Organic Food Organic Gardening

Recognizing the Importance of the Food you Eat

About a decade ago I had several occasions to study a bit into colonial Virginia history.  It was not something I would’ve taken on just for the fun of it — but because it was related to earning a living  the task was accomplished.

(At that time – my artist-husband had been commissioned by various counties to create special prints for their Commemorative years. The more knowledgeable we could become about colonial times — the better Bill’s completed “creation” would be.)

What I found interesting (but rather sad) was the tendency of human beings — no matter what the time period in history — to disregard the importance of growing food to sustain themselves.

Food or Tobacco (a cash crop)

When the colonists first arrived the Indians were friendly.  They gave food to the colonists to keep them from starving and also showed them how to raise their own  — and how to preserve some of it so they wouldn’t starve in the winter.

When tobacco became prized by the British, colonists started growing tobacco to fill the demand.  They discontinued the growing of other crops  — including food need to sustain them.  They figured they could buy any food they needed with the money they made from the tobacco.  (Sounds very current to me.)

Many times, things didn’t work out like that.  When they were without food in the winter, colonists begged (or demanded) food from the Indians until the Indians had nothing left to give without starving themselves.

(The rest of the story doesn’t paint a pretty picture  of the colonists.  But rather human nature at its worst.)

If you’re interested in reading more you might want to start with a book called The Stronghold by Miriam Haynie.  Mrs. Haynie spent 10 years researching and it’s much more interesting to read than most so-called history books.

Also interesting is the fact that in various “modern” accounts of colonial times, “excuses”  are made for the colonists for not producing food.

One account claims that they weren’t able to produce other crops necessary for survival due to the rough climate.  That’s just uninformed writing.  My guess is that the writer could have reasoned: “surely the colonists would have grown food if they could so it must have been due to climate.”

The Indians had food and taught the white man how to get and grow food. The colonists just chose the cash crop tobacco instead of food.

Virginia weather hasn’t changed all that much since then. There are plenty of people growing all kinds of crops in Virginia including me. And I’m in the one of the very areas where tobacco was grown just about everywhere.

Moving into the 21st Century

Growing your own food is considered by many in this day and age to be old-fashioned, not necessary, or something retired people do.

I know lots of people who put in a few tomato plants  or even grow a big garden. But I know very few who really depend on that food and/or utilize it to the full.

The underlying thought in society today seems to be: “It’s not necessary to grow food — we can just earn money and buy it as we go.”  It’s accepted as “the modern way”. (Sounds just like colonial days.)

Processed Foods/Vegetables and Fruits Out of Season

Our society as a whole considers food preparation too time-consuming and too much work. Most people have been raised with processed, quick to prepare foods. The real purpose of food — which is to nourish us — seems to have been dismissed.

Even when folks shop for “fresh” vegetables in the super market, not too much thought is given to what it takes to get them on the shelves when those vegetables and fruits are out of season.  Rest assured nature’s rules have to be broken.  Most likely these “fresh” fruits and vegetables have pesticides, waxes, preservatives, other chemicals, and have been irradiated to make them look nice.

Taste? There is very little if any.  Since they’ve been picked way ahead of time they don’t have time to develop their full flavor. And they lack  nutrients as well.

Big Agribusiness Take Over

This attitude of not being concerned about our food and the willingness to leave it in a “stranger’s hands”  is how big agribusiness has been able to take over and do just about anything they want without repercussion.  The bottom line is profit in their pocket — not nutrition or good food or our well-being.

In the interest of supplying the demand for cheap food, vegetables and fruits out of season, and instant meals just about every law nature has put in place has been broken.  To break those rules — comes with a price.  A few of those prices are:

  • Most of our soils in this country are depleted of nutrients and/or poisoned with insecticides and herbicides.
  • Crops are plagued with insects because they no longer have all minerals and nutrients to withstand the attacks.
  • Very little common sense and good animal husbandry exists where animals are raised conventionally for market.
  • Poor health in this country seems rampant.

