If you only shop for your fruits and vegetables in the big box grocery stores, you may be conditioned to believe that most everything you buy is grown outside of your local area. It is no secret that commercial grocers traditionally seek the lowest price for their goods. California produce, which is diverse, abundant, and available year-long, tends to be the origin for much of the shiny produce you see in stores (berries in January, anyone?) So when I recently told a friend that I was going to a local famers market on a cold, snowy day here in the DMV, her response was basically "what could you possibly find fresh in a farm market at this time of year?"
Well, it might surprise you to know that many states, no matter their planting zone, produce year-round. For example, here in Virginia, vegetables such as apples, herbs, greens, and sweet potatoes are available well through December and January. Georgia has everything from cauliflower to pecans, and Missouri features turnips and winter squash. Even if you live in the frigid Great Lakes region or New England, you may be surprised to know that some markets your state operate year round! In fact, some of the best covered markets in the U.S. are in some of our most frozen cities (shout-out to my beloved West Side Market in Cleveland).
Of course, farm markets also feature fresh meats, dairies, bakers, coffee roasters, seafood, makers, picklers, juicers, bee keepers, vinegar producers, and in some lucky states, wine, beer and spirits. I like checking out as many markets as I can in my local area, and I often bring my son or daughter to help me pick out our fruits and vegetables for the week (which means right now I have a bounty of apples and honey.) Edible DC's winter/holiday 2017 edition has a handy guide to the DC-region's winter farm markets which I have tacked in my agenda. Farm Aid and PBS Food have information on winter farm markets around the U.S. for your reference, and the Spruce has a good guide to what's in season by state.
And if you live in a cold winter region and have the opportunity to travel to a warmer climate, definitely check out the local farm markets for finds you can't find at home.
Have a favorite winter farm market? Let me know in the comments. Happy Market Shopping!