having plenty of food in the house that needs to be eaten limits the menu possibilities in a way that I find very helpful. From now till spring we eat whatever vegetables we have in the basement, with a few things from the grocery store sprinkled in for variety.

If you get bit hard by the food preservation bug, and it happens, you're eventually going to want to give thought to some kind of root cellar. Since most of us live in houses built since the habit of thrice-weekly trips to the grocery store took hold, few of our homes have a cool corner of the basement open to the bare ground. But wouldn't it be nice? Fortunately, there are many alternatives to taking a jackhammer to your basement floor. One of my favorites falls in the category of "fruit and vegetable hideaway," and consists of an old refrigerator buried on its back and accessible from ground level.

The very best book I've seen on keeping food is called Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables. Filled with photos, line drawings, and stories, it is a great, fun resource to have around if you're even considering expanding your food preservation options. Thanks to Storey Publishing, this month we're lucky to have five copies to give away. If you'd like to enter to win a copy, fill out the little form here by Friday, September 30. I'll email you if you win!

Many people are looking for ways to eat local food in the winter. If you live in a part of the country where fresh produce is available year round, lucky you! If not, you can buy in bulk over the next few weeks, and store foods at home to eat in the cold months. For many people, this turns out to be easier than anticipated. It may, however, require shifting your mindset about how and when you shop, how much food you keep in the house, and what you consider "fresh." Remember, until very recently, nearly everyone "put food by." We can too!

Do you have a favorite food preservation practice, recipe, or book? We'd love to hear it!

Until next time, take good care, and eat well.


Erin Barnett

From the LocalHarvest Store:

Our Thanksgiving turkeys are already finding good homes with good food fans all across the country. LocalHarvest farmers raise heritage breeds, "regular" organic turkeys, and - for those who want both - organic, heritage birds. Ready to reserve yours? You can search for one locally, or have one shipped to you. Get yours now!

CSAs - they aren't just for summers anymore! The LocalHarvest directory includes 1674 CSAs that offer winter shares, some of whom sell these shares through our store. To see if there's one near you, click here and then enter your zip code to narrow the search.

Now's a great time to order a big box of grassfed beef to feed your family well for months to come. We've got a great selection from farms all over the country.

The passion fruit season is still going strong. If you're a fan, get yours here. Quick, before you have to wait another whole year.

Coming Soon: Slow Money's National Gathering

You've heard of Slow Food. Have you heard of Slow Money? It's new - a "put your money where your mouth is" kind of social investing. So far, 11 local Slow Money chapters have been formed around the country, connecting investors to small food enterprises and to the soil. Join this emerging network of thought leaders, investors, donors, entrepreneurs, farmers, and activists for their Third National Gathering October 12-14, 2011 at Fort Mason in San Francisco. More than 1,000 people attended the first two national gatherings , with more than $4.25 million invested in 16 small food enterprises! LocalHarvest founder Guillermo Payet will be a panelist at this event, and LocalHarvest readers get a 10% registration discount! For details and to register: http://www.slowmoney.org/national-gathering/

Food from the Farm: Pickle Schmickle

My husband and I have been making a few jars of these bread and butter pickles since we first got the recipe from the little farm where we worked in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We like them on top of a hamburger or on baked tofu sandwiches. Our daughter likes to eat them straight out of the jar.