As I write this, I'm slurping down a soup made of roasted broccoli, celery root, garlic, and broth. I'd never cooked with celery root before, but I had to learn fast — the ugly-but-tasty vegetable was included in the first box of winter farm-share produce that arrived last week.
I'm splitting the share with a friend; winter vegetables (and some fruit) will arrive every three weeks between now and April. I'm already confident that it's $250 well-invested. This first bounty from Wolf Pine Farm in Alfred included onions, leeks, pumpkin, squash, celeriac, broccoli, salad greens, and carrots, among other treasures, forcing me to get cooking.
Wolf Pine Farm didn't offer summer shares this year, opting instead to focus its energy on growing winter vegetables. Those efforts will help me achieve several ongoing (and Going-Green-related) goals: eat more in-season vegetables and less meat, consume more local goods, don't spend as much money at restaurants. That first night, I came home and made two different soups; a few servings of each ended up in my freezer for later. I took the time to learn the best way to store each of the vegetables — potatoes go in a paper bag in my cabinets, carrots are in a plastic bag in my fridge, and pumpkin is cooked and stored in the freezer until I want to use it. I'm already thinking differently about dinner: my menus are now more dependent on what's available at home than my capricious cravings.
During a season when consumption, spending, and rich (albeit delicious) foods run rampant, it's comforting to know that the majority of my winter meals are sustainably, locally, and healthfully accounted for. Plus I feel worse about wasting food from a farm than I do about letting food from Hannaford rot in my vegetable crisper.
For friends who are learning to cook or trying to spend less money out, a farm share might be the perfect holiday gift (visit mofga.org to find summer 2011 shares or local operations still offering winter shares).
Speaking of which . . . With a month left until Christmas, here's a mini Going Green gift guide.
• It took 70 cameras more than four years to get all the footage for the Discovery Channel's groundbreaking miniseries Life, which is available now in a four-disc set ($50, store.discovery.com). Oprah Winfrey narrates 11 episodes, plus there's a special feature that documents the "Making of Life" — an inside look at the special technologies that allow viewers to witness Monarch butterfly migration, deep-sea squids hunting for dinner, and toads bouncing down rocky cliffs.
• For green gadget-heads, the Voltaic Amp Solar Charger ($99, voltaicsystems.com) is ideal. Two 2-watt, waterproof solar panels store solar energy; plug your device (phone, camera, iPod, whatever) right into the USB port or one of nine included adapters. It's no bigger than a book and weighs just one pound, but it can store up to 11 watts of energy — one hour in the sun equals three hours of phone time.
• Go paperless: Adopt a forest or a coral reef, or contribute to the Gulf Restoration Fund on behalf of a friend or relative through the Nature Conservancy (nature.org).