Organic and local on the winter menu

greens

Local mixed greens with organic beets and goat cheese

If you live in the Delaware River Valley — or any place with four seasons — you know it’s more challenging to eat local and organic in the dead of January. Of course, if you’ve been industrious and built yourself a greenhouse or a few hoop houses, you can enjoy year-round produce local to your backyard. But for everyone else, a sustainable winter meal can take a bit of planning.

Doing the best you can

In late summer and early fall, the abundance of fresh, local and organic produce can make you feel like the proverbial kid in the candy store. The bounty of your garden, the variety at the farmers’ markets, the charm of tiny roadside stands where the produce is garden-grown and the purchase is made on the “honor system”… .  Before you know it, you’ve bought enough produce to feed an army.

Then the cold sets in and the choices dwindle quickly. You think back to the previous winter, when it seemed like the best you could do sometimes was to purchase store-brand organic from California. You weren’t happy about the carbon footprint of that purchase. But, then again, you could have bought non-organic, non-local food — exactly what most people do all year long.

Sure, in a perfect world, we’d eat only local, organic, in-season food. But in this imperfect one, we can make a difference by making the best choices available.

Eating sustainably in the Delaware River Valley

Thanks to our local farmers, there’s actually a surprising amount of local food available year round, including some that’s organic. Here are just a few local resources:

  • Meats & poultry — None Such Farm Market, Buckingham, PA; Highland Gourmet and Tullamore Farms, Stockton Market, Stockton, NJ
  • Organic duck — Milk House Farm Market, Stockton Market
  • Lettuce — Organic, Blue Moon Acres, Buckingham, PA; hydroponic, Maximuck’s Farm Market, Doylestown, PA; spray-free, Milk House Farm Market at Stockton Market, Stockton, NJ
  • Milk — Hormone and antibiotic-free, Maximuck’s and Fairview Farm, Pineville, PA; raw milk, Fulper Farms, Stockton Market
  • Tomatoes — Hydroponic, Maximuck’s
  • Cheese — Valley Shepherd Creamery and Fulper Farms, Stockton Market
  • Apples — Solebury Orchard, Solebury, PA
  • Eggs — Milk House Farm Market, Stockton Market; www.eggzy.net, Rick’s Egg Farm, Kintnersville, PA

Learn more about the Stockton Market at: http://stocktonfarmmarket.com/index.php/vendors

Find more local food under the Local Resources tab: Farm Fresh Food.

Organic options

Some of the above is organic or sustainably grown/raised. But there’s a lot you won’t find locally (organic or not) at this time of year. When local just isn’t an option, the carbon footprint issue gets murky. Again, in a perfect world, we’d limit our footprint on everything we eat. But if the choice is between non-local, non-organic and non-local organic — and you really need or want the item — organic would seem to easily trump the alternative. You can find a lot more organic at the supermarket these days. Better yet, you can buy organic at farm-owned groceries. The items you buy may not be local, but your purchase still helps support your local farmer and the local economy.

Trying to live sustainably is an imperfect art. The key is making conscious choices, one at a time. 

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