Moods at the last Bellingham Farmers Market this year ran the gamut from holiday frivolity to sadness that the season was coming to a close. Farmers were having relaxed and jovial conversations about their winter plans (mostly involving things like chopping firewood or working on projects they hadn’t had time to tackle during the busy summer season). A couple of young women vendors at one booth were talking excitedly about a spa day someone was giving them. Some were glad they were going to be able to stay warm and dry at home for the next few Saturdays.
On the other hand, vendors and regular customers were realizing they were going to miss having their weekly visits until the Market reopens next April. Market-based friendships often develop almost without people realizing what’s happening. People see each other nearly every week. Farmers offer customers beautiful, healthy food that they’ve worked hard to provide. Customers offer farmers cash, of course, but also interest in what they do, as well as appreciation and gratitude for their work. A fondness is created on both sides that may not be consciously acknowledged until the season is at an end.
For locavores (people who eat only locally grown food as much as possible) there’s also a sense of loss for the easy access to local food that the Market has provided during the warmer months of the year. However, there are still good alternative food sources. Thankfully, we have the Community Food Co-op stores, Terra Organica, and The Market at Lakeway (and Birch Bay), all of which carry some locally grown foods throughout the winter. Haggens has some local food as well. We also have businesses like Bellingham Pasta who make foods locally using local ingredients as much as possible. Some locavores will have vegetables overwintering in their home gardens (kale, for example). Others have root cellars and freezers well-stocked for the cold months ahead. Some farmers will still be selling to their established customers directly from their farms (I’ll be getting more beef from Second Wind Farm, for instance, and we renewed our egg CSA with Red Barn Lavender for the winter months). Every year it gets a little easier to find local food outside the growing season.
While locavores may be feeling nostalgia for the summer, we are fortunate to have so many winter options. An awareness of food seasonality is one of the advantages of the locavore lifestyle. Instead of dreaming about holiday sugarplums, I’m already dreaming about the taste of the first spring asparagus, or the juiciness of the first raspberries warm from the fields, or–the ultimate–the first ripe tomatoes which practically glow with lusciousness. Doesn’t the thought just make your mouth water? Wouldn’t you trade one bite for a whole case of the tasteless pale tomatoes you can buy in grocery stores right now?
Here are some great ideas for end-of-the-year holiday dishes:
- Mint Candy Cane Beets
- Smoked Salmon Potato Galettes
- Cheese Cone with Apple Slices
- Meatballs with Wine Sauce
- Sweet Potato Chips with Locavore Onion Dip
Happy New Year!