The idea of finding affordable, locally and sustainably grown organic produce today seems like a pipe dream to many. Depending upon where you live, your choices may indeed be limited.
And even when you do find produce that you believe fits the bill, how do you know, beyond organic certification, that the food is as healthy as its growers claim?
With so many factors at play – soil and seed quality, genetically modified crops, and the potential for cross-contamination – it’s hard to know for sure.
In my opinion, buying locally grown organic food directly from the farmer is superior to buying food from a supermarket for a number of reasons:
- You’re supporting local farmers and their families who are trying to do the right thing
- Locally grown vegetables taste better because they are fresher than produce sold in stores
- Local produce is better for you because of its freshness
- You’re supporting genetic diversity as local farmers can focus on good-tasting heirloom varieties that contain valuable genetic material
- You’re supporting an industry that values and preserves fertile soil and clean water, benefitting wildlife and the environment
That said, there’s one caveat: when purchasing “locally” grown food, you don’t know for sure how or where that food was produced.
Local food isn’t necessarily “sustainable food,” or food that’s been produced using sound ecological practices. “Local” only means the food was produced fairly close to where it’s sold.
Since the term “local” isn’t regulated, it doesn’t tell you anything about freshness, nutritional value, or how or where it was produced.
How can you find out? Talk to your farmer. Get to know him or her to learn more about his or her values and farming practices.
The Basic Truth About Vegetables That Many People Don’t Know
Here’s what few people realize: your food is only as healthy as the soil in which it is grown.
Soil must be healthy enough to support plant roots and to store water and nutrients needed for growth. It must contain minerals, water, air, and living and dead organic matter.
If food isn’t grown organically and sustainably, soil can become damaged and nutrient depleted.
Monocropping, or the practice of growing a limited variety of crops, and the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides deplete nutrients from soil, making it unsuitable for growing healthy plants.
By using good sustainable farming practices like rotating crops and fertilizing with compost and manure, and replenishing nutrients, the soil can support the growth of healthy, nutritious plants
What can you do to help preserve healthy soil? Three things:
- Support organic farmers who use sustainable farming practices.
- Compost your leftover food scraps. In a healthy system, we eat the food that grows in the soil and return to the soil what’s left over by composting.
- Consider adding biochar, a type of charcoal, to your soil to help replenish depleted carbon and to help improve your soil’s water retention ability and overall quality.
Taking ‘Locally Grown’ and Sustainable One Step Further
– To Your Yard or Windowsill
What could be more ideal than locally and sustainably grown, organic produce?
Growing your OWN!
Organic gardening is booming. We’re seeing a rebirth, or renaissance, if you will, of an age-old food production system that works.
Gardening isn’t limited to those living in the country or to those with large back yards or greenhouses.
Take a look around your home, patio, or balcony. Even apartment dwellers can create an impressive edible garden in a small space or share in a local community garden.
You can use hanging baskets to grow crops like leafy greens, pea shoots, tomatoes, herbs, and strawberries. Window boxes can house herbs, greens, scallions, radishes, bush beans, chilies, strawberries, and chard.
If you’re reluctant to get started, just start small and add a second container later. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can get large portions of your meals straight from your edible garden.
All it takes is the right tools to get started!
9 Reasons to Grow Your Own Food
I grow organic vegetables and fruits in my backyard. It’s become a passion of mine and I’ve discovered gardening brings me a tremendous amount of satisfaction. And of course I love all the healthy vegetables and fruit I get to harvest regularly and share with others.
Here are nine of the top reasons why I think nearly everyone needs to get started, even if you just begin with one patio pot:
- You’ll know exactly where your food comes from.
- Save money on grocery store vegetables that may lack nutrition and contain pesticides.
- Get tastier food with more nutrients. Studies show organically grown food contains more minerals and nutrients than food grown with synthetic pesticides.
- Control what goes on and in your food and avoid the use of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
- Gardeners report higher levels of happiness and satisfaction with their lives (80% vs. 67% for non-gardeners), possibly because of grounding or their physical connection with the Earth.
- Vegetables don’t get any fresher than straight from your garden.
- Help protect and nourish local bee populations by planting bee-friendly seeds and avoiding the use of lethal pesticides and herbicides.
