Facts About Your Fall Harvest Favourites
As we near the official end of summer and to the first week of fall, now is a great time to celebrate the wonders of the natural world and the bounties of the fall harvest. In Canada, this is the season of plenty, and when local farmers’ markets overflow with fresh, organic fruits and vegetables for you to bring home.
September 16 to 24 also marks the eighth annual Organic Week, a national celebration of organic food, products and, of course, farming. With a focus on organic produce, we’ve rounded up some fun and little-known facts about your fall harvest favourites. Read on to learn something new!
Did you know that sweet potatoes are actually considered roots, while regular potatoes are classified as tubers or “underground stems?”
Sweet potatoes pack a serious nutritional punch: they’re high in beta-carotene, a pre-cursor to vitamin A, which is essential for vision and cell growth, as well as vitamins E and C, potassium, and vitamin B6. Sweet potatoes are one of the most versatile vegetables in the kitchen: they can be baked, steamed, boiled, microwaved, puréed and even eaten raw. Try organic Sweet Potato Jerky recipe — video below, and full recipe here — for a delicious and portable on-the-go snack.
Around the world, these tasty root vegetables come in a variety of colours, including orange, white, yellow and even purple! Orange is the most common, and has the highest natural source of beta-carotene among the sweet potato family.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants and have an amazing nutritional profile, which boasts more fibre than kale, more potassium than bananas, and are full of heart-healthy magnesium and iron, containing about 150 calories per ounce (28 grams). Pumpkin seeds are also a rich source of magnesium, an essential mineral for your blood pressure, heart health, bone health and blood sugar levels.
You may be surprised to discover that pumpkin carving originated in Ireland, where they used to carve turnips until pumpkins were discovered in the Americas, which are much easier to carve. Also, did you know that pumpkins have specialized cells that create their rigid structure? Pumpkins are actually 90 per cent air!
Apple trees are amazing: it takes the energy from 50 leaves to produce one apple. (How do we know this, you might ask? Well, through “pomology” or “the science of apple growing.”) There are over 2,500 varieties of apples grown in North America, but only one is native to Canada: the crab apple. Approximately 25 per cent of an apple is made up of air — and that’s what makes them perfect for the Halloween “bobbing for apples” game — because they float!
Apples are an excellent source of fibre: one medium apple contains five grams of fibre, including the soluble fibre pectin.
Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene, a natural chemical that the body changes into vitamin A. The deeper the orange of the carrot, the more beta-carotene you’re getting. It’s true that eating massive amounts of carrots can sometimes cause a person’s skin to turn yellowish-orange — called carotenemia — which is typically most noticeable on the palms or soles of feet. But don’t worry, it requires a high amount of carrot consumption and is completely fixable just by simply reducing carrot intake.
Zucchinis are versatile plants from the Cucurbit family, the same family of plants that includes squash, pumpkins and cucumbers. Many people don’t realize that the flower of the zucchini plant is edible, and fried squash blossoms are considered a delicacy.
From a nutritional standpoint, a zucchini has more potassium than a banana and is a source of vitamin C and vitamin B6. Try using zucchini in a different way than just frying or steaming it — try out organic Kim Chi and Zucchini Pad Thai for an unconventional “zucchini noodle” twist on this fall favourite!