Seasonal Eating to Beat High Food Prices

Save on Groceries, Eat Healthy Foods, and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
December 7, 2023

Seasonal eating can cut your food bills and your carbon footprint at the same time.

When energy was cheap and the climate was more predictable, you might have given no thought to eating fresh tomatoes or cucumbers in mid-winter. But times have changed. Now, the high cost of fuel is making it expensive to transport food long distances. And, on the farm, climate-driven droughts and unpredictable weather events are impacting crops. So how can we eat better in these changing times?

Beets and carrots. Seasonal eating to beat high prices.

How to Eat Affordably and Well

The answer is taking us back to what our ancestors and grandparents practiced for millennia: seasonal eating. Seasonal eating means eating the foods that grow in your region when they’re harvested (or for as long as they keep in local storage), rather than having them at any time of year.

Are Seasonal Foods Better?

In many ways, yes. Seasonal foods are cheaper and have a lower carbon footprint because they don’t travel long distances. They also have more flavour because they’re fresher.  Taste some fresh carrots or parsnips just pulled from the winter soil, and you’ll know the difference!

Which Vegetables are Fresh in Winter?

Winter salad greens. Seasonal eating to beat high food prices.

Fresh greens for salads and braising are available in BC throughout the winter months. These include hardy lettuce such as romaine, red leaf, and buttercrunch, as well as sprouts, baby spinach, beet greens, and bok choy. Spicy, earthy, sharp, or bitter greens such as arugula, tatsoi, mizuna, red mustard, radicchio, endive, frisée, and sorrel are also available fresh. Sharp greens are good in salads paired with a fruit-flavoured vinaigrette.

Cauliflower. Seasonal eating to beat high food prices.

Cool-season vegetables and hardy greens for side dishes, soups, slaws, and stir-fries include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collards, Brussels sprouts, kale, and chard. Cabbage and collards, with their large leaves, make delicious wraps.

Beets. Seasonal eating to beat high food prices.

Root vegetables for roasting, baking, or mashing include carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, and rutabagas. Carrots are also excellent raw in salads and coleslaw.

Mushrooms. Seasonal eating to beat high food prices.

Mushrooms for pastas, meat, and vegetarian main dishes come in several varieties, including white button, crimini, porcini, shiitake, oyster, and portabella.

Leeks. Seasonal eating to beat high food prices.

Fresh winter herbs and alliums to add seasoning include leeks, scallions, bay leaves, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, thyme and winter savoury. Leeks make a tasty base for soup, quiche, and risotto, providing an interesting taste contrast to everyday onions.


Winter Vegetables from Storage

In addition to the fresh choices above, dried or stored winter vegetables, such as potatoes, provide a reliable supply of produce from crops harvested earlier in the year.

Garlic, potatoes and onions. Seasonal eating to beat high food prices.

Winter stored vegetables include seasonings like garlic, onions and shallots, as well as winter squash, potatoes, and sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes). Winter squashes come in many varieties, from butternut, acorn, Hubbard, delicata, and spaghetti squash (for baking), to sugar pumpkins (for pie baking, sweet breads, and purees). Sunchokes, the versatile root of a plant in the sunflower family, can be boiled, roasted, fried, steamed, grilled or grated into savoury pancakes.

More about seasonal foods:

What's In SeasonWhat’s in Season?

A guide to when foods are in season throughout the year

Recipes for Winter VegetablesRecipes for Winter Vegetables: Seasonal Foods to Eat this Winter

Nine recipes for winter salads, soups and side dishes.

Vancouver Island Farms and Food Map

Vancouver Island Farms & Food MapSearch the Vancouver Island Farm Map – a guide to farms and fresh local food on southern Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island.

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