Zucchini is in season this summer and this low-calorie high-nutrient fruit (technically) is versatile and delicious. It can be used in desserts in lieu of oils, it can be spiral sliced to replace pasta, and it can be eaten raw in salads.
Zucchini is high in vitamin C and provides the body with lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytonutrients that belong to the carotenoid family, which is the same nutrient family that includes beta-carotene, a source of vitamin A. Lutein and zeaxanthin promote healthy eyesight. Zucchini also provides the mineral manganese, which helps the body produce collagen and protects from free radical damage.
Freshly picked and locally grown zucchini will provide you with the full benefit of these nutrients, as it will be left on the vine to fully ripen. Zucchini produced and transported miles by our industrial food system will have been cut from the vine and stored for several days before it lands on your store shelf. Plant food has a set nutrient content when harvested and begins to lose these important nutrients the minute they are cut off from their food source, the vine.
We have at least three farmers here in Orange County growing organic zucchini, and with a quick drive to Irvine or San Juan Capistrano, you can buy freshly picked organic zucchini. Visit Manassero Farm, Smith Farm or South Coast Farm. www.manasserofarms.com; southcoastfarms.com.