Last year, something new popped up at my local farmers market. It was frozen Jersey Fresh breaded eggplant. Shoppers at the market scooped it up along with canned Jersey Fresh crushed tomatoes. I can imagine a lot of eggplant parmesan was created with the combination.

The frozen breaded eggplant comes Flaim Farms (website under construction) in Vineland, N.J., a fourth-generation family farm. Flaim Farms employs a local food processing plant to create the frozen dish that uses a family recipe for breading and frying.

Flaim Farms isn’t producing the only frozen, local food. Renaissance Farm out of Wisconsin offers what it calls Farm Market Dinners. The Wisconsin State Journal explains these frozen dinners.

When Wisconsin farmers harvest a bumper crop of bell peppers or butternut squash, a new group of frozen-food producers stuffs the peppers with Wisconsin feta and wild rice and bathes squash-filled ravioli in Wisconsin dairy products. Their approach benefits the farmers, their own businesses and consumers hungry for locally produced foods with locally sourced ingredients and no additives.
These processed, frozen, local foods make it a little easier for New Jersey and Wisconsin locavores to eat local throughout the winter without having to can or preserve food themselves. I see other benefits to these local frozen foods.
  • Farms can have a source of revenue throughout the winter when they have no crops to sell. This is a big plus for small farms.
  • Small farms will have the ability to grow a bit as the demand for their crops are needed to make these frozen, local foods.
  • Grocery stores will be able to carry some local foods year round.
  • Busy people, like me, will have local meals at their fingertips, summer or winter.
I fully understand that part of the local food movement has to do with slowing down and taking the time to prepare fresh, seasonal food. I anticipate that there are some who might say that these frozen local foods take away from that. But it doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition.

If meals like these become more available, I can see myself adding them to my dinner menu once or twice a month. They would replace calling out for a pizza or opening up a can of soup on a night my family needs a quick meal; they would not replace home cooking on the nights when I have the time to cook.

What do you think? Are frozen, local foods like these a good idea or not? Would you buy them?

Photo: Renaissance Farm 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Local foods go frozen
No time to cook your own local dinner? No problem. Just open the freezer.