By Shannon Lambie
With the last breath of summer long gone, and the dark short days of winter stretching out ahead of us, our abundant source of local produce begins to narrow. Farmer markets become fewer, and maybe your own garden has given you the last of its harvest.
That being said, we are blessed in this region of the world with access to some fabulous winter produce. Eating seasonally is the hallmark of a local, sustainable food system. It can take a little extra thought and consideration, but celebrating foods when they are in season can be special and fulfilling in itself! Eating seasonally can also lead you to appreciate the natural abundance and diversity of our pacific North West bioregion.
The wonderful people at Farm FolkCity Folk (http://www.farmfolkcityfolk.ca/) have put together a comprehensive list of local foods and when they are in season (this list even includes seafood, herbs, and meats). This is a great place to start when thinking about which food to shop for, and includes a break down by item and month. To check out the list in its entirety, click here.
However, in the interest of saving you time, I compiled a list of all the foods which are in season this month! November’s seasonal all stars include:
broccoli, beets, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, swiss chard, kale, leeks, lettuce, mustard greens, red or yellow onions, parsnips, red, yellow, white, and russet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, rutabaga, salad greens, winter mescluns, winter squash, turnips, green onions, apples, kiwis (surprising!) and pears.
Choosing to purchase and consume these foods this month is a simple and easy way to reduce your carbon footprint, and support your local economy.
This is a great poster, created by the folks at ‘Suburban Stone Age’, and it really resonates with me. Making the choice to eat one less item which isn’t local or sustainable can make a huge difference.
The first item I have decided to ‘opt out’ of consuming is bananas. Conventional banana production requires high chemical inputs. The film documentary Bananas!* notes that 1/3 of the banana production cost results from the pesticides which are applied to the fruit. There have also been many cases in which banana workers have been exposed to these chemicals, with terrible outcomes (check out this article for more information). Bananas also have to travel a long way to get to us. For me, it seemed like an easy item to ‘opt out’ of. A lot of people have started to ask me though, “but where will you get your potassium?” and this is actually a really interesting question, because of course, many people eat bananas for the health benefits.
As it turns out, there are many better local produce items which actually contain higher amounts of potassium than bananas. Have a look at this chart, courtesy of whfoods.com
As you may notice, bananas do not even make the list! What you may notice, however, is that swiss chard is right at the top! Swiss chard also happens to be in season now! Same with potatoes and spinach! Finding local sources of potassium couldn’t be easier.
So where can you go to find all of this healthy and locally sourced winter produce? Well on Thursday I just discovered that the North Shore has a wonderful market called Sprout Market (http://www.sproutmarket.ca/), a completely local and organic food retailer. Also, this Saturday marked the first of the Vancouver Farmer’s Market winter season, which takes place every Saturday at Nat Bailey Stadium from 10am – 2pm (http://www.eatlocal.org/). It’s also possible that the local grocery stores are carrying seasonal produce, just check out where the produce comes from!
So, even though the days are darker, and winter seems imminent, you can still enjoy fresh, healthy produce. Check back here in one month’s time to see which foods are in season for December!