By Isabelle Huot, Ph. D. in Nutrition
What do garlic, beets, carrots, celeriac, mushrooms, cabbage, butternut squash, endive, parsnips, leeks, rutabaga, and Jerusalem artichoke have in common? They are all local winter vegetables. In the province of Québec, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to eat locally, even in winter. And eating locally has many benefits.
Buying local winter vegetables helps local producers and the local economy. One of the ways to do it in winter is to subscribe to a vegetable basket. These baskets are offered in different areas by different producers or organizations. It is also possible to buy local products at grocery stores. The ‘’Aliments du Québec’’ logo helps you identify local vegetables more easily.
Eating local winter vegetables also has many health benefits. Vegetables are unprocessed, rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Fibre helps with bowel function, reduces cholesterol levels, and controls blood sugar. As for the vitamins and minerals, they are both essential to our health and perform many functions in the body. For example, vitamin C, which you can find in fruits and vegetables, helps with the absorption of iron from plant-based sources, and helps with scarring. Furthermore, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), eating at least 400 g of fruits and vegetables daily lowers the risk of developing non-transmissible illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
WHY IS SEASONALITY IMPORTANT?
Considering products’ seasonality is important not only for the environment and our health, but also for taste. In fact, produce is at its best in terms of nutrition, aroma, and flavour when it is in season. Furthermore, when it is local, produce can be harvested at maturity and does not have to travel long distances, which allows it to stay fresh.
COMFORTING WINTER VEGETABLES
For many, vegetables are not synonymous with comfort. Nevertheless, winter vegetables are used in many comfort food dishes, such as: stews, gratins, and soups. In fact, winter vegetables, such as root vegetables, are well suited to the long, slow cooking of many comfort foods. Not only do they have many much-needed health benefits, but they add flavour and texture to the delicious recipes that warm our bodies and souls during the harsh and cold winter season. Eating local seasonal vegetables is a very good habit to have, as much for the local economy and for our own
health and the environment. So, this winter, enjoy cooking delicious meals showcasing local winter vegetables.
This article first appeared in the November issue of Medicart’s free web magazine. To subscribe, click here.