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Hey, Where Have All the Vegetables Gone?

As I was walking around two local grocery stores last week, I found myself thinking: “Where have all the vegetables gone?” The alluring colors of seasonal squashes, peppers, and tomatoes do not shine as brightly this time of the year as they are not in their prime growing season, at least not in Virginia.

I then thought: “What am I going to do with the limited selection that is available?” I started with some research of the winter vegetables grown in this region. Of note, I am from Minnesota and have noticed significant differences in produce variety and availability year round.

I started my research by speaking with an agriculture expert at Virginia Cooperative Extension about which winter vegetables are traditionally grown in Virginia. What I learned from my expert is that leafy green vegetables (lettuce, spinach, and cooking greens), Cole crops and Brassicas (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kohlrabi) can be grown in the winter in Virginia, but only in specific environments (i.e. undercover and greenhouses).

I then contacted a local grocery store to find out which vegetables they buy from local farmers. The produce manager informed me that they unfortunately do not carry much local produce outside of the summer. Lastly, I stopped by a local farmers’ market to see if there was any local produce available straight from the source. What I found at the market did not match up with what I was told can be grown locally this time of year.

So even though I know what can be grown in Virginia in the winter, it does not mean I have easy access to local produce. Adapting my mission, I set out to make the most of my grocery store’s vegetable selection and apply that to favorite winter foods. This time of year is great for thick stews, crock-pot concoctions, and roasted meats and vegetables. Below I have a simple recipe using winter vegetables that can quickly be thrown together and added to almost any meal.

Roasted Vegetables


Equal amounts of kohlrabi, brussel sprouts, carrots and winter squash (spaghetti, butternut, or buttercup squash)

Large red onion

Olive oil

Black pepper

Fresh garlic

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cut sprouts in half, cut red onion, and cube kohlrabi and squash. Try to make each piece approximately the same size to allow for even roasting.

3. In a 8×11 baking pan, toss veggies in olive oil and season with garlic and black pepper.

4. Make sure the veggies are evenly distributed in the pan in a single layer.

5. Roast veggies in preheated oven until they are tender and start to brown. Reduce heat if vegetables are browning too quickly and add more olive oil if the vegetables appear dry. Not all vegetables will cook at the same rate.

Another option is to throw some of these winter vegetables along with a few other favorites (i.e. parsnips, turnips, celery and potatoes) into a crock-pot along with some beef, beef stock, and your favorite stout beer. Stews can be quickly prepared in the morning, thrown into a crock-pot and enjoyed effortlessly at the end of the day.

If the available fresh winter produce does not excite you, try canning fresh vegetables when they are in season, or keep frozen vegetables on hand for quick side dishes. Just a few ideas to ponder as you stroll through your local grocery store or farmers’ market this time of year.

By Samantha Arnoldy,
VT Dietetic Intern

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