Keys to Cold Weather Eating

November 18, 2009 at 10:19 am

If we say one thing at the Local Beet, we say we are for a practical approach to local eating, but if we have to say another thing, we say, the reasons to eat local do not go away when the weather turns cold.  Do not despair from winter.  Follow the Local Beets KEYS to cold weather eating.

  • Use stored and preserved food
  • Find local food at winter markets and speciality markets
  • Adjust your habits
  • Eat seasonal foods


Let’s start with the most obvious key.  Eat whats in season.  Just as we have tomatoes and peppers at the peak of summer, we eat potatoes and root vegetables in the dead of winter.  In many parts of the world, winter crops come from the fields.  In places like Chicago, winter crops come from two places: storage and greenhouses.  Center your winter diet around potatoes, apples, turnips, beets, celery root, yet it won’t be so plain with indoor lettuces and other goodies you might run across.  Last year, for instance, there was indoor grown raspberries and indoor grown zucchini at various times.  Our stocking up list provides a good start to what will be in season.  Remember, through late fall, field crops remain including hearty greens like kale and Swiss chard and all sorts of members of the cabbage family. 


Winter is not just about types of food, it’s about a way of eating food.  It makes sense in the heat of summer to eat less meat.  It weighs us down, and who wants their ovens going for a big roast or long braise.  On the other hand, come cold, we want things that warms us from the inside.  A purring oven just means less heat from the furnace.  Beyond meat, there are other adjustments.  Use those seasonal foods.  When in doubt, you can roast, you can grate and dress in a salad, and you can boil with a good heaping of Wisconsin butter.  Use all your repertoire.  Onions can play the part of your vegetable, mushrooms can play the part of your main course, and sprouts can make for your salad. 


There are always places to find local food in the Chicago area.  Check our Local Calendar often for the latest news on winter markets.  Besides these markets there’s Cassie’s Green Grocer and the Downtown Famstand.   Marion Street Cheese Market in Oak Park has the types of local foods that should center your winter table like farm eggs and local cheese (fondue for dinner?).  Irv and Shelly”s Fresh Picks will show you local as much as possible.  In December (knock on wood) the French Market at MetraMarket will be a thriving source for our kind of foods.

Consider also a little road-trip for local food.  The Dane County Market in Madison runs year round and always has stuff.  Other year round markets within a short drive include South Bend and Ann Arbor.  We highlight local food trips in the Local Calendar all the time, and we will soon publish a listing of winter markets within driving distance of Chicago.

You never quite know what you will find while shopping.  One week, there may be a fresh harvest of indoor crops; another week a farmer may be selling her last root vegetables.  Apples and potatoes should be available always. 


As we just said, we still cannot predict what you will find at winter markets.  Ensure you have what you want and need by preserving the harvests.  It is never too late to set aside.  The greens and broccoli in the markets now can be easily frozen for later use.  What about making sauerkraut?  In addition, grab apples, potatoes, onions, garlic, squash, etc. while you can and put them in cold storage.

Want ideas on what to do with your pickles and other preserved foods.  Check often what Paul Virant does.

Do not stop eating local.  Use our KEYS to find success this winter.


One Comment

  1. Kasia says:

    The Dill Pickle Food Co-op, opening in Logan Square December 5th, will be working hard to meet all of your local food needs all winter long!

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