Making Local Food Part of Your Holiday Traditions

December 19, 2014

triangle land conservancy

The holidays are barely a week away, which means fun, family, and of course, food. Spice up your holiday table this season with local food from growers in your community. Can your produce purchase make a difference? Absolutely, and here’s why:

1) Local produce tastes better. Instead of growing varieties that must survive long transportation routes, farmers can grow produce that has the best taste, and they can pick it exactly at the peak of freshness.

2) Local produce contains more nutrients. Produce that has been sitting on trains, planes, trucks, and in warehouses can lose important nutrients, nutrients you can consume if purchasing food grown locally.

3) Local produce supports farmers in your community. When farmers sell to distributors, they often have to sell for prices so low that they are barely above the cost of growing the fruit or vegetables. When a farmer sells locally, he or she can charge higher prices by avoiding the distributor, thus retaining the full retail price. When farmers can support their families, they can remain on their land and continue producing food.

4) Local farms protect open space and provide opportunities for wildlife to flourish. If farmers thrive, they will not sell their land to developers, and well-managed farms can have many different environmental benefits, including riparian buffers, space for a variety of pollinators, as well as habitat for some of America’s favorite birds, such as the Eastern Meadowlark.
Even though it is late December, farmers are still producing and selling winter vegetables. Check out the two delicious recipes below and start a new tradition of using locally grown food at every holiday meal!

For open farmers markets and hours, see our “Buying Local” guide here.

Recipes:

Roasted Swiss Chard

It’s hard to go wrong with Swiss chard, a green that is both tasty and beautiful. Follow the recipe below for a delicious way to serve both the greens and stems in one meal. You will need Swiss chard, an onion, salt, pepper, olive oil, and feta cheese. Based on an old family recipe.

Step 1: Using a large bunch of Swiss chard, chop up all the stems, as well as one onion.
Step 2: Mix the chopped stem with the chopped onion, adding two tablespoons of olive oil as well as salt and pepper to taste.
Step 3: Put them on a large grease pan and let bake for 15 minutes in an oven set to 350 degrees. Make sure to spread them out.
Step 4: While they are baking, chop up the greens, and add three tablespoons of olive oil as well as salt and pepper to taste.
Step 5: When the stems and onions are finished baking, remove them from the oven and layer the tops over the stem/onion mix.
Step 6: Layer feta cheese over the chopped greens and onion.
Step 7: Roast all for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
Step 8: Serve and enjoy!

Cream of Carrot Soup
Carrots are always a lovely winter vegetable, and this is a soup even picky eaters will love. You will need butter, sliced carrots, one large potato, one onion, one stalk of celery, chicken broth, ginger, heavy whipping cream, curry powder, salt, and black pepper. Based on a recipe found here.

Step 1: Heat ¼ cup butter in a Dutch oven, medium heat.
Step 2: Add 2 ½ cups sliced carrots, 1 cup chopped onion, 1 chopped celery stalk, 3 cups chicken broth, and 1 teaspoon of ground ginger.
Step 3: Cover and cook, leave for 30 minutes until vegetables are tender. Make sure to stir occasionally.
Step 4: Remove the lid and let cool for 15 minutes.
Step 5: Using a food processor, blend the soup until it is smooth. You can also use a hand mixer.
Step 6: Transfer the soup back to the Dutch oven, and add in ½ cup heavy whipping cream, then 1 teaspoon curry powder, ½ teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper.
Step 7: Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, or until the soup is heated through.
Step 7: Serve and enjoy!

Have a favorite holiday dish of your own that spotlights local winter produce? Make sure to share the recipe with us on Facebook or a share a photo of the dish with us on Instagram!

Other TLC Recipes:
Persimmon Pudding
Do Chua and Spring Rolls
Miso-glazed Eggplant
Spring Green Salad
Spring Roasted Chicken
Hominy Bison Chili
Cream of Tomato Soup with Welsh Rarebit

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