Beets, or “beetroot”, are plants with edible greens and taproot in the Amaranthaceae family. They are part of the species Beta vulgaris, along with swiss chard and sugar beets. The plant was first cultivated in the Mediterranean regions and Middle-East and is now a staple ingredient in cuisines throughout Europe and North America.
In North America, the round sweet root vegetables are called “beets”, whereas in British English and other parts of the world they are referred to as “beetroot.” Today, beets are one of the few vegetables that are locally grown and available year-round in the Adirondack region.
For many reasons, beets have earned a tough reputation in the United States. People either love them or hate them. Some people are sensitive to their “earthy” flavor, that is thanks to a compound called geosmin, which is also the compound that we associate with the smell of “fresh rain” and “forest soil”. Some people are much more sensitive to this compound than others. However, their nutritional, symbolic, and practical characteristics have kept them on the menu from 1000+ BCE to today.