Seasonal broccoli contributes to healthy meals

LAUREL FORK—At a time when plates are calorie-laden with holiday goodness, some seasonal broccoli can lighten up a meal.

Virginia broccoli is harvested from late June through the end of November, depending on where it is grown.

"I just cut the last of ours yesterday, but the frost got it," said James Light, a Carroll County vegetable producer and member of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Small Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Committee. "Our elevation’s a little higher, so our harvest ends earlier than growers in central or eastern Virginia."

Light grows 40 acres of broccoli and sells it to Food City, an Abingdon-based grocery chain. He said the company promotes the fact that the broccoli is locally grown.

"East Coast broccoli, including Virginia-grown, is going to be more and more in demand," Light said. He is working with Virginia Tech and Cornell University to test how well specific broccoli varieties grow in Virginia.

Deb Chappell, a Virginia Cooperative Extension family and consumer sciences agent at Virginia Tech, called broccoli "the wonder veggie" and noted that it is packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, folate and fiber. "And broccoli is for more than just steaming, these days," she said.

It can be served raw in salads or as a crudite with dip, stir-fried with other veggies and meat or pureed for soup. "Or you can even put broccoli in a blender with other ingredients to make a pasta sauce," Chappell said.

Contact Light at 276-733-8737.

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