The other day, I was visiting a nearby farm where a ton of fresh produce was coming up. Just the sights and smells on the farm brought back memories of my dad. He planted peppers, parsley, tomatoes, zucchini, and yellow squash every year until he died. When he made tomato sauce, he went to his garden for the ingredients.
But these days many of us live in a nutritional depression, brought about by nutrient-poor and calorie-rich processed foods, and also by the depletion of minerals in our soil. Commercial farming practices, which include replenishing the soil with synthetic fertilizers, have drained the soil of essential elements. In recent years, studies have begun to show that organically grown crops—which don’t use these methods—contain significantly higher concentrations of antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins, and minerals.
So, how can you get truly fresh, nutrient-rich produce these days?
- Consider growing your own. Because of my hectic schedule, I haven’t been able to find the time to consistently tend a full garden, but I enjoy container gardening. We grow herbs in one of our south-facing windows and use them throughout the year to garnish our favorite dishes and soups. If you don’t have a backyard, you, too, may be able to grow parsley, garlic, or chives (incredibly nutritious herbs), or even tomatoes, using this technique.
- Visit your local farm stands or farmer’s market. My wife Jan and I spend a lot of time picking out produce at our local farm stands. But before you buy, ask the seller about production techniques to make sure the items are as natural as possible. I also ask if the produce has been sprayed, and if it has I’ll pass it up.
- Go to the grocery store, but buy organic. Many grocery stores sell organic produce, in addition to their conventional produce. It often costs a bit more, but the quality, taste, and nutrition is definitely worth it. But if your food budget doesn’t allow for you to buy all organic produce, prioritize. The highest concentrations of pesticides can be found in berries, peaches, grapes, apples, pears, spinach, and green beans. So with those foods, I encourage you to opt for organic.