July’s Harvest of the Month is PEPPERS!

Bell peppers. Banana peppers. Jalapenos. Serrano peppers. Ancho chilies. Habaneros. Poblanos.

What do all of these have in common? They’re all part of the pepper family! Technically a fruit because of its seeds, peppers are popular vegetables in the food world. They don’t just add flavor, color, and even heat to dishes, but a ton of vitamins and minerals, too! Did you know that by weight, red bell peppers have three times as much vitamin C as an orange? Hot peppers have even more!

Red bell peppers are also rich in Vitamin A & Vitamin K. Just like potatoes, avocados, and bananas, peppers are also a great source of Vitamin B6. Why is that important? Well, B6 (and the other seven B vitamins) is critical for the growth and development of our cells. Vitamin B6’s role in digestion is super important too, since it plays a big part in turning digested food into energy! B6 also helps to make new red blood cells, keeps your brain functioning, and also strengthens your immune system.

Sweet peppers add bright colors to salads and pasta dishes, taste great in stir-frys, and are a great way to add more vitamins and minerals to your food to help you stay healthy. You can even eat them on their own as a snack with a dip like hummus on the side!

Hot peppers can add a lot of heat to salsas, sauces, sandwiches, and anything else you like. Capsaicin (pronounced: cap-say-sin) is the substance that makes hot peppers hot, burns your mouth, and maybe even makes you cry. The more capsaicin in a pepper, the spicier it is. Some people prefer non-spicy foods, but others find the burning experience to be pleasurable and even euphoric because of the release of endorphins after eating.

No matter how you like your peppers, there are many to choose from and try. Using your CalFresh dollars at the farmers’ markets that participate in the Market Match** program gets you double the produce for your money – so while they’re still in season (and at the peak of their nutrition and flavor), feel free to try out all the different types of peppers you can! 

**Farmers' markets that participate in the Market Match program will match your WIC/SFMNP/EBT/CalFresh up to $5-10 ($20 in some locations). Check out http://hsa.smcgov.org/calendar-events for more info!