ByMichèle Wolff B.H.Sc Naturopathy, Dip. Colonics and Author of ‘Digestive Solutions’
When you walk into a supermarket seasons do not exist. While there will often be locally-grown product available, at any time of the year we can find pomegranates from California, oranges from Spain and onions from China.
Because these imported fruits and vegetables have travelled far, they can be picked before their time and ripened artificially.
Many of the fruits and veg in the supermarket have been sprayed with chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers to control the supply and ensure we get what we want all year round. While this may seem good news, giving us an abundance of choice, in reality it could be contributing to toxicity in our bodies.
This is an unnecessary toxic burden, which in the long run could lead to poor health and depleted nutrition. When vitamins are lost, good micro-organisms may be lost and chemical changes to the food may occur that are harmful. Additionally, pesticides can mimic hormones that interrupt normal function of the endocrine (hormonal) system. Consuming all these toxins takes a toll on your digestion system and disrupts the natural cycle.
Studies have shown that organically grown fruit and vegetables contain 40% more antioxidants with higher levels of beneficial minerals such as iron and zinc.
Growing your own fruit, vegetables or herbs following organic methods is a good way to develop a relationship with your food and maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s also a great way to instil healthy eating habits in your children – even growing salad sprouts on the kitchen bench can give kids a good sense of where food comes from, and pride in being able to contribute to the family meal!
Benefits of growing organic food
- Supports the environment
- Enhance nutrition
- Improved taste
- Increased vitamin content
- No artificial chemicals, pesticides or fertilisers
- Nothing Genetically Modified (GM)
- Great to get outdoors and make good use of your garden
Although the outlay of growing your own food may be an initial expense, it is a lot cheaper to eat organic than have large health bills and suffer later. Additionally, the price of imported foods tends to be more expensive, which can be additional motivation to grow and eat seasonally.
Not everyone has the room to grow all their fruit and veg requirements, but potted herbs, tomatoes and citrus tress don’t take up much space and can contribute to your seven-a-day. You may also find local allotments, or communal spaces for gardening, to build a veggie patch in your neighbourhood. This is also a great way to be part of your local community.
Whether or not you’re able to grow much of your own food, find your local farmers’ market and do as much of your shopping there as possible. You’ll be supporting other local producers, will be more likely to find organic produce, and can swap tips as your own natural food garden develops!
You also save on packaged food when going organic. The food industry makes most of its money on food products rather than original produce like vegetables and fruits.
Tips For Growing Naturally
- Herbs such as mint, basil and parsley all grow in abundance with adequate sunlight
- Herbs grown around vegetables prevent pests
- Tomatoes do well when planted with basil, parsley and asparagus. They do not work well with potato or with rosemary
- Use a disco ball instead of a scarecrow; it has the same effect and gives your garden a fun edge
- Growing chamomile around plants acts as a natural fungicide and helps prevent pests
- Fruit and vegetables with a thin skin need to be protected from bugs, birds or other pests, whereas thicker skinned foods can protect themselves naturally
- Compost: Use your garden as your rubbish bin and use organic waste as fertiliser
- Pots are great for those who don’t have the space for a garden. Herbs, tomatoes and chillies will do just fine on a windowsill or balcony.
What Is Easy to Grow?
Growing your own produce will not only help improve your health and cut food costs but allows you to reduce your waste by only picking what you need. Should there be waste, practice the cradle to grave approach; from creation to disposal. I.e. grow what you can, pick what you need and use the leftovers or waste as a rich, organic fertiliser to nourish your growing fruits and vegetables.
Being able to grow your own food is an empowering choice which allows you to see how and where your source of nutrition and energy comes from. Research has shown that organic food helps to extend the life of animals which could extend to humans too.
It can start as small as a chilli plant and grow to developing a self-sustainable garden full of nutritious food feeding you daily.
Michèle Wolff is a leading health practitioner and a qualified naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and nurse, owner of Ultimate Detox Solutions www.detoxspecialist.com.au. Her new book ‘Digestive Solutions – 101 Proven Methods to Solve Your Tummy Problems Naturally’ is available from bookstores and good online booksellers. Visit www.digestivesolutions.com.au RRP $39.95