On this first day of fall, we mournfully make peace with summer’s brilliant fruits and vegetables that drip with moisture and refreshment. Goodbye to luscious foods that cool our insides like watermelon and peaches and hydrating crisp lettuce greens, and ripe, red tomatoes. Although these foods will be missed (or imported from South America and continually purchased year round at your local grocery store), we are waltzing into a new season that bestows upon us a far more interesting harvest.
I compare summer produce to a romantic comedy- sweet, light, airy, and refreshing. Although lovely, it is not something that evokes deep emotional thought. Whereas autumn fruits and vegetables are like Shakespearean love stories- they touch and awaken a part of your soul that was on the verge of being forgotten about. With just the scent of cinnamon spiced apple pie or roasted sweet potato, you are instantly taken to a time in which the world was simpler, wide-eyed holiday fun awaited, and life was lived in that very moment. It’s a deep, comforting feeling that wraps you up in its warmth and carries you into the frosty winter.
Fruits are no longer the star now, as potent, disease-fighting vegetables take over. Beets, squash, rutabaga, broccoli, sweet potatoes, radishes, carrots, kale, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage (to name just a few) are at their peak and fill our produce departments and farmers markets. You will notice most of these vegetables have flesh that is deep and rich in color. This illustrates the powerful array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant compounds that each has to offer.
The deep orange in sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin and carrots come from beta carotene, a form of Vitamin A that is thought to fight cancer cell growth, support reproductive health, and boost immune function. That bright red radish is a great source of vitamin C, B6, folate, fiber, riboflavin, thiamin, iron, magnesium, and potent cancer-halting isothiocyanates. Kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are surprisingly in the same (cruciferous vegetable) family as radishes. As with radishes, these veggies offer anti-oxidant and detoxification benefits thanks to glucosinolates. Their high fiber content is linked to lowering cholesterol and supporting cardiovascular health. Their high concentration of Vitamin K allows for strong anti-inflammatory potential. My favorite, the beet, is a true autumn jewel and detoxification powerhouse. Unlike radishes that get their vibrant red color from anthocyanins (an antioxidant flavonoid compound), beets obtain their deep coloring from a group of compounds called, betalins. Betalins provide powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Preliminary lab tests have revealed their ability to suppress cancer cell growth. Loaded with folate, manganese, potassium, fiber, copper, magnesium, (I can go on and on…) phosphorus, vitamin C, iron, vitamin B6, beets are a fantastic source of health and vitality.
And let’s not forget about some of the year’s most fabulous fruit: pomegranates, cranberries, apples, and pears, each of which offer their unique gift of vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient composition. Although fall vegetables steal the show, I can say with certainty that one of life’s best offerings is biting into an apple at the peak of season (September-October). So sweet and crisp- this taste simply can’t be replicated any other time of the year.
Of course I only touched on a hint of fall’s fabulous produce. So explore for yourself what this season has to offer and enjoy every bite, every scent, because this time is only once a year!