Get excited about fresh fruits and vegetables!

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By Bonnie Buckingham

Have you ever seen a child pick fresh fruits and vegetables from a garden they grew? The excitement is contagious. They cannot wait to eat the fresh produce they carefully nurtured from tiny seeds.

Somewhere along the way we lost the joy and personal connection to the food we eat. Vegetables became something we grudgingly pick out in grocery stores, and associate with words like “bland” and “unsatisfying.”

Take a step back from your idea of the boring vegetable. Instead, be adventurous and test fresh foods, recipes and insert new words into your vocabulary such as “aromatic” and “vine-fresh.”

Try growing your own veggies (or visiting your local farmers market) and perform a taste test. How does a store-bought radish compare to your homegrown one? Does your tomato taste juicier or the carrot sweeter?

So how do you know if fresh is best? Read on for reasons to grow our own, plus tips on incorporating fresh foods into your life.

Why grow your own?

Save money: After you have a garden established, growing your own vegetables can save you money by cutting out the grocery store markups.

Boost your health: Research shows that plant-based diets have a multitude of health benefits (plant-based refers to eating more plant foods). Growing your own food increases the likelihood that you will eat it!

Pesticides: Whether you buy regular or organic, there is a high probability there are pesticides on your food. A common misconception is that organic means “pesticide-free,” but organic farming simply means that the pesticides used came from plant origin, not laboratories. Skip the chemicals and take control of what goes on your plants.

Better tasting: The time spent from farm to grocery store impacts freshness. Often these foods are grown in large batches and picked before they are ripe to prevent spoilage in supermarkets.

If you aren’t ready to grow your own food, don’t worry! Fruits and vegetables found in supermarkets are just as healthful as homegrown. You can also try going to your farmers market to enjoy a farm fresh taste and support your local farmers. But if you’re ready to take on this challenge, consider these home-grown planting tips.

Tips for incorporating fresh foods

Planting a garden may seem daunting if you don’t have experience or yard space, but it is one of the most enjoyable ways to enjoy fresh produce. Start small and pick something easy to care for.

Pots and planters: Pots are a great alternative to gardening in the ground and are especially good for growing herbs you can keep year round. They fit easily on porches and decks and are simple to take care of. Fill your pots with gardening soil, mulch and plant your seeds or starters.

Vertical gardening: If space is tight, try growing up. Vertical gardens can be made using wood pallets, planters, hanging pots and pre-made shelves. For a do-it-yourself version, simply attach planters to a wood pallet and lean up against a wall.
 
Plan your space: Raised beds are an easy way to install a garden. Use the square foot gardening plan and intercropping techniques to get the most out of your space. Place your plants close together so that the leaves are just slightly touching. This will keep the weeds down and save on watering.

Use these tips to decide if fresh is right for you. Happy planting!

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