What’s winter mean for local food?

I’m sure you’re thinking that all of the ads with an Appalachian Grown logo made sense in the summer, when an abundance of local produce is available and featured on the menus of area restaurants. But with fall settling in and winter approaching, what’s the use? The local food movement quiets down, and restaurants can’t use local products, right? Not quite!

The restaurants and farms featured in this special section will have local items to offer in the coming months. What’s more, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project will remain hard at work on our decade-long local food campaign.

Here’s how you can eat local throughout the winter, as well as some information on what we’ll be up to once the chill is here to stay.

Get Local

ASAP’s Get Local is a year-round initiative that brings together farmers, chefs and community members to celebrate a featured local food each month. Featured items are chosen because of their widespread presence at tailgate markets, groceries and roadside farm stands during the month, as well as their availability directly from producers. This abundance makes it easy for shoppers and restaurant chefs to find these local items and create dishes that reflect the seasonal harvest.

In November, look for locally grown winter squashes. Farm-raised meat gets the spotlight in December, until honey and sorghum steal the show in January. February’s all about trout. Proteins still reign supreme with eggs in March and farmstead cheese in April. Be on the lookout for future “Eatin’ in Season” columns about who grows and produces these products and the restaurants that use them.

Get Local-er

We’ve got plans to expand our Get Local program this fall and winter. But, those plans all depend on you (no pressure)! So many of you are already making recipes from the Eatin’ in Season articles and seeking out each month’s featured food, as well as other local items. We hope to make it easier for you to share your involvement with the local food movement and eat even localer.

Plans are underway to build a special Get Local section of the ASAP website that will allow locavores to better engage with ASAP and our area’s thriving local food movement — to become “local-er,” if you will. Maybe you want to find and share recipes and tips? Or, post your apple-picking photos and ask others for their orchard recommendations? The new site will be the place to do just that. Check asapconnections.org in the coming months for the launch.

Back to School

Our Get Local program has already expanded into area schools, and a local food item is now featured each month in cafeterias. (The featured foods do differ from the overarching Get Local calendar; after all, cafeteria staff have a few more mouths to feed than most restaurant chefs.) Students will find local cabbage on the menu this month, local potatoes in November and get to enjoy several varieties of local apples during the winter.

There are excitement things happening with local food in area classrooms, too. A partnership between ASAP, Western Carolina University and Jackson County Schools, made possible by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, enables nutrition and elementary education students to implement farm to school programming in Jackson County. To date, programming has included farm field trips, planting gardens and local food cooking demonstrations.

In Buncombe County, ASAP works with area chefs as part of the national Chefs Move to Schools initiative. Currently, around 20 schools are matched up with more than 30 chefs and volunteers. Cooking demonstrations with local veggies and greenhouse items will continue throughout the winter. ASAP is also offering mini-grants for farm field trips in 2011 to schools throughout the region; application deadline is Nov. 5.

See? The coming months are exciting for local food!

Appalachian Grown is a program of ASAP that certifies food and agricultural products grown or raised on farms in Western North Carolina and the Southern Appalachian mountains. For more information about ASAP and Get Local, visit asapconnections.org. To learn more about Chefs Move to Schools and ASAP’s Farm to School program Growing Minds, visit growing-minds.org. Find area tailgate markets open in November and December, as well as restaurants sourcing local items, in ASAP’s Local Food Guide online at buyappalachian.org.

Maggie Cramer is the communications coordinator at Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project. Contact her at maggie@asapconnections.org.

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3 thoughts on “What’s winter mean for local food?

  1. LOKEL

    “What’s winter ….” poor grammar.

    That means “What IS winter …”

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