- If you have kids or grandchildren, you can spend quality time teaching them about healthy foods and at the same time, get exercise and sunshine.
- Ferment extra vegetables to provide superior, nutritious foods during the cold winter months.
‘Safe Seed’ Companies that Pledge to Avoid Seeds
Contaminated with GMOs and Pesticides
You can buy seeds that don’t contain GMOs and dangerous pesticides when you buy from companies who have signed the Safe Seed Pledge.
Created in 1999 under the Council for Responsible Genetics, the Safe Seed Pledge helps to connect non-genetically engineered seed sellers, distributors, and traders to gardeners and consumers.
By signing the Pledge, businesses and individuals declare that they "do not knowingly buy, sell, or trade genetically engineered seeds," thus assuring consumers of their commitment to seed integrity.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds: 19th Century Seeds for Modern Day Agriculture
Jere Gettle planted his first garden at age three, and knew then his life would revolve around seeds. At age 17, he printed his first seed catalogue for Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
Today, Baker Creek offers the largest selection in the world of rare, heirloom varieties of vegetables, flowers, and herbs – and the largest selection of seeds from the 19th century, including many Asian and European varieties.
Jere and his wife Emilee’s company has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, The Oprah Magazine, O, and Martha Stewart, among others.
Baker Creek only sells seeds that are non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated and non-patented.
They work with a network of 150 small farmers, gardeners and seed growers to provide over 1600 varieties of unique seeds from over 75 countries.
And they’ve signed and promote the Safe Seed Pledge to help preserve the integrity of the world’s seed supply.
Currently, they work extensively to supply free seeds to some of the world’s poorest countries and for school gardens and other educational projects in the United States.
Their personal mission is to educate everyone about a better, safer food supply and to fight gene altered food and the companies supporting it.
And now I’m excited to announce that Mercola.com has teamed up with Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds to bring you select collections of their extraordinary seeds.
Grow Your Own Supply of Food with the
Northern or Southern Large Heirloom Packages
An ideal way to experience many of Baker Creek’s finest varieties, you can get started with Baker Creek Northern and Southern Heirloom Packages.
These packages are perfect for medium to large sized gardens. They contain 50 full-sized packets of at least 30 varieties.
And they come packaged in metal, resealable cans for long-lasting storage. Most of the seeds will last 4-10 years, if kept cool and dry.
The Northern Heirloom Package contains 50 full-sized packets of seeds carefully selected to thrive in shorter-season Northern climates.
- Selections are based on availability and this package may include: asparagus, beans, broccoli, beet, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, carrot, corn, cucumber, oriental green, other green, kale, lettuce, European melon, American melon, okra, onion, garden pea, sweet or snap pea, hot pepper, sweet pepper, parsnip, radish, rutabaga, spinach, summer squash, winter squash, Swiss chard, pink tomato, red tomato, green tomato, yellow tomato, purple tomato, watermelon, turnip, herbs, flowers, eggplant, endive, and leek.
The Southern Heirloom Package contains 50 full-size packets of seeds selected to thrive in hot-summer Southern climates.
- Selections are based on availability and may include: beans, beet, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, corn, cowpea, cucumber, eggplant, endive, kohlrabi, lima bean, leek, grain, oriental greens, lettuce, American melon, okra, onion, garden pea, snap pea, hot pepper, sweet pepper, radish, rutabaga, spinach, summer squash, winter squash, chard, sorghum, parsnip, red tomato, pink tomato, purple tomato, tomatillo, green tomato, orange tomato, striped tomato, turnip, watermelon, herbs, and flowers.
FREE Bonus Gift! Know Exactly When to Plant
With the Northern and Southern Large Heirloom Packages, you also receive Clyde's Garden Planner, an easy-to-use guide that tells you when to plant each crop in your area.
A must for both new and seasoned gardeners, this unique chart presents gardening events in a time phased format to see at a glance the entire planting, growing, and harvesting period.
Included in Clyde’s Garden Planner are proper indoor and outdoor planting times relative to spring and fall frost dates for 22 common garden vegetables.
Since frost dates vary from region to region, the chart slides, making it especially useful for those living in the northern Hemisphere where frost is a critical gardening factor.
