Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fresh produce!

Hey there,

Since my Mom loves to garden and has an awesome green thumb, I pay attention to what produce is in season. Last summer we enjoyed bountiful fresh corn, okra, tomatoes, greens, eggplant, bell peppers, and much more from Mama's garden. It was all organic and delicious. We would have had peas, too, but the deer got there first! I teased Mom that her garden was “deer salad.” They really love everything she grows, too.

Since Mama broke both arms a couple of years ago, she can't garden like she used to, so we have begun doing container gardening. That will eliminate the large weeding tasks that come with a big garden plot. Maybe the deer won’t be so bold, either, since the containers will be nearer the house. We’ll see!

I grew up in central Florida with many citrus trees right in our yard, and later on I lived near the awesome strawberry fields of Plant City. We picked fresh oranges and grapefruit right from our back yard and enjoyed them every winter morning when I was a kid. And there is nothing that smells more enticing than a huge field of ripe, red strawberries. After the main harvest we could pick them for ourselves in the u-pick fields, and we paid just 25 cents a quart. Every berry was perfect and I'd put a hundred quarts in the freezer so we could enjoy them all year long.

I also learned about fresh produce from my grandmother, my father's mother, who lived in South Georgia. She always shopped at her local farmers’ market for what was currently in season; they had fresh peas, okra, corn, melons, berries, and all kinds of goodies. My grandmother believed that what was ready to eat from the garden or orchard or grove was what your body needed during that season. For instance, in the winter months when we're indoors and there's less sunshine, the fresh citrus and strawberries that we eat supplies our need for vitamin C; in the summer months the fresh fruits like cantaloupe and watermelon provide much-needed potassium, and so on.

Nothing tasted so good as those fresh fruits and veggies, and I didn't realize that until I was grown and had to buy produce shipped from far away. Nothing tastes the same because it’s picked long before it’s mature so it will survive the shipping and handling process. I realized I needed to go back to my mom’s and grandmother's way of shopping by looking for what was in season and grown locally.

I began looking for fresh, locally-grown produce. However, I wasn’t sure what was supposed to be in season because in today’s grocery stores you can get basically anything during any month.

So...I started looking for sites that provide information about what's available in my area right now. I found one website where you can specify your state and the season:
http://www.nrdc.org/health/foodmiles/?gclid=CKDq9quY2JECFUZzOAodVUReOg

Just click on that link, see what’s locally fresh, then make your grocery list. Try to find local produce in your grocery store so that you can benefit from the quality and flavor. If you're cooking for yourself or for a loved one, this will help you boost and maximize the nutrition you serve up! Plus, it just tastes wonderful!

(I'm not associated with the site. I just found it this morning, thought it was a good tool, and wanted to share it with you.)

Let me know what you think about this, and if you have other resources like it. If you do, please share with us!

Blessings,
Joan
Caregiver at Home
http://www.CaregiverEncouragement.com/

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