Winter Roots and Blues

As a hipster, I try to use those obscure words or pronunciations of words that allow me to seem smarter than other people without actually knowing anything more. I’ll call suspenders “braces,” use the British pronunciation of “perseverance,” and insist that, originally, the T in “often” is supposed to be silent. More recently, I’ve really been enjoying the word “locavore.”

A locavore is one of those people that is committed to eating locally and even seasonally in order to support the local economy and agriculture. It’s also great to not have to think about the thousands of miles a particular tomato traveled in order to arrive in your salad, when it was last “alive,” and how nutrient-starved it has become along its little journey.

Living in Lancaster Pennsylvania sure makes it easy to find fresh produce. In fact, it can be tough to avoid it in the summer. Fresh and locally grown vegetables are still here in the winter: you just have to know where to find them. This year, my wife and I were excited to join our first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program through the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative as a means to fulfilling our desire to maintain our locavore status (especially because I can’t survive solely on Thistle Finch).

We are now five weeks into the 15 week winter season, and I have to be honest, we have been eating a lot of roots. Yes, roots. Not the good kind of roots: the Americana music genre featured at Lancaster’s Roots and Blues festival this weekend. No, these roots are the kind that live underground all their lives until we get to eat them.

Potatoes, carrots, shallots, turnips, rutabagas, radishes, beets. It’s been an interesting month. I certainly have expanded my culinary boldness. I’ve mashed, roasted, juiced, fried, and baked these things into submission. I’ll be honest, after the first few weeks, I didn’t think I would be able to go the distance. But as I begin to push my palate to new places, I have started to see the beauty in the complexity of the root. While some offer smooth and mild flavors, others are sweet, and still others spicy. My taste for the tuber has grown to the point that I am no longer singing the blues over these roots. Now you’ll hear me singing the praises of the fruit that sun forgot.

So go ahead and enter into the life of the locavore. Because even if you think these roots taste like the dirt they’re grown in, at least you know that dirt is local.