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Real Organic Produce

Louise Hendon | September 30
organic tomatoes

With the recent surge of criticism for organic produce, we’re all a bit confused when we walk into the supermarket.  Should we be spending all that extra money to buy organic produce or not.

If you haven’t read about this, the recent controversy started when a Stanford Organic Food study suggested that there was little benefit to paying the high prices for organic produce.  The study found that there were little to no nutrient benefits to eating organic foods and that  the reduction in pesticides in our systems was not necessarily significant.

Of course, as with any contentious topic, the study produced huge amounts of pushback, with various influential people commenting on the results and its interpretations (see this Huffington Post article).

There are clearly arguments both ways, and since I am not an expert in mass agriculture, this article is not trying to weigh in on that on-going debate.  Instead, I would like to offer you a glimpse into my mother’s solution to the whole organics problem – Grow Your Own Organic Produce!

The top photo shows her delicious eggplants basking in the California sun.

By growing your own, you not only save money but can also truly control the usage of any type of fertilizers and pesticides, because the organic label certifies only that no synthetic products were used.  Here’s some green peppers.

green peppers

The plants were grown initially in organic fertilized soil, but since that original planting, they haven’t been sprayed with any pesticides, and no other fertilizers have been added. All the plants get is a good healthy dose of water and sun.  Here are some of the yellow pear tomatoes.

yellow pear tomatoes on vines


All of the above foods are from my mother’s garden, and it’s her first year of growing most of these plants.  But already, some of the plants have produced so much that she can’t keep up with eating them!  The Italian squash started going rotten earlier this year because she couldn’t keep up with picking and eating them!  And now, the green beans are starting to get to that point.


Growing your own produce also makes cooking incredibly convenient as you don’t have to keep popping to the store to buy yet another ingredient you forgot about earlier.  She keeps several herbs growing as well as some stock vegetables like spinach.spinach leaves


But what’s also exciting is the ability to grow whatever fruits and vegetables you want!  We love spices in my family, and so some red chilies were a must!

red chilies

And I must not forget about the pomegranate tree…pomegranet

Or the giant squash that’s still growing ready for the fall.squash

Or this cute bottle gourd she’s cultivating…bottle gourd

If you have a garden and live in a location that gets plenty of sun for parts of the year, then it’s easy just to set apart part of your garden to grow herbs and vegetables.  You can buy the soil and seeds at most garden stores, and some will even sell you mini-plants for you to replant into your garden so you don’t have to wait for the seeds to grow.  Of course, it’s not that easy of a process when you first start out; some of the plants won’t grow correctly, and others will get eaten by birds (in fact, that was the reason she got zero grapes this year!), but it’s a fun learning process that will pay even more dividends in future years.

I was heartened by my mother’s efforts and am now growing some basil and rosemary in a pot on my tiny balcony in NYC.  They’re both flourishing well – all I do is water it every night (and sometimes I’m not even able to manage that!).

basil plant

Catherine Kerr - October 1

Was looking for a recipe on how to toast pumpkin seeds. Was given a few home grown pumpkins by my daughter and my oldest daughter’s son loves pumpkin seeds but doesn’t remember how his teacher made them a couple of years ago. He is 11 now in grade 6 so he wouldve been in grade 3 or 4 when they made them at school.

    Louise Hendon - October 2

    I toasted the left over squash seeds after making squash soup last year, and I just threw them onto a baking tray and baked them in the oven. Turned out quite delicious. I’m sure a bit of coconut oil on them would make them taste even better.

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