By Richard Munroe, Produce Buyer
Spring is the time of rebirth, renewal, and rejuvenation. Spring is a time for hope and looking forward. Some people turn to cleansing to achieve renewal, while others find a spiritual or physical practice. One common theme that connects all of these practices is fresh organic produce. Looking for calm? broccoli, leafy greens, and avocados will help. Want to reduce inflammation? Ginger, turmeric, blueberries, cherries and tomatoes are what you’re looking for. Here in the Produce department we have done our planning with local farmers to determine what they will grow for you this year. While the early spring months’ local produce in our Sierra Foothills is limited—late spring is when local season really takes off—we do have lots of what you are looking for coming in from warmer places such as southern California, Arizona, and Mexico. One of the constants for us in spring is greens: Various local kales, chards, and collards, and in late Spring the local lettuces will start to appear.
At this time of year members of the chicory family are widely available and very healthy additions to many dietary styles. The chicory family has a lot of members: Radicchio, Frisee or Curly Endive, Belgian Endive, Dandelion, and Escarole to name a few. Known for its bitter qualities, Chicory relatives are a tasty inclusion to any diet. They generally contain high amounts of Vitamin A, potassium, beta carotene, calcium, and magnesium. Escarole, one of the milder Chicories, is great torn up with lettuce in salads. The leaves of Belgian Endive make lovely delicate holders for your favorite stuffing, and, tied closed with a chive or green onion, makes a visually delightful presentation. Radicchio leaves are a fun addition to a meal. I’ll peel off a leaf, add chicken or veggie salad, tabbouleh, or left over anything, and roll it up burrito-style. It looks good and it’s fun. Dandelion and Frisee are a great nutritional boost added to soup, stew, or salad.
Other plentiful greens are Kales, like Dino, Red Bore, Red Russian, and Green Curly, as well as Collards; all are great raw in salads or smoothies, and cooked in Sautés and soups. Collards I usually eat raw, much like Radicchio, and I stuff them burrito style. Cabbage is a workhorse item in my kitchen and I eat a lot of it. I Chop it up and mix with other veggies cole slaw style, always making impromptu dressings to suit my mood. Lightly steamed, the leaves are a great wrapper for sautéed meats or veggies and are easily kept closed with a toothpick.
As for local offerings, from Super Tuber we will have red & green Cabbages and those delicious loose Nantes carrots. Our friends to the West in Browns Valley, Higareda Family Farm, will bring us Rainbow Chard, Cilantro, and Curly Parsley. In May they will also have Rainier Cherries. Coco Ranch is bringing us Collards in March and April and White Cauliflower in May. In May as well, Filaki Farms will bring us Slicing Cucumbers and Pyramid Farms has Cilantro for us.
May is also the month when we will start seeing local lettuce from Riverhill Farm in Nevada City. They’ll be bringing us Romaine, green and red Oakleaf, red Butter, red Leaf, as well as green Cabbage, Napa Cabbage, and Rhubarb. Expect to see local Radishes from Starbright Acres too: Bacchus, Red, Easter Egg, French Breakfast is on plan. We’ll be seeing bunched Salad Turnips too, with their lovely and delicious greens. Weimar will supply us with white Daikon with greens. May will also bring Oyster Mushrooms from Sierra Gourmet.
Whatever Spring traditions you have, it is quite likely that good, fresh, organic produce will play a role. Here in the Co-op produce department we have an abundance of healthy veggies to choose from. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, please ask one of our clerks and we will try to get it for you. Remember, this is your co-op and we are here for you. Of course, the Vernal Equinox begins on March 20, so don’t forget to get a bouquet of Dino Kale for a loved one on that special day. Happy renewal everyone!