It’s Eggplant and Lettuce Month!

Written by: Alex Rimler, Sustainability Project Intern

July is Eggplant and Lettuce Month. I know you may be thinking “Why eggplant and lettuce and not strawberries or zucchini?!” Well, months are dedicated to certain fruits or vegetables when it’s considered the peak season…meaning the best time to plant, grow and eat them.

You might be surprised to know that eggplant is related to potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. Early forms of eggplant were very bitter, but modifications have been made to improve the flavor. The eggplant is native to India and Pakistan and was first domesticated over

4,000 years ago. Shockingly, it was Thomas Jefferson who introduced eggplant to the United States in 1806 after he had received one from a friend in France.

When selecting an eggplant, look for a symmetrical eggplant with smooth skin. Avoid tan patches, scars, bruises and wrinkly skin. A sign of freshness is a quick disappearing finger mark after pressing lightly on the eggplant. Remember, the eggplant should feel heavy.

 

The benefits of eating eggplant include fighting cancer, improving weight loss and better skin tone. The main cancer-fighting agent found in eggplant is monoterpene. Eggplant contains high amounts of fiber, which is key in weight loss and certain cancers, such as colon cancer. Also, the high amount of water in raw eggplant helps improve quality of skin and hair.

What’s summer without salad and what’s salad without lettuce? There are four main types of lettuce with many varieties within each: butterhead, crisphead, looseleaf and romaine. When selecting lettuce, the darker leaves are the most nutritious because they contain beta-carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant that can reduce certain types of cancers. Iceberg lettuce is the least nutritious so try spinach leaves instead! Spinach contains vitamin A and C plus fiber, folic acid and magnesium, which all fight cancer. A “secret weapon” of spinach is lutein…one of the best things to prevent againstcataracts, or blindness.

Healthy Eggplant Recipes:http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/recipe_slideshows/healthy_eggplant_recipes

Healthy Lettuce/Salad Recipes:http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_salad_recipes

Find out when your favorite fruits and vegetables are in their peak season:http://www.441market.com/seasonbymonth.htm