Growing and preparing your own food

Young Boy Holding Homegrown Carrots

A serious vegetable garden was once part of every home. Usually mum did the cooking in our house, and it was a cooked meal every night with a Sunday roast the crowning meal of the week. Food allergies were virtually unknown and childhood obesity very rarely seen.

Fast forward to today and we have epidemics of Western diet disasters with galloping rates of type 2 diabetes, dementia, cancers and heart disease among others. Much of our food is highly processed with lashings of sugar, salt, preservatives, colourants, fillers and much more.  The nutrient density of our food is declining, livestock in many cases are grown in close proximity industrial farms where antibiotics are used to prevent catastrophic losses.

No wonder consumers are now demanding "adjectives" with their food.  "Organically grown", "grass fed", "free range", "dairy free", "nothing added", "responsibly sourced", "no colours preservatives or artificial flavours", "happy", "Omega-3 rich", "new season" and "Mt Barker".

The home garden and kitchen can begin to reverse some of the health and nutrition issues with which we are faced.  Growing vegetables, herbs and fruit at home means that as gardeners we are in control of the crop. We are immediately in the seasonal system because it makes no sense to grow tomatoes in winter or sweet fennel and broad beans through summer. You cannot get fresher than going from garden to kitchen, minimising the loss of vitamins and minerals that occurs with long transport times. I have no doubt you will discover long forgotten fresh flavours.

This is a wonderful way to introduce children to where their food comes from - the soil. I have found when a child helps grow a crop it's a lot easier to get them to eat it.  Insect pests are one of the real bugbears and deterrents of home vegetable growing. Exclusion netting can be very helpful in enabling pest free food to be grown.  This is a real trend emerging in commercial as well as the home garden.

Another issue with suburban living is a lack of suitable growing space.Vertical gardens, raised garden beds and aquaponics can help to make our gardens more productive. Even a hanging herb garden can contribute to fresh flavours in our food.  I am a keen advocate of sprouted vegetables such as alfalfa and mung beans, ready to harvest in just a few days these super foods can be grown on the kitchen sink. I even sprout fresh vegetables on 4WD journeys in the pull out draws in the back of the ute.

The kitchen is the hub of household health.  When food is home cooked there is control over additives, freshness of ingredients, as well as the types and quantities of food the family eats.  I think cooks deserve the equivalent of a medal for preparing food for their family - this has such a profound effect on the health of every individual.

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