It’s the season for large family dinners piled high with winter fruits and vegetables. As always, choosing organic will ensure that your family has the best chance of enjoying the full spectrum of nutrients found in winter produce with the fewest pesticides. Although many of our local grocery stores have access to global food markets, it’s always nice to eat as locally as possible. Buying seasonal produce in the winter helps farmers through their leanest time of year, and there’s a bonus in it for you: fresh vegetables from your own community actually are tastier.
Here are 10 organic crops that are in season during the holidays.
- Organic Artichokes
Artichokes are a wonderful addition to many holiday recipes. They are high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate. Steamed, grilled or sauteed, they provide a subtle sweetness that lingers and pairs well with a variety of sweet and savory flavors.
- Organic Cabbage
Cabbage is a culinary workhorse that does well in slaws, salads, soups, and garnishes. For those who seek to manage their digestive tract, try fermenting it for sauerkraut or kimchi.
- Organic Kale and Collard Greens
Both kale and collard greens, when conventionally grown, contain high pesticide loads. Make sure you buy organic! The hearty green leaves are packed with nutrients and are great for salads, sides and garnishes.
- Organic Garlic
Garlic and other root vegetables, such as carrots and beets, are more susceptible to absorbing toxic fertilizers than other vegetables, which makes buying organic a must. The health benefits of garlic equal its versatility in the kitchen. Raw garlic retains a higher concentration of allicin, which gives garlic its antibacterial, and antiviral benefits. Allicin levels are diminished the longer garlic is cooked, but the taste of garlic – whether baked, boiled, sauteed or steamed – adds a kick to any recipe.
- Organic Herbs
Herbs are a necessity for a well-balanced dish. The best part of herbs is that they are easy to grow at home – you can even grow them indoors during the colder months. Organic varieties tend to have more nutrients, making buying or growing organic the best choice. Of the long list of herbs, these bring additional holiday cheer!
- Cinnamon is the champion of herbs in baked goods and warm drinks.
- Nutmeg warms up cakes and pies, and is a digestive aid to power down those huge holiday feasts.
- Ginger + cookies = gingerbread cookies! It’s also a powerful digestive aid.
- Rosemary makes potatoes, roasted chicken or glazed ham a culinary masterpiece.
- Organic Mustard Greens
Mustard greens are both pungent and peppery and are packed with anti-inflammatory nutrients. Like kale and collard greens, they are tasty to insects, making conventional varieties susceptible to high doses of chemical pesticides. Buy organic and give your family the gift of a nutritious meal without chemicals.
- Organic Sprouts
Sprouts contain the highest concentration of phytonutrients per calorie of any food, according to a study from the International Journal of Applied Science. The enzymes from sprouted foods can replace enzymes that your body no longer produces. Like herbs, sprouts can be grown at home from just about any seed you have leftover from your spring, summer, and fall crops. Grab your broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, beet, carrot, and spinach seeds and a germination kit, and you are well on your way to eating healthy and organic.
- Organic Winter Squash
Winter squash is packed with nutrients and is great in soups, pies, and casseroles. Of all things to buy organic, make sure to buy organic squashes, including pumpkins. Pumpkins do a great job of absorbing toxins found in soil. Conventional farmers know this, making them a great fall crop that’s both marketable and cleans up the toxic mess of spring and summer conventional crops. Of the many varieties on the market, here are a few of the better-known varieties.
- Butternut squash is a meal in itself.
- Red kabocha squash is sweet.
- White kabocha squash is savory.
- Sugar pumpkin makes tasty pies!
- Spaghetti squash is a great pasta alternative.
- Delicata squash is creamy, soft, and has edible skin.
- Organic Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes make the best pies, fries, and sides. Keep unwanted pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides off your plate by choosing organic.
- Organic Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are best when they are on the stalk. They last longer and once off the stalk, the flavor begins to diminish after a few days. Smaller sprouts are sweeter and more tender. Chop them, dice them, peel the leaves and shake them into a salad, or bake, boil or saute them whole. Regardless, these tasty sprouts are loaded with fiber, antioxidants and vitamin C. Buy organic and unwrap the flavor without the chemical residues.
- Organic Persimmons.
This list would not be complete with at least one fruit. Of the winter-ready fruits on the shelves, persimmons take the spotlight due to their nutritional gifts! Wrapped in beautiful burnt orange skin, persimmons are loaded with vitamins A, C, E, and B6. They have dietary fiber, manganese, copper, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous as well as catechins, gallocatechin, betulinic acid, and various carotenoid compounds that fall within the B complex of vitamins. Persimmons aid in cancer prevention; provide relief from constipation; improve eye health, circulation, and digestion; boost the immune system, and prevent the signs of premature aging. And while they are waiting to be eaten, they make great centerpieces for your holiday gatherings.
There are several more delicious organic seasonal crops, but this short list should make for a tasty holiday season. Remember to buy organic to ensure the highest volume of nutrients and to tell organic farmers everywhere, you appreciate their efforts. With every purchase of organic food, you’re casting a vote for a healthy food future. Enjoy the season and happy holidays!