Garden-fresh Vegetables Without the Garden

Summer is the time that vegetables shine! Many people are pulling beautiful zucchini, tomatoes, beans, peppers and greens out of their gardens. Fresh vegetables are in season, and you may find yourself desiring them more than usual. Go with it! Until the recent days of automobiles, airplanes and refrigeration, our bodies were used to getting fresh vegetables only during the short months of the growing season. Thousands of years of eating does leave an impression, and a healthy body will naturally crave more fresh fruits and vegetables in the summertime.

Side note: I have observed that people who are in a focused time of healing don't have this craving for fresh produce, and people who are needing to focus on detox can have fresh vegetable cravings year-round. That's okay, your body knows what it needs! Listen to your body's innate intelligence!

But depending on your situation, you may not have a garden, which makes fresh vegetables a little harder to come by. This is the case for me again this year. So today I thought I would share some ways to get fresh vegetables.

#1 Find a friend who gardens

Now, I am not telling you to mooch off a friend, leaving them to do all the hardwork. But many gardeners find themselves overflowing with vegetables right about now. Some of them may be happy just to see their hard work end up in a grateful stomach, while others would appreciate some help harvesting, preserving, or weeding in exchange for some produce. This is the best way to get vegetables, in my opinion. You will get to spend time in the wonderful sun, get to know your friend better, and maybe even learn a little about gardening. And nothing beats a fresh, hand-picked vegetable served up for dinner!

#2 Join a CSA

CSA stands for community supported agriculture. In a "working share," individuals come together under the leadership of the organizer and spend a set amount of time working around in a garden or farm for a share of the produce. There is usually a monetary investment as well. Most CSAs accept members only around the beginning of the year, so look for one to join for the next growing season. Some CSAs also offer a "non-working share," which allows an individual to pay only, and is a great option for those with jobs or situations that don't allow them the flexibility to work in the garden.

#3 Visit a local farmer's market

This one is an option for most people, but it can be a little tricky. Just because it's at a farmers market does not mean it was grown in a way that is different than the commercial food. That being said, there is going to be some benefit from eating local, naturally-ripened food, so don't rule it out if it's all you can get. The best way to know what you are buying is to talk to the farmers. Ask them how where they are located, and about their farm or garden. See what types of things they use for pesticides (organic food is often grown with organic pesticides), and what other farming/gardening practices they use. While it is not a guarantee, you may be able to find amazing and fresh produce, and at the same time provide support to that small local farm.

#4 Buy local produce at your grocery store

Here is Colorado, at the peak of the season, stores carry many things that are "Colorado Proud," meaning they are grown in Colorado. Not all stores label where their produce comes from, so ask your grocer which items are grown in your area, state, or in the United States. Made in the USA does not automatically make that food better, but knowledge is always power!

So there you go! Four ways to get garden-fresh produce without a garden. How about you? Where do you get your garden-fresh produce?

How to Shop Like Betty: Tips on Nutrient-Dense Shopping

In the last post we discussed the differences in food quality, and explored the intricate way God designed our senses to be able to taste, smell, and see the difference. But, as amazing as all this is, we hit a reality check.

We can't all grow our own garden vegetables, have our seafood overnighted, or raise a cow in the backyard. It can be a struggle to even afford purchasing these things.

And that's okay. Most of us are in the same boat.

While I still encourage people to think differently about food budget—considering it instead as part of your health-care budget, I understand that at some point, cash-flow is a limiting factor. You can only do the best you can, prioritizing the things that seem important to your body and family, and go from there.

I want to share a few tips with you. Ones that can help you put more nutrient-dense food on the table. Today let's talk about how to shop.


Nutrient-Dense Shopping:

  • Shop sales, coupon, or go to wholesale stores (like Costco), and buy in bulk when the food is a good price.

I actually specifically recommend Costco because of their conscientious sourcing, and their larger selection of organic items. This automatically leads to better quality food options. Buying in bulk, and on sale are also great ways to get things like coconut oil and sugar (to feed your SCOBY, of course), as well as non-grocery items like Epsom salt, soaps and shampoos.

  • Find out when your favorite organic-carrying grocery store marks things down for quick-sale.

Stores go through their produce, dairy and meat products on a regular basis in order to catch and mark-down food that is about to expire. Usually this is scheduled, and if you know the time and day you can show up soon after (or during) this mark-down period and get incredible deals! You can also check to see if there is a local discount grocery store, that takes almost out-of-date items and sells them at a large discount.

Produce: The small health food stores that I shop at usually put the older assorted produce in $2 bags. Often times it comes out to roughly a 90% discount! You have to be creative with using it, and be willing to give away food you may not be able to eat (like maybe potatoes, for example), but I often walk out of these stores with $15-30 worth of organic produce that cost me $4-6.

