Vegetable Profile: Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)
A member of the goosefoot family (alongside chard, beets, and rhubarb), spinach is one of the most highly sought after green leafy vegetables. Its tender leaves when gently cooked give a velvety texture that absorbs flavors of whatever seasoning you add to it, and many use young leaves raw as well. However, it has long been cited at the top of the list for most toxic produce items when not produced organically. Cindy Burke in To Buy or Not to Buy Organic states that the FDA reports on conventional spinach show pesticide residue including DDT, permethrin, chlorothalonil, and spinach is often irradiated before reaching the market. If you’re a spinach lover, take advantage of the spinach season (spring, early summer, and fall in Wisconsin), and enjoy spinach grown by your local organic farmers!
Spinach is high in antioxidents and lutein, which is evidenced to aid in preserving eyesight and supporting healthy cholesterol. It also has carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron and folic acid. However, the oxalic acid content of spinach can cause problems for people with kidney stones, gallstones, or gout, who are advised to eat it sparingly and to cook it before eating. Cooking spinach can help with nutrient assimilation for everyone, but a small amount of raw spinach will contain more vitamin C and beneficial bacteria.
Spinach keeps best in an air-tight container or bag in the crisper in the fridge and lasts for 4-5 days.
Best when sautéed with olive oil or bacon grease, soy sauce, and garlic! It pairs well with eggs, chicken, tempeh, or pork. You can also finely chop it and add it like confetti to a salad!
The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood
Asparagus to Zucchini by Fairshare Coalition
Produce: A fruit and vegetable lover’s guide by Bruce Beck
Our own experience!