Native to: Central and Southwest Asia
Local season: fall-spring
Anyone who grew up with Popeye cartoons is probably familiar with spinach’s reputation for being good for you. Anyone who has ever tried to emulate the sailor and eat canned spinach will understand it’s lack of popularity. Farmers’ Market shoppers know fresh spinach is something else entirely, whether raw in a salad or cooked in scrambled eggs.
Spinach needs cool weather to grow well. Once summer hits it all goes to seed and you’ll have to make do with chard.
Although spinach’s reputation is for iron, it’s also high in other minerals — notably calcium, niacin,and zinc — and a bunch of vitamins, including A, C, K, and B6. It’s a bit high in sodium, as vegetables go, but with a glycemic load of 0, no cholesterol, and a load of anti-oxidants, it’s worth cutting your sodium elsewhere if that’s a concern for you.