Friday, January 15, 2010

When all else fails, plant a garden

So where do i begin? Sometimes the thought of adapting to a "green" lifestyle can be overwhelming because it entails so much change - especially if you weren't accustomed to it growing up. In fact, i am still no where near where I desire to be in my "green" life. I am still learning, reforming and implementing small changes everyday. So, that's where I encourage you to begin. Whether you yourself have already started your own health journey or are just beginning - you can start small. Change one meal a day to a more greener healthier vitamin rich choice or just change on item on your shopping list or in your fridge to organic and as it becomes habit for you to eat and buy that one item, you can begin to add something new and so on. Even if its taking something off the grocery list that serves no nutritional value to you. It can start in the smallest degree. i wanted to share this before I dive into my topic because that is exactly what I am going to do - dive right in!

I had a situation yesterday that was eye-opening, but frustrating nonetheless. We have a local farmers' market here in Rochester that is available to us 3 days a week with locally homegrown produce that is relatively cheap. As I go to each farmer, as i am accustom to do, to ask if their crop has been sprayed (usually I can tell by the size and condition of the food) I usually will find two to three who have not. I love it when I find these farmers because I feel as if I am getting "beyond organic" itself, as Deiredre Imus puts it, to getting "biodynamic" - a phrase used for food with absolutely no herbicides, insecticide, pesticides, growth hormones or antibiotics. Organic produce in our super markets are usually twice as expensive and still may have some pesticides used. (Although organic is ALWAYS better than your typical grocery store produce) - but I will expound on that in a later blog. OK...back to my story. So, as I went to several different farmers and inquired about their produce, i could not find a single one who had not sprayed their crops (with some of the farmers getting a lot of their produce shipped from other places - I hate the winter because of that). Urgh! How frustrating! And in that moment I realized I may have to settle with a farmer who used the fewest pesticides. I had been spoiled all summer as I easily found produce that was free of all chemicals - and usually at half the price of the grocery store. My biggest frustration - I just do not have the money to eat the way I truly desire. I could have easily went to my local grocery store, bought all USDA Certified Organic produce and left there 3 to 4x as broke! Although I have read plenty of books from green authors who are convinced eating healthy can be inexpensive - I still beg to differ from my experiences. Unless you are willing (in which I am and I have!) to shop around, look everywhere for the best costs for the value of your food and go through many possible hours of frustrated grocery shopping, then most likely you are going to do what everyone else does and settle for the food put on the shelf, at easiest convenience. This is where things get tricky. Is your health put at priority, or does it usually take a back seat to the other things going on in your life? Am I willing to forfeit some of the unnecessary things in my life that I spend money on so that i can buy better quality food? I mean, I totally understand why we choose to go for whatever is sold on the shelf. Trust me. There are many times I've given in and decided to settle for what's easiest. Eating healthy is not only difficulty because of the self-control aspect of over-eating, but it also challenging because it forces us to completely re-evaluate everything we do, right from the beginning - starting with our grocery list.

So what did I personally conclude after my encounter yesterday? That if all else fails, plant a garden. And it's exactly what I plan to do this spring. I don't have much land, but I am determined to attempt a small organic garden to provide the best for my family. Health will not take the back-seat. With many new things to learn, to growing veggies to learning how to can them for the winter, i plan to share my whole experience when the time approaches. This is a part of my green journey that is un-explored and will be completely new to me. No, I don't have time to do it, but I am determined to make the time. My health for my family and I is priority because the benefits from eating green keep me healthy to do all the other things I am responsible to or even want to do.

This touches the Biblical principle that we should eat food God created for us. If an insecticide was created to kill a bug at the moment it consumes it, then I don't think its any better for us to consume. in trying your best to eat produce free from chemicals you are getting closer and closer to eating God's original design. No wonder organic food has about 50% to sometimes 75% more nutrients in it than other food! It's because God designed it to be that way!

