I know that some produce can be grown in cold weather, but it doesn’t seem to be marketed in my area. I'm aware that preserved foods are an option -- canned, frozen, dried -- but I’m not sure about their healthfulness or environmental impact. I’d like to avoid buying produce from the big chain stores during the winter because it’s usually shipped in from long distances, such as the other side of the country or South America. Any advice?
People who live in regions with multiple seasons face the same dilemma you do. They have the option to eat locally grown produce during the warmer months, but during the dormant seasons they must purchase canned, jarred, dried, frozen, or imported fruits and vegetables, which may come from other parts of the country or other parts of the world.
An option is to purchase large quantities of produce from nearby farmers and can, dehydrate, or freeze it for when locally grown fresh food will not be available. Alternatively, if space, time, and resources permit, you could plant a large garden and can or freeze your excess produce for the coming winter months. Another option is to build a cold-weather greenhouse so you can grow your own food regardless of the time of year.
For many people, however, none of these options is practical. In that case, if you are also opposed to purchasing trucked-in fruits and vegetables or commercially frozen food, the only other solution is to move to a more temperate or tropical climate where food can be grown year-round. Of course, most people can't just up and move or migrate throughout the year. Therefore, the majority of vegans would either have to severely limit their diets during the dormant seasons or avoid fresh foods altogether -- both of which could adversely affect their health -- or make some concessions. The choice is yours and will depend on how strongly you feel about this issue, your circumstances, your health, and your finances.