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Harvest of the Month

July - Summer Squash, Berries, Cucumbers

July - Summer Squash, Berries, Cucumbers
Summer Squash:
Summer squash is a subspecies of the cultivated plant Cucurbita pepo that originated in the Americas and was one of the first plants domesticated by indigenous people. Squash seeds have been found in caves in Mexico and Ecuador that date back as far as 12,000 years, and the earliest known domestication of squash occurred in Mexico around 8,000 years ago. Squash's advantageous qualities, such as quick germination, early flowering, and rapid growth, may have made it easier for Native Americans to cultivate. 

Blueberries are native to North America; the wild varieties of the plant are referred to as lowbush and the cultivated varieties as highbush. Native Americans used blueberries to season ceremonial pemmican, a mixture of dried elk, bison, or deer meat powder and melted fat. Blueberries are a true berry: the seeds and flesh are produced from a single ovary. Blueberries are a member of the heath family, which includes cranberries and huckleberries. 

Raspberries are believed to be native to East Asia. Brought by the Crusaders from Turkey, the red raspberry was the first variety to be cultivated in Europe. Raspberries exist in a spectrum of colors: red, black, yellow, orange, amber, and white. The raspberry is not a true berry, as it is produced from the merging of several ovaries. 

Strawberries are native to temperate zones in Europe and North and South America. The strawberry is also not a true berry, in the botanical sense. The flesh we eat is actually a swollen part of the stem, called the receptacle.

A member of the Cucurbit family, cucumbers are related to squash (winter and summer) as well as melons and gourds. The cucumber was first cultivated in India over 3,000 years ago. The Greeks and Romans spread the cucumber to Europe. It first arrived in North America in the 16th century. Nowadays, China produces the most cucumbers. 

  • Summer squash contains many vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B6, and C, as well as potassium, fiber, and folate.
  • The blue pigment in blueberries comes from a group of antioxidants called anthocyanins. The waxy coating on the surface of blueberries is called the “bloom”. 
  • There can be a 20 degree difference between the inside of a cucumber and its outside skin, which might be where the phrase “cool as a cucumber” comes from! 

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