Savoring the Seasons: Local Food for All = Everyone Wins!

The Recorder, March 15th, 2016, by Mary McClintock.

One of my favorite signs of spring are spring dug parsnips. I heard from Michael Docter of Winter Moon Farm in Hadley that his “just out of the thawed ground” parsnips are now available at Green Fields Market. Each spring, I wax poetic about Michael’s “sweeter than just about any root vegetable you’ve ever eaten” parsnips. Their sweetness comes from the alchemy of freezing/thawing while spending the winter in the ground instead of in a storage bin.

My favorite way to eat parsnips is to cut them into “coins” and saute them in butter. Simple, and incredibly tasty. But, when I heard from Tammy Hicks about the Chowder Fest happening this Sunday at Berkshire East, I thought, “Hmmm … I bet parsnip chowder would taste great!”

Do you have a parsnip chowder recipe or another favorite chowder recipe? Tammy is still looking for contestants and everyone is invited to taste the chowders.

These days, along with telling my friends about signs of spring, I’m spreading the word about CISA’s brilliant “Local Food For All” project. With our support, CISA can expand two programs that help many of our hungry neighbors have access to nutritious local food while supporting local farmers. This month, CISA is trying to raise $100,000 to 1) increase their SNAP & Save program that matches up to $10 in SNAP purchases at farmers markets and 2) expand their Senior FarmShare program that subsidizes Community Supported Agriculture shares for low-income seniors.

Here’s why I think the Local Food For All project is brilliant:

  1. Hungry people get healthy and tasty food
  2. Hard/smart-working farmers get paid for food they grow
  3. Farmers markets and CSA farms get customers
  4. Farmers have thousands more dollars to spend in our community
  5. All of us have access to the food local farmers grow
  6. It’s simple and builds on existing, effective programs

It all adds up. Even a words-not-numbers person like me can do the math to realize that a donation to CISA’s Local Food For All project both feeds hungry people and is a powerful investment in our whole community. I hope you’ll join me in giving generously to Local Food For All. Please don’t wait. CISA needs to raise $100,000 by the end of March to fund Local Food For All.

I recently noticed some of my many bumper stickers are looking ratty and need replacing. I think I’ll get one that says “Local Food For All” … it sums up a lot of my values!

“Local Food For All” also makes me think of one of my favorite bumper stickers: Seeds of Solidarity’s motto “Grow Food Everywhere.” Ricky and Deb of Seeds of Solidarity in Orange live that motto every day, and help many others live it, too. This Saturday, Ricky and Deb are offering a free workshop at the Orange Innovation Center on extending the gardening and food growing season.

This Week We’re Eating …

Parsnip Chowder

Old Farmer’s Almanac

3 strips bacon, diced

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1/4 C. chopped parsley

6 parsnips, peeled and chopped

1 to 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 C. boiling water

3 C. milk

1 C. cream

2 T. butter

2 T. flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Fry bacon in soup kettle until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Saute onion and parsley in fat until tender. Add parsnips and potatoes, pour in boiling water, and simmer, partially covered, 15 to 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and add milk and cream. Melt butter in sauce pan over low heat. Add flour and blend with whisk. Add ½ C. soup liquid and blend until mixture is smooth. Heat soup and slowly stir butter-and-flour mixture back into kettle. Add reserved bacon and increase heat almost to boiling. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 6-8.