Living in California, I am aware that I belong to a privileged group of “happy fews” who have access to farmers’ markets and their bounty of fresh seasonal produce year round (although I’ll admit I tire of root vegetables and winter squash at this time of year). But how are health- and environmentally-conscious individuals and households to feed themselves when their local food production is brought to a halt by the frozen winter months?
Of course, the better planners will have prepared for the rigors of the season, just as people have done for time immemorial. They will have bought big quantities of fresh produce during the time of year when the crops are plentiful and will have canned, preserved or fermented them, stocking their cellar and pantry with all sorts of goodies (jams, sauces, pickles, preserves of fruits and vegetables, etc.) to last them til the earth around them gets fertile again. Some of them will even have made good use of their freezer.
But let’s face it. The pressures of modern life keep these folks in the minority (although the recession is rumored to have spurred more and more people’s interest in these practices). What about the rest of us?
This is when an old type of product comes is very handy: store-bought frozen food.
Let’s clarify a couple of points before going any further: this conversation does not include processed foods nor prepared meals. Our focus is strictly on produce that was frozen and bagged straight from the field, as an alternative to fresh, raw ingredients when none is available.