Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Winter…The Final Season In Our Journey

By Andrea Yoder
Nettle & Mushroom Pizza with Ramp Cream--
one of our favorite spring recipes!

We often describe CSA as “a seasonal eating adventure,” and that it is.  It seems so long ago, and yet like yesterday, that we launched into the season with some of our spring favorites.  Ramps, nettles, asparagus, sorrel…..our seasoned members could hardly wait to get their hands on these things while some of our newer members were scratching their heads wondering what to do with these less familiar items.  But with a sense of adventure, many of you jumped in with a spirit of curiosity and a willingness to try new things.  Summer came along and brought with it a whole host of foods to explore starting with fennel, green top beets and kohlrabi in June.  The heat of July brought zucchini, cucumbers, green beans and the first new potatoes.  In August we made room for tomatoes, melons, edamame, peppers and sweet corn.  Things started to cool off a bit towards the end of September and we started to receive the first of the fall cauliflower.  In October we officially transitioned into fall with winter squash and leeks.  By the time we turned the corner into November we were excited to introduce frost-sweetened Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and more roots including celeriac and parsnips.  As we enter into winter, our kitchens are well stocked with storage roots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, cabbage, onions and other late season vegetables to carry us through the winter months.  Mother Nature always has something to nourish and sustain us in every season.

Beautiful jars of canned dilly beans!
Eating local food in season is more than just a trendy, foodie thing to do.  Before the days of refrigerated transportation and international trade, eating local food in season was the only option.  You eat what you are able to grow, hunt or raise, or you don’t eat.  Self-sufficiency was found in a root cellar filled with humble rutabagas and turnips that would store for months.  Shelves were lined with canned goods filled with vegetables and fruit preserved in the peak of their season.  Crocks, jugs and jars of fermented foods were tucked away, allowing yet another means of preserving foods from other seasons to make them available during times when fresh foods were limited.  Other preservation methods such as dehydrating and salt-curing are just a few of the other ways people preserved food.  We’ve been spoiled by having anything we want, whenever we want it. What has happened to the traditional ways of eating employed by our ancestors?  Have we lost our connection to the natural rhythms of nature?  Has this variance made us vulnerable?  The further we go from the source, the more risky the business of securing our food becomes.  The more hands it has to pass through, the greater the potential for something to go wrong.  Issues such as social justice, fair trade and a general lack of transparency enter into the equation and sometimes leave a deeper mark than we care to admit.  And what about the quality of the food?  How fresh are those vegetables that have been in transit for days?  Do Brussels sprouts even taste good when grown in warmer regions less adapted for the plant?

Summer 2020, HVF Crew harvesting dill
The pandemic that has left its mark on 2020 has shown us the value of supporting our local food systems.  When our industrial food systems were put to the test, in many ways they failed.  Breakdowns in labor, transportation, and the availability of raw materials limited the ability of some to source their food.  For members of our society who rely 100% on someone else for their food, this can be a scary reality.  Unfortunately, this was the catalyst for many to make a shift back to their local food system.  We are not the only regional producer who has seen consumer support of local food skyrocket due to the pandemic.  People are looking for food they can trust, produced in the region by people who are real and reliable.  But what will come of this Pandemic Reset when the pandemic has passed?  We have all been changed and many times change means we need to move forward, embrace new technologies, new ways of thinking and doing.  But sometimes I think it’s ok to hold onto ideas and ways of living that are tried and true.  Eating in ways similar to how our ancestors ate is not such a bad thing.  Yes, we can do it in a little different way while still being in sync with nature.  If you eat meat, you may not want to hunt or raise all of the animals that feed you.  The alternative is to support local producers who are raising animals in sustainable, humane ways while following the rhythms of nature.  That means there’s an appropriate time to harvest and fresh meat may not always be available.  Meat will need to be frozen so it’s available to you in between times of harvest.  You may not grow all of your fruits and vegetables in your own garden space, but you can certainly eat in alignment with the seasons through participating in a CSA with a willingness to embrace the bounty of each season and adjust your meals to the ingredients instead of seeking out specific items to prepare a recipe regardless of whether or not that vegetable is in season at the time.

Chili & Lime Sunchoke Salsa
with Seared Salmon
So as we hunker down for winter, we send you off with encouragement.  We encourage you to eat your root vegetables…all of them, even the turnips, rutabagas, celeriac and sunchokes.  The seasonal eating adventure will continue through the winter, and while there may be some challenges along the way, winter can be a very fun season to spend time in the kitchen.  Use this opportunity to explore some different ways of preparing some of these winter vegetables.  Look to other cultures where some of these vegetables are an integral part of their seasonal eating and explore some of their ways of preparing these foods. Warm your body with nourishing soups and stews.  Slow down and take time to make some things that might take a little longer to prepare.  Learn from other members by interacting in our Facebook Group.  Pull out that bag of horseradish and figure out what to do with it.  We’ve heard time and again that members often discover they like foods they otherwise may not have tried simply because it appears in their CSA box!  The adventure of seasonal eating is the discovery of new items, but it’s also the discovery of how to utilize a few foods over and over and over.  The adventure is in the ways our awareness of and connection to our food can shape and change our physical bodies, our minds and the ways we interact with the world around us.  Every year is a new adventure filled with new lessons to learn, new discoveries to be made.

CSA members learning about garlic with 
Richard & Andrea--Strawberrry Day 2018
As we move forward into a new year, I think it’s important to pay attention to the evolution of our food systems.  Who will have power in the food system of the future?  Will we continue to give our power away to an industrial food system?  Will we be satisfied eating poor quality food laced with chemicals and social injustice that is produced in ways that are harmful to our people and our land?  No, the power of each individual to choose what kind of food they want to put in their mouth still lies within each of us.  While we may not grow or produce all of our own food in todays’ modern times, we can still choose elements of self-sufficiency as our ancestors did through the ways we source our food.  Every food purchase you make has the ability to fuel our local food system.  It allows us to take back our health when we choose nutrient dense foods grown in sustainable ways that do not strip our environmental resources, but contribute to their regeneration.

Andrea receiving fresh ramps in April
Our world needs healing right now in many ways.  Food may not be our only medicine, but it is a powerful one that can bring healing on many fronts.  It’s time to reconnect to our power.  Reconnect to our communities.  Reconnect to our land.  Reconnect to the way we were designed to eat, in sync with nature.  You can do it, you have nearly done it.  Finish off winter and you will have eaten through an entire year of seasons!   I don’t know about you, but I have a lot to reflect upon as this year comes to a close.  One thing I do know is that I am grateful for the bounty my body has been filled with in each season of the year.  I look forward to winter cooking and have a stack of recipes waiting for me in my kitchen.  As spring draws near and I finish off the last few sweet potatoes, cook the last of the cabbage and use up the last of my onions, my body will start to crave fresh spring greens, those tender little spring radishes.  And when the first ramps push through the last of the snow in the forest come April, my body will be ready to transition yet again to another season.  We hope you have enjoyed your adventure with our farm this year and wish you a peaceful winter filled with hearty meals and rest.  When spring rolls around, we hope you’ll be on board to journey with us through another seasonal eating adventure.


Lisa said...

Well said, Andrea!

crloeb said...

We're always deeply grateful to be fed by our farm, but this year, more than ever. We'll be continuing to eat this year's Harmony produce from our freezer and our storage closet in the coming months, even past the day when we pick up the first box of the coming season. A deep bow of gratitude to you, Richard, Andrea, and the entire crew!

Cathy & David