Your own garden is without a doubt the best place to harvest the freshest vegetables. It’s a fact that the fresher the food, the better it is for you and the better it tastes. You only need to snap a few vegetables before making your meal and as a bonus you get best nourishment as the nutrients don’t have time to degrade. Evidently the way you prepare your vegetables can destroy part of the nutrients or enhance them. Eating them raw is a sure way to get most out of them while keeping the enzymes and vitamins intact. Lightly steamed is a second choice.
As a bonus, gardening allows you to get exercise outside in fresh air and sunshine which is very beneficial as we spend most of our work hours indoors.
The next best place to get a wide selection of locally grown vegetables, herbs and fruits is at the farmers market. Everything there is harvested within 24 hours. I get really inspired with all the choices available. I can plan what meals I can whip up with a vegetable, how I’ll enhance the flavor with certain herbs, and the delicious smoothies and desserts I can make with all the local fruits. It is time to get your culinary skills at work and design interesting raw meals. It’s time to figure out how to use those white turnips, or zucchini, collards, and yellow beets, including herbs such as fresh oregano and mint. Yes, your meals don’t have to be the same every day. Get creative this summer!
Farmers market can be found in almost every city and small town. Sometimes you may need to travel some distance to get to the farmers market. It is worth the trip though. You can shop for the week and eat the most perishable produce first. Most of the time the food is picked the day before which ensures longer shelf life in your fridge compared to California produce which often are more than a week old.
Driving to individual farms to pick the vegetables yourself or buying from the farmers’ booth is another option to get your fresh vegetables and fruits. It is not always convenient to go there however, especially if you live in a city. Again it depends on what they have. It is worthwhile to go to farms to personally pick your own organic berries, cherries, and other fruits as you can bring home an abundance of flavorful fruits to freeze for the winter. Local strawberries are a lot tastier than the store- bought ones from California which are totally tasteless and soggy. Freeze your own local fruits to savor in your smoothies and desserts during winter.
Community supported agriculture or CSA
Some farms, co-ops or organic produce businesses provide members with a weekly box of locally grown fresh organic produce during the growing season. Some are able to do this year-round. Sometimes the box is either delivered to your door or you get to pick your box at the farm. You often can choose what goes into your weekly box. This is great if you are too busy looking around for fresh produce. It’s also another way to support local farmers.
Road stands are convenient as they are just at the side of busy road. They usually have a limited variety of vegetables but plenty of fruits which are most often not organic. Non-organic fruits like peaches and nectarines are better eaten after being peeled as they are listed in the 12 dozens of heavily sprayed produce.
Small produce markets
They provide local and imported, sometimes unusual produce that you don’t find in ordinary grocery stores. You’ll find everything from fresh mushrooms to olive oils, lemons and mangoes. They’re great little shops with great and reasonable price. Best place for convenience ad quick organic/fresh produce.
Foraging for wild edibles and berries
Sometimes you don’t need to go very far to find the most nutritious greens of all: wild edibles. Weeds grow in gardens, in crop fields, alongside roads. It’s an inexpensive way of varying your diet and adding some extra nutrients at the same time. Here’s a list of common edible weeds: purslane, lamb’s quarters, wild buckwheat, dandelion, thistles, stinging nettles, chickweed, and pigweed. Weeds are most often stronger tasting such as dandelion. Chickweed and lamb’s quarters have great taste and can be added to salads. Others such as dandelion might be too strong tasting so are best to add to fruit smoothies. Most edible weeds are more nutritious than the hybridized vegetables. Berries such as raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, and saskatoons are abundant in some parts of the country.
See my smoothie recipe below.
One advantage of shopping exclusively at a produce stand or farmers market is that:
- Contact with farmers.
- Fewer temptations to purchase packaged and processed foods.
- Support local businesses.