Eating local food in winter is—literally—a pale comparison to the bounties of spring, summer, and fall—but here’s a trio of things I’m enjoying this winter: The Neighborhood Farm’s dry shelling beans, Pete & Gerry’s Organic Eggs, and alFreshCo’s Locally Sourced Meal Kits.
It’s hard to find locally grown shelling beans, at least in Massachusetts, so I was thrilled to see them in Jamaica Plain at the Egleston Farmers Market. The Neighborhood Farm, a collection of market gardens in and around Needham, Mass., was selling three different kinds of beans. Not only were they tasty, they were pretty!
Locally grown beans are far superior to the bags of black, red, or white beans you buy at the grocery store. While dried beans won’t go bad, they do get tough if you keep them a long time. When you buy them from a local farmer, you know you’re getting this season’s beans. They take less time to cook and you may not even have to soak them.
Locally-raised eggs are usually easy to get all year long. While I always buy my eggs at the farmers market when I can, I was glad to learn about Pete & Gerry’s eggs, which are sold at stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Fresh Market. Pete & Gerry’s is a multi-generation farm in New Hampshire that contracts with farmers along the East Coast to produce humanely-raised eggs.
I always loved the eggs I ate when I lived in the UK, because their yolks were a deeper yellow and had a richer flavor than the eggs I buy here. So I was excited to hear that Pete & Gerry’s sells a special variety called Fresh Marans Hen Eggs that produce that deep yellow, almost orange yolk that I crave. Their former marketing director told me that in the James Bond novels, Bond always ate Marans Hen Eggs.
I took some Fresh Marans Hen Eggs home for a taste test, so I could compare them to eggs from a local farm. The yolks were definitely that fabulous yellow I remembered, but interestingly, the boiled Fresh Marans tasted the same as my local farm eggs. However, I could definitely taste the difference when I ate a fried Fresh Marans Egg. I’ll pick some up when I’m dreaming about that rich egg flavor.
My final winter local food treat is from a new company called AlFreshCo. Owner Laurel Valchuis creates locally sourced meal kits using as many local ingredients as possible. Each kit includes a vacuum-sealed bag of chopped local vegetables, a sauce, and grains, beans, or pizza dough. Follow a few simple instructions and presto—you’ve got a great vegetarian meal. I’ve made pizza from her kit twice, and the pizzas were delicious both times—although admittedly, I added my own cheese and a few other ingredients to suit my taste.
AlFreshCo’s been selling their meal kits at Egleston Farmers Market through February. In March, they’re going to start peddling their meal kits around the Boston area off of a tricycle; you’ll have to follow them on Facebook or Twitter to find out where they are.
What about you? Found any new local food favorites this winter?