Winter is still upon us. With a nip in the air and fresh snow on the ground, the fresh vegetables we enjoy in the spring and summer are not locally grown at this time of the year. So what do we do? How do we maintain a healthy diet and at the same time support our local farmers? I’ve heard this question while walking in the grocery stores, talking to friends and family, and even while visiting the local Farmer’s Market.

Many of us like to enjoy vegetables all year long and with the import of vegetables and fruits from all over the world, we are able to do so. However, there are also many local vegetables available at our fingertips during the winter months and some options may surprise you.
Let’s start with the most obvious: potatoes, beets, carrots, turnip, cabbage, winter squash, pears, apples and onions. These items are typically harvested in late fall and available throughout the winter. You can also get peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes which are grown in locally in hot houses in Southern Ontario. These particular vegetables are rich sources of vitamins and minerals[1] that may strengthen your immunity[2] during flu season.

So, what could a typical local vegetable meal look like with our new ingredients?
Why not roast some potatoes, carrots and onions? Add a light traditional Greek Salad, with fresh local tomatoes, and serve with the protein of your choice. For those of us following a vegetarian diet, maybe try a meatloaf made with black beans and lentils instead.

Veggie Soup

Photo by Catherine Rose-Loveless

There is also the option of a Harvest soup with potatoes, carrots, and squash. Use some lentils in the soup for protein and to thicken the soup. Pair with a great toasted cucumber and tomato sandwich (try sourdough bread!) – a wonderful, warm and hearty meal for a cold winter’s day with a little reminder that spring is coming!


[1] Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers. Retrieved from www.ogvg.com
[2] “How to Boost Your Immune System”. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system