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 October.
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It goes without saying that October is a time to celebrate the great pumpkin. Throughout the month, California--which yield’s the second-largest pumpkin crop in the country—is home to a number of pumpkin festivals up and down the state. Even the folks at Third & Fairfax get into the spirit of the season during the Farmers Market Fall Festival, where colorful pumpkin decorations are found throughout the Market.
While pumpkins are certainly a decorative addition to the fall season, they are also packed with amazing health benefits. They are incredibly high in Vitamin A—a cup of mashed pumpkin has more than 200% of your daily required intake. Pumpkin seeds also offer a variety of health benefits, including helping to reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. They are also high in serotonin-producing tryptophan, which is said to be an excellent way to naturally improve your mood and counteract depression.
Special treat: With their numerous healthy benefits, pumpkin seeds make a perfect pick-me-up snack. You can create a made-to-order snack by picking up a fresh pumpkin at Farm Fresh Produce, Farm Boy Produce, or Greenhouse Produce scooping out the seeds, toasting them and then drizzling them with your choice of healthy, salt-free, sugar-free spices from Dragunara Spice Bazaar.
While pumpkins may get all the glory this month, October has also been officially designated as Spinach Lover’s Month. Since nearly ¾ of the entire nation’s spinach crop is grown in California, there’s a good bet that spinach lovers are eating leafy greens that were raised in the Golden State.
Spinach’s health benefits are legendary. Of course, the most famous spinach fan was Popeye the Sailor Man, who was known to go from average to super sailor just by ingesting a can of spinach. Popeye popularized spinach so much during the 1930s that US spinach growers claim that consumption increased more than 30 percent during that time.
But while Popeye’s preferred treat came from a can, spinach is most healthy when it’s eaten fresh. Interestingly cooked spinach offers healthier benefits than raw, and juiced spinach offers the most benefits. While spinach is known to improve eyesight and build healthy bones, it’s also said to prevent ulcers and to promote healthy skin.
Special treat: We’re crazy for the spanakopita at Ulysses Voyage. This famed Greek dish is commonly prepared with a blend of spinach and feta cheese inside a triangular phyllo pastry. The spanakopita at Ulysses Voyage, however, is prepared in a more traditional Greek country style recipe and baked into a tasty pie.
For a sweet snack, October is also a great time to purchase the fuzzy little kiwi fruit. While it may still seem exotic to many, California produces 98 percent of the nation’s kiwi fruit. Of course, the industry is a relatively small one, domestically, and the state is home to less than 300 growers. While there are more than 40 types of kiwi worldwide, California is all about the Hayward Kiwi, which has its peak harvest in October and November.
Although it may sound a little naughty, “slooping a kiwi” is the recommended way to eat the fruit. This involves cutting the fuzzy, green fruit in half and then scooping out the insides (Get it, it’s a cross between slicing and scooping.)
Kiwis are high in vitamin C and E, potassium, magnesium, antioxidants, lutein, folate and zinc, and among its excellent benefits, it is said to help promote healthy hair, skin, teeth and nails. Need a little extra fiber in your diet? The California Kiwifruit commission recommends rinsing off the skin and eating that too.
Special Treat: If you’re not ready to try your hand at slooping, drop by Farm Fresh Produce, Farm Boy Produce, or Greenhouse Produce where pre-made fruit bowls include slices of the day’s freshest kiwi fruit. Or take your dessert to a new level at Pinkberry, where one of the yogurt toppings includes freshly diced kiwis.
Seasonal Veggies Harvested in October
Artichokes, Asparagus, Bell Peppers, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chile Peppers, Corn, Cucumbers, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Onions, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Snap Beans, Spinach, Tomatoes, Zucchini
Seasonal Fruits Harvested in October
Apples, Avocados, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Dates, Grapes, Honeydew, Lemons, Oranges, Raspberries, Strawberries, Watermelons
Read about what’s in season in November at our Market Buzz blog now.