I Love Spinach!

And now for something from the farmer side of things…

An article in the NY Times about spinach got me dreaming about spring (on this cold-rainy-slushy day here in Maine) and how much I love spinach. It seems crazy that I’ve only said that the last few years of my life. For about 35 years, no spinach, period. As I used to say, “blech!”

The key for me was learning that I did not like “cooked” spinach. I can tolerate it more now, but the taste just doesn’t work for me. But still, I love other cooked greens like kale and chard with some butter and Parmesan cheese. Love It!

Fresh spinach, on the other hand, is now my favorite green. It’s like eating photosynthesis! I guess growing up, spinach was cooked, I didn’t like it, and that was that. Without the choice, how are you to know? Growing up in a suburb of Detroit, it wasn’t exactly farm-central.

After learning about growing food a bit, I see spinach with all new eyes. It’s more than just good for you, it’s good for the land and sometimes the crops that grow next to it. That’s where the double edge sword for spinach comes in. The way I understand it, spinach is like a sponge. It soaks up everything from the soil, both bad and good.

So what’s bad or good?

The good is that it will soak up all the good nutrients from the soil, making it a hardy green with all the health of the earth.

The bad is when it soaks up things like pesticides. Any plant will soak up the pesticides we spray on them to some degree, but from what I’m told spinach more than other vegetables. So it’s no good to eat just any old spinach.

In a more productive sense than just telling you don’t eat it, be educated. The best purchase you can make is to buy directly from the person who grew the spinach, or anything we grow, and ask about their pesticide policies. It’s a blast getting out to the farms you eat from, but if you can’t get there, go to your local farmers markets and retail stores who stock the local products and endorse organic methods of growing food.

These days there are co-ops, winter markets and buying clubs focused on getting organic and local food. As a resident of Portland, Maine, here’s a couple resources for finding meat, produce and fish in Maine. Do a little searching on google to find resources closest to you.

The Portland Food Co-op’s “FoodNow! Buying Club”

Find Farms, CSA’s, Farmer’s Markets and more at the Maine Department of Agriculture’s “Get Real Maine”

Local Sprouts CSK (Community Supported Kitchen – 100% local, prepared food)

Do you like spinach too? Got any tips on growing? Recipe? Please comment below!