“Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes What would life be like without homegrown tomatoes? Only two things that money can’t buy. That’s true love and home grown tomatoes.” ~John Denver
“It is the fool whose own tomatoes are sold to him.” ~Ghana
The loonie and oil are at their lowest and Canada imports 80% of the fruits and vegetables we consume…that goes up to 95% when we add the nuts (in the case of BC at least): there are many complex reasons why this happens: many areas in Canada are unsuitable to grow vegetables, fruits and nuts, at least year-round and we are also used to eat things that don’t belong to the place or to the season: oranges and pineapples, bananas and mango all year round; strawberries, blueberries and kiwis in winter and the same goes for the vegetables…
A big percentage of people don’t consume enough vegetables and fruits because they can’t afford them or were never used to like them (this includes my own children, now teenager and adult respectively)…whatever the reason, Food Secure Canada and the Canadian Diabetes Association are concerned that with the expected increase on these groups of food’s cost (that have already increased between 2-10% in the past four years due to draught), fewer people will have access to vegetables and fruits.
The story, however, doesn’t end there: the majority of vegetables and fruits we currently find in the grocery stores is nutrient deficient: it may look “nice” but if it grew in a nutrient-deficient soil or under artificial pesticides and fertilizers, not only does not contain the nutrients we expect from it, it may even be toxic for us in the long run…
What you can do:
Become a fan of sprouting seeds and microgreens: a small package of 100gr will make between 6-9 full quart jars of sprouts, depending on the variety. You can but sprouting and/or microgreen seeds at Mumm’s if you are in Canada or ask your closest nursery. Make sure the seeds are organic. Mumm’s also has some great videos explaining the sprouting process. If you buy 1kg packages and freeze them they would last forever…you save money and eat healthy! I sprout my seeds every other week so I make sure I always have some around. I use them in salads, sandwiches, soups, spreads, sauces, etc…
Grow your own microgreens at home: as with sprouting, you don’t need a lot of equipment, space, time or skills to do this. Start with easy ones in small trays. Microgreens and no other thing that seedlings that are not allowed to become full plants. They can also be used in many recipes as the sprouts or eat on their own or in juices
Grow your own herbs: most culinary herbs (such as cilantro, oregano, thyme, parsley, green onions, etc) are easy to grow and grow year-round in containers. Some are seasonal (such as basil) but can grow indoors if you are careful. You’ll save money and eat fresh herbs in salads and sandwiches. You can also use them in tisanes, teas, soups and to condiment almost any food! I buy my seeds from West Coast Seeds and Salt Spring Seeds
Grow leafy veggies in containers: they are super-easy to grow: lettuce, kale, pac choi, chards, spinach and the like…all of them are great and can be seeded every other week to ensure continues harvest.
Grow potatoes in bags: I have done this for three years now with mid results, but at least I would get 5-10 potatoes from every half potato I seed, so is not so bad…the method is easy and doesn’t need a big yard or a lot of work
Other vegetables can also be grown in containers or small patches: carrots, tomatoes, and many edible flowers such as calendula and marigolds and they are great companions for tomato plants
If you have some space that can grow vertically, you can also grow beans and peas, zucchini and summer squash…
If you still need to buy vegetables and fruits, try buying the ones that are in season and/or produced locally and organically. (Get Local BC has an excellent chart too as well as FarmFolkCityFolk). You can try local farmers market, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or visit local farms and offer to volunteer in exchange for some produce. Some farms offer pickup tours when you can pick your own veggies and fruits for a small fee
When you but local and in season, veggies and fruits tend to be cheaper, fresher and healthier. If you buy in bulk, you can always preserve the surplus by fermenting (sauerkraut style), making cider, shrubs and vinegar (with fruits), pickling and/or canning. Some vegetables and fruits also keep well for weeks and even months in a root cellar. Try making one in a cool/dark space at home, such as the basement or a closet, shelf or room
Plan your meals so you buy what you need and prevent/reduce food waste