Anywhere you go in the world. Spinach is bound to be enormously popular. But it has a long back story before it ever reached the US in the 17th century. The word spinach comes from the French word ‘epinard’ – dating back to the 14th century. The plant, although discovered much earlier, was named ‘Persian vegetable’ by ancient Chinese who got it from India through Nepal in 647 AD. It became popular relatively quickly around the world due to its year-round availability.
China produced over 92% of the world’s spinach produce in 2017. 25.6 million tonnes out of 27.9 million. The US followed at 2 producing 332,060 tonnes. Accounting for just over 1% of the world’s total.
Spinach is surely on every ‘top 10 superfoods’ list ever written. After all, where would our famous Popeye be without it? Because of its very high nutrient content and low-calorie count makes it one of the greats of any diet – from extreme to light.
There are many varieties of spinach, though they mostly fall into three distinct groups: Savoy (Dark green, crinkly and curly leaves. Commonly found in supermarkets.), Flat/smooth leaf spinach (Most commonly used for canned and processed spinach products, though “baby spinach” also fits in this group. Easier to wash and clean than Savoy.), and Semi-savoy (Hybrid variety with slightly wrinkled leaves. It has the same texture as savoy, but it is not as difficult to clean.)
In addition to the nutrient richness of spinach in terms of these conventional nutrients, spinach also provides the carotenoids lutein, neoxanthin, and violaxanthin; the flavonoids spinacetin, patuletin, and jaceidin; and naturally occurring nitrates.
Species: S. Oleracea
Binomial Name: Spinacia Oleracea
- March 26th is National Spinach Day.
- In the 1930’s U.S. spinach growers credited Popeye with a 33% increase in domestic spinach consumption – a welcome boost to the industry during the depression era.
Spinach Buying Guide
Choosing spinach can be hard. But it’s important to choose the freshest of the bunch to ensure you’re getting the most out of the vegetable. Look for crisp, dark green leaves with the spinach aroma that lingers when you smell it. Avoid limp, wilted, slimy or yellowing leaves.
Spinach Production & Farming in Texas
Spinach is an annual crop. Which means it completes its lifecycle from seed production to germination in one growing season. It can grow as tall as 1’(30cm) and its leaves from 1-12”(2-30cm) long and 0.4-9”(1-15cm) rounds.
Although spinach can be sown, grown and harvested almost year-round anywhere, particular breeds produce better in summer and winter months. Winter cultivators grow best in the winter, hence its name, although they need protection after October. And summer Cultivators, that you sow in the summer.
On Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen, a list of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residue leafy greens are ranked second and third. Which is unfortunate. That’s why we recommend you always buy from farmers’ markets to ensure you, or worse a loved one doesn’t consume any potentially dangerous poisons.
Spinach is grown mostly in china in the industrial market. However in the US California takes first prize, it produces approximately 65 percent of all acres in fresh spinach production. Arizona, New Jersey, and Texas come in second, third and fourth.
Spinach is sold either fresh, loose, bunched or in freshness bags. Unfortunately, they lose most of their nutritional value after a few days of storage. It’s also packaged in air, or in nitrogen gas to extend shelf life. Some packaged spinach is exposed to radiation to kill any harmful bacteria. This is known to bring down nutritional value, however.
Spinach going off quickly is prevented by it is canned or blanched or cooked and frozen. Frozen spinach can be stored for up to eight months. Refrigeration alone slows the process for approximately 8 days. But it loses most of its folate and carotenoid content over this period of time
The biggest question I hear about spinach is ‘is it better to eat it cooked or raw?’ Well as with most fresh produce, with the exception of carrots, nutrients are lost during the cooking process. However, because spinach loses so much of its size and volume during the cook, you can eat much more of it in one sitting. Blanching them in the microwave with some water makes for less nutrient loss than blanching with boiling water. A large chunk of Spinach produce is canned for preservation and convenience purposes.
Spinach is 91% water. The other 9% make are made up of super healthy and quite essential nutrients, vitamins, & minerals. It can work wonders for you in terms of your health. Primarily with skin, hair, bone health, blood glucose control in people with diabetes, preventing asthma, even a lower risk of cancer. Spinach has a high chlorophyll level, which is known to block the carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines in animals. Which is generated when grilling at high temperatures.
All these may not seem like a lot, but keep in mind that one cup of spinach is only 30 grams. And spinach is an incredibly delicate leaf and tends to lose the majority of its volume when it’s cooked. Spinach will shrink by 80-100% leaving you with a bite-size portion you could probably swallow whole.
When Are Spinach in Season in Texas?
To find out when Spinach are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.