Monday, November 28, 2011
While watching the cartoons as a small child, I always wondered how a can of “black glop” squeezed into Popeye’s mouth would instantly give him super strength. Yes, I am dating myself here; yes, it was in the days of black and white television. However, I did wonder HOW that “spinach” worked so quickly.
As an adult, I realize it was some slick propaganda to get kids to eat their veggies. Perhaps the whole Popeye concept was dreamed up by the spinach lobbyists of the day. At the dinner table where I grew up, we were expected to eat our vegetables…no questions asked. If you didn’t eat them…you didn’t leave the table. That, my friends, is how I learned appreciation for the “lowly vegetable”.
Looking back, I really feel for poor Popeye. I cannot imagine anything worse than canned spinach. Blech! Canned vegetables do not have the nutritive value of fresh, or even frozen. The texture and taste leave much to be desired. Spinach, fresh from the garden, is a delicious, nutritious addition to any meal. I do not want to consider what canned spinach must be like.
Spinach is one our most popular offerings for sale. This is presumably because of its highly nutritious reputation. I have heard it said that a serving of spinach has four times the vitamins as the same amount of lettuce. Although, I should think that this would depend on the type of lettuce.
Spinach is rich in a number of essential nutrients, including calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin A. Each of these nutrients plays a crucial role in our bodies health, from maintaining bone structure, preventing neural tube defects, assisting in red blood cell production, regulating our heartbeat, fighting free radicals and nourishing good eyesight.
Eating spinach feeds a healthy body. Spinach is also a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoid phytonutrients that are important for healthy eyes.”
We grow a number of varieties of spinach. By knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each type and providing the proper growing environment, we are able to have spinach year round. I have yet another reason to love the hoophouses.
This past summer, I was witness to the bolting phenomenon of spinach. While I know that spinach seeds came from spinach plants, I had never seen them in their growing stages. It was most interesting. Here are some shots of the forming seeds.
These are spinach seedlings. They look very much like chubby grass at this point.
This is the very beginning of the bolt. These little hairy things hold the spinach pollen.
Here they are just a little more mature.
These are very tiny spinach seeds. Cool process, huh?
We don’t attempt to save our own seeds for most crops. Although there are those who are great proponents of seed-saving, and there is a worry that genetic diversity may one day be lost without effort on the part of growers, we simply do not have the space to have a seed stock crop AND a crop for profit. So, we’ll do our part to keep the seed companies in business.
When I pick spinach in the hoophouse in the middle of the winter, and even in the middle of the summer…I do so knowing that we (or our customer-friends) will enjoy the fresh taste in salads and on sandwiches, boiled on its own or in other dishes.
…and I think….”oh, poor Popeye! …if he only knew what he was missing!”