Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables every day. I know you know this already, you’ve heard it since you were little. Therefore, I am not going to discuss how vitally important this is. Rather, I am going to focus on ways you can get more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet that will help nourish your body, will save you money and will be fun for you and your family!
#1 Grow your own!
Whether you have your own garden, join a community garden or do container gardening, there is something about growing your own food that is incredibly satisfying for the mind, body and soul making it very therapeutic. To watch something you planted take life and produce vegetables and fruit that provide nourishment to your body is an amazing experience.
It is also a great way to get more vitamin D in your body: more time in the sun equals more vitamin d! Double bonus!
I am excited to say that my husband and I just finished planting our garden this weekend! In the past, we have done container gardening, but this year we were able to join a community garden at our church. Here is a picture of me with our freshly planted garden.
We planted tomatoes, a variety of peppers and squashes, corn, beans, watermelon and all different kinds of herbs. To purchase 20 plus plants cost us less than $40 dollars. Unless we turn out to be terrible gardeners, we should make more than double this amount back in the food that we grow.
Not to mention, it is so much fun to tend the garden as a family and then share in the delicious vegetables that are harvested. I can’t wait to share our progress with you throughout the summer.
#2 Visit a farmer’s market
If you are unable to or do not want to commit to having your own garden, another option of getting more fresh fruits and vegetables is to visit a local farmer’s market. In most cases, the vendors at the farmer’s market are selling recently harvested crops from local farms. To ensure you are getting fresh, local and in season produce, ask the vendors where the food is coming from.
Local fruits and vegetables will naturally be grown and harvested when they are in season, meaning they will provide the most nourishment to your body. The longer it takes for fruits and vegetables to be eaten after harvesting, the more nutrients and enzymes are lost. Eating local produce is typically less expensive because it doesn’t travel hundreds of miles to get to you. Food that has to travel long distances is going up in cost due to the rise in gas prices. Therefore, shopping at a farmer’s market can save you money! It is also a fun, family event. Not only is their fresh, local produce, you can also find a variety of homemade crafts. Some of my favorite farmer’s market treasures are: candles; soaps; fresh cheeses; painting from local artists; bird houses; and rugs.
#3 Join a CSA: Community Support Agriculture
This is another great way to have access to fresh, local food. A CSA is a community that supports a nearby farm by buying a share of the crops. Members pay an amount to join the CSA that goes to support costs of the farm and the farmer’s salary. In return, members receive shares of the farm’s harvest throughout the growing season.
In Texas, where I am from, we had a year round growing season so most CSA’s offered a variety of membership options, from weekly to 10 week or longer subscriptions at a time. Where I live now in Minnesota, the harvest period is much shorter so the CSA’s offer subscriptions for the full length of the season, which is roughly 18 weeks. Whatever the length of your membership, you will receive a box of fresh produce every week, usually to be picked up at a designated location. The CSA’s I have joined in the past have been around $30 dollars a week. This almost always turns out to be cheaper than buying at the grocery store. However, keep in mind, as a member of a CSA you share in the risks of farming, meaning if there is poor harvest due to bad weather or pests, the supply may not be as plentiful.
In addition to the weekly supply of produce, most CSA’s will also allow you to visit the farm and see the crops, as well as, pick an abundance of herbs and flowers on the farm. Taking your family to a CSA is a great way to teach children how food is grown and the importance of supporting local businesses.
Doing any of these three activities from spring to fall is a great way to focus on getting more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. You will be amazed in the difference in taste and quality when you grow your own, shop local at a farmer’s market or join a CSA. You will also most likely save money and enjoy the experience with your family.
Here are a few food directories to use to help you locate a farmer’s market or CSA in your area:
Local Harvest http://www.localharvest.org/: Provides directories of CSAs, farmers’ markets, restaurants, and food coops.
Organic Consumers Association http://www.organicconsumers.org/purelink.html: Contains directories of food-coops, natural food stores, farmers’ markets, CSAs and more.
USDA Farmers’ Market Search http://apps.ams.usda.gov/FarmersMarkets/: Use this search provided by the USDA to find Farmers’ Markets in your area.
Which one of these activities would you like to try or you’re currently involved with? What has been your experience with any of these in the past? I would love to have your comments below or visit me on Facebook.
Health and blessings!
Randi's passion is to create positive change in a person's life that leads to prolonged health and happiness. She works with individuals who wish to control weight, increase their energy, lower stress and manage and prevent disease all without dieting, counting calories or feeling overwhelmed. She is a certified holistic health coach and is in the process of completing her personal training certification.