Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! I hope you all had a wonderful time feasting & remembering the incredible number of things we have to be thankful for.
Today I want to share with you the top 3 reasons behind my journey for starting a vegetable garden. This is a fairly new endeavor for me, but the more research I have done and the more I harvest weekly from our little garden treasure trove, the more thankful I am that I started!
Let’s talk first about – you know – the health benefits. Obviously it is a good idea for everyone to eat their veggies. But there are more benefits which specifically apply to eating fresh vegetables from your OWN garden.
Reason #1 – Reconnecting with what we eat
I absolutely love this idea, and this is the first reason that I decided to delve into gardening for our own family. In previous years as the family chef, I have felt frustrated by my lack of knowledge regarding where our foods come from. I would love to know how our foods were grown or raised and which food labels to really trust.
Anything can say “Farm Fresh” on it, but how much can I really count on it? I have no idea what kind of pesticides were sprayed on my food, how it was tended to or when it was harvested (more on this below). If we’re talking about a meat item – most of the time I have no clue what that animal ate or how they were treated during life. Yet, all of these things have a direct translation to how nutritious food is when I serve it to my family. Maybe this never bothered you…is it just me? Well, sorry to bring it up. Maybe you could start your own garden. 😉
If I wanted, I could do an incredible amount of research on each farm that each product in the grocery store was sourced from and learn their exact practices. I could do that. But I don’t have time for that and I’m guessing neither do you.
Gardening is a way for me to feel reconnected to the foods that we eat. I can watch plants grow from seed to sprout to full-on edible produce. There is something so rewarding about that! Not to mention this is a cheap way to get organic foods, especially if you live in a Zone 10 area like California where things grow easily in the relatively warm weather all year around. But even if you don’t, there are plenty of ways to grow your own foods year-around. But that’s a blog post for another day – let’s move to reason #2.
Reason #2 – Eating seasonal foods
The second reason is because there are so many health benefits to eating seasonal foods! I sort of knew this already, but the more research I have done the more amazed I am to find all of the ways that eating seasonally is a huge nutritional win.
Let me explain. When foods are grown in season, they are more likely to be obtained from more local farmers, which means that they do not need to be harvested and preserved extra early for a long transport. When the produce is harvested closer to the time it is consumed, it does not need to be “force ripened” for as long. This allows the fruit or vegetable to stay on its parent plant for longer, allowing for natural transfer of nutrients from root-to-stem-to-produce.
If fruits and vegetables are not grown in season (and not harvested relatively close to consumption), certain things must be done to preserve the shelf life. For example, apples are protected in a thin layer of wax in order to preserve the shelf life for longer. Other fruits and vegetables are harvested early and chilled, then placed in a hot house to be artificially ripened. This unnatural process reduces the flavor and nutrients within that food item, if it had been allowed to naturally ripen.
Eating seasonal foods gives you better assurance that the plants were grown in a natural environment where they could thrive, not something crafted to imitate what their natural environment should be!
Secondly, it is amazing to me how certain foods with certain nutrients grow at the times in the season where our bodies naturally crave those nutrients. Take oranges, for example. Citrus fruits like oranges have a lot of vitamin C in them, which is something that helps our human bodies fight off sickness and strengthens our immune systems. How interesting that oranges grow during the winter months, when people are much more prone to sickness!
Lastly, the flavor and cost of seasonal foods is just way better. Flavor is allowed to naturally develop, and due to simple supply & demand the cost for foods that are grown in-season is much lower than buying those same foods out of season. This is because there is generally speaking, less labor involved in getting that item to the grocery shelves. The cost benefit is even more-so if you grow those foods in your own backyard, since all you have to pay for is the seed and watering. 🙂
Reason #3 – Replenishable salad that doesn’t go bad
This reason was also huge on my list. I planted a fall & winter garden, which means a lot of leafy greens, beets, carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli, etc.
One thing that drives me absolutely crazy is buying fresh leafy greens from the grocery store, then having to throw the WHOLE bag out 3 days later because the leaves start to wilt and get that nasty, slimy goo on them. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?!
Being able to harvest regularly from my own salad garden gives me INCREDIBLE joy because I can harvest our greens right before dinner, wash, and eat right away! No wasted salad or money.
So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this, learned a few things, and feel inspired & capable to start your own little backyard grocery section.
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