Do you know how far your food traveled before it got to your plate? To protect the environment, and to support Canadian grown foods, people are choosing to buy local and in-season. Getting the best local produce is easy when you know the seasons of your favorite foods. Preparing your meal plan by season also ensures you’re getting the best quality, best-tasting, and most nutritious food year-round. Here’s what’s available in the South West of BC this summer.
While many greens prefer the cooler weather of spring, you can still find plenty of fresh options for more heat-tolerant varieties. This includes spinach, kale and Swiss chard amongst more traditional head and leaf lettuces. Greens of all kinds are packed full of essential vitamins and minerals, they also contain antioxidants that can help fight off disease and reduce inflammation in the body. In most cases, the darker the green, the more nutritious the food, so try branching out from standard iceberg lettuce for your next salad. Instead, try options like kale, spinach and mixed salad blends with dark leafy greens.
Root vegetables start to make their appearance in the market by late June, early July. These veggies include carrots, beets, radishes, rutabagas and parsnips. Many more types of vegetables are now available, including new heirloom varieties with better taste and a wide range of colors. More color and variety means a more diverse range of nutrition – look out for purple, yellow, and even red carrots!
Vegetables Do More Than Taste Great
While many vegetables will ripen later in the summer and into early fall, summer marks the start of earlier varieties of your favorites hitting the market. Cucumbers are great on their own or in salads and help boost immunity. Different varieties of flavonoid-rich eggplants can also be found that can help lower your risks of heart disease. Don’t forget the many types and colours of carotenoid-filled peppers to help protect against chronic diseases. Choose a few chili peppers as well for additional health benefits from their capsaicin, which can improve digestion.
Fruits of Summer
Not to be left out are the many fruits that start to ripen as Mother Nature turns up the thermostat. Local, fresh fruits and berries like apricots, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, plums, cherries, melons and strawberries are such a treat. These fruits go great on homemade ice cream, or made into fresh-baked pies or preserves. Have fun this summer with our local bounty, and improve your nutrition at the same time!