Features, Sustainable Obtainables

Sustainable Obtainables: Eating local year-round ain’t no thing

Whether you live on campus, off campus, like to cook or you’d rather eat at Café Mac, there will likely come a point in the long winter months where you’ll be faced with shopping at the grocery store. If you’ve got a small (or big) case of eco-anxiety like I do, you might be wondering how to shop sustainably for food while everything alive seems to be frozen over and buried under snow all around us.

The good news: there are resources all around the Twin Cities that aim to help us eat sustainably all year round in the frozen tundra. My favorite is the Winter Market. If you’re looking for an adventure on Saturday, head down the 63 line to downtown (290 E 5th St) from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and check out the St. Paul Farmer’s Market, called the Winter Market, through the month of April.

Despite the snow, local farmers and food innovators are still at it. Meats, cheese and dairy products, honey and baked goods will accompany canned treats, pickled delicacies, farm-fresh eggs, sauces, spices, salsas, syrups … there’s so much to try! Plus, there are tons of ways to incorporate these staples into our meals. Even if you don’t feel like you’re buying all local, or all organic, or all “sustainable” (how jargony is that word? so jargony) food, you can still take solace in the fact that you’re supporting a local farmer. Plus, the vendors at the market love to chat, and if you become a loyal, dedicated customer in the off months, you never know what kinds of goodies they’ll have for you once the harvest is bountiful!

Whether you’re picking up Caramel Crunch granola (from local, heirloom grains) at Urban Graze, one of 80 different varieties of cheese from Gingerbread Jersey Cheese or local honey from the happy bees at Wolf Honey Farms, you can always incorporate some local fare in your diet this time of year. Here are some tips on how to use what’s in season:

Wintry Maple Syrup and Dijon Vinaigrette

Yield: 2/3 cup

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, shake together the vinegars, maple syrup, Dijon and salt and pepper to taste. Add the olive oil and shake again until the dressing is fully emulsified. Taste, eat, mmm! (Source: Food52)

(My suggestion: serve with a kale, green apple and walnut salad. Oh yeah, now is a good time to plug kale. Eat. Kale. It’s so yummy and season-appropriate!)

Honey-Thyme Butternut Squash with Honey

Yield: 5 servings

  • ½ large butternut squash peeled and cubed
  • 1/8 cup butter (or dairy-free substitute)
  • 1.5 tablespoons half-and-half cream (or dairy-free sub stitute)
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

In a large saucepan, bring 1 in. of water to a boil. Add squash; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain. Mash squash with the remaining ingredients. Taste, eat, mmm! (Source: TasteOfHome)

(My two cents: butternut squash is incredibly versatile, and a great winter food with so many possibilities. The honey brings out the sweetness and gives it an almost candied taste!)

Sweet Potato Soup with Citrus and Chipotle

Yield: 1-2 servings

  • 1 medium baked, mashed sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup water (or broth if desired)
  • 1/2 cup milk (or almond, coconut or soy if you are dairy free)
  • 3 pinches of salt
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle spice
  • dash of seasoned chili salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake your sweet potato until tender. Remove potato skin, add to blender along with the broth and milk. Blend on low until smooth. Add the salt and spices to taste. Eat with a spoon, or better, tortilla chips! (Adapted from lunchboxbunch.com)

March 29, 2013

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