Local Foods Available in February
Even in February, a four season organic farm in Maryland (like Next Step Produce in Newburg) can provide quite a bit of your daily foods. Some foods will be fresh off the plant. Some will have been harvested at the perfect time and put into cold storage (like carrots and potatoes). Meats were butchered in the fall and stored in the freezer or smokehouse for winter eating. When supplemented with preserved local foods from the summer and fall, your February diet can be deliciously varied and support your wellness! Incorporating foods grown organically at small farms in other geographic areas adds another dimension to your diet which is often appreciated. However, strive to have the bulk of your diet be grown locally and sustainably by a farmer you know and trust with your wellness!
Seasonal Food Preservation
Now is the time of year that you are benefiting from past (and future) work to support your local food lifestyle. You enjoy the bounty and flavor of the foods preserved last year! Your pantry is slowly emptying of canned salsas and pickles made from summer fruits. Your stash of frozen berries is getting gradually used in smoothies and fruit crisps. Your dried onions and tomatoes contribute to delicious soups. This is great time to plan for what you want to locate, preserve, and enjoy next year. Seek out recipes. Examine your diet – what do you use enough to want to replace it with a locally grown option? Make a wish list of what to create or stock up on for next winter. Hey, maybe even plan your garden!
Grow Your Own Food – with a Local Upgrade
You can’t get more local for your food than what you grow for yourself. What if you have a brown thumb? Start small! Perhaps just a pot of your favorite cooking herb. Beware if it is a pet friendly herb or if you will end up sharing it with your cat too much! Remember that your indoor plant needs sunlight. If your thumb is a little greener, consider a warmer weather container garden on a patio, deck, or garden box outside a south facing window. You can and should grow beautiful flowers along with some of your favorite vegetables that grow locally. If you are a “big garden in my backyard” person, yay more super local food for you!
Buy Local Seeds
No matter the current state of your food growing skills, you can add a local focus to your growing plans. If you like the inexpensive and variety of starting your own seeds, where do you get organic and heirloom variety seeds from? Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is our local seed company, specializing in heirloom varieties and organically grown seeds that will grow well here in Southern Maryland. You can order directly from them or pickup up selected varieties of seed packets at Mom’s Organic Market in Waldorf, MD. In the past I have organized a SESE seed swap, combined with a friend on seed orders to save on shipping, and split a seed package so me and a friend both benefit without getting overwhelmed in seed costs or seeds.
Buy Local Plant Starts
If seed starting is too much for you, just buy the baby plants and get them into a pot or the ground with great soil. Yes, you can get plant starts, those little 2-6 inch high plants sold in 4 or 6 packs, at places like big department stores and garden centers. A more sustainable and community friendly option is to purchase them from local farmers who are starting plants for themselves and selling the extras. Even better, is to skip the cheap plants grown by the Amish and opt into superb quality, organically grown plant starts from local sustainable farmers.
If you want simplicity, selection and great plants, signup now for Red Tree Farmstead’s Garden Bundles. You get to choose between the 10 plant patio (container garden) and the 30 plant garden (in ground) packages of summer garden plants. If you want to personally select your plants and varieties, head down to one of the Amish/Mennonite greenhouses and garden centers near Loveville, MD. It could be a grand adventure and a delightful shopping experience that yields you a garden full of plants but they are not likely to support your sustainable, organic food and garden philosophy. Keep in mind that plants will be available a bit early or right on time to plant, so have your space ready!
Fermented Foods for Healthy Digestion by Rootbound Farms
Rootbound Farms is a suburban farm, growing in- season produce using no-till, Back to Eden, and regenerative practices. We also take pride in our simplicity. All of our products we make and sell have simple, all-natural, and sustainable ingredients.
Fermented foods support gut health and thereby brain health. Fermented foods are available year round, but are still seasonal. In the depths of winter, kimchi can provide much needed heat and colonization of your gut microbiome. Kimchi is typically made from a variety of winter vegetables grown locally. Rootbound Farms in La Plata, MD, owned and operated by Woody and Janine, has been making country style kimchi for more than 5 years. The recipes have evolved over the years but have been consistent over the last two. Kimchi is packed with nutrients, vitamins, and fiber from the raw vegetables. The lacto-fermentation process rids the kimchi of the natural bacteria present on the vegetables and makes it possible for the good bacteria (Lactobacillus) to take over and work its magic. This good bacteria converts the naturally present sugars into Lactic Acid which works as a natural preservative that helps fight the bad bacteria and preserves the flavor and texture. Along with the health benefits from the vegetables, the fermentation process brings a whole list of other health benefits with it. Kimchi is known to lower cholesterol, creates an healthier digestive system, helps a speedy recovery from yeast infections, and has anti-inflammatory properties. Woody and Janine eat it every day, putting it in salads or a stir fry, using it as a marinade, over rice, or eating it right out of the jar.
