Little Effort, Big Rewards
Growing our own food— whether it be a full garden or a pot of basil—is a fantastic way to reconnect and remind ourselves where our food and nutrients come from. Our garden bounty often tastes far superior to what we find at the store. Whether that is from the freshness, the heritage varieties we might plant or the fact we put some of our own blood, sweat and tears into facilitating its growth, it doesn’t really matter. The pride in having a small part in providing for oneself is a big win for the soul. When we talk about all the benefits of eating seasonal and local, including your backyard, we can boil it down to these important factors:
• Produce can be picked when it’s actually ripe. The food has had time to absorb the most amount of minerals and other nutrients from the soil and produce the maximum concentration of phytonutrients (the plant’s defense system) that we then eat and benefit from.
• The plant is providing the type of nutrients we can most benefit from in the season that it’s ready or ripe—cooling leafy greens in the summer, hearty warming squash in the autumn.
• The amount of time from farm to plate is short. After a ripe fruit or veggie is picked, it starts to break down and rot. With this, many of the vitamins and phytonutrients degrade. Some plants break down quickly— strawberries for instance—and some slowly, like potatoes. The shorter the time is until we eat it, the more of these nutrients are available for our health. Our food has the ability to provide us with some fantastic healing properties. We often think that ‘superfoods’ have to be exotic, like goji berries or quinoa or maca root. Some of the common and easy-togrow produce here in BC have some pretty potent super-powers of their own. Here are five low-effort, bigbenefit superfoods you can grow in your own backyard or patio. British Columbia has a wide range of growing climates. It’s important to choose the plants that thrive in the climate in which you are growing them. This will lead to less frustration and greater success. But when you can nurture a plant that can also bring you fantastic health benefits, it’s an ideal way to get connected to the earth, the seasons and the place you are residing on the planet.
|Plant a Healing Garden|
These berries contains one of the highest vitamin C concentrations among all the fruits. Add to this their phytonutrients including phenolics compounds, flavonoids and anthocyanins, and you’ve got some pretty potent antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes these sweet berries fantastic for our immune and cardiovascular systems. Strawberries work well in pots on the patio or will return year after year if planted in the ground. A nice early season hit of green to your garden!
Like its cruciferous relatives, kale is celebrated for its anti-cancer properties. It’s particularly beneficial for any estrogen-dominance related issue, as the rate of estrogen detoxification through the liver is increased. Unlike some of our other calcium sources, kale’s ratio of calcium to phosphorus content is very beneficial for bone health and strength. Kale’s growing season can be quite long, depending on where you live in the province.
Tomatoes contain high amounts of carotenes like beta-carotene (which we turn into vitamin A) and lycopene. These can be particularly protective against breast, colon, lung, skin and prostate cancers. Cooking or eating tomatoes with a source of fat can help increase lycopene’s bioavailability into your body. Tomatoes can thrive in the heat of the Interior, but if you’ve got a full-day hot sunny space, you too can benefit from the huge diversity of heritage varieties that are now available. Try a delicious Black Krim!
The antioxidants in rosemary, including rosmarinic acid, are very anti-inflammatory, and helpful for conditions like arthritis, colitis, asthma and atherosclerosis. Pick an “-itis”—adding rosemary to your diet regularly is going to provide huge relief. Rosemary has many anti-cancer and antioxidative properties, making it a healing addition to roasted vegetables or pasta sauce. On the coast, a rosemary plant may become a mini tree season after season, but in areas of colder winters, you may need bring your rosemary inside.
Along with garlic and onions, chives are a member of the allium family, which are beneficial for the liver, immune system and heart. They are high in sulfur and quercetin, two nutrients that are also fantastic for cardiovascular and blood sugar issues. Once you’ve planted chives, it’s challenging to not have them come back year after year. Their early arrival and purple bee-attracting flowers make them a nice addition to your perennial garden space.