Seasonal Eating in Central Indiana, All Year Long
As terms such as “locavore,” “foodie,” and “slow food” become more prevalent in everyday conversation, I think it is safe to say the trend of eating whole, fresh, locally sourced foods is on more and more people’s minds. After spending my summer as a Growing Places Indy apprentice and now as an employee, my grasp of the local food system and my love for sustainability has grown; however, this growing emphasis on eating local is not just for the crunchy, free spirited generation. There are plenty of reasons why we should all, as an urban community in an ever-improving Indianapolis, take a closer look at where our food comes from and explore the benefits of eating local, fresh foods.
Just think about the impact you can have on carbon emissions by eating food that is grown near you. When food travels tens of miles instead of thousands of miles on trucks, planes, or boats to get to your plate, carbon emissions are greatly reduced. Another reason to eat locally is the tremendously positive community impact created by sourcing local foods. Farmers market patrons develop relationships with growers and producers, which cycles money spent on food directly back into our own community. Finally, when your food is grown near you, you know it is in season when you buy it!
Seasonal foods are picked at the peak of their freshness. This freshness provides higher nutritional content and flavor. Just ponder for a second, which tastes better: a deep red tomato picked from your backyard garden, still hot from the summer sun, or a hard, mealy tomato you pick up at a mass grocery store in the winter? Exactly: the juicy, summer tomatoes are the winners all the way! This is because in Central Indiana, garden- and farm-grown tomatoes hit their peak in the summer. Many people believe their options for eating seasonally year-round here in Indianapolis are too limited by the weather as the winter months blow in. A visit to the Indy Winter Farmers Market, though, should convince you otherwise and open up a whole new world of seasonal eating. Come peruse all the wonderful produce that our area farmers grow all winter long.
If better flavor, nutrients, and relationships still have not convinced you to eat seasonally, perhaps the fact that eating what is in season locally is better for your wallet and the local economy! If a crop is in season locally, that means there is more of the crop available. It is also important to note that buying local, seasonal food directly supports the growers and producers in our community. Instead of giving your money to big box stores, shopping for seasonal produce at farmers markets and other direct farm-to-consumer networks sends your money directly back into your own community.
Now that you are (hopefully) convinced to give seasonal eating a go this winter, here is a list of vegetables and fruits you can devour in the coming months and a few festive recipes to enjoy at
upcoming holiday parties:
- Brussels sprouts
- Greens (arugula, cabbage, kale, lettuce mix, spinach, Swiss chard)
- Winter Squash
- 2 c Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- Pepper to taste
2) Add Brussels sprouts and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3) Add soy sauce, stir and cover for 5 minutes.
4) Add pepper and serve!
Roasted Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Pistachio Stuffing
*Recipe courtesy of A Couple Cooks, a local blog from writer and photographer husband and wife team, Sonja and Alex Overhiser.
- 4 acorn squash
- 1 ½ c wild rice
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 shallot
- 1 bunch kale
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 4 oz crumbled feta cheese
- 1/3 c pistachios, chopped
2) In a medium pot, add 1 ½ c wild rice, 4 ½ c water, and a few pinches of kosher salt; bring to a boil, then simmer for about 45 minutes until tender. Drain any remaining liquid from the pot.
3) Meanwhile, chop each of the acorn squash in half and then in quarters. Using a spoon, scrape out the guts and seeds. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the squash on the sheet and drizzle with olive oil on the cut sides; sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Turn cut side down on the sheet and roast until tender, about 40 minutes.
4) While squash roasts, finely dice garlic cloves and shallot. Cut the kale into thin strips (chiffonade). In a large skillet, heat 1 to 1 ½ tbsp. olive oil; add garlic and shallot and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until the shallots are soft. Then add the kale and sauté for about 2 to 3 additional minutes until the kale is tender and bright green. Turn off the heat and stir in the rice, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.
5) To serve, place squash quarters on plate. Top with wild rice stuffing, then sprinkle with feta and chopped pistachios. (Alternatively, feta and pistachios can be mixed into the wild rice stuffing).
All of these seasonal crops, free-range, hormone free meats, and much more can be found at specialty groceries like Indy Food Co-op Pogue’s Run Grocers and the Indy Winter Farmers Market (IWFM). The IWFM runs Saturdays through April 25th from 9 am-12:30 pm in the Platform, located in the west end of the Indianapolis City Market. Open up a wintery world of possibilities in your own kitchen this winter by making a commitment to seasonal eating! Happy holidays from everyone at Growing Places Indy!