Thursday, April 29, 2010

As local as your own backyard

When you think about locally grown produce, what is the first place you think of? Most of us think of the farmer's market or perhaps we think of a near by CSA. Do you realize however that there is a place that is even more local? I'll give you a hint. Look out your back window what do you see-- the backyard?

That's right, the most local food could be growing right in your own backyard. If you're thinking that a garden or even a small orchard will take all of your free time, think again.

According to Mel Bartholemew's book called Postage Stamp Gardening you can produce all of your summer's salad vegetables in an area just 4 foo by four foot and it will only take you a few minutes each evening to do any gardening chores. It doesn't cost much either. For as little as a dollar a pack of seed, your garden can be jam packed with the freshest vegetables.

Imagine being able to go out into your backyard and picking musclun, radishes, tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers then taking them into the kitchen and immediately preparing the vegetables and then within an hour of picking, you serve them to your family.

Nowhere but your backyard can you get this kind of freshness. Even locally grown vegetables don't have this claim. As soon as vegetables are picked, the vitamin quality begins to deteriorate rapidly. Within 24 hours most vegetables lose up to 50% of their vitamins.

Nothing tastes like vegetables fresh from the garden. If you doubt this, try this experiment. Pick a cherry tomato from your garden and place it into your refrigerator. The next morning pick another cherry tomato and taste the difference in the two tomatoes. (It can be any kind of tomato but I personally tried this experiment with cherry tomatoes that is why I recommend using a cherry tomato.)To even take the experiment one step further, get a tomato from your local farmer's market and also one from the grocery store. Try to use the same type of tomato to make your comparisons.

There's something pastoral and peaceful about gardening. It's like there's a spiritual connection in gardening. The process of getting outdoors and digging in the soil does nothing less than reminding us that we haven't always sat in front of a computer typing. It reminds us that we are also a part of this planet and we need to take care of it while it takes care of us.

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