As a child, family meals followed a very regular pattern, and there was very little variety. Meat, potatoes or rice, a cooked vegetable. Spaghetti once and a while. Vegetables were pretty much limited to peas, carrots (not together!), corn, zucchini or yellow squash, cooked broccoli, pea pods in the early summer, and the dreaded lima beans. Simple salads sometimes. Potatoes were mashed or baked french fries.

Then I got married, we became enamored of heritage vegetables, and the world opened up. Before I was married, I had never had beets unless they were pickled. The funny thing now? Beets are one of my favorite foods, but I hate pickled beets. I love raw beets, fermented beets, roasted beets, beets in soups. Then other vegetables! Kale, Swiss chard, patty pan squashes, winter squashes, radishes, pea pods, beans of all colors, dried beans, onions of every shade of color, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, arugula, peppers of every size and heat, eggplants, cabbage! The varieties and options are almost unlimited. My favorite lunch? Raw broccoli chopped with carrots, beets, and a red onion, with a splash of sushi vinegar and some roasted garbanzo beans on it all.

Now I laugh as I watch my grown children fuss with their own gardens, looking for variety in the vegetables themselves, but then looking also for the beautiful colors that can be found in the heritage vegetables.

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