This year, I joined the Becker Farms CSA, which is short for “Community Supported Agriculture.” Community supported agriculture is a program that permits people to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables from farmers. Becker Farms is located in Gasport, New York. Gasport, a hamlet in the Town of Royalton, in the eastern part of Niagara County, is the site of an Erie Canal port. It was called “Gasport” because, in 1826, a geological expedition, led by Amos Eaton and physicist Joseph Henry of the Rensselaerian School (now called the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) found natural gas on that site.
Anyway, when I joined the CSA, I was given the choice of a full share or a half share. I could pick up a new box of goodies every week or every other week. I chose to purchase a half share every other week. I have already collected three boxes of produce, and the total boxes that I will pick up will be ten. It makes my produce pick-up day feel like the food version of Christmas and my birthday, rolled up in one. You do not know what’s in the box until you bring it home and open it. In my last box, I found a massive quantity of kale. I also found kohlrabi, carrots, snap peas, hot peppers, beets, wax beans, zucchini, and raspberries.
Having this collection of food meant that I had to figure out how to cook everything. Being a member of a CSA has truly been a culinary adventure. So, today, I will talk about beets. When I was a kid, I heard rumors that beets are bad. It was then that I made the decision that beets and my taste buds would never meet. Eventually, I grew up, at least in the chronological sense. Or, at least, my taste buds might have grown up. I went to language school in Guatemala. Before I went there, I said to myself: “Self, you’re going to live with a family in Guatemala. You will eat whatever you are served. If you can’t identify the food, you will eat it anyway but you won’t ask what it is.”
One day, a plateful of beets appeared on the table. An argument promptly ensued in my head. “Beets are bad. I will never eat beets.” “When I’m in Guatemala, I will eat whatever I’m served…” “Ugh, shut up. Taste a tiny bit and be done with it.” Reluctantly, I put a small slice on my plate and cut it up. Then I tasted a microscopic portion of that small slice. “Um, not enough. I can’t taste anything.” A bigger slice went in my mouth. Then another slice.
“Oh! Beets are good! From now on, I will eat beets!”
Today, I learned that, not only are beets good and tasty, they are also a super food. And it’s not just the beets that’s a delicious super food, it’s also the greens and stems of the beets. Today, for dinner, I had tilapia, beets, and beet greens. The beet greens were sauteed with garlic and olive oil. The beets were coated with olive oil and were then wrapped in aluminum foil and roasted for about an hour. The roasting process makes the beets very tender and sweet. Beet greens are delicious. Beets are a member of the goosefoot (also known as chenopodiaceae) family and are related to spinach, Swiss chard, quinoa, and a few wild edibles.
This is why beets and beet greens are a super food. Beets are loaded with nutrients. They include betalins (antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties), lutein and zeaxanthin (considered to be good for maintaining eye health), vitamin C, folate, and manganese. The betalains give beets their dramatic red color. The greens actually have more nutrients than the root. The greens are considered to be a dark green, leafy vegetable. Nutritional benefits include vitamin B6, vitamin A, protein, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and vitamin K (which improves blood clotting).
Today’s question: What is your least favorite vegetable? If you have overcome your dislike of that food? Is the food unhealthy or has it acquired the vaunted title of super food?