Spinach is one of the few foods that has had a massive television campaign aimed at convincing the American population to consume it. Everyone in my generation has fond memories of Popeye the Sailor Man. Some of us can probably still sing the little song that accompanied the show. The central point of the show was to convince the American population, which at that time was not used to the regular consumption of garden vegetables, to include more spinach in their diets.
Spinach is actually a member of the Amaranth family, which also includes the now well-known “grain” quinoa. It originated in the Middle East and is now included in one form or another in most traditional cuisines.
Many current varieties of spinach date back hundreds of years, and the ancestors of spinach have been around for at least thousands of years. Personally, even though I appreciate the flavor and nutritional value of spinach, in particular, the high antioxidant levels and high iron and chlorophyll content, I have tended not to eat much spinach because it can be finicky to grow.
Its temperamental nature might also partially explain why it has been such a popular vegetable in many cultures. Spinach is definitely a cool-weather crop; any heat wave, such as we have frequently in Napa, will cause the plant to immediately bolt and become inedible. Early spring and late fall are prime spinach-growing times. During these seasons, the plant is fast growing and regenerates quickly after each harvest. The leaves are intensely green because they contain one of the highest chlorophyll contents of any edible green leaves.
We tend to overlook anemia these days, but iron deficiency and its resultant low-oxygen carrying capacity of the blood is a primary illness affecting humankind, in particular, menstruating or pregnant women. We build the oxygen-carrying molecule, hemoglobin, with the heme protein, which is identical to chlorophyll and iron. By combining chlorophyll and iron in one package, particularly when mixed with fat (like butter) to aid in absorption, you end up with a food uniquely poised to combat anemia. The rich buttery taste of spinach makes it a form of iron supplementation enjoyed by children and adults alike.
Our organically grown, slowly dehydrated Spinach Powder is an easy and convenient way to include spinach in your daily diet. Better than any iron supplement, spinach is a time-tested way to build a healthy blood supply. We enjoy our Spinach Powder in smoothies, on eggs and in many other savory dishes.
Popeye was definitely on to something. Spinach should be a part of almost everyone’s regular diet.
This is my favorite gardening time of the year. Spring has finally arrived in Northern California, and the long, cold rains have abated. While the winter rains have stimulated a lot of weed growth, the garden has a fresh, new look, with young, healthy, vibrant plants that haven’t peaked yet.