It is officially Spring, though who would know it given the temperature and threat of snow here in New England. I’m anxious to get outside, but the reality is I’m still doing more reading about gardening than actual gardening.
I’ve been pretty fascinated lately with a book called Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson.
This part history, part “how to” book examines how we’ve essentially selected and engineered the flavor, nutrition and imperfection out of our food in order to make it easier to harvest, ship across country and store for days (if not weeks) on end. Robinson researches different vegetables and fruit and reveals how that downward slide occurred. On the bright side, though, she also explains how to navigate the grocery store or farmers market to select the most nutritious options offered, and how to prepare food to retain (or even increase) its nutritional value.
It’s a fascinating read, with lots of great information. Today, I thought I would distill this information into a “Top 5 Vegetables to Grow for Nutritional Value” list. Next week, we’ll check out fruit! Click on any of the images or go to www.organicgardening.com for more information about how to grow these veggies.
Maybe an unusual choice for the home garden, asparagus has tons of nutrition which it looses quickly after harvest. The week (or more) that it takes to ship, display and sell these last two vegetables takes a huge toll on their nutritional value. Asparagus are also perennial, so they’ll come back year after year.
Growing broccoli requires a bit of space. Unlike some plants that keep producing, once you cut off the head of broccoli, it’s done. In terms of nutrition, though, broccoli (like asparagus) looses an incredible amount of its nutrients quickly after harvest. So much that if you can grow it at home you’ll be getting many times the nutrients as if you bought it at the supermarket.
These are easy to grow and don’t take up much room. Great for a raised garden bed, or you can even grow them in pots. Choose red leaf lettuce, arugula, spinach or any bitter green. Here’s a great guide to growing salad greens.
Onion and Garlic Chives
Lots of nutrition, easy to grow (even in pots), and beautiful! Most members of the Allium family deter deer and other animals, so plant them near tastier plants to keep pests away.
Supermarket tomatoes are the poster child for a fruit that has had its taste, texture and nutrition breed out of it. They are fairly easy to grow at home, fortunately, and the difference is astounding. The smallest darkest red ones have the most lycopene.