As summer winds down, it’s time to savor the fruits of your labors. Literally. Anyone who has gardened at home knows the rewarding sensation of enjoying your own fresh fruit and vegetables. While my current living situation makes that a little difficult for me, my mother’s garden exploded with produce this past summer and she was always happy to share with me. Thanks, Mom!
So why should you consider growing your own fruits and vegetables? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: quality.
More often than not, many of the items purchased in supermarkets aren’t locally sourced. Pesticides and other chemicals may have come into contact with the produce you’re about to take home. If you’re looking at meat and dairy products, there is no way of knowing what hormones or other medications have been fed to the animals. The only way to be certain is to buy organic produce, meats and dairy. Sadly, that’s currently not financially viable for many people, particularly in today’s economy.
Cost effective flavor
Consider how much potatoes cost some years ago. Currently it’s more cost-effective to grow them yourself.
By growing potatoes yourself—organically—you’re reducing your carbon footprint in multiple ways while guaranteeing a healthier product. Chances are it’ll be a more delicious one, too. And if you get a little bin, you can store them for a while to eat during the winter months.
I enjoy really bizarre food combinations. I like figuring out a way to make a meal out of the bits and pieces left in my fridge or whatever I have on hand. Sometimes this leads to terrible, terrible outcomes. Other times, small miracles happen.
Below is a potato-based dish that my friend Jeff originally made. I added and improvised slightly on it. Feel free to make your own interpretations of the dish.
Mix and Match ‘Taters
3-4 large red potatoes
1 large red bell pepper
1-2 fresh red chili peppers (Adjust to suit—I like spicy food.)
1 yellow squash
½ chopped white onion
1 package of sausages (Around 6-8 small sausages, 4 larger ones.) Try to find something local.
2-3 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Chop the onion and garlic. Cut the potatoes, bell pepper and squash into bite sized pieces. Cut the sausages into bite sized pieces. Depending on how the sausage is packaged, you may end up crumbling it in. Cut the chili pepper into small pieces.
In a large frying pan, heat the oil and add the garlic, onion and chili pepper. Put the potatoes in. Let them cook for around 5-10 minutes, then add the squash, bell pepper and sausage. Stir and allow the mixture to cook. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
I swear by this last step, but you don’t have to if it seems too weird: Squeeze the lemon over the whole pan and stir. YUM!
Summer also means fresh fruit to enjoy. While apples and peaches are currently ranked high on fruits that contain the most pesticides, if you grow them yourself, that’s need not be an issue. While you can’t always get away from some ingredients that aren’t 100% local, using them occasionally can be a treat.
3 large apples (Which ever cooking varieties you prefer.)
3 ripe peaches
1 teaspoon of powdered ginger (Alternatively, try fresh, grated ginger.)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
½ cup of brown sugar
1 ½ cup of oats
2-3 tablespoons of melted butter
½ cup of brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the apples and peaches and toss them with the ginger, vanilla and ½ cup of brown sugar. Put the apple-peach mixture into an 9 x 11 baking dish. Melt the butter and mix with the oats and brown sugar. Alternatively, try using some granola in the topping, or as the topping. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy.
–Alex Klein, Transition Voice