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Know what you eat | All About Spinach

On Tamalu Farm, we believe, now, more than ever, knowing what you are eating and where your food comes from are vital ingredients in today’s insecure food world. Through our regenerative farming practices, we are creating a food security platform that celebrates the healthy opportunities we can have in the world we live in today.

So today, let’s chat about Spinach – the symbol of strength! 

Here’s a fun fact! In the 1930’s, US spinach growers credited Popeye with a 33% increase in domestic spinach consumption. A seriously nice boost to the industry during The Great Depression. This crop was so well celebrated that the big Spinach growing town of Crystal City in Texas, put up a statue of Popeye in 1937. 

Spinacia oleracea is a hardy leafy annual crop of the amaranth family (Amaranthaceae). It is a native plant of Persia (today known as Iran) and was then introduced to China in the 7th Century. Research suggests that it was probably brought over to Europe in the 12th century and to the US in 1806. There are many varieties of spinach, though they mostly fall into three distinct groups: Savoy (Dark green, crinkly and curly leaves), Flat/smooth leaf spinach, (“baby spinach” also fits in this group), and Semi-savoy (Hybrid variety with slightly crinkled leaves. It has the same texture as savoy, but easier to clean. Spinach grows best in cool (not freezing) moist conditions, such as spring and autumn, and grows well in sandy soils.

California is today the US’s #1 grower/supplier of spinach, accounting for almost three quarters (3/4) of national production. The U.S. is only the world’s second largest producer of spinach, producing a mere 3% of global production. China is the world’s largest spinach producer, growing around 26 million tons of spinach per year. 

The Health Benefits of Eating Spinach

As most veggies, Spinach is best eaten fresh. It loses its nutritional value each passing day. Even though refrigeration slows the deterioration down, by the 8th day after harvest, half its nutrients are lost. You can also freeze Spinach to hold as many nutrients as possible for long term keep, but we highly suggest enjoying this crop whilst its crisp and fresh. YUM

There are 15 different vitamins and minerals found in this awesome crop that are crucial for your health! Some of these can relieve dryness and itchy skin. We definitely cannot ignore the amazing amounts of potassium, magnesium and Vitamin C in this leafy green. It has more potassium than bananas and can really help with muscular function and digestion. The magnesium can help lower the risk of two types of diabetes. By just eating one cup a day you can lower the risk by 14%. Looking for strong nail growth? The amount of Vit C in this crop can really help in this department. 

We all know that cucumbers are mostly water, but so is Spinach! Spinach is 91% water, 5% less than cucumber. Also, the high amounts of iron in Spinach makes this crop awesome for your hair. So those of you with hair loss problems, here is your ticket. 

During World War I, spinach juice was reinforced into the wine haemorrhage soldiers were drinking. The idea behind this was that the high volumes of vitamin K would thicken their blood and improve their devastating situation. 

Here’s something that most of you may not know. Even though Spinach is packed full of nutrients, it’s high levels of oxalate prevents your body from absorbing iron. So boiling spinach will help get rid of most of the oxalic acids. Also, unlike most veggies, boiling spinach intensifies the health benefits. Half a cup of cooked spinach will grant you with threefold the nutrition as one cup of raw spinach. Let’s take it a step further, by liquefying fresh spinach, you are releases beta-carotene stored in the leaves which enables your body to absorb the nutrients even easier than boiling it. So let’s throw some spinach leaves into our daily morning smoothie everyone! 

Surprisingly there is a downside to eating spinach. What? Yup, spinach has high amounts of Vit K1 which may sound great but not so great when it can cause blood clotting for those who are on blood thinning medication. And while we are at it, those of you who are sensitive or intolerant to oxalates, may want to back away from too much spinach consumption as the oxalates found in spinach can cause kidney stones. 

Back to the bright side of life, Spinach is packed full of antioxidants, which help fight oxidative stress. Other major health benefits include, cancer prevention, reduces blood pressure levels, and improves eye health. Half a cup of spinach accounts for 1 of the 5 servings of fruits and vegetables that you should eat per day. 

But let’s not get carried away and be too alarmed. Everything in moderation and in balance right? Enjoy the wonderful benefits of the fantastic Mr. Green! 

Want to know more about other crops that we grow on Tamalu farm, check out our most recent blogs on Sugar Cane and Coriander, and stay tuned for next week’s, “Know What You Eat” series! 

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