Saturday, September 24, 2005

Vegetables and Fruit

For most of my life, I rarely ate vegetables, and didn't each much fruit. I'm now eating mostly organic produce, and I eat it more often, and I strive for the "local and in season" model for produce.

But I still have a lot of room for improvement.

I'll often have a banana, because they're yummy, convenient, and easy to eat. We get them from Pioneer Organics, which delivers a box of organic produce every week. I am careful to select local produce whenever possible, but bananas are never local to WA state. Also, they only ever have the Cavendish variety, which is at risk. I'd like to find a way to support biodiversty, by not eating so many Cavendish bananas. However, other types are not often available. Also, bananas are never local and in season in WA state, so I would do well to eat other fruits instead. I remind myself that monocultures are good for multinational corporations and diseases, and diversity is good for the little guy.

Fruits have quite a lot of sugar in them, but at least it's unrefined. My body recognizes that sugar as a sign that these are good to eat, and sure enough, they are full of nutrients. Especially because I am pretty strict about eating only organic fruit. Non-organic fruit is worse in a lot of ways (poisons affect the farmers, the fields, and me; fertilizers allow overfarming, resulting in produce that lacks nutrients and spoils more quickly; organic produce must sell on taste, because it cannot sell on appearance, so it tastes better). However, as we head in to autumn, there are fewer and fewer local and in season fruits.

I would like to find a variety of real vegetables that I like to eat. I say "real" because so many of the foods we think of as vegetables are really fruits: zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers. We like them because they're sweet; they're sweet because they're fruit. They still have nutrients, but the sugar:nutrient ratio is going to be better in, say, spinach than, say, cucumber.


James Adams said...

By the way, if you enable the "word verification" Turing test in your Blogger settings, it cuts down on a lot of comment spam.

And don't even get me started on comment spam. Grrrr...

Anyway, I'm not sure how much is locally grown, but you are at least almost always able to find organically grown kiwifruit, which is a very good fruit, if you ever get worried about fruits.

Kiwifruit is a rich source of vitamin C. Its potassium content by weight is slightly less than that of a banana. It also contains vitamins A and E, calcium, iron and folic acid. The skin is a good source of flavonoid antioxidants. (I always eat the skin; but while I think the skin is yummy, some people don't.)

Raw kiwifruit is also rich in the protein-dissolving enzyme actinidin, which is commercially useful as a meat tenderizer but can be an allergen for some individuals. Specifically, people allergic to papayas or pineapples are likely to be allergic to kiwifruit also.

This enzyme, which is quickly destroyed by boiling the fruit, makes raw kiwifruit unfit for use in desserts containing milk or any other dairy products. The enzyme will start to dissolve the milk proteins within a few minutes, leaving a very unpleasant bitter taste. But, sliced kiwifruit may be used as a garnish atop whipped cream on one of New Zealanders' favourite desserts, the pavlova, without ill effects.

And if there's no kiwifruit being locally produced, and that's really important for you, you can always grow your own vine in the back yard or something. Kiwifruit generally grows well in any sort of temperate climate.

Also, kiwifruit generally stores quite well. Just put them in a bag in the crisper and they'll last at least a week or two. Of course, being my favourite fruit, they generally don't last that long around me. :)

Jay Bazuzi said...

Yep, I have turned on word verification now. I hate making things less convenient for regular folks because of a few assholes.

I have never found local kiwi; only from New Zealand. I'll have to try growing it myself, though - sounds fun.

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