There are plenty of benefits to eating veggies that are in season. First, when they’re in season, vegetables are typically much less expensive. That’s because out-of-season veggies often have to be shipped long distances before they make it to grocery store shelves. Transporting tons of produce across the world isn’t cheap, nor is it sustainable. Plus, out-of-season vegetables are more scarce, and the law of supply and demand applies to them, just as it would any commodity.
In-season veggies are also fresher than out-of-season ones, more nutritious, and often much more flavorful. Plus, only eating what’s in season ensures that you get a wide variety of produce throughout the year.
While you might not think of the winter as “harvest time,” here in the Pacific Northwest, there are plenty of delicious veggies that you can grow in your backyard garden, even when it’s cold outside. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Beets (and Beet Greens!)
Beets are full of antioxidants, great for the eyes, and they help your body detox. Plus, they’re delicious. Borscht, anyone?
Here in the PNW, fresh beats are a common wintertime sight at farmer’s markets and local grocers, often with the greens still attached. If you’ve never had beet green juice, you’re missing out.
With its vibrant, multicolored stems and lush, verdant leaves, it’s easy to see there’s something special about chard. This nutritional dynamo of a green bests lettuce in just about every respect. It has more than double the vitamin C, iron, and potassium, nearly 2x the calcium, and more than 6x the magnesium.
This big, yellow carrot cousin packs a serious nutritional wallop. B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9; it’s like a bomber fleet of B vitamins. Vitamins C, E, and K? Check! Parsnips also contain a plethora of minerals, including calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese. Oh, and they taste almost like a slightly sweeter version of a carrot, crossed with a potato, with a tiny hint of radish or ginger. What’s not to love?
Winter squash is typically harvested from September to October, which puts plenty of it on grocers’ shelves just in time for winter. Here in the upper-left part of the country, we can typically find a wide selection of winter squash cultivars, including butternut, acorn, delicata, sweet dumpling, and of course, pumpkin.
Cooking squash can be kind of intimidating for the uninitiated, but there are plenty of mouth-watering ways to prepare it. You can put it in soups, breads, and salads. You can serve it baked with honey and cinnamon. You can use it to make gnocchi, pies, and casseroles. The possibilities are endless. Plus, it’s great for you.
[Photo Credit: parentmap]