Perhaps our taste buds detect what our eyes cannot. Really fresh products are more nutritious and more satisfying for the senses. The nature of the U.S. food system means that fruits, vegetables and herbs found in supermarkets are often grown and packaged hundreds of miles from our kitchens, transported, distributed and displayed while kept in the refrigerator – a process that can wreak havoc on flavor and nutrients from delicate plants.
When food is transported by truck or transported by truck to the local store, the days pass between harvest and the table. Even the most perfect specimen starts to fall before you take it home – it loses moisture and vitamins and starts to metabolize its own reserves. Some foods, such as sweet corn or peas, start to transform immediately after harvest (conversion of sugar into starch and loss of sweetness and flavor). Although our remarkable food distribution system offers a varied selection of foods throughout the year, cost and quality are inevitably compromised.
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Just a few generations ago, most of the food on the dinner table grew a few hours before being served in a garden. While it is now a full-time job to feed your family this way, growing some basic items on your shopping list looks surprisingly good.
1. Taste: a new world of flavors
An advantage of gardening is exposure to new varieties that you may never have seen or experienced before. Seed catalogs and garden centers offer seemingly endless options in a variety of colors and shapes, often with charming historical names. Thousands of tomatoes at your fingertips,
against simple red and round tomatoes in supermarkets. A tomato grower who supplies a large market needs to grow varieties that ripen at once for a more economical harvest that can survive transport in good condition, while a home gardener can select tomatoes by extensive taste, harvest and color. The same goes for many other cultures.
2. Cost: get more for less
If you buy in bulk and buy coupons for a variety of packaged foods, gardening may not reduce the cost of your regular grocery bill. But if you like to buy fresh, especially organic, you can confidently cut your monthly expenses. Cost efficiency is an old reason to grow your own food, since nature’s seeds, sun and soil are cheap. However, like any hobby, gardening can be expensive if you choose to buy a lot of gardening equipment or supplies.
3. Learning: an outdoor class
The backyard gardens teach children about the origins of food and create a powerful connection to the dish that is simply magical. Children can help with planting, watering, weeding and harvesting, and after spending time taking care of the plants, they are more likely to eat the fruits of their labor. This same magic also affects adults. When you throw a homemade salad, cook a vegetable pot or serve a mixture of fried vegetables, you appreciate the great way to your plate.
4. Health: yours, your children and the planet
When a family does gardening, their diet is more diverse and inherently healthier, full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Foods in their purest and freshest form are not only the most delicious way to enjoy them, but also the most beneficial in terms of nutritional value.
When you grow your own food, you know what is needed: how it is fertilized, what pesticides are used and general care. If you grow organically, you can eat organically. This is not only beneficial for you, but also less chemicals and less distance to put food on the plate decreases the carbon footprint.
Exercise is another bonus. Whoever says that gardening is not aerobic has never harvested leaves or fertilized the compost.