– By Duane, Head Veggie Fairy
I remember the first time I experienced Brussels sprouts in the field. I found myself in a fantasy world full of stalks that extended above my head, with beautiful leaves of purple and green. AND I was given a knife and allowed to harvest them myself! What more could a 10 year old boy want?! I ate heartily. Not only were they the fruits of my labor, but they tasted AMAZING and nothing like the frozen Brussels sprouts from the grocery store I was used to. It was veggie adventures like this that now have me celebrating local vegetables today.
May is full of all kinds of celebrations so we’re taking this week to celebrate the veggies themselves. Whether vegetables define your lifestyle or complement your meat, here are three reasons they’re worth celebrating.
Celebrate the Wholesome Goodness
It’s a fact that vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants are the highest in vegetables when they’re harvested at peak ripeness, when they’ve had all the time they need to fully soak in all the goodness sun and soil have to offer. The sooner you eat them after harvesting, the greater the nutritional impact. Their extra fresh flavor will also make you want to eat more! The most tender veggies, like spinach, lose about 60% of their nutritional value within a week of harvesting, so it’s important to cut down the time it takes to get from the farm to your table. If you’re going to eat vegetables, you should eat them as fresh and flavorful as you can get them and take advantage of all that wholesome goodness.
Celebrate the Diversity of Vegetables
Getting your vegetables direct from the farmer introduces you to new and different varieties you may not have access to otherwise. Seasonal Roots has three types of kale on the menu at this moment – Tuscan, red Russian, and curly. All have different flavors. Did you know Russian kale is sweeter tasting than curly kale? Have you tried fresh garlic from the field? Do you know what a garlic scape is and what to do with it? You’ll be inspired to try new things as the changing seasons bring fresh varieties to the market!
Not only will you be inspired to try new vegetables, but you’ll be inspired to prepare them in different ways by other veggie lovers in your local food community. Asparagus is awesome on the grill and you can eat the spears like fries. Brussels sprouts roast to perfection in the oven. Golden beets are milder than their red sisters and won’t trick you into thinking you have a kidney infection! If you massage your collard greens, they give back with a sweeter taste and texture in your salad. Vegetables offer endless diversity… you’ll want to be a part of celebrating and trying new varieties!
Celebrate Working Together as a Community
Have you talked to your local farmer recently? You would be amazed by the amount of passion they put into growing your food. Because they care, practices like what variety and origin of seed they plant, spray/no spray, rotating crops for best nutrients, and picking produce at peak ripeness, matter. They want the community of families they feed to have the best produce! Sometimes that means a bug or two because they didn’t spray, or waiting an extra week for strawberries so they reach their peak flavor and nutrients before harvesting.
Getting away from mass produced food has become crucial to our health and the health of our world, yet we are still a busy society. We have limited time to spend in the kitchen. Many local food artisans rely on local farmers for their produce. When you can trust your community of local food artisans because they share the same philosophy, it’s easier to pick up some yummy prepared food, enjoy it for a meal, and be confident you are still benefiting from the best food.
By supporting local farmers, food artisans, and organizations like Seasonal Roots, you help create a strong food system in our own backyard. We’re all in this together and when we work together as a community, it’s certainly a reason to celebrate and eat more local veggies!
Try something new this week, whether it be getting to know your local farmer better, trying a new variety of vegetable, or ordering something prepared by a local food artisan that you haven’t tried before. Your taste buds will enjoy the celebration!
About Seasonal Roots
Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our neighborhood market managers – who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grass fed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.