My encouragement to you as a green eater is to start small - first maybe eating more fruits and vegetables daily. Get creative with what you can do with them! Try a meal without meat and experiment with some good online recipes. Who cares about organic produce if our diet is not full good fruits and veggies anyhow? So, start there. "More than 60% of Americans are overweight, with at least 30% considered obese, compared with an obesity rate of 6% among vegetarians and 2% among vegans" says Imus, "vegetarians have a 28% lower death rate from heart disease than meat eaters." (The Essential Greener You!) I'm not saying you should become vegetarian, but maybe try eating more veggies and start spending less time on meat being the focus in your meals. Or if you've already started meals like that, try to switch a couple of your veggies to organic, preferrably the ones you eat the skins on or cannot be peeled at all (although there is an exception to both apples and potatoes where pesticides penetrate the skin and still enter the crop itself). However you begin your journey...the point is...START! Although my shopping yesterday encountered some discouraging and frustrating things, there are many days I come home after grocery shipping feeling great joy and satisfaction from knowing I did a great job sticking to the healthiest choices I know of.

I want to leave you with a great list of produce from The Essential Green You by Deirdre Imus (in which I quoted from in some of this blog) that helps me when I am trying to save money and still eat as close to green and organic as possible.

Highest Pesticide Residue
  • apples
  • bell and hot peppers
  • carrots
  • celery
  • cherries
  • grapes
  • green beans
  • nectarines
  • peaches
  • pears
  • potatoes
  • red raspberries
  • spinach
  • strawberries

Moderate Pesticide Residue
  • apricots
  • blueberries
  • cantaloupe
  • collard greens
  • cucumbers
  • grapes (domestic)
  • honeydew melons
  • kale
  • lettuce
  • mushrooms
  • oranges
  • sweet potatoes
  • tomatoes
  • turnip greens
  • winter squash

Least Pesticide Residue
  • apple juice
  • asparagus
  • avocados
  • bananas
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • kiwi
  • mangoes
  • onions
  • orange juice
  • papyas
  • pineapple
  • plums
  • sweet corn
  • sweet peas
  • tangerines
  • watermelon

You can also find your local farmers' market at


  1. You will LOVE having a garden! I think the girls will come to enjoy it to. There is nothing like a re-dinner snack of green beans and sna peas off the vine, knowing exactly where they came from, and who touches them.

    I am so thankful for our garden, but now I need to learn to can and preserve my reserves to have healthier food year round.

  2. One other option (in addition to canning -- I prefer lacto-fermentation canning methodology over heating) is to build a root cellar in your basement, and use that during the cold months to store the bulk food you bought in the fall. Fall time in winter climate is often a great time to buy a number of vegetables -- especially root veggies, which is perfect for root cellaring. So if you stock up during that time, put it in your root cellar as the weather get cold, you can maintain the cellar temperature at below 40 (below refrigeration temperature) all winter as you eat them through. The trick is you want to be done about the time that the spring crops come up.

    Root cellaring is not really an option in warmer climates -- but in warmer climates, they can grow year-around. This option is perfect for those of us in the north.

  3. ooooo....great advice. true time about the basement thing. never occurred to me, but what a great idea! thanks!

  4. Good advice on starting small Crystal. I think sometimes people get overwhelmed with trying to switch everything at once. I'm an all or none type of person so this has been hard for me, but I'm learning to take it slow.

    I've had a decent size garden the last 2 years and have loved it! Each year I'm learning more about canning and perserving things. Jennifer L. and Jeanne H. (I'll give you last names at church if you don't know who I'm taling about.) both have a lot of knowlage about gardening and love teaching others. If you don't know them I'll introduce you. They helped me a TON!

  5. thats so awesome tarah! I would love to connect with those who know a lot about seems to be the easiest way to learn.

    so true about the all or nothing thing. i def. get overwhelmed because I so badly want to follow through with everything I know, but a lot of it just takes energy and invested time...but that's so much like our relationship with God too:)

  6. Jonny and I are planting our first garden this year as well! It;s going to be a lot of work, but we're super excited! It'll be fun to see how we garden novices do.
    We're also all-or-nothing we have quite the plans for this garden, including several varieties of heirloom tomatoes and a worm bin!! We'll have to have a big pot-luck of home grown goodies.


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