Monday, May 5, 2008

Eat your Veggies!

We have all heard “Eat your veggies”. Yes mother was right but why? It’s not just “because I said so”. Fruits and vegetables supply our bodies with many of the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals needed to keep our bodies growing and healing. These nutrients are important and can help ward off heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure and cholesterol, prevent some types of cancer, and may help avoid vision loss and help maintain a healthy weight.
Where is a good place to purchase produce? With the arrival of spring, early crops and new farming techniques farmers are able to offer locally grown produce conveniently located throughout local communities. Go early to get the best quality. Fact: the average supermarket produce travels about 2,000 miles to destination, compared to 50 miles or less to farmers market produce.
Crops you may find locally for sale in May include asparagus, radishes, and spinach. Early June brings strawberries, peas, romaine and leaf lettuces and cherries. Late June crops consist of beans, broccoli, and cabbage.
The following highlights two of my favorites.


Asparagus is a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Iron and also offers dietary fiber and calcium. This root vegetable produces green stalks with tight tips. By limiting sun exposure during sprouting growers are able to produce a white variety.
Usage: raw, steamed , grilled, microwaved and sauteed
Selection: High quality asparagus has tender stalks that are nearly completely green usually medium sized and the tips will be firmly closed
Avoid : Avoid Asparagus with wrinkled stalks and wilted tips
Storage: Refrigerate and use within two to three days for best quality. To maintain freshness, wrap a moist paper towel around stem ends, or stand upright in two inches of cold water.

Nutrients found in cherries are Vitamin C, Calcium, dietary fiber and they are only 15 calories for ½ cup with pits and have no fat. There are two main types of cherries, sweet and sour. Sweet cherries are great for eating raw. Sour cherries on the other hand, are almost to tart to be eaten raw, and are widely used in cooked dishes.
Usage: Eaten raw, preserves, sauces, added to salads, in desserts.
Selection: Good quality sweet cherries are large, firm and have even deep red coloring. Sour cherries vary in color from solid red to reddish to cream color.
Avoid: Avoid cherries that are soft, have wrinkled skin, are leaking and sticky, or that have visible signs of decay. Immature cherries will be smaller and less juicy while over- mature product will be soft, dull and wrinkled.
Storage: Refrigerate cherries unwashed and loosely-packed in a plastic bag up to one week. Cherries with healthy green stems attached stay fresh longer than those without stems.

Remember any produce you may choose, should be washed thoroughly before eating, but washing before storing may speed spoilage. On hot days it is a good idea to bring a cooler or insulated bag for transporting your purchases home. Finding your local farmers market might be as easy as asking neighbors and friends or contacting your local cooperative extension office. Don’t go by my suggestion, get out there and try a favorite of your own or maybe something new.

No comments: