Grounded Nutrition – Erica Hansen MS, RD, CD

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How many plants did you eat yesterday? Consider fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. These plant foods are the food groups most Americans do not get enough of. Less than 25% of American adults eat the recommended minimum of two cups of vegetables per day.

Sometimes food gets complicated with allergies, intolerance and disease, but more often than not we make nutrition more convoluted than it needs to be. The evidence supporting eating a diet rich in plant foods is overwhelming. We could all benefit from grounded, plant-based nutrition.

Getting Access to Great Plants

As the weather warms up, our options for great produce multiply. Aside from gleaning in-season produce at the supermarket, you may consider a few other options:

  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): This is a system that connects families with farmers. You pitch-in financially to help a farmer produce. You get to know your farmer and his practices and receive part of the crop. Learn more at csautah.org.
  • Buying co-ops: Grocery co-ops allow you to combine buying power with others in your area for lower grocery costs. One good produce co-op available across the nation is called Bountiful Baskets. You sign-up on the weeks you’re interested, pay an agreed upon amount ($15) and receive two big boxes of fruits and vegetables. At times you can add on whole grain products and specialty vegetables like an Asian pack. Learn more at bountifulbaskets.org.
  • Community gardens: These can vary in formality. Church organizations, hospitals, non-profits, neighbors, and families can organize themselves and share a plot of land to garden. Clear guidelines should be established before beginning so no one is left with others’ work or expenses.
  • Farmers’ markets and farm stands: Utah County boasts several farmers’ markets that give you the opportunity to shop local, fresh produce. Find them beginning in June at the Happy Valley Farmers’ Market in American Fork, the BYU Market at LaVell Edwards Stadium, the Provo Farmers’ Market, and Thanksgiving Point in Lehi.
  • Plant your own garden: If you have the time and means, planting your own garden can be rewarding, both physically and psychologically.

Gardening Benefits

Off-the-vine produce gives you maximum nutrition and flavor because you pick food when it is ripe and eat it fresh.

Gardening is a great alternative to getting a pet to teach your kids responsibility. They take ownership of their plot and plants, eat better because they are invested, and you don’t have to wake up in the night to tend to the whimpering garden like you would a puppy. It’s a win-win!

Garden produce not only provides lots of health-promoting vitamins, minerals, fiber, water, and phytochemicals, but also some much needed vitamin D (sunshine) and outdoor therapy. At our latitude we do not get many months of good vitamin D gleaning, so take advantage of good weather to stock up!

Gardening can yield cost savings in…(read the rest of the story)

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

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