At The Original Farmers Market, Los Angeles, we think nothing in the world tastes better than fresh-picked fruits and veggies, especially those that have matured right here under the California sun.
If, like us, you prefer to buy your fruits and veggies when they are the freshest off the farm, here’s an insider’s guide to the best fruits and veggies available in January.
Farmers Market Favorites
There are few vegetables that have enjoyed such a rapid growth in popularity as kale. According to NPR’s “All Things Considered,” kale now appears on 400% more restaurant menus than it did four years ago. One of kale’s earliest American fans was Thomas Jefferson, who grew several varieties in his garden.
With its healthy qualities—high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and rich in calcium—it’s no wonder this “super food” has become so popular. Trying to reduce milk in your diet? One serving of kale has more Calcium than a small carton of milk.
Today, California produces the most kale in the nation, with nearly 400 farms growing this leafy veggie. Although it was once considered a cold-weather veggie, kale is grown throughout the year, meaning California-grown kale can be found “in season” almost all year long.
Special Treat: Farmers Market restaurants are among those increasing their kale offerings. For a mild winter soup, try the Tuscan White Bean & Kale Soup, made with Kabocha squash and toasted pumpkin seeds at Marmalade Café. Or enjoy a rich kale smoothie with bananas and almond milk at Greenhouse.
Although celery isn’t always top of mind when we plan our healthy meals, the veggie has plenty of healthful benefits. With just 10 calories per stalk, many say celery has “negative” calories, as it requires more calories to consume than it contains. In addition to being high in Vitamin C, celery also has at least a dozen anti-oxidant nutrients, which help reduce damage to our cells, blood vessels and organ systems.
Celery also has a long history as a darling of literature and folklore. Both Madame Pompadour, the mistress of Louis XV, and famed romantic Casanova, were said to eat celery to help with their libido. Incidentally, scientists have since proven that celery contains a nutrient that helps stimulate the male pheromone androsterone, which is said to be “pleasing to women.” Additionally, Hippocrates called celery a “nerve soother,” and medical writer Aulus Cornelius Celsus wrote about celery seeds ability to relieve pain. Even the 1897 Sears Catalog offered a nerve tonic made from celery.
The nation’s largest producer of celery is California, where 95% of the America’s crop is grown.
Special treat: Celery is one part of the Cajun holy trinity—onions, bell peppers and celery—which makes up much of Cajun and Creole cooking. Check out the holy trinity in action at the Gumbo Pot where you can order the rich seafood gumbo or the spicy gumbo ya ya. Prefer to drink your celery? Phil’s Deli & Grill sells Dr. Brown’s Celery Soda.
If your New Year’s resolutions include expanding your horizons for 2017, you might want to give the tasty kumquat a whirl. The tiny fruit is native to Eastern Asia but in the United States they are almost exclusively grown in California.
Although they are frequently considered a citrus fruit, the kumquat was actually given its own genus, the fortunella, in 1915. Both sweet and tart, kumquats can be eaten whole and are usually consumed with the skin. They are also frequently found in jams, preservatives and relishes. What’s more, they’re packed with nutrients, including vitamin C, fiber, anti-oxidants and B-complex vitamins, which help metabolize protein, fat and carbohydrates.
Special Treat: Create your own exotic treat at home with this tasty Pineapple, Kumquat, and Ginger Crisp with Coconut Topping recipe from Sur La Table. Pick up all the produce and nuts required by this recipe at any of our produce merchants.
Seasonal Veggies Harvested in January
Artichokes, Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Kale, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Potatoes, Rutabagas, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Turnips
Seasonal Fruits Harvested in January
Cherimoya, Clementine, Grapefruit, Kiwifruit, Kumquats, Lemons, Limes, Mandarins, Oranges, Pomegranates, Tangerines
Ready for next month? Read about What’s in Season in February in our Market Buzz blog now.