Spring Has Sprung!
It’s springtime! The weather is warming up, grey winter skies are making way for the sunshine, and everything is starting to bloom. Keep your eyes peeled for these colorful and delicious beauties at your local farmers’ market!
A member of the lily family, asparagus shoots first appear when the soil has warmed up to about 50°F (CUESA, 2017). It contains phytonutrients and bioflavonoids with anti-inflammatory, immune-strengthening, and anticarcinogenic properties; and can ease rheumatism, gout, and constipation. White varieties have been grown without sunlight and therefore lack the characteristic green color of chlorophyll. Purple asparagus is higher in sugar and less fibrous.
Thought to have originated in North Africa, artichokes were first planted in Monterey County, California in the nineteenth century by Italian immigrants (CUESA, 2017). Today, almost all of America’s artichokes are still grown in Northern California. According to Chinese medicine, spring is the time to cleanse and detox the liver and gallbladder. So it is timely that artichokes are growing now because they contain the phytonutrient, cynarin, which can help the body increase bile production and optimize digestion (Wood, 2010).
A popular staple in Chinese cooking for centuries, bok choy—or “Chinese cabbage”—has a mild, sweet taste and more beta-carotene and calcium than its cabbage relatives (Wood, 2010). Baby bok choy has green leaves and is smaller and more tender than its big brother, Shanghai bok choy, which has pale green and yellow leaves (CUESA, 2017). Bok choy retains maximum flavor when stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Green garlic or “spring garlic” refers to the young plant that is harvested in the spring before it matures into a garlic bulb. Resembling a green onion, green garlic has all of the benefits and immune-boosting properties of the full grown plant, but with a milder taste (CUESA, 2017). You can grow your own green garlic by planting cloves of garlic in the fall and harvesting them before the stalks turn brown (Wood, 2010).
Originally from China, kumquats grow on evergreen shrubs and look like tiny, oval oranges. These tart little fruits can be eaten whole and raw, made into a compote, or preserved in salt or sugar. They help remove phlegm, relieve coughing, and are a great source of immune-boosting vitamin C, antioxidants, B vitamins, and fiber. The rind contains powerful essential oils and cancer-fighting limonene.
Meet the grandmother of the grapefruit: pomelo (Wood, 2010). Originally from Southeast Asia, the pomelo boasts the same benefits as other members of the citrus family due to high levels of vitamin C and immune-boosting properties. Look for fruits that feel firm and heavy, and enjoy them in the same way you would any other citrus fruit. Fun fact: the rind can be used to make marmalade (CUESA, 2017).
PickYourOwn.org. (n.d.). Harvest calendars for AR, CA, MO, SC. Retrieved 2/16/17 from http://www.pickyourown.org
Seasonality Charts. (n.d.). Retrieved 2/21/17 from http://www.cuesa.org/eat-seasonally/charts
Wood, R. T. (2010). The new whole foods encyclopedia: a comprehensive resource for healthy eating. (pp. 21, 25, 151, 193, 282). New York, NY: Penguin Books.