The Produce Parade and Melon Mania
Stacy Beeson is our registered dietitian with the Integrative Medicine Center. She practices functional nutrition which focuses on how whole foods and key nutrients help regulate health and the process of healing. Stacy has been a dietitian for 16 years.
Thank goodness for seasonal eating and locally-grown produce. We are privileged to eat all parts of plants – leaves, flowers, fruit and roots. A great book about seasonal eating is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. Below she explains the “produce parade”, which is the process by which plants come into season.
“First come the leaves: spinach, kale, lettuce, and chard. Then more mature heads of leaves and flower heads: cabbage, romaine, broccoli, and cauliflower (May – June). Then tender young fruit-set: snow peas, baby squash, cucumbers (June), followed by green beans, green peppers, and small tomatoes (July). Then more mature, colorfully ripened fruits: beefsteak tomatoes, eggplants, red and yellow peppers (late July – August). Then the large, hard-shelled fruits with developed seeds inside: cantaloupes, honeydews, watermelons, pumpkins, winter squash (August – September). Last come the root crops, and so ends the produce parade.”
August means prime pickings for cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew melon. These hard-shelled fruits stand out for their vitamin A, C, and potassium. The only tricky part is choosing one. Keep these things in mind when making a choice on your next melon: color, slight yield when pressed, fragrance and weight.
Cantaloupe: Look for a yellow-golden coloring between the netting of the cantaloupe. A green color may indicate an unripe melon. Close netting also usually assures a sweet melon. The blossom end should give a little when pressed by the thumb and a fresh cantaloupe gives off a fruity fragrance. Melons should also be heavy for their size so pick up a couple and buy the heaviest. There’s no need to thump or shake! Store the fruit at room temperature and refrigerate after slicing. 1 cup of cantaloupe only has 55 calories and meets 100% of our vitamin A and C needs.
Watermelon: Look for a creamy yellow splotch on the underbelly. This is a sign of ripeness. If the splotch is white or green, the fruit was harvested too soon. It should be heavy for its size too. Keep the watermelon at room temperature for up to 10 days, but once it’s sliced, refrigerate it. 1 cup of watermelon only has 50 calories and is one of the best sources of lycopene, a phytochemical that lowers risk for prostate cancer.
Honeydew melon: Look for the ground color to be creamy white with yellow accents. The blossom end should yield slightly when pressed and the fruit will have a noticeable aroma. One wedge of honeydew (1/8 of melon) only has 45 calories.