The family food garden is a wonderful source of essential minerals and vitamins when it includes carefully selected vegetables. The more colorful the vegetables are, the better. The rich color in leaves and roots indicates an exceptionally high vitamin content.
The yellow or red plant pigment known as carotene gives vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes their orange color and becomes vitamin A when the body assimilates it. Carotene is only one of plants’ yellow, orange, red, and purple carotenoid pigments.
Do Not Blanch Vegetables!
Blanching vegetables is taboo as far as vitamin content is concerned. Not too long ago, asparagus that had been bleached to a creamy white before harvesting was a delicacy, much preferred by some to the plain green spears grown in gardens of families that had no time for mounding with soil.
Now that we know how beneficial the greening influence of the sun is, we can save ourselves the trouble of blanching and harvesting spears with far more vitamins.
Hybridizing and Inbreeding For Superior Vegetable Qualities
Hybridizing and selective inbreeding aims to develop vegetables with rich color, pleasing flavor, and good texture with little fiber. Vegetables with these qualities are superior for all-around table use, raw or cooked, and freezing.
As an example of work being done, the sugar content of sugar beets quadrupled, from about 6% percent to more than 25% percent, and soon after, beets became important in the sugar industry.
Likewise, the oil content of corn increased from less than 5% to more than 15% percent within the last 50 years, and the protein content increased from 14% to about 20% percent.
Developing Vegetables With Improved Nutritional Values
As far as nutritional values go, certain vegetables, like cucumbers, will probably never rank with tomatoes, which are such an excellent source of vitamin A and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
But fortunately, we are developing new varieties of each kind of vegetable—more attractive and nutritious than the old ones.
Modern “golden heart,” coreless and red-cored varieties of carrots typify a notable improvement in nutritional value through the intensification of the orange color of the roots, skin, and flesh.
No variety of carrots is coreless, but through endless selection, the pale core of old varieties has given way to the more deeply colored carotene-bearing inconspicuous core tissue of new varieties.
Now we have the almost solid, deep orange, “core-less” varieties that have deservedly replaced old-fashioned carrots.
As an example of the type of work going on, horticultural researchers at the University of New Hampshire are using a small, wild, unmarketable Peruvian tomato of exceptionally high vitamin C content as a parent in crosses with our more desirable garden varieties.
Progress thus far indicates that soon we may have some wholly acceptable, large-fruited tomatoes that will rival oranges in vitamin C content. (Ordinary tomatoes have only half as much.)
Among varieties already available, the Doublerich tomato does have as much vitamin C as citrus fruit, and Caro-Red has ten times as much vitamin A as common tomato varieties.
41342 by GORDON MORRISON