This morning, I really tasted the benefits of the work that my gardening partner, Leslie Haas and I have put into growing our own vegetables. I picked these tomatoes and sprigs of purple basil from our community garden:
There's just no comparison to eating tomatoes fresh off the vine like I did this morning. The taste is indescribable and much better than anything bought in the grocery store (or even at the farmer's market). It's the same with the purple basil. That basil was so fresh that I don't think I can ever go back to buying basil in the grocery store. Of course I will. It's unlikely that I can grow basil like that year round where I am. So, I will need to rely on the market.
But growing our own food adds a whole new dimension to eating whole foods and plant-based foods. It wakes up our taste buds, and it tells us that there's something better than the bland food that we get so much from commercial establishments. In other words, when it's garden-fresh, it excites our senses. It makes us feel more at one with nature. By growing and eating our own food, even if it is only a small part of our diet, we come to understand and identify with our natural place within the world.
Of course, there are other reasons to garden as well. When I garden, I know the soil that the food is growing out of. And I know that I haven't sprayed the food with any chemicals. And I didn't grow the food from any GMO seeds. All these things I know. So, I can feel comfortable with eating the food from my garden. I know that it's so clean that I don't even need to wash it. But I do anyway, perhaps out of habit more than anything.
I also like to garden because it gets me out in the sun. Vitamin D deficiency is a serious problem, and the only really viable way to get that all-necessary Vitamin D is to get myself out in the sun and absorb some of those rays. Plus, it just makes me feel good to get those rays on my body as I work in the garden.
If you've never tried gardening, I recommend you try it. I had never really gardened before this year either. My daughter likes to garden, but I never really appreciated why she would want to do that. It always seemed easier to go to the supermarket and pick out the vegetables that I wanted. But now that I've begun to garden, I get it. And I really understood it this morning.
Speaking of tomatoes and basil, you might want to try out this recipe for a Summer Tomato and Basil Salad:
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
20 leaves basil
Mix all ingredients together well and drizzle with balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
It doesn't get much simpler than that.