I've mentioned before the cost associated with eating foods out of season- a watermelon in the winter is shipped from a different hemisphere, vastly increasing the carbon footprint of that snack. So what are we to do when nothing is growing? Eat dried leaves? Not at all!
I made a local, seasonal pumpkin pie this weekend that got rave reviews- and I'm nowhere near any pumpkins ready to harvest. How is this possible? Last year, when I did harvest a pumpkin, I cut it up, roasted it, pureed it, and stuck it in my freezer. The pumpkin puree was grown locally (my backyard!) and frozen in time (literally). When I thawed it out, it hadn't traveled anywhere, though there was energy expended to keep it usable all this time (the electricity the freezer used).
Eating foods out of season always requires some kind of energy expenditure- whether it is flying tomatoes in from China or running a freezer or boiling a pot of water. My favorite way to preserve food is to can it- I like the convenience and the consistency from a jar. Freezing is way easier than canning, though, and is better for some foods. Dehydrating is a preservation strategy I haven't tried, but many people enjoy.
Mostly, I like that my garden produce can stretch across the year, and I can grow enough to feed my family for months after the garden has stopped producing. It would be awesome to reach a point where all of our vegetables for the year are grown and preserved on our property, but we're not there- yet. Last year, I got from summer through the winter without buying potatoes or green beans- our most-used vegetables. This year, we'll see if I can make it even further.
Do you grow your own food or buy it locally? What do you do to preserve the harvest?