This year I started growing a garden with my sister. She has a HUGE garden area and has been kind enough to split the work and the rewards with me. I say work without any malice, because I have found that working in a garden is very therapeutic. I typically claim that my therapy comes from the other end of the garden, in the kitchen, but I have really enjoyed spending time in the soil and finding the “fruits” of my labors on the plants growing.
Growing your own garden is the best way to ensure the produce is clean, fresh, and chemical free. I am still undecided about how much I believe all the problems associated with non-organic produce, but I do find satisfaction in knowing that our garden is growing chemical-free. And while chemical free may mean more work for me…I can deal with that.
It’s not always possible to grow your own garden. It does require a bit of space and some time and dedication that not everyone has. In these cases, it is best to find a local farmers market that either certifies organic or will tell you the type of pesticides/herbicides they use.
Some cities have dedicated garden spots. Contact your community council to determine if there is a garden space available.
What’s all the push behind local produce? Keep reading, that’s what this post is about…
Local produce offers a lot of benefits.
- Cleanliness is on the top of my list. There have been a lot of issues regarding food borne illnesses in produce. Do you remember e-coli in spinach a few years ago? The spinach was planted down stream from a pig farm. The run-off from the pig farm “fertilized” the spinach plants and they became infected with e-coli. There have been other cases with strawberries, cantaloupe, and a few other types. I would rather know my food isn’t going to make me sick.
- Fresh is also close to the top. I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes. When I say that I mean, I’m not the type to eat a tomato like an apple, but I know some who will. I eat tomatoes on my salads or sandwiches. I just picked some cherry tomatoes from our garden. I never realized a tomato could be so sweet! I felt like I was eating a grape. Food picked straight from your garden to your dinner table has had ample time to develop the nutrients and pass on all that goodness to you.
- Chemical Free. I’ve already discussed a little about chemical free produce. Where do you weigh in on the spectrum?
- Sustainability comes from growing your own food. What I mean is that I can feed my family from what I grow by home canning whatever we don’t eat fresh. I save money in my food budget by growing produce and I can save money throughout the year by canning or freezing whatever is left. I don’t personally grow everything I will can, I don’t have an orchard, but I have found local farmers that will allow me to pay per pound or bushel if I pick the produce myself. This still saves money and I can pick the produce I like the best, it’s still fresh, and I know what chemicals they are using. It’s a win-win-win!
Finally, when you have all this extra produce that you don’t want wasted, you find creative ways to include it in your cooking. In the top picture I included some brownies with the produce. I made those brownies with zucchini. There were some other unhealthy ingredients, but my family still ate the zucchini, and they didn’t even know it! You can add applesauce instead of oil in some baked goods, you can add cucumber or zucchini noodles to lasagna. There are some great recipes out there that will help you incorporate the fresh produce you are growing.