The importance of vegetable variations

The world of vegetables is flourishing. All year round, new flavours, colours, sizes and shapes are widely available. Here's a guide to some modern vegetable variations:

The importance of vegetable variations

A growing variety of vegetables

  • Anyone who cooks or shops for food will have noticed the quiet revolution that's taken place in the world of vegetables over the last 20 years.
  • Today, there are an astonishing number of choices. Most super­markets carry three or four kinds of cabbages, five different potatoes, and six types of lettuce.
  • Tomatoes, too, come in many shapes and sizes. There are red and yellow cherry tomatoes, and grape and roma varieties, as well as vine-ripened, greenhouse and heirloom to choose from.
  • Other newcomers include bok choy and a wide variety of Chinese cabbages; cooking greens and okra; broccoli rabe (rapini) and broccolini; beans, squash and carrots of many colours.

Expanding knowledge of health benefits

  • One of the main forces behind this change is our expanding knowledge of the health benefits that come from eating vegetables.
  • We know that nothing can beat a vegetable for providing rich amounts of fibre, nutrients, vitamins and fuel in a convenient, low-calorie form.
  • Then there are the health benefits beyond simply daily nutrition. Phytochemicals – the natural chemicals in vegetables that display significant healing powers – are thought to bolster immunity, battle cancer, reduce stress, improve skin and hair… and much more.
  • Thanks to this new evidence, the medical world began campaigning to encourage people to eat at least 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Increasing locally-grown farmers' rights

  • Add to that the fact that food distribution ensures there are plenty of choices available year-round, not to mention the ever-growing variety of vegetables on the market.
  • If you, like so many people, don't want to buy produce that's traveled long distances to get to you, there are excellent alternatives closer to home.
  • Over the past few years, there's been a steady, welcome growth in farmers' markets right around the country.
  • Small growers bring their freshly picked, and often organically grown or vine-ripened, produce to these weekend markets, attracting discerning customers who are happy to have the opportunity to buy from them direct.

This growth in the vegetable market is nothing but good news for the average household and amateur chef. Be sure to check out your local markets for homegrown vegetables and experiment with different kinds of vegetables in your regular dishes. The variety is sure to keep your palette intrigued!

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