Beets are an incredible vegetable! Both the roots and greens can be eaten and both are unbeatably nutritious. Beets come in all shapes and sizes. Did you know that the traditional red beet is not the only variety available? Heirloom varieties can be golden yellow, white, pink and white ringed, and even oblong shaped! They belong to the family Amaranthaceae, and are related to other leafy vegetables such as swiss chard, amaranth, spinach, and quinoa. The wild ancestral origin of beets is believed to be sea beets, which have been alive for thousands of years. Some of the earliest records of sugar beet domestication are thought to be traced back to both the ancient Egyptian Empire and the Roman Empire. Ancient Assyrian texts have also described cultivation of beets in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. You may not be aware of this but, once harvested, the entirety of the beet plant can be consumed, including the stems and leaves. 
These colorful root vegetables contain phytonutrients called betalains that give beets their rich red or yellow color. Betalains have been shown to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification effects in the body. Beets are also a source of dietary nitrate, which increases production of nitric oxide in the body and helps to lower blood pressure and improve the health of blood vessels.
One cup of raw beets provides about 35% of your recommended daily value of folate, and are also a good source of manganese, fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. 
Growing Season /Storage Tips
- In Michigan, fresh beets are generally available from July to October but they can be grown, harvested and/or stored well into the winter.
- Choose small to medium sized beets. Pick beets with fresh, unwilted greens. Avoid beets with spots, bruises, or soft areas which may indicate spoilage.
- Do not wash beets before storing. Put beets in a plastic bag and wrap it tightly around the beets to get rid of air. Beets will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Cooked beets may be frozen.
Request Beets in Your Salad at St. Joe’s Market Cafe
In Michigan, fresh beets are generally available from July to October but they can be grown, harvested and/or stored well into the winter. They come in a variety of colors, and they can be prepared in a variety of ways – roasted, steamed, pickled, juiced, boiled or eaten raw on salads or with dips. And be sure to use those greens, which are delicious braised or raw in salads! 
References The Farm at St Joe’s Ann Arbor – https://stjoesfarm.org/veggie-pages/beets/  Cultivate Michigan – https://www.cultivatemichigan.org/featured-foods/foods/beets