Healthy eating is a skyrocketing trend. Few people can be unaware of recent studies that show blueberries are “superfood.” Kale has become the new “foodie fad,” in everything from chips, soups, salads, and smoothies. Everyone is aware that eating brightly colored foods (That’s naturally colored, no No. 2 red or other artificial coloring allowed!) is the healthy choice. Sales of fresh red, yellow and orange peppers, rainbow carrots, citrus and berries have soared. However, one researcher announced that if he could only eat one color, it would be purple. Why purple? Purple fruits and vegetables contain anthrocyanins, which have been shown to repress cancer, help control blood sugar, reduce memory loss and other perils of aging. So, with this in mind, I decided to review my seed order and make a few revisions and additions to add more purple to our diet.
I always grow lots of purple basil, and “Amethyst” is the darkest, best one I have found. It holds its color, is very uniform with good flavor. Available from Johnny’s and lots of other sources.
“Royal Burgundy” bush beans have been in my garden every year since the mid-70’s, and always will. I love, love, love their deep purple color. They seem to have fewer insect problems, are very productive, and easier to see so harvesting is faster. Easy to find from most seed sources.
Having often visited Germany, I’m already a fan of red cabbage. I’ve chosen “Red Primero,” which matures in 72 days, but I’ve also grown Red Acre, which may be easier to find.
I’d initially picked “Peppermint Stick” celery, but now it’s going to be “Red Venture” for it’s darker reddish-purple coloring. I’ve never grown celery, so this will really be an “adventure.” “Red Venture” can be found at Seeds of Change, Pinetree, and many other suppliers.
“Bloody Mary” mustard is a very dark purple green, as is “Purple” Pak choi, and I’ve added “Red Streak” mizuna. Both of these will be early crops, with a peppery flavor to add to salads. “Rossa di Chioggia” radicchio performed very well for me last year, so it will have a place in my new potager, along with “Early Purple” kohlrabi and “Purple Top” turnips.
If I didn’t already have four kinds of kale seed leftover from last year, I’d probably add one of the newer “red” varieties. I did add “Midnight Ruffles” (above) and “Red Romaine” lettuce, and if I need more seed later, I’d add “Merlot,” which is supposedly the darkest of all with an excellent flavor. Look for them at rareseeds.com, Pinetree, and others.
I’d already selected plenty of peppers for the potager, but I’ve decided to add “Merlot,” a large, almost-black bell pepper. And, although I’d selected “Casper” eggplant for it’s reported “mushroomy” flavor, I switched to “Patio Baby,” which is purple. Flea beetles always take a toll on eggplants I’ve tried in the past. I’m hoping a smaller, faster-maturing one will have a better chance of producing. I also added another beet, “Ruby Queen.” One can never have too many beets.
Last year, I tried a nearly-black heirloom tomato that several friends recommended, “Carbon.” Maybe it was because I started them later than the others, or because it was not a good year for tomatoes weather-wise, or I got so caught up in the details of selling and moving off the farm that they didn’t get enough watering, but I wasn’t thrilled with them. So, this year, I’m trying “Cherokee Carbon,” (above left) which is a cross between “Cherokee Purple” and “Carbon.” Should be interesting. I’ve also added “Indigo Cherry Drops,” (above right) one of the new almost-black tomatoes with the highest levels of anthrocyanins and anti-0xidants.
Of course, I’ve already planted black raspberries, blackberries, elderberries, and “Black Velvet” gooseberries. I’ll be adding Aronia and Jostaberries as soon as the plants arrive next spring.
I’ve already jotted down a few more that I might try next year: purple carrots, purple cauliflower, purple broccoli, purple brussel sprouts and purple potatoes. And, I’d like to add Concord grapes. Are there other purple foods you’ve grown successfully, and enjoyed eating?
Now, I think I’ll have plenty of purple plants to pamper. How many of them do you think I will be able to get David to eat?