Meat: Similarly, stores mark down meat when it is nearing it's expiration date. Find out what days they go through the organic produce, and shop at that time. Again, I have found even better deals in smaller stores, where they have more to loose by throwing away food. And don't be afraid to buy frozen meat! Very few nutrients are lost when the meat is frozen. If it comes down to buying fresh commercial meat, or frozen natural or organic meat, the latter will definitely give you more nutrition for your buck.

  • Know when to spend your money: when quality really matters, or when it varies tremendously.

There are some foods that are more difficult to find on sale, and ones that I recommend paying more for. Many of these items can be purchased much "cheaper," but the quality ranges from very poor to very good, and you get what you pay for. Dairy products in particular are very manipulated by manufacturers, and should be bought with that in consideration.

Dairy: If you can get raw milk, then do it! Otherwise, I do not recommend consuming pasteurized milk unless it has been cultured, like in yogurt or cheese. Aside from milk, most dairy products tend to keep longer, and may be more difficult to find on sale. Organic is important here, because commercial cows are given many antibiotics and hormones that will come through the milk and affect you. Don't "buy cheap" in these areas, especially butter, as it may be a main source of cholesterol (fat) for you. Cream can be purchased at the store, and although it has been pasteurized (some more than others), it is more stable than milk, and is less affected by pasteurization. Cheese, yogurt and sour cream have all been cultured, and those active cultures are working hard to counteract the damaging effects of pasteurization.

Eggs: Deciding which eggs to buy will depend on your area. If you can't purchase them from a local farm (real free-range are better than store-bought organic), then choose your egg based on the color of the yolk, and the taste. The yolk should be bright yellow or orange, meaning the chickens have been out in the sun and may even be able to eat bugs and fresh greens. Never buy eggs from vegetarian-fed hens. Believe me, hens are not vegetarians! Eggs are another large source of cholesterol, and it's best to buy the best quality of eggs you can find (these are not always the most expensive).

  • Look for bulk ordering companies or clubs.

You don't have to join a CSA to get farm-fresh produce. There are companies like Azure Standard, Miller's Organic Farm, and others that send you meat and produce from a farm (maybe in another state) and deliver it to you. This is a great way to buy things that are more difficult to get, like lard, nuts or dried fruit. This can also be a good way to get non-grocery items.

I hope these tips help you make more nutrient-dense food purchases. What other ways have you found to make nutrient-dense food affordable? Share your knowledge with the community in the comments below. Happy shopping!


Thanksgiving in October

[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] There is something exciting and magical about Fall! I am part of a garden co-op, and we had our harvest feast last night! Everything (essentially) was from our garden and harvest, including the honey and eggs! What a feast we had--and it was great knowing that it was grown and picked (very) locally, and in season. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="off" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" custom_margin="||20px|" /][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" custom_padding="10px|||" custom_padding_last_edited="on|tablet"] We actually had a tough year--a fungus on our sprouts, a late frost (in June), hail, bugs, an early freeze... yet the yield was exciting! I have enough winter squash to last me months; apples, plumbs and herbs to dry; tomatoes cooked and frozen; kale to make into chips; and salad to eat for weeks still!  This is on top of the fresh veggies we have been eating (as fast as possible) for the last 2 months. Colorado does have a short growing season, but with a good gardener (not me, I am just learning) and commitment to cover things during freak freezes, you can grow many wonderful things.   [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row" make_fullwidth="off" use_custom_width="off" width_unit="on" use_custom_gutter="off" custom_padding="0px|||" custom_padding_last_edited="on|desktop" padding_mobile="off" allow_player_pause="off" parallax="off" parallax_method="off" make_equal="off" parallax_1="off" parallax_method_1="off" parallax_2="off" parallax_method_2="off" column_padding_mobile="on"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" custom_margin="40px|||" custom_margin_last_edited="on|desktop" custom_padding="0px|||"] The bees had a hard time as well, but we still ended up with over 3 gallons of honey! And their busy work brought beautiful flowers, fruit, and vegetables! I am so thankful for them, and my friend who is doing bees with me, and is not afraid of them still (even though she got stung 9 times)!   [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="off" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid" custom_margin="0px|||" custom_margin_last_edited="on|phone" /][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] Spinning the comb to remove honey [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] And so we were discussing last night that Thanksgiving should be in October in Colorado, when harvest is in here. Because it is then that we are remembering how much we have to be so thankful for! Even if you don't have a garden, take a moment to think about all the great and beautiful things around you--everything from changing leaves and the start of sweater weather, to holidays coming and routine re-appearing after the whirlwind-of-a-summer is over. So... what are you thankful for? Onward! [/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]