The letter of the week is “V”

By Mita Dutta

“Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket”. The potato harvests at the farm have embodied this adage; our yield of red potatoes surpasses that of our Yukon Golds. The reason? Maybe the critters prefer the latter or maybe it is due to plant location. Either way, it is a living reminder of one value of crop diversification.  

Variety is important on the farm, but is equally important on our plates! The USDA’s encourages us to “vary our veggies”, and there are many reasons to do so. Firstly, different vegetables contain different nutrients, so eating a variety helps us to get the nutrients that we need. In addition to vitamins, minerals, and fiber, there are many compounds in vegetables that likely promote health. There are many phytochemicals (compounds that naturally occur in plants, like lycopene in tomatoes) that haven’t been identified or for which we are only beginning to discover health benefits! 

A famous quote from Hipprocrates is “Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food”. Naturally, as a dietetic intern I often agree with this statement. After all, healthy dietary patterns do promote good health! But, sometimes I hear people say that something takes so good that it can’t be good for you (or the reverse where something tastes unpleasant, but it must be good for you). I always want to say that healthy foods aren’t unpleasant medicines… for which we pinch our noses to avoid the taste and gulp it down quickly. Varying our veggies and our preparation of them definitely promotes our enjoyment of them. Healthy foods like vegetables can be delicious; it’s just a matter of trying different vegetables, different ways of preparing them, and learning to like them.  

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital rises in the background as cabbage and an assortment of cooking greens grow at The Farm at St. Joe’s.

While you may never love all vegetables, you might surprise yourself! Anyone who knew my previous dislike of beets would laugh to see that they are featured in two of my blog posts. I didn’t think I liked beets until I started at the Farm, but now I have found two ways to enjoy them: roasted (recipe in 9/15 blog post) and in a raw beet salad (served as samples at the Farmer’s Market at St. Joe’s, recipe below). Many people that come by and try our farm-fresh samples tell us that they are willing to try anything once. And it is often said that preschool-aged children may need to be exposed to a new food 15 times before they accept it. I don’t know what the number is for adults, but it might be less than that! Look for new recipes for vegetables you don’t yet love, try out unfamiliar vegetables, and taste taste taste! This is why the letter of the week is “V”- for vegetables, variety, and “venturesomeness”.  

Until next time,


Beet Salad is a simple and delicious dish .

Beet Salad with Ginger

This ruby red salad is a delicious and easy way to enjoy raw beets. For a different flavor omit the ginger, replace the lime juice with a vinegar (like wine vinegar), and use different herbs. You can also replace half of the beets with carrots.  

1 to 1 ½ pounds beets, peeled

2 large shallots, peeled

1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and minced

salt, pepper

2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon canola oil (or other vegetable oil)

2 tablespoons lime juice

¼ cup cilantro

Combine beets, shallots, and ginger in a food processor. Pulse until the beets are shredded, being careful not to puree. (You could also shred beets by hand and mince the shallots.) Transfer beet mixture into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl, combine mustard, oil, and lime juice. Pour this dressing over beet mixture. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Stir in cilantro and serve.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Makes 4 servings

The Farm at St. Joe’s.

Adapted from “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman

Mita Dutta is spending a month on The Farm at St. Joe’s as part of her dietetic internship at the U of M’s School of Public Health.

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