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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 22, 2014

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In Holiday Guide

Fresh produce is still readily available for your locally inspired holiday spread.

In Holiday Guide

Swing by the Milwaukee County Winter Farmers Market and pick up one of Bolzano's many varieties of artisan meats.

In Holiday Guide

Purple Door Ice Cream also serves up an array of frozen seasonal treats.

Feasting with a conscience: Eating locally for the holidays


Do you care about reducing your carbon footprint?
How about supporting local producers?
Creating a holiday dinner that's both delicious and sustainable?

If you said "yes" to any one of these questions, it might be worth your time to consider sourcing all or most of the products for your holiday meals locally. And despite what you might think, it's not an impossible task.

I've spent the past few weeks talking to local experts and doing the necessary research, so I know what's really out there and I'm prepared to give you all the information you need to pull together an impressive festive feast that's completely locally sourced. All you'll need to do is set aside the time for a trip to the Milwaukee County Winter Farmer's Market at the Wisconsin State Fair Park, and a run to Outpost Natural Foods.

Now, before we discuss your options, let's define our terms. By "local" I mean Wisconsin. There's always much debate about what "local" means, but for the purpose of this article, we're sticking to items grown or produced in our home state. There will be nothing imported from California, no Mexican avocados and no fruit from Australia. Not even canned tomatoes from Indiana.

"Local" also means seasonal. Because it's near impossible to find fresh local strawberries in December, I won't advise you to start off your meal with a strawberry spinach salad (though, as you'll read below, locally grown frozen strawberries are an option for desserts and sauces). But, you'll still have a wide range of choices for flavorful seasonal food that's still at its peak of freshness.

This guide will walk you through some of the options available.

STARTERS

As you're planning your holiday appetizer plates, you'd be remiss not to include some of the delicious local artisan salami produced by Milwaukee's own Bolzano Artisan Meats. Bolzano's full range of products, including the holiday favorite Figgy Puddin', will be available at the Milwaukee County Winter Farmer's Market on Saturdays, as well as at Outpost Natural Foods and a variety of local grocers.

If you visit the market, you'll also be able to pick up a lovely selection of traditional Wisconsin cheeses from the Decatur Dairy in Brodhead. And don't forget to pick up a few containers of quark cheese from Milwaukee's Clock Shadow Creamery. Quark is a deliciously versatile cheese that can be used to make spreads, dips and cheesecakes.

Palmyra's Rushing Waters Fisheries, a regular at the market, will offer smoked rainbow trout raised on their aquaculture farm in the Southern Kettle Moraine – a favorite for making pate, mousse and other holiday appetizers, as well as delicious winter salads.

VEGETABLES AND SIDES

Seasonal side dishes are easy to source locally when you consider the full range of your options.

Outpost Natural Foods also offers sprouts, salad greens and spinach from Growing Power and Sweet Water Organics, as well as locally grown white, cremini and portabella mushrooms, garlic and black garlic from Blue Fortune Farm, local winter squash, leeks, fennel, cabbage and plenty of root vegetables, including beets, daikon, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, black radishes, celeriac, burdock and sunchokes.

Vendors at the Milwaukee County Winter Farmer's Market will also have a variety of winter vegetables for sale on both Dec. 8 and 15.

Turtle Creek Gardens in Delavan offers high quality, nutritionally dense seasonal vegetables and fruits grown on certified organic land using sustainable farming practices that care for the soil, ground water and adjacent natural areas. Its offerings at the market include carrots, green kale, romanesco, Yukon Gold potatoes, Rose Finn apple fingerlings, rutabaga, turnips, scarlet turnips, celery root, red beets and Beauty Heart radishes. They will also have maple syrup on hand. Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)

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Talkbacks

olderwiser | Dec. 6, 2012 at 4:18 p.m. (report)

Layton Fruit Market at 1838 E. Layton (St. Francis) is another great local market. It is convenient to anyone on the south side and open seven days a week. They assemble beautiful gift baskets of fruit, cheese, wine, etc., custom made to your specifications. Produce is wonderful and reasonably priced, as well as locally made dips, salads, weekend ham and rolls, and fresh bread. No, I don't work there or know anyone who does...but I am a frequent shopper.

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