Four seasons of eating locally

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Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let’s Talk About Food

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about their struggles and successes with healthy eating. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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I envy my southern friends who share their spring garden success stories, or talk about the fruit they found at the local farmer’s market in February.  In northern states like mine, with long winters and hot summers, we don’t have those luxuries.  Eating locally can be a real challenge, but sometimes the thrill of the hunt is as good as the food we find.  Every season has something to offer by way of local food, and if variety is truly the spice of life, then we’re heaping on that spice right here.

Springtime
While Wisconsin weather is totally unpredictable, the biggest, ugliest piles of snow start to melt in March, and aside from an occasional late April snow shower, things start to get green after the Easter holiday.  As the frozen ground turns to mud, our thoughts turn to gardening.  The local garden stores bring out their seeds and peat pots, and gardeners get busy planning out this year’s bounty.  I began my garden planning in March and found that my old garden was too small for everything I had planned.  In April I began starting my peppers and eggplants indoors.  By May I had doubled my garden space and by Memorial Day all of my seeds and plants were in the ground.

Planning is all well and good, but what about eating?  A handful of farmer’s markets open in April, typically featuring meats, cheeses, early rhubarb, maple syrup, mushrooms and greenhouse cucumbers and tomatoes.  The variety is a little lacking in the beginning, but it only gets better as the year goes on.

Summer
Summer is simply the season for eating locally in a cooler climate.  By May and June all of the local farmer’s markets are in full swing, featuring everything from strawberries to broccoli to chard and lettuce greens.  In July, squash, eggplant, melons, carrots and beans are fully stocked, while August brings on the greatest bounty yet:  cherries, cucumbers, shallots, garlic, artichoke, onions, parsley, parsnips, pears, plums, potatoes, sweet corn and so much more.

The farmer’s markets have to share the spotlight with local gardens by this time of the year.  In early summer, tomatoes, peppers, onions and peas are making their appearances in the garden.  By mid summer we see cucumbers, ripe tomatoes and all kinds of peppers, beans, eggplant, just to name a few.

Another summer favorite that’s especially fun with children are the “pick your own” farms.  Strawberries, raspberries and apples are the most popular “pick your own” attractions, while cherries and beans are fun options too.

Fall
While summer brings the best fresh harvest, fall can’t be beat for one thing:  canning.  The late season farmer’s markets are the best place to find cucumbers suitable for pickling, apples perfect for applesauce, fruits of all kinds for jellies and preserves, and tomatoes and peppers perfect for a chili base on a cold winter night.

A good number of farmer’s markets soldier on into the fall months, as apples, pumpkins and corn remain viable and are very popular as the weather turns cool.

Winter
In response to the increasing popularity of organic foods and local eating, Milwaukee now has its very own winter farmer’s market.  Last year was the inaugural year for the market, and despite the fact that many vendors hadn’t planned for year-round sales, the variety was not bad.  In this coming winter we should see much more variety as the sellers have planned ahead for the demand created by this unique market.

Eating locally has been a fun endeavor for our family, and every year we add some new local flavor to our menu.   Every season brings its own challenges and its own rewards, and we’re enjoying it immensely.


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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated July 13 with all the carnival links.)

