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February Survival Kit

The shortest month of the year often feels like it will never end. Sandwiched between the post-holiday cool down and the distant future of spring's optimism, February can just drag on like a long winter head cold. Here is a list of some products to help remedy the situation and get you through the February blues.

High Mowing Organic Seeds. Vicariously skip into summer while you plan your organic garden with heirloom and regional seeds specifically bred for our New England climate. High mowing, based out of Wolcott, Vermont, humbly began in 1996 with 28 varieties of organic seeds. They now have an inventory of over 600 varieties, many of which still grow on their 40 acre farm. Living Earth carries about 60 different seeds to choose from. Compliment your wok, salad bowl and casserole dish this summer and fall with the freshest organic produce straight from your garden.

Chocolate. Valentine's Day is not the only excuse for enjoying the "food of the Gods". Chocolate, especially in its darker expressions, can be a healthy snack if savored in moderation. Dark chocolate is a good source of magnesium, a vital mineral deficient in American's diet. It is also an excellent source of heart-healthy flavonoid antioxidants including epicatechin. Theobromine, an alkaloid found in chocolate, has been found to dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure. It has a stimulant effect but is much milder than caffeine. Most chocolate contains sugar or other sweeteners (hence the moderation caveat) but this can be circumvented by snaking on cocoa beans or nibs, the source for all chocolate products. The satisfying crunch, earthy bitterness and high fiber content offer an entirely different chocolate experience.

Fermentation Celebration. The importance of a healthy, balanced intestinal ecology has been scientifically sustained for many years. Beneficial microorganisms are not only important to the digestive system but are an integral component of our immune system as well. Eating fermented foods can help establish an intestinal environment conducive to a healthy microbial ecosystem. Here in the Bay State we are blessed with a number of family operated artisans of superior fermented foods.

Real Pickles in Greenfield has a line-up of organic cultured raw vegetables that are teaming with beneficial microorganisms. Sauerkraut, kimchi, carrots, beets and pickles are all part of their fermented food repertoire. The organic vegetables are harvested from local farms in the Pioneer Valley of the Connecticut River. Enjoy them on sandwiches, in salads or right out of the jar.

South River Miso is nestled along the South River in Conway where the best miso this side of the Far East is produced. Even Japan, the birth place of the fermented soy paste we call miso, has succumbed to the industrialized production of what was once a home-made staple in Japanese households. South River chooses to continue the time honored tradition of farm house miso. From the culturing of the koji to the aging in wooden vats, South River miso establishes a microcosm of magnificent microbes that can be used in broths, soups, dressings, marinades or spreads.

Side Hill Yogurt comes by way of Ashfield and is the only commercially produced yogurt in Massachusetts. Side Hill Farm makes their wonderful yogurt from the milk of their small herd of 35 Normande and Jersey cows. The cows graze on the farm's certified organic pastures for most of the year and are given hay from fields during the winter months. The milk cultured with probiotic bacteria and the resulting yogurt doesn't contain any fillers or artificial ingredients. Experience the tart, tangy creaminess of this local yogurt with fruit and/or granola, in smoothies or in pancakes instead of buttermilk.