For those of us trying our best to eat seasonally, this is the most challenging time of year. The farmers’ markets are closed down until spring in most parts of the country (here in Sweden, too), and the backyard garden looks like a cemetery of plant stakes.
Right now our freezer is packed with frozen fruits and veggies: strawberries, cauliflower, peas, corn, broccoli and spinach. And I’m beginning to think that’s not such a good thing.
Turns out that frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce than fresh food. Then it must be transported in refrigerated containers to the supermarket, where it sits in frozen bins, until it makes its way to your freezer at home. Suffice it to say, frozen foods aren’t exactly an essential part of a low-carbon diet.
Problem is, I’ve also been avoiding canned food, too — because of the risk of Bisphenol A (BPA) in the lining of the cans and the fact that produce shipped thousands of miles from South America doesn’t seem like a great option either.
There is one somewhat greener option for stocking the freezer with quick meals and less guilt: The California-based Contessa foods company has opened the first LEED-certified frozen food manufacturing plant in the world.
But of course, the ultimate eco-answer would be to eliminate out-of-season produce altogether and instead opt for the handful of in-season fresh fruits and vegetables that are grown in our region. We’re trying to lean toward these as well as other locally produced foods like grains, beans, pasta and cheese. It’s not always possible, but it’s a good goal. Tonight I think I’ll make some locally-grown-potato soup with organic bread.
Here are a few winter vegetable recipes I found that I’m eager to try before the big spring thaw.