Archive | April, 2011


28 Apr

Can we get a little respect for the beet, please?  Maybe your face still scrunches up thinking about eating them as a kid, but take a few minutes to consider, or reconsider, all the goodness packed inside The Beet!

(image source:


Beets are deep red or white in color.  They have an earthy, hard-to-define flavor.  Beets are available year-round, but the best time to buy is June through October, when they are most tender. Beets may be eaten raw or cooked.  Other varieties are golden beets and pink and white striated Chioggia beets. 


  • Beets are fat free, saturated fat free, and cholesterol free.  
  • Beets are low in sodium and an excellent source of folate (any moms-to-be out there?)  
  • The green part of the beet contains nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron, and calcium.   
  • Beets are rich in antioxidants (substances that help defend your cells from damage caused by free radicals, possibly preventing cancer).


Choose beets with firm, smooth skins and non-wilted leaves if still attached.  Smaller beets are more tender.  Look for unblemished beets with sturdy, unwilted greens.


Remove leaves, leaving about an inch of the stems. Use leaves—raw or cooked—as fresh greens in your meal.  Wash/scrub beets before cooking. 

Ways to enjoy

  • Bake: Cut off the green tops, leaving an inch of the stem to prevent bleeding and flavor loss. Scrub beets, wrap them in foil, and bake at 400°F for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours (longer time for larger beets).
  • Microwave: Place 2 to 3 small beets in a small amount of water and microwave for 8 to 15 minutes or until soft.
  • Roast: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the greens away from the beets, leaving about 1/4 inch of stems. Scrub the beets and place in a baking dish. Add 1/4 inch of water to the dish. Cover tightly. Place in the oven and roast small beets for 30 to 40 minutes, medium beets for 40 to 45 minutes, and large beets for 50 to 60 minutes.  Allow to cool and cut away the ends and slip off the skins.
  • Other: On salad, in soup, with a juice blend, sliced in stir-fry, pieces on a kabob


Store unwashed beets in a plastic bag in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. The greens will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about 4 days.


Beet juice can stain your skin, so pay attention when handling.  A little lemon juice and water will remove stains on your skin.  


(image source:  


Produce for Better Health Foundation. (2011). Fruit & Vegetable Nutrition Database. Retrieved from

Shulman, M.R. (2008, August 4). Beets: The New Spinach. The New York Times. Retrieved from


Specialty Crops

28 Apr

Let’s get real.  What are they? And how do you know that I already know?

Read on for a detailed and official description of specialty crops.  Test your knowledge and maybe add a few words to your vocabulary.  

Specialty crops are defined as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture)” by the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act of 2004 and the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.¹

There is a branch of agriculture called, horticulture, which is defined as “intensively cultivated plants which are used by people for food, for medicinal purposes, and for aesthetic gratification.” ¹  Intensive cultivation and use by people are two key components that differentiate horticultural crops (including specialty crops) from other crops.

Examples of specialty crop fruit and vegetables: 

Almond, apple, apricot, artichoke, asparagus, avocado, banana, bean (snap, green, lima), beet, blackberry, blueberry, breadfruit, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cacao, carrot, cashew, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, cherimoya, cherry, chestnut, chive, citrus, coconut, coffee, collards (including kale), cranberry, cucumber, currant, date, edamame, eggplant, endive, feijou, fig, filbert (hazelnut), garlic, gooseberry, grape (including raisin), guava, horseradish, kiwi, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, litchi, macadamia, mango, melon (all types), mushroom (cultivated), mustard greens, nectarine, okra, olive, onion, opuntia, papaya, parsley, parsnip, passion fruit, pea, peach, pear, pecan, pepper, persimmon, pineapple, pistachio, plum (including prune), pomegranate, potato, pumpkin, quince, radish, raspberry, rhubarb, rutabaga, salsify, spinach, squash, strawberry, suriname cherry, sweet corn, sweet potato, swiss chard, taro, tomato, turnip, walnut, watermelon

Examples of specialty crop herbs and spices:

Ajwain, allspice, angelica, anise, annatto, Artemisia, asafetida, basil, bay, bladder wrack, bolivian coriander, borage, calendula, chamomile, candle nut, caper, caraway, cardamom, cassia, catnip, chervil, chicory, cicely, cilantro, cinnamon, clary, cloves, comfrey, common rue, coriander, cress, cumin, curry, dill, fennel, fenugreek, filé, fingerrot, French sorrel, galangal, ginger, hops, horehound, hyssop, lavender, lemon balm, lemon thyme, lovage, mace, mahlab, malabathrum, marjoram, mint, nutmeg, oregano, orris root, paprika, parsley, pepper, rocket, rosemary, rue, saffron, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme, turmeric, vanilla, wasabi, water cress

Check back regularly with us here at Farm to Table for featured specialty crops.  We’ll include what you need to know about selecting, preparing, and eating a variety of specialty crops.  We’ll challenge you to try something new too! 

(image source: Urbana's Market at the Square)

¹ United States Department of Agriculture, 2011

CUPHD Marketing Wellness

26 Apr
Visit the market at Champaign Urbana Public Health District and get fresh!  
Tuesdays, 1PM—5:30 PM 

Start date: July 5, 2011

Champaign Urbana Public Health District

201 W Kenyon Rd

Champaign, IL 61820

Champaign Urbana Mass Transit District (CUMTD):  2 Red

CUPHD Marketing Wellness Links:

CUPHD website

2009 Brochure

Historic North First Street Farmers’ Market

26 Apr
Champaign’s farmers market is back for its 3rd season! The market is located in the parking lot north of the police station on First and University Streets. Stop by every Thursday and get some fresh food for dinner.

Thursdays from 3PM—7PM.

June 9, 2011—September 1, 2011.

Historic North First Street Farmers Market

First and University Streets (near North First and East Park Streets)

Champaign, IL 61820


Champaign Urbana Mass Transit District (CUMTD):

4 Blue

6 Orange

7 Grey

Historic North First Street Farmers Market Links:



 (image source: Historic North First Street Farmers Market)

Urbana’s Market at the Square

26 Apr
Check out Illinois’ largest farmers’ market at the corner of Illinois and Vine Streets in Downtown Urbana.

Every Saturday. 7AM – 12 noon, rain or shine.

May 7, 2011—November 5, 2011.

Urbana’s Market at the Square

Corner of Illinois & Vine Streets

Urbana, IL 61801

Champaign Urbana Mass Transit District (CUMTD): 50 Green

Urbana’s Market Links:





(image source: Urbana's Market at the Square)

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18 Apr

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