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Fresh Foods for Summer

Do you love eating fresh fruits and vegetables in the summer months?  (You answered yes, of course!)  Why not eat them from your own backyard garden? 

The thought of growing your own fruits and vegetables may sound a bit intimidating to the not – so – green thumb, but it’s actually much simpler than it sounds.  A few feet of land, water and time (maybe a bit of patience) and you are good to go!

Why?  The benefits are numerous:

 

1.  Improve your family’s health.  Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the most important things you and your family can do to stay healthy.  When you have them growing right in your backyard, it makes it even harder to resist AND their nutritional value is much higher when eating them straight from the source. 

 

2.  Save money on groceries.  A packet of seeds cost less than a dollar.  You can fill your pantry with fresh produce throughout the year – straight from the garden. 

 

3.  Get outdoor exercise.  Researchers estimate that gardening burns an average of 300 calories per hour, while heavy yard work can burn more than 600 calories per hour!  Spending time in a garden is also believed by many to have physical and emotional healing effects. According to the American Horticultural Therapy Association, gardening can benefit people who are recovering from physical illness by retraining their muscles and improving coordination, balance, and strength. In addition, simply spending time in nature reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and relieves muscle tension.

4.  Enjoy better tasting food.  Fresh food is the best food!  Compare the taste of a homegrown tomato to a store bought tomato and I have no doubt which will win.  If fresh fruits and vegetables taste better, you are more likely to eat more of them. 

 

5.  Build a sense of pride.  Caring for your plants and waiting as they blossom and “fruit” before your eyes is an amazing sense of accomplishment!

 

6.  Reduce your environmental impact.  Backyard gardening helps the planet in many ways. If you grow your food organically, without pesticides and herbicides, you’ll spare the earth the burden of unnecessary air and water pollution, for example. You’ll also reduce the use of fossil fuels and the resulting pollution that comes from the transport of fresh produce from all over the world (in planes and refrigerated trucks) to your supermarket.

 

Are you ready to get started?  If so, read this Beginner’s Guide to Fruit and Vegetable Gardening.  

 

If not, the second best thing is your local Farmer’s Market.  Late summer and early fall are perfect seasons for visiting and they are most definitely worth the trip.  As mentioned above, fresh and locally grown fruits and vegetables are the best tasting and most nutritious, but shopping at the farmer’s market also helps benefit the farmer and strengthens your community.   

 

 

*Adapted from www.sparkpeople.com.

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