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When it comes to summertime fresh fruit and vegetables, we Kiwis are truly blessed with the bountiful best. But what of late summer and beyond? Will there still be rich pickings? You betcha!

 

 

Below is an A-Z of what’s on offer.

A is for apple. Harvested between February and May, varieties such as ballarat, braeburn, cox’s orange, fuji, gala, golden delicious, granny smith, red delicious, and royal gala ensure to ‘keep the doctor away’.

The avocado is a fruit (yes, fruit!) that, due to being harvested at different times of the year, is another all-year goodie.

It’s one of the few fruits that contains monounsaturated fat – that’s the good fat that helps lower blood cholesterol.

Look for varieties such as hass, reed, fuerte and carmen.

Beans are a protein-rich superfood. High in fibre and antioxidants, these mighty legumes are great for the waistline, and may aid in disease prevention.

Take your pick from green, French, butter or broad beans.

Beetroot is another superfood readily available.

Studies have shown beetroot helps lower blood pressure, reduces cholesterol, and is rich in potassium, folate, vitamin C and other important minerals.

Berries are a great source of antioxidants, so not only are these little darlings delicious, they do heaps to protect body cells and control free radicals.

Make a berry delectable dessert of whipped cream, blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrants and strawberries. Yum!

Bravo for brassicas, broccoli and broccolini, while versatile veges buttercup squash and butternuts can be baked, boiled, sautéed, added to salads and stir-fries, or made into a nourishing soup.

Cabbages and cauliflowers can be found all year round, as can celery, capsicums, cucumber and carrots.

Heirloom carrots, in colours of orange, cream and purple, look beautiful and taste sensational.

Eggplant (aubergine to the French), especially the purple variety, is an all-year star. “Bring on the ratatouille, René!”

Garlic and ginger may be like chalk and cheese, but they’re always available, are vital for health and, let’s face it, no meal is quite the same without ‘em.

Grapes, honeydew melons, mango, nashi pears, nectarines, passionfruit, peaches, plums are all available through to March, and last but not least is the mouth-watering watermelon.

Check out the 5+aDay website for seasonal inspiration.


 

Growing vegetables = Growing health: Terra Viva Home and Garden


Growing your own vegetables is a win-win all round. High in vitamins A and C, antioxidants, minerals and fibre, vegetables protect against heart disease and cancer. The mental health benefits too have been well documented.

 

 

By Terra Viva Owner Peter Worsp

 

The 1959 rehab programme for war veterans included working in the garden as part of a physical and mental wellbeing programme. You’ll also find that children growing vegetables are much more likely to eat them. If you’ve grown your own vegetables you know exactly what’s gone into and onto them.

Growing vegetables gives you a healthy body and mind, a great sense of satisfaction and a healthy pocket. That convenient back-garden vege patch can save you big bucks, especially at this ‘in between’ season of the year. So here’s a few tips, and always remember: plants were designed to grow – it ain’t rocket science!

Herbs are one of the easiest, even in the smallest patch. Parsley – great in the ground or in containers in full sun/part shade with plenty of water. The secret for basil? Maximum heat and shelter from cold wind. Picking mint? Always cut stalks off right at the base and use only the tip to keep plants clear of rust – mint loves water and is happy in part shade. Coriander is such a useful herb which also loves part shade and is at its best grown from seed in spring and autumn. Sweet rocket transforms an average salad into a culinary masterpiece.

As winter veges finish and summer is still a way off, plant pak choi, silverbeet and spinach, which all grow fast and are happy in the cooler temperatures. Beetroot is delicious and versatile – the young foliage as a microgreen, the small beets roasted or grated, and for preserving at the end of the season. Did you know that any of the beets are good for lowering blood pressure?

Soil preparation is the key, so dig down to a spade’s depth and mix in blood and bone, a dusting of lime, and sheep pellets, to provide loose and fertile earthworm-attracting soil. Regular light side dressings of crop-specific fertilisers and a top-up of Tui Seaweed Tonic will give you bumper crops. Marigolds, sunflowers and cleomes keep the bugs at bay.

Along with lettuces (plant every two weeks for a continuous supply), tomatoes are the top summer crop. Good heat, good soil and regular feeding give lots of sweet juicy fruit packed with goodies like lycopene, a powerful anti-oxidant for prostate health. In cooler climates, grow the smaller-fruited tomatoes –Sweet 100, Sungold, Berrytoms – as they ripen much quicker. Feed tomatoes regularly and use the same fertiliser for eggplants (aubergines) which love heat, along with chillies and capsicums (Target is an easy variety). Climbing beans and dwarf beans love well-composted, damp but well-drained soil, and once again…heat!

 

 


 

Ugly Food

Ugly Food


The ugly food movement – this decade’s term to describe fruit and vegetables of the knotted, gnarly and spotty kind –is taking over our soils.

 

Ugly Food

 

Although an unflattering title, ugly food is a new food group we can include in our shopping baskets. People are saving on pennies whilst simultaneously saving the world food-shortage and wastage problem. As a growing trend, with those like Jamie Oliver spreading the word, this is really just a reversal back to the good old days.

In decades passed, a child’s image of an apple included a worm peeping out the side. Now it’s more likely the Apple logo. Cut out the codling moth, peel away the brown patch and pop that puny cast-off into the lunchbox. Take a large perfectly spherical Californian orange for instance and a local, small organic blemished one. Cut both into quarters and compare. It’s likely the later surpasses in intense juicy flavour.

Every year reportedly 2.9 trillion pounds of food gets dumped, according the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations – ‘ugly food’ is a big part of the problem. The EU, until recently, imposed rules on the length, size and condition of what fruits and vegetables retailers could sell. Big is not necessarily beautiful, but the food industry has been conditioning our eyes over our taste buds. New Zealand produce, such as kiwifruit, sells overseas as voluptuous clones in a row – for an arguably brazen price-tag. The tasty small fuzzy ones left behind, can sell for a song.

However, times ‘they are a changing’. It’s been a couple of years since Countdown introduced The Odd Bunch – asymmetrical avocados, odd-ball kumaras, hail-stone pocked stone fruit, or apples that would not otherwise make the grade. Until wild and interesting becomes the new normal, they sport a cheaper price tag – a great way to save money.  In many remote parts of the world, living off the land correlates to longevity. Food in its heirloom ancient form is unrecognisable to many of our purposely bred next-gen varieties and those pumped with chemicals to increase shelf-life and aesthetic value.

Thankfully, in many a home vege garden in New Zealand, it’s often taste before beauty. It is at the retail stores where we often have our aesthetic-appeal radars out. Carrots spring to mind in the funny deformity stakes – the Frankensteins of the vege world. The tangled multi-limbed vegetable has simply just struck a pebble or stick while growing, then branched out to save itself. Capsicums come a close second in hilarious, but harmless, renditions. Strawberries and tomatoes can split or fuse together or sprout extra ‘bits’.

Share your comical food photos on Instagram, support farmers’ markets and ask for their more aesthetically challenged items, grow your own and shop for what’s on the inside – not the outside. There is in fact a fruit called Ugly Fruit, which interestingly has exotic-food status. This bulbous oddity is a hybridised Jamaican grapefruit, tangelo and orange mix.

It might be a while until we see Master Chef: the ugly edition, or warty root vegetables in Michelin Star dishes – but watch this space.