Usually at this time of year I write a post about New Year resolutions. I don't have any specific, food-related goals for 2016, but I do believe that a little bit of organization and intentionality at the start of the year can make a big difference. Now is a good time to think about a few things, such as ...
1. Joining a CSA in 2016: For those who are veterans of purchasing food in this way, you probably have this locked down, but if you're new to purchasing food locally or have never tried out Community Supported Agriculture, now is a good time to shop around. Talk to a few different farmers at the market about the programs they offer, what kind of produce is available, the size of their shares, and their available pick-up times. You may decide that you like to shop week to week or you may decide that a CSA would simplify and improve your life; now is a good time to weigh your options.
2. New projects you'd like to undertake: Is this the year you're going to sign up for a herd share and purchase a yogurt maker? Have you always wanted to can delicious summer fruit but felt intimidated when those ripe strawberries started appearing on the market tables? Doing some homework and planning will help you to be prepared to meet your goals more easily (and confidently!).
3. Seasonal meal planning: There are some great food blogs and cookbooks out there, but I often find that I come across recipes that I want to make when the key ingredients are out of season. Printing recipes to put into a notebook organized by season (or ingredient, if you're super thorough) or utilizing a tool like Pinterest to keep your recipes separated according to season can be a huge help, particularly during those months when produce is in abundance and it can be challenging to use it all up before it starts to fade. You don't have to do this all in one go, but keeping healthy, delicious recipes fresh in your mind is tremendously helpful when you're hungry (or the people you live with are begging for dinner) and you're bewildered about how to turn the assorted pile of meat and produce in your fridge into dinner.
4. Mixing up your routine and opening yourself up to new, healthy options: If you're adjusting to eating a fresher, seasonal diet, the new year is a great time to up the ante. Maybe you want to try one new thing each month, like produce that you've avoided. Or maybe you'll find that you can purchase handmade items at the market that take the place of more heavily processed, heavily packaged items you've been purchasing from a large retail store. Instead of a block of cheese that's artificially colored and shrink wrapped, try purchasing a wedge of high quality, small batch cheese from the market. Instead of a the jumbo pack of sugary jam from a big box store, try getting a jar of preserves with no chemicals. Decide that this is the year you're going to learn to love kohlrabi or daikon, and spend a little time finding a wonderful recipe that excites you. It can be really enjoyable when you build yourself up to try new things and go for it.
Have some fun thinking through what you really want our of your food experiences in 2016, and have a healthy, delicious new year!