Just imagine...warm soil under your bare toes. You reach down to pluck a sun-warmed tomato off the vine and pop it in your mouth, even as your eye travels to a beautiful green, sweet pepper just begging to be eaten. You oblige and grab a zucchini, a handful of green beans and a few more tomatoes for dinner that night. Now that you are drooling, how many of you can relate to this scene? If you can’t, I invite you to share some of my favorite memories and love for fresh garden fruits and veggies this month.
In the “Garden State” where I grew up, farms were all over and produce stands dotted every road. I developed an appreciation for how hard it is to maintain a garden, but the benefits were so worth it! My grandpop always had a big garden in the backyard, and my dad took it over when he could no longer tend to it. I vividly remember sitting with grandma, snapping the ends off of green beans for what felt like hours! I even managed a fruit and veggie stand over the summer when I was sixteen. My lunches were usually a bell pepper and a tomato. I can tell you at least twenty different ways to eat a tomato and about as many for a zucchini, but usually my favorite way to enjoy veggies fresh from the garden is simple, like in a tomato and mayo sandwich. Sorry world, but nothing beats a Jersey tomato!
My childhood is filled with memories of picking and eating real food, and as a mom I’ve tried to give my children the same wonderful experiences. That can seem strange to folks used to unwrapping everything to eat it. I recall having a friend see me and my boys just go into our garden, pick something, and eat it. She was like, “You’re not going to wash it off first?” Umm..no. My garden, my soil--I know what’s in it!
Naturally, Fruit and Veggie Month is something I can totally get behind, but that may not be the case for you. If not, consider searching out a local farm to visit, or try buying your produce from local farmers instead of from big stores where you’re not always sure where it’s coming from. Finally, pick a fruit or veggie you’ve never tried and give it a go! And don’t just try it one way; pick at least two different ways to eat it. For example, I don’t like raw carrots, but they’re great cooked with a little honey in a cast iron skillet.
“Let them eat cake!” is a saying with a deservedly bad rep! This month, nourish your family’s love for real food. Let them eat fruits and veggies!