With fall well on its way and winter fast approaching, we begin to face some new challenges as the cold weather settles in. Shorter days and lack of sunshine depletes us from natural Vitamin D intake. Staying warm becomes a daily struggle, and trying to keep ourselves nourished through the bitter cold months ahead makes us all want to hibernate. Am I right?!
Winter can pose a difficult time to find abundance in fresh, wholesome, and healthy food to sustain our energy level and keep us going every day. But there is hope for us here in the Berkshires with our vast changing seasons and we can continue to eat healthy and seasonally all year long. It can certainly be done: look no further than right here in our own backyard! Local produce is available all year long, without having to travel too far — or not at all in some cases. I find that one of the best parts of living in the Berkshires the extensive array of local farms – with farmers working hard to serve their community!
There are winter farmers markets happening all over the county and Berkshire Grown is one in South County. They have loads of information offering a guide for all things local where you can find year-round farmers markets and farm stands to continue eating healthy all year long! https://berkshiregrown.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Guide-BG2020-26links.pdf
There is also the option to shop online and have your local goodies delivered directly to your home. Mass Food Delivery is brought to you by Mycoterra Farm in collaboration with the Food Bank of Western Mass and is another option for your shopping needs. This is helpful for anyone – especially if you are unable to get out to the farmers markets or farm stands and would like a contactless way to receive delicious local goodies directly to you for a minimal fee. You can check out the following links for more information here – https://shop.massfooddelivery.com/ Please note: they are closed until Sunday November 22nd and will reopen their online store at noon on that day.
Many of the markets also accept the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP) – formally known as Food Stamps. You can utilize these benefits at most all farmers markets to purchase food items. You can also use HIP benefits which are already preexisting on your EBT card so there is no need to sign-up. This is where you receive rebates towards fresh fruits and veggies from eligible local farms. Here is more information regarding how HIP benefits work – https://www.mass.gov/service-details/healthy-incentives-program-hip-for-clients
by Ashli Minor, MS, RDN, LDN, CLC