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In Defense of Beets...
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In Defense of Beets...

If they’re not your favorite, don’t 'beet' yourself up about it. They can be a polarizing vegetable. 


It took many years to appreciate their flavor, but now I can’t go long without these brilliantly colored, pungently earthy, yet sweet veggies in my diet. Sliced, diced, sautéed, roasted, grated - there are so many ways to enjoy these nutrient rich roots - and the leaves are pretty delicious too! 

Let’s talk about health benefits. Beets (and their greens) are rich in folate, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, vitamins A,C, K, lots of antioxidants and they’re anti inflammatory. Their intense coloring comes from chemical compounds known as Betalains - naturally occurring pigments of red violet and yellow orange. More than just visually appealing, Betalains help draw toxins out of the body. Some studies suggest beet juice as a cure for hangover symptoms.

Beets and Root Veggies at Market

Beets have another super power - they are vasodilators: high levels of Nitric Oxide help broaden your blood vessels so oxygen flows more easily throughout your body. Whoa! Make way for Mrs. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus!




But still, there are beet lovers and beet…rejecters. They are a vegetable that can smell and taste just like the ground they were pulled from. That acute wet soil scent is due to a chemical called GEOSMIN which humans are particularly sensitive to.  It’s that just after a rainfall smell (makes me think of summer just typing about it). Theory suggests it’s an early development to help guide us to a water source - wet soil means water nearby! Whatever the reason, we are so highly responsive to it, we can register the scent at a ratio as low as

5 parts per TRILLION!

-according to Jo Robinson, health writer and author of Eating on the Wild Side. 

That’s a strength of smell even your favorite candle store couldn’t match!

If you don’t find that scent particularly appetizing - not to worry! Cooking your beets will release the natural sugars (they have the highest concentration of any vegetable) and if you throw in an acid - balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, or give this recipe a try - it will significantly reduce any hint of soil before dinner time.


It all depends on your threshold for dirt! 




Sources: Fact Retriever - Beet Facts, Just Beet It - Hate Beets? Science Has the Answer, ThoughtCo - Can You Smell Rain?, Food Revolution - Benefits of Beets, Healthy Beeter - Betalain, What Is It?

14 comments on In Defense of Beets...

  • Ann in PA
    Ann in PA — March 03, 2023

    I did not like beets when I was a child; I guess the taste was too strong for my tastebuds. After I grew up, married and started an organic garden, I planted beets, wow! Nothing is better than fresh picked from the garden. We love them! Hot as a side dish or cold sliced in a salad, beets are a favorite.

  • Derrill Browning
    Derrill Browning — March 03, 2023

    Several years ago got a much larger pack of Early Wonder from you. They grew fab with. great greens that mixed well with other greens too. The next year I ordered and the pack was itty-bitty. The first pack was enough for a thickly planted 80 foot raised bed row. The next seed pack was enough for about 10 feet.. Can you make some exceptions and provide a larger pack maybe 3 or 4 ounces? Always enjoy your best seeds on the market.

    TRISH — March 03, 2023

    I like to eat them raw like apples. I also can them with whole spices. For me, I really like all kinds of beets and don’t mind the “dirt” taste in exchange for the health benefits.

  • Randy
    Randy — November 27, 2022

    We were a beet hater, tastes like dirt, family. Then we decided to try borscht last year and realized how good it tastes. no dirt! So we planted beets, canned them and use it in borscht. The key, like you stated, is add some acid-just a tablespoon or so of ACV does the trick. We even pressure can our beets with a bit of ACV added. Now we eat them all the time! Try it! Don’t forget to add a dollop of sour cream to the soup and have it with home made bread.

  • Judy Weymouth
    Judy Weymouth — September 10, 2022
    I always grew them in our garden, & the rest of the family loved them. I like beet greens very much, but to me, beets taste like dirt no matter how they’re prepared. I’ve even tried sugar beets & mangels, but no thanks—- chopped them up & fed them to the cattle! Thanks for the explanation!
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