A Gardener’s Diary: Parsnips are a versatile vegatable

If you haven't tried parsnips, give them a try raw in salads or sautéed, boiled or roasted

On Nov. 2, I became a member of The Food Action Society, a non-profit, charitable organization whose purpose is to improve food security by cultivating a healthy, sustainable regional food system through education and community action. By going to the web site at www.foodaction.ca you can read all about it. You can find a North Okanagan Local Food Directory/Map, the programs that are supported like Community Gardens, Good Food Box, Food Gleaning and Community Kitchens. You can also visit the video gallery. The site is easy to navigate and you can find lots of information and interesting material.

I am very pleased this year with my parsnips harvest. Some of them of course look like octopus but the majority were straight and free of rust. I was looking on the internet to see if you can eat raw parsnip and came upon some interesting notes. So it goes: while we rarely do it, parsnips can be enjoyed raw. Simply peel your parsnip (though not necessary, a nice scrub will do), shred it as you would a carrot and add it to your salad — a nice burst of taste, texture and nutrition. They can be roasted, boiled, sautéed and steamed. They can also be used as a thickener in stews, soups and casseroles, with the option of extracting the parsnip from the final dish if you’re not a huge fan.

Health Benefits of Parsnips: The parsnip manages to be sweet and satisfying without being loaded with calories. The parsnip boasts an impressive nutritional profile all its own. They are an excellent source of soluble fibre that helps lower cholesterol and keep blood sugar stable, also aided by the potassium they contain. You’ll find folic acid all throughout a parsnip which keeps the heart healthy and may help prevent dementia and osteoporosis bone fractures. Calcium, vitamin C, B1, B2 and B3, iron and zinc all make appearances in this winning veggie.

Why Buy Natural and Organic Parsnips: Like carrots, parsnips are grown conventionally with myriad chemicals and pesticides. And even if you were to peel them, there’s no guarantee pesticides won’t be found on the inside. Just as they do with nutrients, the roots can absorb the chemicals from the soil and integrate them into the whole of the plant. Plus, you lose much of the health benefits associated with this deliciously sweet root when you consume them without skin. Your best bet — for your health, the health of your family and the health of the planet — is to purchase your parsnips organically and locally if you can, and then enjoy those skins!

For more information: 250-558-4556.

Jocelyne Sewell is a gardening enthusiast, member of Okanagan Gardens and Roses Club and The Morning Star’s gardening columnist, appearing every other Wednesday.

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