By Liz Brazier of Whole Health Gardening
In her book The Rock Star Remedy, Dr. Francis talks about how to select the best Nutrient-Dense foods for optimum health. We loved seeing her mention that term, as at Whole Health Gardening we’re all about teaching home gardeners to grow Nutrient-Dense fruits and vegetables in their own backyards.
But in our world, the idea behind Nutrient Density covers way more than those vibrant veggies that grace top ten super-foods lists; it’s our intended outcome no matter which plant we’re harvesting. We want every veggie to be at its nutritional best, Iceberg lettuce and White potatoes included!
But first, we need to be able to recognize what separates good produce from great produce. How will we know that our fruits and veggies are packing the nutritional punch that we’re after? On the one hand, we’ve all been blessed with the best toolkit ever – our tastebuds. On the other hand, however, is the sad reality that we humans are generally a bit out-of-touch with making dietary choices based solely upon our senses. It’s a muscle that most of us are just not used to flexing!
Luckily, living in modern times has its advantages.
Imagine for a moment that you have a specialized tool that can tell you the mineral content of any vegetable. Using this tool, you can assign a numeric value to any vegetable reflecting its nutritional worth; the higher the number, the more vitamins and minerals per calorie you have in your delicious specimen. (We know of such tool but first you need to plant!)
Okay, so you want to eat better quality vegetables. Perhaps even ready to start growing your own nutrient dense vegetables? Where would you look? Below are a number of the options that most of us would come up with (and we sincerely hope home garden was on your list.)
Here’s what most of us have access to within 25 miles of home:
- organic section at the supermarket
- organic section at Whole Foods (Fresh Market, Trader Joe’s, or your Local Food Co-op)
- farmer’s market, organic farm stand, weekly CSA share
- garden, root cellar or freezer (no surprise – our favorite option!)
At first glance, it may appear that we’ve arranged those choices in a worse-to-better type of order. The worst choice we’re presenting is the regular old supermarket array of vegetables, which would of course be inferior to what’s available in the organic section at the same supermarket. From there we get into some locally grown options, which are either stored and trucked, or picked up on site. Saving best for last, we work our way up to the Homegrown-is-King finale of sourcing the healthiest vegetable in a backyard or soil bag garden. The truth is that we’re actually quite unsure what the outcome of such an experiment might be – but we bet you that it would hold some surprises.
The point here is that as shoppers, we’re influencing the marketplace to provide us with vegetables that are grown, picked, trucked and stored a certain way, but we rarely comment on the overall nutritional quality. We may think that we are, with basic assumptions like ‘organic is healthier.’ Um, says who? And why do they say that? Healthier because those vegetables are not exposed to poisons is certainly a plus, but what if each and every option is as healthy as a piece of cardboard? Are we fighting for access to non-poisonous pieces of cardboard for our salads and green juices?
The good news is that we CAN grow our vegetables with intention. We can say: “My health is important enough to me that I will eat vegetables grown with added attention to their nutrient content.” If we choose to do that (and we have) we will certainly notice our options shrinking. The easiest way to produce a nutrient-dense vegetable is to grow it yourself, as you have the power to lovingly mineralize your soil. Most home gardeners grow their vegetables in small enough spaces that mineralizing and balancing their soil are a financially affordable process.
As soon as you ask someone else to grow your food for you, be they a huge mega-farm that supplies major chain supermarkets or a small, local farm in your town, you have now asked them to factor your nutritional needs into their overall profit plan. No matter how passionate and kind your farmers are, they must put earning an income above all else, if they want to grow your food at all. Mineralizing and balancing farm acreage is a slower and more demanding process due to the expansive size of the parcels to be amended.
To help and inspire you with growing nutrient dense food, you can access our absolutely free video series HERE and learn the secrets behind growing food that truly is potent medicine. 100 % organic!
Liz & Jenny
Jennifer (Jenny) Prince is a passionate home master gardener, living in Vermont’s Lake Champlain Islands. Her unique focus is on growing medicinal-quality foods; foods with extra nutrients per calorie, which are becoming increasingly popular with home gardeners who choose to use food as medicine. You can find Jenny everyday on Instagram as @jenny_grows !
Liz Brazier is a lover of leafy greens and keeping things simple who lives between the Jersey Shore, NJ and her birthplace of New Zealand. She is a Certified Health Coach and avid soil bag gardener. Liz is on a mission for more people to grow their own leafy greens, the easy way, by using a simple soil bag and putting better quality food in their bodies.
You can learn all about organic gardening techniques from her and her master gardener business partner Jenny Prince at: www.wholehealthgardening.com
Whole Health Gardening (WHG) was founded by Jenny and Liz in 2014. it’s mission is to inspire, educate and teach people how to grow their own high quality vegetables. WHG believe every human has the right to eat the highest quality of food and location, money and education should not be factor.