The Importance of Local Food by Chef Terrance Murphy
Chef Terrance: Intra-Extraverted appreciator of the complex & simple things alike. Baker of breads. Maker of live juices. Lover of all things nature provides.
At a summer BBQ my family hosted 10 or so years ago, I recall asking my grandmother about the lack of veggies and lackluster appearance of the meats we were serving. Her answer was deflating. She flippantly quipped that we didn’t know all the guest that well and they weren’t family so, it’s “OK” to serve to them cheap food. There was a disturbing disconnect here… How could this woman who showered me with love and tender care throughout my life harbor this kind of indifference toward other human beings, who were guests of ours no less.
As I plowed and slalomed my way from kitchen to food hall developing my skills as a cook/Chef I quickly learned that my grandmother wasn’t the only person who held this attitude toward their guest. Viewing invoices and having to work within the constraints of food cost budgets, I witnessed every facet of the food biz practice this disconnect of dubious food ethics from their message of caring about the satisfaction of their guests experience.
A trope often repeated by food policy technocrats and advocates alike is, “America’s Food Systems are Broken”. This statement miserably misses the mark as it absolves the human element in creating these very systems. What’s actually accurate is that, our human spirit is broken. In very few of the kitchens I plied my trade in, were there conversations about how we could source closer to our footprint. Or where we could source higher quality nutrient dense acorn squashes. Or who’s producing local grains that were grown without the addition of arsenic laced chicken manure-fertilizers. The emphasis in production and recipe development was focused on creating visually stimulating “WOW” plates, and perfecting techniques and flavor enhancers to blitz the taste buds of guests.
Without the human connection of telling stories of; where our foods are sourced from-the families of farmers that toil the soil to grow them-and the places that make them worthy of their coin, our foods are reduced to mere social media plate-porn. When there isn’t a connection with the thing(s) that provides us sustenance but instead the celebration of Narcissistic Chef culture, Nihilism is creeping just around the bend.
To be disconnected from nature and our neighbors while depending on trucks, trains, planes and sea vessels to deliver the very thing that we require to refuel our body is not a system defect. We are broken and in need of Healing…Which can be achieved through Common-Unity restoration.
Seasonal Food for Thyroid Health by Tracy Pritchard
Tracy Pritchard, CNS, LDN / Board-certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) and member of the Maryland State Board of Dietetic Practice (LDN), Tracy Pritchard works as a nutritionist at the Henry Chiropractic and Wellness Center in Lexington Park. Before discovering her passion for nutrition, she served 10 years in the US Marine Corps as a Logistics Officer. Wife and mother to three children, Tracy enjoys cooking, running, and blogging about nutrition.
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland found at the base of neck that has an enormous impact on health by effecting every cell and all organs of the body. Thyroid hormones regulate the rate at which calories are burned as well as heartbeat. There are many vitamin and minerals essential to thyroid health. These include the minerals iodine, iron, selenium, and vitamins such as D and A. For those with impaired thyroid function, gastrointestinal absorption may also be impaired resulting in increased need for adequate dietary intake.
Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) plays an important role in the production of thyroid hormones. TPO is an enzyme normally found in the thyroid gland. It is heme protein and requires iron for its synthesis and activation. (Interestingly, menorrhagia can deplete iron stores and is a common symptom of hypothyroidism). Food sources of heme iron include beef, chicken, fish, pork, venison, and other meats especially liver. Non heme iron may be found in plant and animal sources, however the absorption from heme iron is more efficient than nonheme iron. To enhance the absorption of nonheme iron foods, combine with vitamin C containing foods. Cooking in a cast iron skillet can also increase iron stores.
Organic Food Pickup in La Plata, Maryland
February Recipes with Seasonal Ingredients
Winter Salad with Chicken
- salad greens (claytonia in photo)
- shaved carrot
- brown rice cooked in bone broth
- diced roasted chicken or turkey
- pumpkin seeds
- orange pieces
- Arrange greens to fill half a salad bowl
- shave or otherwise prepare raw carrots
- warm the pre-cooked brown rice (cooked in homemade chicken bone broth) and add to salad
- Dice the roasted chicken or turkey
- Peel and slice one half of an orange for salad
- Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds
- Dress with oil and vinegar or perhaps Elderberry and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing
Elderberry & Herb Balsamic Dressing
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2/3 cup Mama Bears Elderberry Syrup
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses
- 1 tbsp dry herbs such as Shenandoah Spice Co.s farmers market blend
- Add everything to a bowl andContributed mix
- Add spoonfuls of garlic, shallots, lemon juice and other extras if you’re feeling creative
- Make a salad using seasonal local vegetables whenever possible. For winter now that would be beets, carrots, onions, radishes, cabbage & kraut, greens and apples! Cheers to your health 🙂
- Store in a bottle in a cool place
Egg-y Apple Carrot Bake
- 2 Apples, chopped
- 2 Carrots, chopped
- 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract (homemade?)
