Eating local miserably in the winter

I live in California and I shop at the farmer’s market year round for my produce. And I’ll say this, in the winter choices are really limited compared to those in the summer. But, its not like cheating at grocery stores that import makes things too much better when the imported stuff tastes bland after travelling a long way…

I will also say this, we are are spoiled in California.

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If I had to eat only local produce, I’d be looking forward to months of little else but potato, turnip and leek. Along with some very fine lamb, of course.

I just went to our first local Farmers Market here on the east end of Long Island, and there was a really nice assortment of all kinds of local, exotic vegetables and herbs, even baby ginger roots. Greenhouses are becoming a big thing here over the winter, and that is the reason…or does that not count?

Isn’t it still quite warm, around 16ºC - 20ºC (61ºF-68ºF) in CA? You should still have many leaves vegetables and of course the roots, they are many ways to make them delicious.

Doing pickles and jam in summer time is a way to preserve vegetables in winter. When I see how the Nordic chefs are capable of doing wonderful winter vegetable dishes using local produce, I stop complaining.

If I eat local (Ile-de-France), I have cereals (mainly wheat), turnips, cabbages, carrots, button mushrooms, yellow onions, dandelion, herbs, apples, grapes, pears, citrus fruits, beef, lamb, chicken (Houdan, Gâtinalis), ham of Paris (not too sure if the pigs come from this region) and honey. There are a few cheese I can eat: Brie de Melun, Brie de Meaux, Brilliant Savarin, Coulommiers, Brie de Montereau, Brie de Nangis, Fougerus, Boursault, Fontainebleau and Délice de St Cyr. There is even some wine and beer.

Not too bad! :yum:

No seafood and duck though.


Of course this is how it was always done in the past, everywhere pretty much. And canning vegetables and salting and otherwise preserving meat and fish.

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Yes, there are still plenty of choices in November. We still have tomatoes, even if they are not as flavorful. Come March and April though, the choices are much narrower- kale, root veggies, etc. Again, I must emphasize that compared to many places, its still quite abundant.

Pickles and jams are definitely the way to go, though I must admit that I have never learned preservation, having grown up with a fridge.

Does anything grow in the frigid north in the winter?

I suppose centuries ago, that’s what people ate, stored potatoes and turnip, and some infrequent meat.

I guess greenhouse is local. Though dependent on the crop, the results can be rather different from non-greenhouse produced ones. There is a vendor here that produces greenhouse $5/lb tomatoes in the winter. Though the results are just as mediocre as store bought tomatoes imported from thousands of miles away. They put a red tarp over their stall canopy to make the tomatoes look redder.

Oh ours are really good, maybe not summer quality exactly; but much better than anything else you will find in a supermarket later in the year. Guess I should count my blessings!

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Not really - at least not traditionally. It’s said that leeks always taste better if they’re not harvested until there’s been a frost on them. But they’re not really growing much. Brussels sprouts (the nasty farty vegetable) are the classic veg to serve with the British Christmas Day turkey lunch - farmers markets (and supermarkets sometimes) sell them still on the stalk.

Yes, you are beyond spoiled in CA! I grew up in CA and it wasn’t until my first (traumatic!!) winter in nyc - i moved here for college- did i realize just how lucky i was to have fresh and fairly cheap veggies constantly available. Even if they’re coming from mexico or arizona they are still more fresh than veg on the east coast (a lot is CA produce picked unripe and sent over on a cross country truck to this day)
Heck i had never had a frozen veggie aside from peas and corn before i moved here. To this day i generally hate all frozen veg but when fresh broccoli gets stupid expensive in the winter i’ll deal with frozen, or the frozen haricot verte from trader joes.
I love the idea of eating local but at some point i can’t even deal with more cabbage/kale/brussel sprouts/beets, and i always have some sort of salad greens and cucumbers around regardless of the season.


I belong to another non-food related board and I got torn to shreds one time because someone posted a thread about how to save money on groceries because they were spending something like $800/month for a family of 4. I’m not a coupon junkie, but I buy things on sale and cook seasonal items, and buy things at the middle eastern market, etc so I posted something along those lines, and mentioned that I spend about $300/month for a family of 4, not including alcohol or buying for special events like parties. Immediately people jumped on me saying it’s not possible, there’s no way, accused me of lying, etc. A few people asked me what my typical cart looked like, so I said I bought meat from Sprouts and Costco, produce from a couple places, and most of my stuff was from TJs, Sprouts and Costco, and I don’t buy much premade processed food since I enjoy cooking. They were still on my case about how there was no way I was buying meat and produce and spending that little money. I then laid out a recent trip to the middle eastern market, when I stocked up on fruits and veggies. I had bought things like parsley at $.20/bunch, lemons at $.25 each, corn at $.10/ear, etc. Then people got upset because I was “rubbing it in” that I was had access to much cheap produce and it wasn’t fair since their produce was so expensive.

I had no idea that east coast produce cost so much, but I definitely appreciated living in SoCal after getting burned on that thread! :rofl:

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I visit my family in CA twice a year, they literally live 20min away from Salinas, CA, home of Foxy vegetables, Dole, Earth Bound farms, Driscoll and a few others- so when i see vegetables from those companies in nyc markets at high prices i cringe because i have driven through the fields watching them load the cross country trucks with the flats!

I live in manhattan, and there are certainly ethnic markets with great prices in outer boroughs and in chinatown but not practical for me.
As of this week some produce prices at a not fancy local supermarket were:
Lemons: 3/$2 on sale
Iceburg: $2.50
Cilantro: 1.99
Kale 2.99 a bunch
1lb bag baby carrots: $2.50
Cucumbers: 99cents each
Cauliflower: 3.99
Avocado $3 each
Strawberries $4.99/box
Prices will go up more over the winter…

I don’t shop meats/poultry etc since I’m vegetarian but i know those costs can add up very quickly, especially if avoiding factory farmed or generic cheapo brands


I just got kale for .99/bunch and cilantro was on sale 7 for $1!

I can see how those kind of prices can add up!

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Current prices at my normal UK supermarket:

Fresh coriander - £1.25 (100g)
Kale - £1.25 (200g)

What supermarket is this? even for Manhattan those prices seem high. Key Food and C-Town in Astoria (i.e., chain supermarkets as opposed to ethnic markets) have cilantro for $.79, avocados $.99 or 3 for $2.00 for the dubious looking ones, kale and chard $1.50 a bunch.

You’d do better at the farmers’ market (which you do shop at IIRC) but of course it can be hard to do that depending on one’s work hours.

Best market in harlem, Pioneer market (also harlem), fairway, and gristede’s. As far as i know there isn’t a key foods or ctown near or convenient for me- and Astoria is definitely cheaper than manhattan. I go to trader joe’s with sone frequency because their prices are better.
Sale prices from my local pioneer market today had kale on sale for 2/$4, (usually $2.99 each) a bunch of beets on sale for $3.99, cucumbers on sale 3/$2 (notice the rumpled ends and not great appearance of them)…
i do get to the union sq farmer markets on saturdays when i can but it’s not possible during the week with my long work days

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Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
Credit: Juan Antonio Segal, Flickr