To Your Health
May, 2009 (Vol. 03, Issue 05)
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Make sure to plant a variety of seeds - after all, variety is the spice of life! Diversity is key when it comes to organic gardening. Strict organic rules require certified organic seed, but regardless of your personal preference for seeds, check first to ensure they are expected to grow well in the climate and region where you live.

Finally, pay attention to what works in your garden and what doesn't. In northern regions, it will just not be possible for most to grow crops outside in the winter, so determine what will grow well in a few strategically placed window boxes and enjoy your bounty when the snow arrives.

Don't get discouraged if you aren't growing the world's biggest tomato or tallest stalk of peppermint. Maybe all you can get to grow at first is a few lettuce leaves for salads or sandwich toppings and some of your favorite herbs to spice up your cooking. Don't expect too much from your little garden. Try to enjoy the organic gardening experience itself and other health benefits it brings, like exercise, time spent outdoors in the fresh air, and a sense of well being. Try to think of the chemical-free, vitamin-filled, fresh, natural foods it yields as an added bonus.

Getting Your Organic Groove on (in the Kitchen)

With any recipe, the quality of the ingredients you use affects the quality of the final product. After growing a few organic goodies in your garden, it's time to harvest them and prepare them to nourish your body. The great thing about growing your own organic ingredients is it allows for control over the quality of your food. Being able to pick or harvest your food as soon as it reaches peak ripeness - which is when it has its highest nutrient value, best color, and most flavor - is one of the greatest benefits to growing your own garden.

Once harvested, use your homegrown ingredients to create healthy, tasty meals and snacks. Aim to preserve the nutrients and wholesome nature of the food. Eat produce fresh and raw, soon after picking it. Consider freezing or canning fruits and veggies preserving their precious nutrients for storage and use later in recipes. This is especially important because some items only come around at certain times of the year and often in great abundance. (Can I offer you another zucchini?)

Become familiar with the best ways to handle, extract, and package ingredients to retain the vital nutrients in your homegrown foods. For tips and advice on preparing and cooking organic dishes check out a few cookbooks or online communities that focus on creating healthy food combinations using organic foods - many also provide important information and helpful tricks to cooking healthily with organic ingredients.

Remember, if the idea of organic gardening and growing your own food seems more like a chore than a blessing, try to remember all the benefits - and the next thing you know, you'll be sitting down to a delicious meal made with your own favorite, healthy, homegrown foods.