By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern
Springtime is almost here for the rest of the country, but in Arizona, we’ve been basking in the warm weather for more than a few weeks now. As the weather warms up, new things come into season, and let me tell you, it is some of the tastiest produce produced throughout the year. For example, one of my favorite fruits, the grapefruit, comes into season in March. Some of the other tasty stuff coming into season over the next few months includes broccoli, lemons, summer squash, oranges, peaches, carrots, and peas. With all this new and fresh produce becoming available, you’re going to have to head out the grocery store and you’re local farmers market in the coming weeks to stock up!
What’s so cool is that the list of spring fruits and vegetables is endless and all Arizona grown. Yes, even the strawberries. Duncan Family Farms this year rolled out about 25 acres of strawberries under hoops. It’s the first commercially grown organic strawberries in Arizona. They will be marketed under the Dole Label. Watch for them in your grocery store with the bright orange “Arizona Grown” label.
In the meantime, you might already know what you’re going to pick up when you go shopping for these tasty foods, but in case you don’t know what you want to buy, here’s a little breakdown of some of the produce becoming available!
Beets: Beets are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The actual beet itself contains a good amount of vitamin c, but its greens contain even more! Of course, there are many other vitamins and minerals in beets, including Vitamins A, K and E, and calcium, iron, and potassium. Beets also contain a phytochemical called glycine betaine. Glycine betaine is considered very heart healthy because it lowers the levels of homocysteine in the blood. High levels of homocysteine can lead to a stroke and coronary heart disease.
Lemons: First of all, lemons are full of, you guessed it, vitamin c! In fact, vitamin c is the most prominent vitamin found in lemons. Vitamin c is an antioxidant and helps to keep skin healthy and glowing. The citrus is also packed with vitamin A, calcium, iron, and magnesium. On top of that, lemons are super low in calories.
Strawberries: Everyone loves strawberries! They are, like much of the other produce on this list, packed full of vitamin c. There is so much vitamin c in strawberries that a serving of the little red fruits will give you 160% of the Recommended Daily Value. Strawberries also contain vitamins and minerals like manganese, riboflavin, iron, and vitamin E.
Cucumbers: Cucumbers are all-the-rage for being healthy, and the hype over them has a strong foundation. They are a vegetable with a very low-calorie count and are full of vital vitamins and minerals including potassium, calcium, zinc, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, phosphorus, iron, manganese, and magnesium. There are many antioxidants in cucumber, also, like vitamin C, B-carotene, and A-carotene.
Lettuce: So much lettuce is grown in Arizona that it is very easy to get your hands on some! It is a great addition to many dishes, or can just be used for a quick salad. Lettuce is seriously low in calories, and packed with vitamin K. It is also full of vitamin C, and vitamin A. Fresh lettuce also contains manganese, zinc, iron, copper, and calcium among many other vitamins and minerals.
Oranges: Like lemons, oranges are full of vitamin C. A serving of oranges provides about 90% of the Recommended Daily Value of vitamin C. Oranges also have quite a bit of pectin in them, which is a fiber. It helps to keep the colon clean and it can protect against colon cancer and high cholesterol levels. Vitamins A and E are found in oranges, as well as calcium, magnesium, and copper.
Broccoli: Like many that came before it on this list, broccoli is a great source of vitamin C. In fact, a serving has 149% of the Recommended Daily Value. As you know, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, and because broccoli contains that and vitamin A, it is an antioxidant rich food. Broccoli becomes more beneficial to health after you see that it also contains iron, copper, manganese, vitamin K, zinc, and riboflavin.
Carrots: Carrots are high in vitamin A and carotenes, which serve to maintain eye health and promote growth. Carrots have some great vitamins and minerals in them that humans need in their diets like potassium, manganese, copper, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, and iron.
This season many of my favorite, and your favorite, produce items will be ripe and ready to eat. When you visit the grocery store or farmers market, make sure you know what is in season, and what you are looking to buy. Make a list of the produce your family wants for the week so you don’t buy too much and deal with spoilage before you can enjoy the produce. Also, check out Fill Your Plates ‘What’s in Season’ page to find out what other fruits and veggies will be coming into season this spring!