Spring Clean with Super Greens

The fierce lion of March never transmogrified into the gentle lamb we had all hoped for. We are now into April and spring is really here, at least according to the astronomical position of the earth in relation to the sun. While the deciduous trees have already leafed out in the likes of Savannah and Charleston, we New Englanders have to be patient and wait until early May for the miracle of nature to bless us with all its splendor and greenery.  Now is the time for spring cleaning- not just the windows and roof gutters but also the inner sanctum of our bodies as well. After the long winter, replete with its hectic holiday festivities, hunkered- in snow days and seasonal comfort food cravings, we need a break from the rich, sugar and fat- centric diet of the past few months. For thousands of years our ancestors in temperate climes revered and relished the first green shoots that heralded the beginning of spring. After surviving the winter season relying on stored nuts, seeds and some animal protein, the opportunity to nibble on fresh greens imbued with nature’s life-force was a joyous occasion. In these modern times we are fortunate to have a variety of organic dark green, leafy vegetables available to us year round, but this is the time of year to really take advantage of them, especially the “bitter” ones like kale, arugula, collards, broccoli rabe, radicchio, dandelion greens, escarole, watercress, beet greens, chard, chicory, parsley and mustard greens. These dark bitter greens can help rejuvenate a sluggish digestive system and are especially appropriate for detoxifying and stimulating the liver, gallbladder and pancreas. They increase the production of digestive enzymes, can help to regulate blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Herbalist Jim McDonald believes that Americans and Canadians alike suffer from “bitter deficiency syndrome” because our diets are too heavily dominated by our taste for sweets and salt, upsetting the balance derived from the harmony of all five taste sensations. Bitter greens can actually help to reduce our sugar and salt cravings by their ability to satisfy a primordial need that we seem to have abandoned. These greens are low calorie, nutrient dense all stars, rich in vitamins ( folic acid, vit. C, vit. A carotenoids and vit. K) and minerals (calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium and iron). They also contain lutein and zeaxanthin which are important for eye and lung health as well as a myriad of flavonoids and phenolic compounds, many of which exhibit antioxidant and anticancer properties. Their ability to assist in detoxification combined with the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties they possess make organic leafy greens an indispensable component of a healthy diet. The regular consumption of dark leafy greens has been associated with reducing cognitive decline in aging humans, maintaining the integrity of chromosomal telomeres, strengthening the immune system and lower rates of cardiovascular diseases and various forms of cancer.  

The family of cruciferous greens (also referred to as the Brassica or cabbage family) which includes arugula, bok choy, broccoli rabe, collards, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens and watercress are unmatched as a food group when it comes to their nutritional benefits across a wide array of physiological functions. They are the only reliable dietary source of glucosinolates, organic compounds containing nitrogen and sulfur that are derived from glucose and one of five different amino acids. These compounds give the plants their distinctive pungent bitterness. It is thought that the cruciferous vegetables developed this group of over 100 compounds as a natural defense against insect pests. Glucosinolates can be enzymatically converted to isothiocyanates such as sulforaphane which are some of nature’s most potent cancer inhibitors. For the best selection of organic cruciferous greens in Worcester County, visit Living Earth’s 100% organic produce department curated by Rob and his assistant Jim- the place where food really is the best medicine. Go Green and Live the Dream!

Happy Easter and Passover to all our customers. Thank you for your support of small, family owned businesses as we celebrate our 46th anniversary providing the Worcester community with the finest foods and nutritional supplements.

Holiday Notes: White organic eggs will be available for coloring. Recipes for natural coloring pigments from spinach, beets, turmeric, onions etc. are available online. A limited number of natural nitrite-free spiral hams will be available for your Easter table, averaging about 8 lbs each.