There have been many aspects on my journey toward finding personal health. But, a large part of strengthening my physical health has included adding lots more fresh produce. I have only recently gained a great appreciation for the healing properties of food. God made delicious and glorious foods for us to enjoy. He did not make the processed foods that our brains beg us to crave on a regular basis (me too!).
Last year, my family made the commitment to sign up for a local CSA (community supported agriculture). My Dad always had a wonderful garden growing up and there were summers in my teen years that I think I survived off his homemade salsa. And, while I know tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers and herbs. That is where my gardening knowledge ceases. Plus, we like to camp and I'm still traveling some for school. So, it makes it hard to commit to caring for a "big garden". In our little "square foot garden", my 8-year old son and I have planted cherry and roma tomatoes, red and orange bell peppers, chives, cilantro, basil, rosemary, stevia, spearmint and parsley. I'm finding that the herbs really are a plus. They require very little upkeep and are a wonderful addition to our home cooking (I am not a chef, but I am learning to love "good for me" food and herbs help simple recipes taste great). Our garden requires little maintenance and should produce a decent harvest.
However, I wanted more variety out of my produce and the grocery store chains just don't compare with fresh, local food (I promise). So, back to the CSA...my first reaction to considering purchasing a CSA was that it was "too expensive". Secondly, I was afraid we wouldn't "like it all". Third, I wasn't sure I would know "what to do with some of the things".
Interestingly enough, none of those objections were fair. We have learned so much in this process. First of all, we spend less at the grocery store than we used to (even with the upfront cost of the CSA). We eat what we have and it is usually delicious (there was once a blue hubbard squash recipe that was not our favorite, but the dog did not let it go to waste!). This simplicity of eating what we have helps menu planning and grocery store anxiety and gets us back to basics and closer to simplicity. We eat what we have. And, it is good good good for you. I find that I do like vegetables that I had previously "turned my nose up at" and my husband and son are finding they like a lot of new things too. Because local, organic and fresh produce tastes really good! Kale chips rock! You can do a LOT with sweet potatoes. And, good greens could change your world! The CSA we are a part of provides recipes and the internet is a gold mine when I'm unsure of what to create with what we have on hand. Plus, the CSA that we are a part of provides us with yummy recipes. All of my excuses were unfair and proved to be untrue.
So, I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of this season's first box. We have signed up for a half share and so we get a box every other week from Delvin Farms. Our box yesterday included some amazing strawberries (those are almost gone and won't last 24 hours), squash, sweet potatoes, romaine lettuce, kale, collard greens, green onions and broccoli. I can't get our son to eat strawberries from the grocery store but he was eating these straight out of the box before we ever got home and washed them. We had a salad last night. I plan to make kale chips and a broccoli salad today. We'll grill squash this weekend. Yes, it takes time to prepare these foods and I do not always love being in the kitchen. But, I realize this is a vital aspect to my family's overall health. And, I've been reminded recently by illness that when I do not put forth the time to fuel my body and stay well, I have to find the time to recover from being sick.
Consider the goodness that gardening, visiting your farmer's market or joining a CSA could do for your body, mind and spirit. I am working to compile a list of local resources for CSAs, Farmer's Markets and other community opportunities for local vegetables in middle Tennessee. If you have links, post them here or feel free to send them directly to me via email. You will find the resources I've already compiled on this site under the local resources tab. Also, my friend, Jen, plans to blog regularly with photos and recipes from her CSA share. So, get inspired and take the chance to enjoy the goodness that God's gift of fruits and vegetables can bring to your body, mind and spirit. It really is a miracle that I crave kale chips these days over potato chips! Give it a try and your body, mind and spirit may just thank you!
Then God said, "I now give to you all the plants on the earth that yield seeds and all the trees whose fruit produces its seeds within it. These will be your food."
- Genesis 1:29 (CEB)
Whitney R. Simpson
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