The winter season is upon us, and much like autumn, fresh produce is a little scarce in British Columbia when compared to the spring and summer months. Also much like the fall season, many fruit and vegetables from out of the country tend to be shipped to local supermarkets, in an attempt to fill the shelves. As I’ve stated in previous blogs, consuming fresh produce with the highest nutrient supply is optimal for our digestion, metabolism, energy levels etc. In many scenarios, choosing any kind of vegetables or fruit over processed or prepared food is great!
I’ve gone into detail in my What’s In Season For the Fall blog about a couple simple steps to avoid out of season produce and fruits & vegetables that have most likely travelled a long way to get to your local grocery shelf. However, in this blog, I’m going to go right into which fruits and vegetables to look out for in B.C. during the winter season.
One fruit that is widely available fresh throughout the winter months, in all regions other than Northern B.C. are Apples. I mean, there’s a reason why apples are one of the most widely exported food items in this province…we have an abundance of them, especially in the southern regions of this province! Apples are a wonderful source of both fibre and Vitamin C. The fibre not only helps with the effectiveness of digestion, but also subdues the glucose impact on our bodies from the higher sugar content this fruit provides. And of course, Vitamin C is wonderful for our overall health, as it is an antioxidant, benefitting our immune systems, and has potent anti-inflammatory properties. It has also been recently found that the phytonutrients in apples are able to survive the digestive journey all the way down to the Large Intestine, and therefore, able to affect the beneficial bacterial balance.
Cabbage is also widely fresh and available in most parts of B.C. Who doesn’t like cabbage?! Ok, a fair amount of people, I know. But, there are a lot of people that DO like cabbage, as well. I think most people just may not know how to utilize cabbage. My favourite way to cook cabbage is making Atakilt Wat, an Ethiopian Vegan Dish that basically consists of Cabbage, Onion, Carrots, potatoes, and a bunch of wonderful spices! I unfortunately can’t find the recipe I normally use, but am including a link to one recipe that can be found online that is pretty good too! Of course, the most widely utilized method is fermenting Cabbage into Sauerkraut! First, there are so many different methods and flavours to incorporate in fermenting Cabbage, and I believe the best advocate of this is Kathrin Brunner! All you have to do is visit her Instagram account (@fortheloveofbody), or visit her website www.fortheloveofbody.com to see all the wonderful workshops, recipes, yoga classes etc that she does! Check out some of her recipes in her blog section as well. It’s hard not to be passionate about cabbage and fermentation alone once you familiarize yourself with Kathrin and Andrew’s techniques and enthusiasm for fermentation. Cabbage is such a nutritious vegetable with tons of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Fibre and has wonderful effects on the digestive system, whether it’s fermented or not! It’s particularly known for regulating levels of H. Pylori, one of the most common bacteria strains in the human gastrointestinal tract.
There are many similar vegetables in-season right now, that were also available in B.C. during the fall season. Carrots, Onions, Kale, and of course, Winter Squash are all still available locally through the winter months.
One more vegetable that is available locally during both the fall and winter seasons are mushrooms. More-so in the southern regions like the Kootenays and Vancouver Island, but should still be available in most grocery stores in B.C. that buy their mushroom within province. However, a trend that seems to be becoming quite popular around Canada, myself included, are at-home mushroom growing kits. They usually involve a nice brick of prepared Mycelium (organic fungus bacterial colony) that makes it very easy to grow your own mushrooms from. I am currently about begin my own growth of Oyster mushrooms, and am including a link to the company at the end of this blog. This is so advantageous because not only are you able to grow your own mushrooms in an offseason, but it’s typically pretty hard to not be successful growing it! Mushrooms are fungi, which generally “steal” their nutrients from almost all sources such as soil that populate plants and grass, and particularly have a tendency to grow on trees! So they’re very versatile! Funny little fact, most mushrooms that grow on trees, particularly on roots, are actually a vehicle for transferring nutrients from one tree to another! Anyways, generally mushrooms are a wonderful source of nutrients, but particularly Shiitake Mushrooms, which are one strain that is available in B.C., much like the effect of phytonutrients in apples, have Beta-Glucans (carbohydrate molecule) that are able to stay intact right through to the large intestine, where it benefits the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines.
Unfortunately, there is very limited amount of fresh fruits available in B.C. during the winter. This is the case in most provinces, however, I know that there are Rutabaga and Greenhouse grown Strawberries locally available in Ontario during the winter months, which is the closest thing you can get to Canadian-grown local fruits at this time, other than B.C. local apples.
Much like in the fall season, in the winter many people associate eating certain meals such as soups, stews, casseroles and oven roasted root vegetables with the winter months. Now you can kinda see why. Much like what I mentioned in the fall produce blog, shopping locally is always favourable for nutrient intake and socializing (safely of course), but particularly with the winter months, getting any kind of produce incorporated in your meals is a positive! Happy Cooking, and Happy 2021!