Why heirloom vegetables matter…

One of today’s soups contains carrots – I know, what’s so interesting about that and why should you care?  Because when it comes to carrots, heirloom carrots are absolutely the best tasting, more interesting to look at, and better for the environment.

The differences between the commercially grown“orange variety” of carrots and heirloom carrots, is that the heirloom variety has adapted over time to whatever climate and soil it has grown in.  They are not genetically modified in any way, and due to their genetics are often resistant to local pests, diseases, and extremes of weather.  Because of this adaptation to the local climate and pests, fewer pesticides are needed and less water would be needed, thereby making the heirloom far kinder to the environment.  They also look more attractive and provide visual interest to your dishes because they come in a wonderful variety of colours.

I personally tried some when I purchased a bunch from the UBC Farm, and I found the taste to be far superior to those that are of the regular orange variety.  The many types of heirloom carrots actually do taste differently. It is said that purple ones have a natural pepper note, the red ones fruity, the yellow ones sweet and clean.   In addition to taste, there is more variety of health benefits to be found in the various colours as well:

1. Purple carrots get their colour from anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant that is anti-inflammatory. That means that you will age more slowly. (for women like me of a certain age, this would be one very good reason to eat purple carrots)

2. Red carrots contain lycopene, the same antioxidant that makes tomatoes all the rage for cancer prevention.

3. The extra sweet yellow carrots contain lutene that fights macular degeneration and assures development of healthy eyes.

4. A new phytonutrient called falcarinol is being researched for its ability to fight colon cancer. Carrots also boast four grams of fibre per cup (up there with the average bowl of cereal), making it a great cancer-fighter.

5. Carrots are a good source of vitamin C with one large carrot packing about 20 percent of your daily needs.

6. These multi-coloured beauties also have 20 percent of your daily need of vitamin K, a nutrient that works with calcium to strengthen your bones.

7. Carrots also have 395 mg of potassium per cup. This nutrient helps to reduce your blood pressure and assure good fluid balance in your tissues.

Need I say more…?
The soups today are:

Heirloom Carrot, Squash, and Kale (no “Kates” in the soup today) (all veggies in this selection from the UBC farm)

Cream of Potato and Bacon

Beef Tortellini Tomato Basil

Enjoy! 🙂

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