A newly-married couple from Los Angeles quit their jobs to work on farms and wineries across Europe. Read it from the beginning...

How well do you know your veggies?

Posted: June 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Growing Food, Wales | 13 Comments »

For the last month and a half Devon and I have been working on organic farms (certified and non-certified) in Europe. While here, we’ve actually learned quite a lot about the fresh produce we find on our plates for breakfast, lunch and dinner. What’s surprised us both is how little we know about the actual plants from which our produce grows.

Here are a number of pictures of produce growing from the vegetable and fruit farm we worked on in Wales. I could identify but a few without help when we first got there. Can you guess what’s what? I’ve put the answers in the comments section. How many did you get right?

In addition to learning what my veggies and fruit look like in the ground, I learned a few things about how the plants grow which surprised me. To a farmer, this is basic knowledge, but to a city girl, it was quite the revelation. The most surprising thing to me was that when we eat broccoli, we’re actually eating the immature flower. If farmers  didn’t cut the broccoli head from the plant, it would blossom with little yellow flowers.

The second thing that surprised me was the potato plant. I hadn’t really thought about what a potato plant looked like just that the potato was a “root vegetable.” The potato is really a modified leaf. It isn’t a root at all! Potatoes grow underground inside ridged mounds. The higher the dirt covers the plant, the more potatoes it grows. If a potato breaks the surface it turns green, like a leaf, and becomes poisonous.

Lastly, when I was in Devon I learned about the bay leaf. Whenever I’m making soup, it usually calls for a bay leaf or two. But where does one get a bay leaf? Usually, we go to the herbs section of the grocery store and it’s conveniently in a little container for us. But, we have no idea it comes from a tree and what we use in our soup are the dried leaves.

There is tons more I can share, but I fear I’m inching into geek territory. The point though, is that we eat broccoli, bay leaves and other fruits and veggies every day. We don’t even consider what they look like in the ground. It’s all so conveniently located in the store or the farmers market that we don’t have to worry about it. I think though, that in order to truly appreciate what’s on your plate we need to understand where it comes from. And, well, now you know what eight more veggies and fruits look like when they’re growing on the farm. Don’t forget to click in the comments section to see how many of the veggies/fruit plants you got right!

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