By Himanee Gupta
One belief about eating local is that we cannot do it in February. The ground is frozen. Nothing is growing. It is cold.
We grit our teeth as we head for the grocery store, knowing that what we’ll find will have traveled several hundred miles and will not be cheap.
It need not be.
While it is true that farmers cannot grow much in frozen soil, they still can offer foods grown, raised, or made at their farms. That is what the Saratoga Farmers Market brings you every Saturday. Even though the offerings and number of vendors are smaller at this time of year, there’s good stuff available for delicious meals throughout the week.
- Soups made with butternut squash, carrots, turnips, and potatoes. Gomez Veggie Ville and Lovin’ Mama Farms have these classic winter vegetables. Cook them with bone broths from King’s Creek Farm or simply water. For a creamy touch, give the soup a light puree with a blender, and then stir in some A2 milk from the Argyle Cheese Farmer. Put some microgreens from the Perfect Plant Farm on top.
- Meats. Chicken, duck, goat, pork, beef, and veal are currently available. Think about roasts, stews, meatloaf, chili, casseroles, and burgers – just to get started. Farm-raised meat might seem expensive by the pound. However, many cuts are available in smaller packages, such as stew meats and chops. And our meat producers are good cooks who know how to prepare a larger cut, such as a roast or a whole duck or chicken, and also how to create marvelous second, third, or even fourth meals with leftovers. They’re happy to share their tips. Stop by the tables of Hebron Valley, Hepatica, Jireh, King’s Creek, Longlesson, and Squash Villa farms, and ask.
- Homemade sides and treats. In addition to sweet and savory baked goods are stuffed dates, pickled beets and cabbages, jams, cheeses, granola mixes, and hummus. Combining farm-made foods with vegetables and meats can add a healthy, flavorful balance to winter meals. Look for such items at Kokinda Farms, Nightwork Bread, Puckers Gourmet Pickles, Parchment, Sweet Prophecy, and The Cookie Lab, among others.
And the days are getting longer, so popular items such as eggs, spinach, kale, and salad greens are becoming more available.
One trick for making the most of a farmers market visit both now and year-round: Treat your shopping list as a guide, not a rule. Take in all of what the market offers. Let yourself make changes and substitutions because you can. That’s what makes eating local possible and exciting, even in February.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is open on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Wilton Mall Food Court. Find us online at www.saratogafarmersmarket.org, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @SaratogaFarmersMarket.