‘Tis the Season…

...for ‘winter’ foods. I know it’s positively spring-like outside, but  we’ll be back to, ahem, ‘normal’ in a couple more days so let’s talk about what’s ‘normal’ for this time of year, food wise. I went to the Farmer’s Market today and was pleasantly surprised to find a fair variety of things to eat. There were pickled beets, meats and cheeses, fresh loaves of bread, jams and jellies, greens and more. Here’s what I brought home:


The bag in the background contains fresh ground corn meal, ground right at the market from locally grown corn. (He had grits for sale too and I wish I’d bought some) The eggs, onions and turnips were beautifully fresh and everything I bought was a bargain.


Not only was this food locally grown, it was appropriate for this time of year. You may be asking yourself, “what the hell can I eat besides turnips in January?” If so, let me offer some ideas. The fall crop of potatoes and apples is on sale everywhere, as are cabbages, carrots and greens. Luckily, I still have lots of garlic and shallots and Cushaw squash stored away, and we have broccoli, 4 kinds of lettuce, bok choi and cabbages in the garden, along with  parsley and cilantro growing in pots. Yesterday, we roasted our last homegrown potatoes in the clay cooker, topped with 20 or so of our spring-grown garlic cloves and a handful of fresh rosemary. (Note to self: plant more potatoes this year.) Our Christmas oranges yielded enough zest and juice to make “Orange Teriyaki Rice” tonight, and some of the green onions we’d bought were sliced and sprinkled on top . We had fresh, steamed broccoli that I harvested yesterday and a big bowl of lima beans from the freezer to go with it.


It’s definitely more of a challenge to eat seasonally during the winter months, but it’s also definitely more satisfying when we do. Soup and cornbread is our mainstay in cold weather, and has proven to be easier to prepare, more filling, cheaper to make and most accommodating of my desire to eat seasonally. If you’re one of those people who says that they “just don’t feel satisfied with a bowl of soup”, then you must be eating the canned stuff, because winter soups simmered on the stove and filled with dried beans, herbs, sweet potatoes or squash, kale or cabbage, summer tomatoes and dried peppers, and served over rice, are filling, healthy and takes advantage of the foods that are normally associated with winter anyway.

Eating foods when nature produces them is what people the world over have done naturally through most of history, before mega-supermarkets dotted the landscape and processed foods became ubiquitous. Seasonal eating is also a cornerstone of several ancient and holistic medical traditions, which view it as integral to good health and emotional balance. Here’s a gentle reminder of what I’m trying to say:

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal …
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance …
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sow;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

ecclesiastes 3:1-8


4 Comments so far
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Sam I have been meaning to ask someone who shops at Farmer’s Markets how you determine that corn products you buy do not come from genetically modified seed? Are the suppliers committed to non-GMO sources? Thanks for any illumination.

Comment by Eleanor Hjemmet

All you can do is ask them Ellie. I don’t harbor any illusion that they’re non-GMO unless labeled organic. We grew a 3 year supply of a non-GMO corn so haven’t had to buy any for that long. We’ve just run out, so it’s a new problem for me too. The guy I bought the meal from yesterday said he’s in the process of getting his wheat certified, so he knows the score, for sure. We once had a neighbor that we were buying corn from~it was delicious. Then one day, he said it was organic and we were thrilled to hear that until he said ‘yep, I don’t have to spray it with anything because it’s got the weed killer built right in!’ I guess that was HIS definition of organic haha

Comment by Sam

Have you tried oat groats? They can be used just like rice, cost considerably less and take a very small percentage of the water to grow. Additionally, they may be grown more locally than rice is in your area; that’s something to check out.

Comment by Sandy Aldridge

Sandy, I’ve never grown oat groats but have eaten them-I think we ate them when we visited you as a matter of fact! We don’t have enough land to grow them, but there are lots of small local farmers asking ‘what do you want us to grow’? so they can supply the demand for local foods. I just found a local wheat grower Saturday as a matter of fact. Perhaps he’d be willing to try oats too. Thank you for that suggestion. I’ve been concerned about eating so much rice since learning about the arsenic levels in it. I wonder if oats ‘take up’ the arsenic in southern soils the way rice does? Do you know?

Comment by simpleintn

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