- 1 Tbsp butter or coconut oil, melted
- 9 Eggs
- 3 Tbsp Milk of your choice
- 2 Tbsp Coconut flour
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Baking soda
- 1 pinch Sea Salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and oil a 12 cup muffin tin (or use a silicone muffin pan)
- Combine apple pieces with cinnamon, vanilla, and melted butter or coconut oil and mix
- Whisk eggs, milk, coconut flour, and other dry ingredients in a bowl
- Add apple mixture and pour into prepared pan
- Bake 25 min or until the middles are fully cooked
Daikon Radish Pickles
- 1 lb Daikon radish
- 6 Tbsp vinegar of your choice
- 1 tsp sea salt or celtic salt
- 1 piece fresh turmeric 2 inches long
- fresh ground black pepper
- Toss together with thinly shaved radishes and serve immediately, or prepare ahead of time as flavors (and color) develop further over time.
- Store whatever is not eaten right away in a glass jar in the fridge – consider making extra for a quick snack
add 1 tbsp sugar or 2 tbsp mirin (fermented rice cooking condiment with high sugar content, without sugar added) Recipe provided by Next Step Produce
Fig Chèvre Sourdough Toast
- 2 Tbsp Chèvre such as Firefly Farms
- 2 Tbsp Fig Jam such as Mitica
- 1 slice Sourdough Bread, toasted
- Toast the sourdough bread
- Spread goat cheese on top
- Layer the fig jam on the cheese
Meat, Pepper, and Spinach Soup for Thyroid Health
- 2 tsp avocado oil
- 1 lb ground beef, turkey, chicken
- 1 onion or leek (diced)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 carrots (chopped)
- 2 celery stalks (chopped)
- 2 red bell peppers (chopped)
- 2 cup diced tomatoes (preserved from last year or canned)
- 2.5 cups broth (homemade is optimal)
- 1/2 tsp Italian herbs
- 4 cups spinach (chopped)
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil over medium high heat
- Add meat and cook for 5-7 minutes (until browned)
- Add the onions, garlic, peppers, carrots, and celery and cook for 4-6 minutes
- Add the diced tomatoes, broth, and spices. Bring to a simmer and simmer covered for 20 minutes.
- Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!
Rootbound Farms Country Style Kimchi
- Napa cabbage
- Daikon or Korean Radish
- Fresh ginger root
- Fresh garlic
- Green/spring onion
- Dried Hot Chili Pepper Flakes
- Sea Salt (For Cabbage and Radish Brining)
- Cane Sugar
- Chop napa cabbage into 2-3 inch pieces discarding any brown or undesirable leaves and the stem.
- Cut or dice radish into small pieces and or slivers.
- Soak and agitate cabbage and radish in wash tub. Remove and repeat this process. Be sure all dirt and foreign matter has been washed off and cabbage/radish is clean.
- Layer cabbage, radish and sea salt into storage container. While layering cabbage, rub salt into cabbage leaves and radish to make sure sea salt has an even distribution and has penetrated all product.
- Cabbage and Radish sit at room temperature for 3-4 hours. Product height should decrease by 1/4 while salt draws moisture out.
- During this time, prepare all other vegetables for making the mixture. Wash and cut green/spring onion to desired length and let sit in the refrigerator. Peel and chop fresh ginger root into 1 inch pieces. Separate and wash garlic cloves.
- After cabbage has most moisture drawn out, rinse and repeat until all salt is removed from cabbage leaves. This may take 3-4 rinses.
- Combine chopped green/spring onion with the cabbage and fold in.
- Combine garlic, ginger, red pepper flake, sugar, and water into food processor and mix until mixture is paste-like. This process should be done in stages and folded and rubbed into the cabbage, radish, and onions.
- Be sure to have a uniform consistency of paste-like mixture into cabbage, radish, and onion.
- Pack down Fresh Kimchi into food grade buckets, seal and store in refrigerator at no less than 37 degrees Fahrenheit. pH = Approximately 5.5
- To bottle Fresh kimchi, bottle in food grade glass airtight jars 3-4 days after made. Ph = Approximately 5. The fermentation process will take place in the jar and gases created will need to be released by the purchaser by burping the jar weekly if not consumed in that week.
- To bottle fermented kimchi, bottle in food grade 16 oz airtight jars 10-14 days after made. pH = Approximately 4.5. Store in refrigeration at no less than 37 degrees Fahrenheit