Everyone has a different feeling about winter. Some love the snow and the cold and look forward to the change of seasons, others hang on to fall with dear might, hoping that winter never comes.
No matter which camp you are in, the winter doldrums can hit hard. Flu season arrives, you haven’t opened the windows in weeks, you can’t remember what sunshine feels like, and inevitably you start to get down. You just don’t feel healthy. Along with making every effort to remain active, there’s another way to feel better in the winter — eat more vegetables. Sounds so simple, right? But when you go to the grocery store and see sad-looking produce, it’s not too enticing.
Want to learn how to eat more vegetables in the winter?
Let’s go to The Chalkboard.
Why Eat More Vegetables in the Winter?
According to the USDA, only 57.8% of Americans adhere to the Dietary Guidelines which include making half of your plate varied fruits and vegetables.
It’s no secret that eating vegetables provide many health benefits. Studies have shown that people who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Vegetables provide nutrients vital for the health and maintenance of your body.
That being said, we need to learn how to eat more vegetables in the winter when they aren’t as abundant. It’s time to join a Winter CSA.
What is a Winter CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA for short, is a program offered by farmers (many times local, often organic) to the public. For a set price, members purchase a “share” of the farm and in turn receive produce. A typical CSA runs during the farm’s busy growing season (May-November). A Winter CSA runs for a shorter period, usually December through March and provides members with mostly root cellar vegetables.
The advantages to these programs are huge as they create a mutually beneficial relationship where farmers receive money upfront to help with their operating costs and members receive local produce directly from the farm.
For the consumer, Winter CSAs provide fresh produce often lacking in the supermarkets since most vegetables are being brought in from warmer climates. While the farmers receive money during non-growing seasons to help continue and further their operations. It’s a win-win!
How Does A Winter CSA Work?
At the end of a season, farmers often have harvested vegetables left from the field which are stored in root cellars for the winter. With a Winter CSA program, these vegetables are boxed up and delivered to their members.
Each farm has its own method of operation but most provide a monthly produce box containing approximately 15 pounds of vegetables. The contents will vary but you can expect potatoes, watermelon radish, purple top turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, carrots, beets, leeks, winter squash, celeriac, and cabbage.
Belonging to a Winter CSA is how to eat more vegetables in the winter.
Now I know you may be thinking, fifteen pounds of produce! My family can’t possibly eat all of that! Remember, it’s for a whole month. My family of four (including two average vegetable eating boys) can finish a box with some additions from the grocery store. It is totally doable and, dare I say, enjoyable!
How to Store Winter CSA Vegetables
Since you will be receiving the vegetables only once a month, how you save them is super important. Proper storage will ensure that it all will last until the next box and beyond.
Follow these tips and your bounty should easily last the entire month.
- Do not wash the vegetables before storing them. Moisture degrades the vegetables faster.
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool dry place. Do not store them in the refrigerator.
- Winter Squash can be stored on your kitchen counter.
- Root vegetables and cabbage should be stored in the fridge in bags. If you are trying to limit single-use plastics, try these bags*. They are reusable and work just as well as Ziplocs.
- Leafy greens should be wrapped in paper towels or clean, dry dish towels and then placed in bags.
- When storing vegetables in the refrigerator, the crisper drawers are best.
How to Eat More Vegetables in the Winter – The Plan
So you have all of these vegetables, you’ve stored them properly now what the heck do you do with them? How do you eat it all? Well, it’s no secret that we are huge proponents of planning here at The Kitchen Chalkboard and, with a plan, belonging to a winter CSA is easy.
When you receive your box, write down all of the vegetables in it. This can do done on paper, your phone, or even a chalkboard in your kitchen. You will refer to this list as you plan your meals for the week. Now, when you chose what you will be eating, plan your meal around the vegetable. Look at your list and pick which vegetable you would like to use and then pull a recipe. You cannot help but eat more vegetables when they are the main component of the meal.
Keep your list all month and as you use up your vegetables, cross them off. You may need to supplement some vegetables from the grocery store so that you are able to vary your meals. This will prevent you from eating the same thing every week. If you need help getting started meal planning, check out our Ultimate Guide to Meal Planning.
Winter CSA Recipes
Need some recipes to fill up those meal plans? Check out our Winter CSA Recipes Board on Pinterest. It’s filled with ideas to get you going.
How To Find A Winter CSA
Interested in joining a Winter CSA but don’t know where to start? Check out the list below of some farms in major metropolitan cities that offer a Winter CSA.
Madison, WI – https://www.csacoalition.org/farm-search
Pittsburgh – http://www.pennscorner.com/winter-csa
Queens/Long Island – http://goldenearthworm.com/
If you don’t see your area listed, check out https://www.localharvest.org/.
What Do You Think?
Have you learned how to eat more vegetables in the winter? If you have any tips you can share let us know in the comments below, we would love to hear.
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