Autumn's Harvest: Fall Vegetables to Eat
Although most of the farmers markets have closed for the season, eating local does not have to stop just because summer has ended. Our local farmers are busy keeping us healthy by harvesting hardier, cool weather crops this time of year. Several farmers extend the growing season well into the cooler months by growing crops in hoop houses, which trap the warmth of the sun and protect crops from the elements. If you know where to look and what to look for, you will find that the autumn harvest boasts an abundance of fresh and delicious local produce.
When we eat in harmony with the seasons, we stay connected to the cycles of nature and obtain the right balance of nutrients needed to nourish our bodies during our transition into cooler months. During autumn months, it’s no coincidence that vitamin A rich winter squashes, sweet potatoes and carrots come into season to naturally support our immune systems as cold and flu season sets in. And cool weather cruciferous veggies like cabbage, turnips, and Brussels sprouts also peak during the autumn months to keep our bodies healthy with their rich source of vitamin C and other health supportive antioxidants. It’s amazing that nature provides our bodies with what we most need when we most need it.
These nutrient dense autumn gems are delicious to prepare using simple cooking methods that will warm your belly. The flavors of root vegetables, winter squash, fennel, and Brussels sprouts are deepened and sweetened when roasted. Broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are wonderful when steamed or added to stir-fries. Creamy pureed soups made from sweet potatoes, pumpkin, or winter squash provide comfort and nourishment. Baked apples or pears are a simple, yet decadent sweet treat.
Wondering where to go to source your local ingredients for an autumn-inspired meal? Get out and smell the crisp autumn air and listen to the crunch of leaves beneath your feet while shopping the Brookside Farmers Market (http://brooksidefarmersmarket.com/) on Saturday mornings through November. Or trek down to Badseed Market (http://www.badseedkc.com/) for their cozy indoor Friday night market that runs through February, even when there is snow on the ground! Lastly, find some great local, seasonal items year-round at Whole Foods Market. Their organic Missouri Northern pecans are essential for holiday baking and the fresh roasted chestnuts are a timeless nostalgic tradition. You can also find fresh aromatic “living” herbs to accentuate your dishes grown locally by Cal-Ann Farms.
Whole Foods also carries local produce items like winter squash, kale, and broccoli for as long as they are seasonally available from their local suppliers. There’s no shortage of options for fresh, local flavor so get cooking!