Growing a produce garden can be an excellent way to ensure you are getting more nutrition in your food. Food is healthier for you when it is eaten closer to its harvest. After picking, food starts to become less appealing in color, taste, texture and it begins to lose nutrient content. Of course there are a number of factors that play into the peak nutrition content of food such as the type and quality of the soil, seed type and competing plants, but in commercial operations a lot of time and processing of the food occurs before it may get to your table.
Commercial operations are in the business of growing and processing food to feed the world (or parts of it). Their focus is quantity, especially if their farm is responsible for producing most of a certain type of crop. Location of the farm and where the food needs to be transported play a huge role in the type of processing needed and the amount of nutrition retained. Food may be transported across the country or over oceans so that it can be stocked in your grocery store. Although it is amazing that you can eat something that was grown in Brazil or Hawaii, there is generally a lot of time in between the food being picked and you eating it, so the nutrition may have been reduced. A lot of times, food is intentionally picked before it is ripe and then it ripens off the vine as it is transported. There is some debate as to whether the food is less nutritious when this is done.
Producing your own food by growing a garden can be an excellent way to increase food nutrition content because you can eat it when it is ripe and closer to when it was harvested. According to the American Dietetic Association, “…as the world’s population increases, agricultural efficiency and increased production techniques will become increasingly important, as will urban farming and home gardening.” Not only will having a home garden give you access to healthier food, but if adopted by many others the practice will help to ease the burden of commercial farming operations. Gardening also instills an appreciation for food and can bring about a sense of self preservation and self sufficiency.
No time to garden? Try buying locally produced food or pay more attention to where your food comes from and select food that is grown closer to you and that is in season. Food that is in season tastes better, is less expensive and is healthier for you. Sometimes the best method is to begin slow but remain steady. Try growing a few herbs in a flower pot on your window sill. Look for recipes to use that incorporate those herbs.
Closing the food gap from soil to table will help you and your family to have healthier bodies and become more connected to food’s life-giving ability.
Molly Roemer recently graduated with a degree in dietetics from BYU, and current resides in Alamo. She enjoys food and family and seeks to enrich the lives of others through both. Email questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.