Eating Food that has been grown in the Proper Season and not Shipped across the World

If you can’t grow your own, locate farmer’s markets in your area and get to know the people who sell and grow the food.  Get to know various farmers.  Ask questions. Learn what’s coming in season.

Use the internet to locate what’s available in your area.  Google things like:

  • what’s in season in Virginia (put in your state),
  • eat local,
  • pick your own,
  • seasonal food guide,
  • farmer’s markets (in your area)

Take advantage of the low prices during a bountiful harvest in your area.  Look into canning, freezing, and/or drying food that is in season so you can get the benefit of food at it’s best all year.  If you don’t know how to do any of that —- learn. It’s a basic thing if you don’t want to be at the mercy of what the big box store carries.

Learn to cook simply, but deliciously.  Food in season has much better taste and need not be fancy to be great tasting.

Even meat has a “best” season. If you’re a beef eater and can afford to buy in bulk — the best season for good beef is coming up. Beef fattened on the sweetened grasses of autumn is considered prime.

Little Bit by Little Bit is How you Prepare for the Winter

If all this is new to you, you need not go into overwhelm.  A little here and a little there will get the job done.

I use thousands of tomatoes each year for tomato sauce.  Sounds like a lot until I break it down to roasting every other day — 24 to 48 tomatoes — approximately 30 minutes to an hour preparing them for the oven—- during tomato season.  As a result — I’ll not have to buy even one jar of organic tomato sauce.  I’ll have my own and it’s much more delicious.

Only a few minutes each day towards freezing my in season bounty and my freezer is almost full.

  • Frozen – Gallons of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, figs, peas, and tomato sauce.
  • Smaller amounts of raspberry essence, lima beans, green beans, some cucumbers for smoothies, and soup also frozen.
  • Have fresh onions to last through December.
  • Potatoes still stored in the ground should last through November or December.
  • Some dried beans.
  • Still have a couple of dozen bulbs of garlic.
  • When I’m finished freezing roasted tomato sauce I’ll probably have fresh tomatoes through December.  Red peppers are bountiful this year and I hope to be able to freeze some.
  • Still need to freeze some basil.
  • Fresh parsley will go through the winter if I protect and ration.  (I use lots.)
  • Rosemary is fresh from the garden all winter
  • Should have Russian Kale, various chards, lettuce and spinach all winter if all goes well.

Final Thoughts

One of the best things you can do for the health of you and your family is to eat organically and eat food that is obtained in the proper season and relatively close to you.

Laying up your in-season bounty ensures that you’ll continue that good healthful eating through the winter.


Related Posts:

Your Focus Will Determine Your Outcome and Lifestyle

Never Underestimate the Power of a Little

Tomatoes – Roasted for the Easiest Most Delicious Tomato Sauce

Peppers – Eating Fresh from the Garden Through December

How to Keep Tomatoes Through December for Eating Fresh

More About Storing Tomatoes

Organic gardening is easy, effective, effecient — and it’s a lot healthier.


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  • What an article. You really hit the nail on the head. This needs to be shouted from the tree tops.
    I will look into that book. We have our book club today.
    My onions certainly did not do as we’ll this year. I planted all yellow (because they kept better last year) but their size was a disappointment, some went bad early after pulling.
    My soil was beautiful, amended the same as last year, well composted horse manure, my own compost and some mushroom mulch. Otherwise what a growing year!
    I am having a terrible time getting my lettuce and spinach seed to germinate. Tomorrow I will try for the third time. Wish me luck.

  • So glad to hear from you Beppy!
    Your comment on the article means a lot. I so want people to know what we are all dealing with — but without “preaching” so to speak.

    As you already know — my onions from Dixondale were also a disappointment. Of course, I plant enough that I’ll still have onions through December. But overall I was very disappointment. The sweet white onions (two rows — which amounts to about 500 onions —- didn’t even grow!) Ringmaster — the onion Dixondale substituted for one of the Monsanto owned ones — was awful. I had a lot of “pearl sized onions” and a lot of way-to-big-for-me onions. I adjusting to get away from Dixondale (after almost 30 years of buying from them). Probably will order some this year —while I perfect the time to get mine started from seed and have them do well

    Your soil sounds gorgeous! Wish I had some of that great horse manure you have access to!

