‘Tis The Season For Pomegranates

If you live in Southern California, one fruit that’s no stranger to farmer’s markets and CSA-boxes is the pomegranate.

I only recently discovered how much I enjoy this fruit, after years of watching it be bastardized and exploited by food companies. The fruit has long been celebrated for its health benefits (it’s a good source of vitamin C and B5, potassium and polyphenols) as well as for its externel beauty (it makes a great decorative fruit, especially around the holidays) and has a deliciously rich history:

The pomegranate tree is native from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region of Asia, Africa and Europe. The fruit was used in many ways as it is today and was featured in Egyptian mythology and art, praised in the Old Testament of the Bible and in the Babylonian Talmud, and it was carried by desert caravans for the sake of its thirst-quenching juice. It traveled to central and southern India from Iran about the first century A.D. and was reported growing in Indonesia in 1416. It has been widely cultivated throughout India and drier parts of southeast Asia, Malaya, the East Indies and tropical Africa. The most important growing regions are Egypt, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, India, Burma and Saudi Arabia. There are some commercial orchards in Israel on the coastal plain and in the Jordan Valley.

Ripe and in season, typically from September/October to January/February in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s like eating sweet cranberry-flavored corn of the cob (I’ll admit this not the most elegant description but you get the point). The juicy red seed casings (what I refer to as “kernels”) are called arils and can be eaten on their own (I hear they’re great with a little salt and pepper).

Getting the arils out of the skin and inner pulp can be tricky (I’ve stained a couple white shirts with the red juice) but if you score the shell correctly and use a bowl of water (as shown below), you can save your countertops and clothing from a speckled red motif.

Happy pomegranate eating!

I'm off supermarkets (and all farmers market) (13 pics)

Two years ago (Sep, 09) I took an insane leap of faith and went completely off supermarkets. I was on a quest to find the healthiest food available and farmers markets were increasingly fitting the bill. My supermarket at the time, Whole Foods, was considered to offer superior food but was mostly overcharging me for inferior food.

The food at the farmers market was cheaper and tasted better, but I was only buying select items. It wasn’t accounting for my main meals everyday. So I cut the cord and said goodbye to processed, packaged foods, and refrigerated produce.

I figured I would last a week and run starving back to Whole Foods.

The world I encountered was so different from what I expected. Peaches that were so filling I could skip a meal. Desserts that I couldn’t over-eat and had to save for later. Items called “seconds” that cost pennies to the dollar only because they needed to be eaten right away.

I was hooked. My worries quickly faded away and the weeks turned into months. Now, here I am years later and still enthralled. The food varies each week but is always filling and tasty.

Below is a photo-sample of this weeks purchases. Enjoy!

And, if you are thinking of trying out farmers markets, or even getting off supermarkets, I give you a virtual high-five. It will be the best decision you ever make.

Jalapeños, super hot. They use to be green, but turn red as they dry. When dry they flake and can be used for spicing it up.

 

Staggered avocado bag. Each one ripens at a different time in the week.
Country White and Cheese.
Watermelon is almost gone and super cheap ($3)
Bean sprouts.
Easy to cook (3 mins) and doesn't need sauce, just a few cut-up vegetables, cheese.
Concord grapes.
3 for $10
BBQ the corn. Dip the broccoli in the hummus.
Perfect for quesadillas and pasta
For meatball sandwiches.
The honey is for making ice cream.
The old-school italian farmer said three of these (dried Jujubes) every morning keeps you regular.

I’m off supermarkets (and all farmers market) (13 pics)

Two years ago (Sep, 09) I took an insane leap of faith and went completely off supermarkets. I was on a quest to find the healthiest food available and farmers markets were increasingly fitting the bill. My supermarket at the time, Whole Foods, was considered to offer superior food but was mostly overcharging me for inferior food.

The food at the farmers market was cheaper and tasted better, but I was only buying select items. It wasn’t accounting for my main meals everyday. So I cut the cord and said goodbye to processed, packaged foods, and refrigerated produce.

I figured I would last a week and run starving back to Whole Foods.

The world I encountered was so different from what I expected. Peaches that were so filling I could skip a meal. Desserts that I couldn’t over-eat and had to save for later. Items called “seconds” that cost pennies to the dollar only because they needed to be eaten right away.

I was hooked. My worries quickly faded away and the weeks turned into months. Now, here I am years later and still enthralled. The food varies each week but is always filling and tasty.

Below is a photo-sample of this weeks purchases. Enjoy!

And, if you are thinking of trying out farmers markets, or even getting off supermarkets, I give you a virtual high-five. It will be the best decision you ever make.

Jalapeños, super hot. They use to be green, but turn red as they dry. When dry they flake and can be used for spicing it up.

 

Staggered avocado bag. Each one ripens at a different time in the week.
Country White and Cheese.
Watermelon is almost gone and super cheap ($3)
Bean sprouts.
Easy to cook (3 mins) and doesn't need sauce, just a few cut-up vegetables, cheese.
Concord grapes.
3 for $10
BBQ the corn. Dip the broccoli in the hummus.
Perfect for quesadillas and pasta
For meatball sandwiches.
The honey is for making ice cream.
The old-school italian farmer said three of these (dried Jujubes) every morning keeps you regular.

Farmers markets grow 250% since 2000

I’m all about farmers markets. Every dollar I spend on food goes there and they provide me with everything I need to eat and more (dessert!).

The reason for all this is covered in several previous posts, including: Why nobody knows how to prevent obesity & How food coma overcomes exercising.

A quick recap is that by eating at farmers markets you gain superior health and weight loss, prevent global warming, and save money.

For the longest time, I wondered why nobody else understood this. It turns out that since 2000, many, many more people are starting to agree with me.

Check out the graph provided by the USDA in their annual farmers market audit:

Notice that since the recession, the so-called “expensive” markets are surging with 164% growth since 2006. If this trend continues we may finally be able to impact our food system.

I can already see it happening in the supermarkets where the words “farmer”, “market”, and “local” are everywhere. Too bad they are only marketing terms.

So next chance you have, stop by a farmers market for the real thing. Pick out some fruits and vegetables. Come back the same time next week and keep the farmers market revolution going!