  • Welcome to Two — All About Food — In case you hadn’t heard, there is a conspiracy afoot from the two year olds of the world. Shana at Tales of Minor Interest stumbled onto their newsletter!
  • Four Seasons of Eating Locally — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction has pointers for what fresh produce can be found year-round. (@MBJunction)
  • Happy Families Can Have More Than One Diet — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now has figured out a way for her family to live happily as vegans and vegetarians with relatives who eat meat. (@DebChitwood)
  • My Own Omnivore’s Dilemma — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante prioritizes responsible consumer choices for her family.
  • No Gluten — No Cry — Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch Momma learned to cook balanced meals when her son’s food sensitivities prompted a diet overhaul. (@kitchenwitch)
  • Try, Try Again — Stefanie at very very fine has become an enthusiastic consumer of locally grown food.
  • CSA — Week 1 — Casey at What Love Is wants her children to know where their food comes from, so she joined a friendly CSA. (@CBerbs)
  • Food: Parenting or Homemaking? — Michelle at The Parent Vortex sees food as part of a parent’s nurturing role. (@TheParentVortex)
  • 5 Tips to Help Kids Develop Healthy Eating Habits — If you struggle with healthy eating, helping your child develop healthy habits might be a challenge. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares five
    easy tips that will help your kids learn to make good food choices. (@CodeNameMama)
  • Family Food: Seeking Balance Between Healthy, Sustainable & Affordable — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings has a whole list of ideas for how she can improve her family’s eating, both now and into the future. (@sunfrog)
  • Whole Foods in, Wholesome Feelings Out — Jessica at This is Worthwhile has turned her back on the processed, preservative-ridden food of her childhood. (@tisworthwhile)
  • When to Splurge on Organic (and When It Is Okay to Skip It) — Becoming Mamas tell you what foods to prioritize when buying pricier organic food, and where you can find it cheaper. (@becomingmamas)
  • TITLE — Acacia at Be Present Mama tells a story in pictures of her family taking a trip to the local organic farmers market and then preparing a summer meal together with their bounty.
  • Eat Your Food, or Else — Why should we not bribe a child to eat? TwinToddlersDad from Littlestomaks (Science Driven Real Life Toddler Nutrition) explains.
    (@TwinToddlersDad)
  • Food, Glorious Food! — Luschka at Diary of a First Child describes three easy ways her family has started eating healthier. (@diaryfirstchild)
  • Celebrating Food — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog believes in food as medicine and thinks it’s worth paying more to keep healthy. (@myzerowaste)
  • Oil and Yogurt — What have you been motivated to do with the current oil spill crisis? midnightfeedings has started making her own yogurt. (@midnightfeeding)
  • Growth-Spurt Soup (AKA “Beannut Stew”)
    — BeanMa has a special stew to help her baby through growth spurts that keep her up all night. (@thebeanma)
  • Why I Love The Real Food Community — Much like many people who follow AP/NP values, Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! takes the parts of the “real food” philosophy that work for her family and leaves the rest. (@bfmom)
  • Feeding a Family of Six — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children gives helpful tips for feeding a family of six.
  • Starting Solids at 6 Months — Did your doctor recommend that you give your baby cereal? Sheryl at Little Snowflakes discusses how whole foods are so much healthier (and more delicious) than traditional cereal. (@sheryljesin)
  • Am I What I Eat? — Andrea!!! at Ella-Bean & Co. has figured out a way to avoid grocery stores nearly altogether.
  • Are We Setting Our Kids Up To Fail? — Megan at Purple Dancing Dahlias found that cutting out the junk also transformed her sons’ behavior problems.
  • Changing your family’s way of eating — Lauren at Hobo Mama has techniques you can try to move your family gradually toward a healthier diet. (@Hobo_Mama)
  • Real Food — What kinds of fake foods do you eat? And why?! Lisa C. at My World Edenwild talks about why she chooses real food.
  • A Snackaholic’s Food Battle — Julie at Simple Life wants to stop snacking and get into the old ways of cooking from scratch and raising her own food. (@homemakerjulie)
  • Food, Not Fight — Summer at Finding Summer doesn’t want her kids to grow up like her husband: hating everything green. (@summerm)
  • How Do You Eat When You Are out of Town? — Cassie at There’s a Pickle In My Life wants some tips on how to eat healthy when you are out of town.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Food! — Sybil at Musings of a Milk Maker hopes that by serving her children healthy, balanced meals, they will become accustomed to making good food choices. (@sybilryan)
  • There’s No Food Like Home’s — NavelgazingBajan at Navelgazing revels in the Bajan food of her upbringing. (@BlkWmnDoBF)
  • This Mom’s Food Journey — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment made a journey from not paying attention to food to growing her own.
  • Who Knew Eating Was So Hard? — The challenges involved in changing to healthier eating habits take on a whole new dimension when you have a child who has difficulties eating. kadiera at Our Little Acorn shares her own experiences. (@kadiera)
  • Loving Food — Starr at Earth Mama truly believes food is her family’s medicine and is willing to spend days preparing it the traditional way.
  • Food Mindfulness — Danielle at born.in.japan details how her family spends money on each category of food. (@borninjp)
  • Food for Little People — Zoey at Good Goog wants to bless her daughter with happy traditions built around go
    od food. (@zoeyspeak)
  • Eat Like a Baby — Have you been told that you should not equate food with love? Kate Wicker at Momopoly shows us why that’s not necessarily true. (@Momopoly)
  • Food — Deb at Science@Home tries to teach her children three rules to help them eat a healthy diet. (@ScienceMum)
  • Healthy Eating Lactose-Free — MamanADroit gives us tips on how to eat healthy if you are lactose intolerant (or just don’t want cow milk). (@MamanADroit)


mbj

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9 Comments

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9 Responses to Four seasons of eating locally

  1. Lauren @ Hobo Mama

    I totally do that thing where I have more plants than garden space. :) Everything's just so tempting when it's all seeds and seedlings! I love that you've divided your post into the four seasons. I'm really trying to think year-round now as a gardener, and plan out crops that can be harvested in the fall or overwinter. (We live in the Pacific NW, which doesn't have the harsh winters of Wisconsin but has its own issues, like very late and little summer heat and sun.) I'm trying to figure out root veggies and cool-season crops and canning and all that fun stuff! Here's hoping for year-round fresh or preserved produce for both of our families.

  2. Dionna @ Code Name:

    I've been considering trying a small container garden this year (if I can find some cheap lights) – your "winter" section made me really excited about homegrown veggies in December :)

  3. Shana

    I live in the desert, where it's hard to grow anything. However, I'm surprised how much agriculture is just a few hours away. If I look hard enough, I can find some locally grown produce, even in the desert. Like you said – the thrill of the hunt. :)

  4. Mrs Green @ littlegr

    What a fascinating post. I love seeing how people deal with their climate challenges and it was great to read about your life. Thank you for sharing such details; I feel like I really shared in a slice of your life..

  5. Jessica

    Living in TX I never thought about the challenges of northerners, but I love the idea of a Winter Farmers' Market. To be perfectly honest, winter harvests are my favorite! (Also, I LOVE your blog name. I used to joke around and call my (now husband) my Monkey Butt Boyfriend. Usually while I was stroking his ear so he could never actually hear it hahaha.)

  6. Deb Chitwood

    Great ideas for eating locally year round. I hadn’t heard of a winter farmer’s market before. How wonderful! I’d like to do a bit better at eating locally year round. Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. seonaid

    Oddly enough, Monkey Butt is also my preferred pet name for my youngest child. I try to remember not to use it in public, though.Yes, the seasonal aspect of local eating becomes a significant issue in the North. I will recommend Eliot Coleman's "Four Season Harvest" for the aspiring northern gardener. It is inspiring, to say the least!

  8. BeanMa

    We have a local farmers market here one day a week, but I was pretty devastated to find out none of it is organic! What's up with that??

  9. Lauren @ Hobo Mama

    BeanMa: I don't know if you talked with the farmers personally, but in some circumstances, they can be organic in practice but not certified. To be certified costs money that they might not have, and it's a multi-year process, so they might have just begun it. I'm not saying that's definitely the case, but it's worth talking with the farmers at the market to find out what their philosophies and standards are.

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