    If you’re planting your lettuce and spinach in the ground that might be the problem. Sometimes ground critters will eat it before you ever see it.
    I seeded 12 varieties into flats. All did great. Put them in the ground. Every seedling I transplanted at the lower end was eaten! I’ve replanted.

    Have fun at the book club today. Let me know if you read the book. Bill and I knew Mrs Haynie well and she loved Bill’s work. She commissioned him to do her family colonial home place when we first came to this area 35 years ago.

    Thanks for taking time to comment Beppy. Give my best to Mr. K. 🙂

  • Thank you for a very important article. I have recently returned to growing most of my fruits and vegetables and am purchasing my raw milk and eggs locally. I can absolutely feel the difference in my health. When I have to be away from home more then a day I feel less energy and very much miss my home grown healthy food. I do have enough tomato sauce, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and meats to last until this time next year. What a good feeling.

    I do have a question about storing potatoes- especially seed potatoes. I lost all of my seed potatoes last year. They looked like they dried out. Do you think if I get a container of sand to put them in and leave them on the back deck they would survive?

    Thank you for all of the wonderful information you share with us. I look forward to what you say next.

  • Toni, I really enjoyed your comment. Thank you for taking the time to write it.
    I know exactly what you mean about feeling less energetic when away from home. We use to be away every few months on business and I always hated it because there’s never anything decent to eat unless you take your own. I did take most of our food with us. If we missed eating ours and gave into (what we thought at the time was treating ourselves) eating at a very nice restaurant — we’d feel bad. The only times I remember getting sick (over the past 35 years) is when we had to be away from home.

    And yes, seed potatoes are especially hard to keep all that time.
    If they just dried out — I would have been tempted to plant them anyway.
    I like your idea about getting a container of sand for them and leaving them on your deck. Of course — I don’t know where you live and you want to make sure that they have enough protection of sand around them that they don’t freeze.
    Another thing worth a try if you already know where you will plant your potatoes next year: Plant your seed potatoes now. You’ll have to mulch them well to keep them from freezing. And if you have voles you may loose some — but in all probability you won’t loose them all. Worth a try.

    Nice to have you reading Toni. Thanks again for commenting.

  • Hi Theresa,
    I recently purchased a 6’x8′ greenhouse in which I successfully grew all my seedlings (for my summer garden). And, while hanging out at the local Farmer’s Market, a friend asked me if I was making any raisins out of my bumper crop of Flame grapes. Answering in the negative, he then proceeded to tell me how he did it in HIS greenhouse. Wow! A lightbulb went off! To make a long story short I decided to try my luck, so I closed the GH completely, put the grapes on a fine screen, & wallah, 3-days later had the most exquisitely tasting raisins imaginable! BUT, it’s very time consuming separating grape from stem, SO, if anyone out there has a simple process, I would be forever grateful to hear about it. Anxiously awaiting a response.
    Dick Messenger

  • Hi Theresa,
    I have been meaning to come back to this fantastic post for the past two weeks to comment. Now, of course – it means even more to me – because of the Miriam Haynie connection!!!
    Something told me when I saw her name, that I’d read it somewhere else recently – and so here it is.

    I agree with Beppy, this does need to be shouted from the tree tops. We are so willing to put our very lives in the hands of others, just to make a buck or two. So sad.

    The flip side of it is, that the more you get into being self sufficient, the more fun it is to see what else you can do. One success breeds another until before you know it, you are making and doing things that you never thought possible – it gets to be so much fun, and becomes sort of a way of life.
    Now my kids look at stuff in the stores, and the first question they ask is, “Could we make this at home, Mom?” My answer usually is, “We can, and we can probably do it even better!”

  • Thanks for taking the time to come back and comment Sandra.
    Love the story about the kids looking at stuff in the store and asking you if they (all of you) could make it at home!
    What a great step in the right direction Sandra. That line of thought will benefit them through out life!

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