A few days ago we had our first real snow. With the snow came a serious plunge in temperatures.
In most cases these temperatures are deadly for garden crops. But not always.
In a few cases, cold temperatures actually make our garden crops taste BETTER.
This phenomena is particularly noticeable in our carrots--when temperatures get cold, our carrots actually get much sweeter!
This is because when the outside temperatures get cold, some plants increase the amount of sugar in their sap in order to keep themselves from freezing. Technically, the reason plants die in freezing weather is because the water in their sap and cells freezes and expands which causes a lot of damage to the plant cells and various structures--thus killing the plant.
BUT, water with a high sugar content freezes at a lower temperature which means a plants with higher sugar content in its sap will not freeze and suffer damage when a low-sugar content plant might.
So some crops will actually increase their sugar production as cold weather comes on as a survival mechanism. The higher their sugar levels get, the longer they can survive and the lower temperatures they will be able to withstand!
And of course this is great for us! Because as these crops increase their sugars with the onset of cold weather, we get to enjoy sweeter and sweeter vegetables!
Sugar levels in plant sap are something we pay attention to. It isn't easy for plants to increase their sugar levels and it can only happen if the plant is being fed more then it needs to simply survive. Only when the plant is completely healthy will it have enough energy and resources to go the extra step of producing extra sugars in it's sap.
A stressed out plant growing in worn out soils will never have the energy or resources to meet all of its' own needs and have capacity to manufacture extra sugars. But a plant that is well cared for and grown in rich and living soils will be able to meet all its own needs and have the extra resources to produce extra sugar (which it stores in its sap).
We know therefore how our plants are doing by measuring the sugar content in their sap! We can do this scientifically with a specific tool designed to measure such things (a refractometer) or we can let our taste buds do the job. Your taste buds can easily tell the difference in flavor that comes through so if you insist on buying and eating only the most flavorful and sweet vegetables you will be also selecting for the vegetables that are healthiest and most nourishing!
This is just another beautiful example of how flavor (sugars in the sap) is related to nutrition (the plant is well nourished and all its needs are met) which is also connected to crop quality and plant health (surviving colder temps)!
And that is some of the most exciting news out there--good food tastes better and your body was designed to know the difference and when we grow food properly and feed the soil to the maximum it benefits our customers and our crops and ultimately gives us more and better yield as well!
And conversely, if we skimp and cut corners when we feed the soil and our plants, it will cause the plants to do poorly, the food will taste worse, and the end eater will not be as well nourished.
So which would you like? Food that is full of flavor and nutrition? Or food that is stressed and malnourished and tastes poor? When you take the time to know where your food is coming from you have the power to choose for yourself instead of just settling for whatever is on the shelves at your local grocery store.
When you find better farms and conscientious farmers, you also find better flavor and nutrition!
To better eating!