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The arrival of September signals fall harvest is ready for the dinner table. But don’t expect to find the same cornucopia of goodies at every farmer’s market. Those travelers on assignment in the Northwest will find something different from travelers in the Northeast, and so on.

To find out the season’s top crops for your current contract, check out this quick guide.

NORTHEAST
Pumpkins — Okay, so this is an obvious choice, but did you know this squash is loaded with vitamin A? Cut it up, drizzle with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast it in the oven for a flavorful potato substitute.

Pumpkins

Pumpkins by RichardBowen via Flickr

Radicchio — There’s more to this bitter lettuce than just salad fixings. Cut it in half lengthwise and pop it on an indoor grill for a smoky side dish.

On the Chopping Block: Radicchio

On the Chopping Block: Radicchio by madlyinlovewithlife via Flickr

MID-ATLANTIC
Leeks — Don’t like the taste of onions? Try the more subtle leeks. They’re great in soups and stews.

Leek Stalks

Leek Stalks by LollyKnit via Flickr

Brussels Sprouts — Low in calories and high in fiber, these mini cabbages are good to the core. Roast them in a hot oven to caramelize the natural sugars.

Brussels sprouts before roasting

Brussels sprouts before roasting by johnsu01, via Flickr

SOUTHEAST
Eggplant — Research shows that eggplant contains chlorogenic acid, which helps lower LDL cholesterol. Even better, this veg is super versatile. Serve it on its own or stirred into pasta sauces.

Eggplant

Eggplant by NellieMcS, via Flickr

Okra — If you’ve eaten gumbo, you’ve had okra. It’s a natural thickener, but just as tasty breaded and deep-fried.

Okra

Okra by NatalieMaynor, via Flickr

MIDWEST
Beets — I was one of the those kids who had to force down beets at dinner, but I have come to enjoy them now, especially in salads with a little goat cheese. And don’t ignore the leafy tops; they’re chocked full of vitamins and minerals.

Beets: Chioggia, White, Gold, Red

Beets: Chioggia, White, Gold, Red by Suzies Farm, via Flickr

Parsnips — One cup of this carrot cousin will provide you with 25 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C.

Parsnip

Parsnip by ©HTO3, via Flickr

SOUTH
Figs — With or without the cakey Newton, figs are sweet treats. Interestingly, the dried version has more protein, vitamins, and minerals than the fresh ones.

Michelangelo's Forbidden Fruit was a Fig

Michelangelo’s Forbidden Fruit was a Fig by Rubber Slippers In Italy, via Flickr

Kale — This is one of those wonder greens nutritionists are always reminding us to eat more often. Here’s a secret: Top any dark green with a little freshly grated nutmeg.

Kale!

Kale! by B*2, via Flickr

WEST
Peppers — Red, green, yellow, orange, purple, spicy, mild: Peppers come in a rainbow of colors and varying degrees of heat. Experiment with different kinds in dishes like stir-fry.

peppers

peppers by killrbeez, via Flickr

Pomegranates —You may have to put in a little effort to get to the juicy seeds, the only edible part of the fruit. An average-sized pomegranate can contain 600 seeds.

Pomegranate 4 רימון

Pomegranate 4 רימון by shyb, via Flickr

PACIFIC NORTHWEST
Artichoke — This thistle flower is tasty when dipped in melted butter or a kicked-up mayo. If you’re an artichoke newbie, ask an experienced friend to demonstrate how to scrape off the meat from the leaves and dig into the heart.

Artichokes

Artichokes by TonalLuminosity, via Flickr

Huckleberries — Think long-lost relative of blueberries. They’re similar in appearance, taste, and application, like sweet jams and preserves.

Huckleberries

Huckleberries by outdoorPDK, via Flickr

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On September 10, 2001, as I crossed the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, I looked to my right for a final glimpse of the cityscape. Since I’d moved away, the Manhattan skyline had become synonymous with “home.” From an eastbound viewpoint, it signified that I was almost there. And any time I traveled the bridge to return to Maryland, it represented the loved ones and lifestyle I would soon miss again.

The following morning—around 8:30 am on 9/11—I chatted breezily with my Healthcare Traveler colleagues about the John Mellencamp concert I’d attended at Jones Beach on September 9th. Not more than 20 minutes later, one of them abruptly swept back into my cubicle.

“Bobbi!” said Carolyn. “The news is on in the conference room. A plane just crashed into one of the buildings at the World Trade Center!”

I followed her to the area where a number of our coworkers had already congregated. As we stood there watching the live coverage, I wondered how the jet could have gotten so horribly off course. And I felt sick when I thought about the people on the affected floors of the tower who, like us, had just started their workday.

Then the second plane hit.

Oh, no, I thought in stunned silence, trying to process it all. This is deliberate.

I felt a sense of urgency in wanting to be near family and friends so I drove back to New York on September 14th. As I crossed the bridge into Brooklyn and looked at the skyline, I had to catch my breath. There was a large plume of white smoke hugging the area where the towers once stood. And while the vista still signified home, it was one of the most heartbreaking sights I’d ever seen.

I interviewed an RN and a CST who had been on assignment at two different New York City hospitals on that tragic day. Like so many in the New York metropolitan area, they wanted to do more.

Cover of the Nov/Dec 2001 issue of Healthcare Traveler

Dee, the nurse, donated blood and walked around the city for 9 hours handing out food, water, gloves, and masks with a colleague. Jason, the surgical technologist, volunteered at Chelsea Pier — where a triage center and ORs had been set up — and participated in a “bucket brigade” at Ground Zero.

Every year, in addition to remembering those lost on 9/11, I think about Dee and Jason—as well as the firefighters, police officers, paramedics, civilians, and other clinicians—who went above and beyond to help those directly affected by the unforgettable tragedy. Compassionate and dedicated, these exceptional healthcare travelers were a shining example of the inherent goodness in most people. And their selfless acts, along with those of countless others, provided a sense of comfort and community during a time of shock and overwhelming sadness.

***

As we honor the memory of those who lost their lives and those who volunteered their support and skills, we invite you to share your thoughts and comments here on our blog or via Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest.

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