Nothing tastes better than fruits or vegetables or picked fresh from your own garden!! A strawberry or pea pod you pick right from the garden will taste sweeter partly because you know you grew it yourself. In addition, when you grow your own food you have control over what, if any, pesticides or fertilizers are used. Babies and toddlers are especially vulnerable to the possible effects of pesticides as they are less able to detoxify toxic chemical due to their smaller size.
Another reason to grow your own fruits and vegetables is that they will be much fresher, and fresher produce will generally contain more nutrients. According to Lisa Ramirez, Times Herald-Record, “Much of the produce sold at large supermarket chains is grown hundreds of miles away….places such as California, Florida and Mexico. That means days — perhaps even more than a week — have passed since it was picked, packaged and trucked to the store, where it can sit on the shelves even longer. Often, too, produce is picked before it’s ready, preventing it from ever reaching its nutritional potential.”
The organic garden contains no harsh or dangerous chemicals, so most of these fruits and vegetables can be eaten after a quick rinse. Other fruits and vegetables treated with chemicals will need to be thoroughly washed to avoid the dangers associated with them.
Other benefits of gardening include getting physical exercise while doing something you enjoy. It cultivates a nurturing attitude towards nature and the environment when working with the soil and plants. Enjoying the warm weather and summer breezes while listening to the birds is also relaxing. It provides a creative outlet and sense of accomplishment. Gardening also connects you with others when you share the bounty with friends and family. It’s a great activity to do with kids too. Give them a section of the garden all their own….a great learning experience for them!
If the traditional garden is not possible, you might try container gardening. Containers allow you to enjoy fresh vegetables and herbs when your space is limited. More information on container gardening can be found at http://containergardeningtips.com/container-gardening-advantages/.
Other sources for obtaining fresh fruits and vegetables are:
1) Pick your own farms & orchards – Listed by county at http://www.pickyourown.org/MN.htm or by city at http://www.mfma.org/memberdirectory.php.
2) Local farmers’ markets – No matter where you live, there is probably a farmers’ market nearby. Check at http://www3.mda.state.mn.us/mngrown/ to find one located near you.
3) Food cooperatives or co-ops – These are member-owned businesses that provide its members with local organic food at discount prices. They are open to the general public too. Listed alphabetical by city below. http://www.organicconsumers.org/state/greenbiz.cfm?state=MN&type=biz
4) Community Supported Agriculture [CSA] – Each member pays a share of the farm’s expenses and receives a weekly portion of its crops. Check at http://www.landstewardshipproject.org/csa.html to select one near you.
5) Community Gardens – This is any space where plants are grown and maintained by a community to meet the needs of that community. Check at http://www.gardeningmatters.org/ for more information and location.
6) Roadside stands – Fresh, usually picked just hours before being set up.
Locally grown goods taste better, is better for your health as it is tends to be safer, helps reduce global warming due to shorter transportation distances, and it helps the local economy.
So enjoy the bounty of fresh, tasty seasonal fruits and vegetables, whether you grow them yourself or obtain them from other sources! Happy summertime eating to you and your family!