This handy chart has become a favorite of the Baker Creek staff and customers, and you get it FREE with the Northern and Southern Large Heirloom Packages.
Want to Grow on a Larger-Scale? Go Jumbo!
If you’re interested in securing a larger food supply, or are buying for a large group or school, then the Northern or Southern Jumbo Heirloom Packages is your perfect choice.
Each package contains 250 full-sized packets of more than 30 varieties of vegetables, shipped in a resealable bucket.
Most of the seeds in this package will last 4-10 years, if kept cool and dry.
The Northern Jumbo Heirloom Package contains 250 full-sized packets selected to thrive in shorter-season, Northern climates.
- Selections are based on availability, but will include most of the following types of seeds: corn, beans, peas, cowpeas, carrots, beets, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, melons, watermelons, cucumbers, lettuce, greens, okra, winter squash, summer squash, radishes, turnips, huckleberries, sunflowers, leeks, amaranth, broccoli, ground cherries, and kohlrabi.
The Southern Jumbo Heirloom Package contains 250 full-sized packets selected to thrive in hot-summer Southern climates.
- Selections are based on availability but include most of the following types of seeds: corn, beans, peas, cowpeas, carrots, beets, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, melons, watermelons, cucumbers, lettuce, greens, okra, winter squash, summer squash, radishes, turnips, huckleberries, sunflowers, leeks, amaranth, broccoli, ground cherries, and kohlrabi.
Get TWO FREE Books with the Northern or Southern Jumbo Packages
Know exactly how to plant and harvest your crops and save seeds with this FREE gift from Baker Creek: The Heirloom Life Gardener.
Written by Jere and Emilee Gettle, The Heirloom Life Gardener is a comprehensive guide to heirloom gardening that can help you whether you're just starting out in your backyard or have been gardening for years.
This colorful hardcover book contains 240 pages and sells for $29.95. It’s yours FREE with the purchase of a Jumbo Package!
Now that You Have Harvested Your Garden, What Do You Do with the Bounty? Your FREE Gift!
That’s a question that plagues many home gardeners. How do you turn that plentiful bounty into delicious tasting food that the whole family will love?
Jere and Emilee Gettle have solved that dilemma. With their expertise, they’ve pulled together a collection of more than 125 vegan recipes ranging from Asian to Appalachian.
Including recipes from their own restaurant, this book offers ideas for healthy breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and desserts.
They’ve also included canning and preserving tips, as well as suggestions for food staple items to keep on hand.
Here’s a sampling of some of the recipes you’ll find in The Baker Creek Vegan Cookbook:
- Heirloom Apple Pie
- Blueberry Pancakes
- Heirloom Spaghetti Squash with Heirloom Tomato Spaghetti Sauce
- Cambodian Yellow Cucumber Salad with Crispy Shallots
- Vegetable Tempura with Thai Basil and Melon Sorbet
This paperback book contains 208 pages and is valued at $19.99.
It’s yours FREE with the purchase of a Jumbo Package!
Are YOU Ready to Join the Renaissance Vegetable Solution?
There’s nothing like growing your own produce. When you grow your own vegetables and fruits from safe seeds, you can be sure they:
- Are fresh and wholesome
- Contain no pesticides or herbicides
- Are GMO-free
And equally important, when you buy safe seeds, you’re helping to preserve the integrity of heirloom seeds!
Here’s an added bonus that few people realize:
Growing your own produce automatically guarantees you and your family will eat greater quantities of healthful foods, especially if you involve family members in the exciting processes of planting, tending, harvesting, and preparation of food.
Why not get started today? Join the booming renaissance and start reaping the benefits of homegrown produce. Choose the package that’s perfect for you: Baker Creek’s Northern or Southern Large or Jumbo Packages.
And enjoy your free gifts!
We’re sorry for any inconvenience, but Heirloom Seeds have been discontinued.
However, I’m proud to offer my Organic Sprouting Seeds as an extremely nutritious and delicious alternative. Growing your own live, raw superfoods is one of the best things you can do for your health and has never been easier.
You don’t need expensive, hard-to-find equipment or even an outdoor space to grow my sprouts and shoots. Available in three incredible varieties: Organic Broccoli Sprouts, Organic Pea Shoots, and Organic Sunflower Shoots.
Discover More About Sprouting Seeds