4 - Vegetables

Step #1: ADD MORE COLORS TO YOUR VEGETABLE PALETTE

Why: Everyone has heard how important it is to eat more vegetables. If you currently eat only a few vegetables, the easiest way to improve your overall nutrient intake is to add more variety instead of just increasing the quantity of the same ones. Vegetables contain many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Eating a variety of colors insures you are getting the best variety of these nutrients.

How: Look at your plate now. How many colors does it contain? What is missing? Do you need more green? How about some greens like Swiss chard, beet greens, spinach or even kale? Want more orange or red? Try beets which come in a range of colors. Even expand your potato repertoire with purple potatoes or yams.

[TIP] Buy what is in season. This is a good way to get the best price and the produce is likely to be transported from a nearby farm. In the winter, try root vegetables like turnips or rutabagas. In the summer, try local summer squashes, lettuce greens and snap peas.


Step #2: STOP EATING OVERLY PROCESSED VEGETABLES

Why: Many vitamins are easily destroyed with too much heat. The more processing, the less nutrients. This does not mean you need to eat everything raw. Some nutrients are more readily available when vegetables are lightly cooked.

How: Limit the amount of canned vegetables and stick to fresh or frozen. When it comes to fresh, the more local the better. Become a frequent shopper at our local farmer's markets and farm stands.

[TRICK] To absorb the highest amount of nutrients from your vegetables, make sure you eat them with a good fat, like butter or olive oil. Fats also make them taste better – a plus when trying to convince family members to eat more vegetables.


Step #3: BUY ORGANIC WHEN POSSIBLE

Why: While increasing the amount and variety of vegetables, we do not want to increase our consumption of pesticide residues or encourage greater use of fossil fuel based fertilizers. The best way to do this is to search out organic or biodynamic choices.

How: Farmer's markets are a great place to start. Most groceries also have organic sections. And you can try your hand at growing vegetables too, even if it is one tomato plant on your deck or lettuce on your windowsill.

[TIP] For many it is hard to afford to buy all organic. In those instances, use the Environmental Working Group's Shopping Guide to Pesticides in Produce. This list will tell you which fruits and vegetables have the highest pesticide residues. Those with low residues can be purchased conventionally, saving you money.


Ready for more?

Book: "Wild Fermentation" by Sandor Ellix Katz (for those ready to try fermented vegetables; available in Whatcom County Library System)

Online article: Bitters: the Revival of a Forgotten Flavor by Danielle Charles-Davies

Website: Bellingham Farmers Market


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