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Local Food You Can Eat All Winter

A Guide to Local Foods in Season — November to March

It’s called the shoulder season — the cold months after the fall harvest and before the new planting season in spring. When you don’t see much growing outside, you may be wondering: What kind of local food is in season and available in winter?

During the cold season, fresh local farm crops consist mainly of hardy greens and root vegetables. Add in local food that has been stored, dried, frozen, processed, or is grown indoors, and there is a surprising range of available local food in winter. (Local food guide continues below slideshow.)

Slideshow: 10 Ways to Eat Local all Winter in South Coast BC


Local winter vegetables are staples for winter slaws, braising, soups and stews. These hardy greens and root vegetables include arugula, beets, bok choy, chicory, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (above), carrots, kale, mache, mustard greens, parsnips, rutabagas and turnips.
Dried vegetables and fruits — especially dried beans and lentils — are basics for hearty soups and snacks. Dried foods from south coast BC (above) include: red lentils, white beans, kidney beans, dried cranberries, sun-dried tomatoes and Orca beans. Look for local dried beans, grains, fruits and vegetables from farmers and farm markets.
Sprouts may be the freshest food you can eat in winter (especially if you grow them in your own kitchen). Full of nutrients and enzymes, sprouts are available from many kinds of seeds, such as alfalfa, broccoli, mung beans (above), garbanzo beans. You can buy finished sprouts, or find seeds for sprouting in many grocery stores. A great boost to winter salads.
Microgreens, like sprouts, are tiny greens grown only until they open their first true leaves. These fresh greens bring an intense flavour and colour to salads and sandwiches. Microgreens grow from seeds such as arugula, broccoli, beets, cabbage chard, kale, basil, cilantro, radish, and mustard. Grow them indoors or look for microgreen farmers in your area.
Fresh winter herbs and leeks provide aromatic seasonings for cold weather cooking. Leeks, rosemary, thyme, parsley, winter savoury, chervil, sage, and bay leaves are available fresh during the cold winter months. Potted basil, a warm weather herb, will thrive all winter in a sunny window. Look for fresh and potted herbs in the produce section of grocery stores.
Frozen fruits and vegetables retain good taste and texture especially when preserved at peak season. Buy up or pick berries and other fresh produce in the summer to pack away for winter smoothies and cereal toppers. In winter, look for local frozen produce at farm markets, or direct from orchards and berry farmers who freeze extra fruit after the harvest.
Local preserves and canned goods come in many delicious and unusual combinations. Look for farmer preserved jams, jellies, pickled vegetables, chutneys, sauces, fruits, syrups, vinegars, honey and fermented foods. Locally preserved foods are available at farmers markets and food stores (or from your own pantry, if you like to can your own).
Mushrooms, foraged or locally grown indoors, are available year-round. Local edible varieties include: chanterelles, crimini (brown button), lobster mushrooms, morels, oyster mushrooms, portabellas, porcini, shiitake and white (button) mushrooms. Mushrooms add flavour to everything from pastas to meats, and stand out as a vegetarian main course.
Stored produce provides a stable supply of fruit and vegetables during the cold season. Kept in cool storage, many crops will last through the winter. Locally grown stored foods include apples, beets, garlic, onions, shallots, potatoes, rutabagas, winter squash, and turnips. In addition, local grains and nuts (hazelnuts and walnuts) are available throughout the winter.
Local meat, dairy and eggs are available throughout the winter. This includes poultry, beef, bison, pork, lamb and dairy products of all kinds. Pacific winter seafood and fish includes clams, cod, crab, flounder, mussels, oysters, scallops, and shrimp. Fresh wild-caught salmon is limited to summer season, but is available canned in winter.
Local winter vegetables are staples for winter slaws, braising, soups and stews. These hardy greens and root vegetables include arugula, beets, bok choy, chicory, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (above), carrots, kale, mache, mustard greens, parsnips, rutabagas and turnips.

What’s Local and in Season in Winter?

The guide below shows local foods available in late fall and winter in south coast British Columbia:

Local Foods Available from November to March in South Coast BC

Fresh & Stored Produce Approx Availability Dates
Apples November – March
Beans (dried), Lentils November – March
Beets November – March
Berries (frozen) November – March
Broccoli November (December – March in mild winters)
Brussels Sprouts November – December
Cabbage November – March
Carrots November – February
Caulifower November (December in mild winters)
Celeriac November
Celery November
Chard November (December – March in mild winters)
Cranberries November – December
Collards November (December – March in mild winters)
Cucumbers (hot house) March
Garlic November – March
Hardy Greens (arugula, bok choy, chicory, mache, mustards) November – December (January – March in mild winters)
Herbs November – March
Kale November – March
Kiwifruit November – February
Kohlrabi November – December
Leeks November – February
Lettuce November (in mild years)
Microgreens November – March
Mushrooms November – March
Onions, Shallots November – March
Parsnips November – March
Pears November – December
Peppers (hot house) March
Potatoes November – March
Quince November
Rutabagas November – March
Spinach November
Sprouts November – March
Sunchokes November – March
Tomatoes (hot house) March
Turnips November – March
Winter Squash November – February


Other Local Foods Available throughout the Winter in South Coast BC:

Hazelnuts are a local food you can eat all winterEggs
Cider, Frozen Juice
Craft Beer
Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream)
Dried Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs
Fermented Foods
Fish, Seafood
Flour (limited quantities in coastal areas)
Meat, Poultry
Nuts, Nut Oils (hazelnuts and walnuts)
Grains (limited quantities in coastal areas)
Pickled Vegetables
Preserves, Jams, Jellies, Sauces, Syrups
Tea (herbal and local green tea)
Sea Salt
Vinegars, Mustard, Relishes, Salsa, Chutney
Wine, Distilled Spirits

Read labels and get to know your local producers. You can find local food throughout the winter at farmers markets, grocery stores, direct from farmers, and maybe (if you grow your own sprouts or microgreens) even on your own kitchen counter!

Vancouver Island Farms and Food Map

Vancouver Island Farms & Food Map

Online Farm Map for Vancouver Island’s 100-Mile Diet

Search the Vancouver Island Farm Map – a guide to farms and fresh local food on southern Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island.

Recipes for Local Seasonal Foods