As I wander the Westhampton Beach Farmers Market in the fall saying hi to the familiar vendors (What up, Chris Browder?), I’m reminded of a question I get regularly: How do I remain a locavore during the winter? It’s a good question, and one that’s easier to answer every year. When Edible started on the East End 10 years ago, the choice of farmers markets numbered in the single digits, most people needed to have the letters CSA spelled out and there was one brewery (What up, Southampton Publick House, founded 1996).
As our contributors and advertisers can attest, being a locavore is a lot more than the availability of fresh produce. Hens lay year round—they explode in the summer, but there are still eggs when the days are shorter. Our livestock farmers still butcher in January. Oysters “R” in season and best when the waters are cool. Bay scallops emerge from their shells the first Monday in November. And now we update our list of farmers markets on Long Island each year, with many moving indoors for the winter.
Locavores who don’t get the winter off are the people who ensure we have fresh vegetables in the summer. And here’s where you come in. Buying produce in season not only fills your plate with something beautiful, it allows farmers to pay their help, buy seeds, fix irrigation and, oh I don’t know, feed themselves.
In mid-November there are still a few markets operating outdoors, and more farm stands than that where you can shop through Thanksgiving: Westhampton for one, and Roslyn, Garden City, Rockville Centre and Seaford. Swoop in for your holiday sides, but this fall maybe it’s the first time you’ll consider buying bulk produce (or ugly apples, check out the “What’s in Season” story in this issue) and “putting it up.” This doesn’t have to mean canning. Get a dehydrator; cook off a bunch of stuff and freeze it; single-serving ziplock bags make this useful even for smaller families. I know one woman who throws whole tomatoes in the freezer and lets them roll around until she needs one in February.
This way our holiday tables can celebrate more than the reason we gather; we can help fresh food survive for the next season. Happy holidays and see you next year.