Is Organic Produce Better For Your Health: Recent Study Implies Not That Much

Organic produce has always been thought of as definitively better for your health than conventionally raised crops because of their lack of exposure to chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Now, there’s been a controversy in “River City” ever since a recent Stanford University study came out a few months ago saying, in effect, it ain’t necessarily so. Now, before I go any further, I want to point out that I’m only the messenger here, and in fact I’ve been leery of wandering too far into this minefield until now. I wrote a piece on this subject a few months ago and tested the waters. No hate mail or death threats so far. I’ll go so far as to even reveal my own bias in favor of organics being better for you. That being said, lots more out there have weighed in on this topic, and I’ve taken the effort of sampling some of what they had to say. First up is Howard Yune who writes in the NapaValleyRegister.Com and gets the locals to weigh in on the topic of pesticide avoidance.

Is Organic Produce Better For Your Health: Recent Study Implies Not That Much

Why buy organic food?organic vegetable gardening

A recent survey by Stanford University researchers of 240 studies of organically raised produce, meat and dairy products has raised eyebrows — and some hackles — by its conclusion that foods produced without synthetic pesticides and fertilizer have little or no nutritional edge over conventionally raised food.

But a week after the report’s release, many vendors and customers at the Napa Farmers Market dismissed that conclusion as beside the point.

Amid a cornucopia of melons, peppers, eggplants and other farm goods outside the Oxbow Public Market, many of those doing their grocery shopping Tuesday morning called their confidence in natural and locally based farming unshaken.

“I definitely think there not may be more nutritional value, but you’re not poisoning yourself,” said Whitney Shaw, a San Francisco resident visiting the Napa market who said about 85 percent of her food purchases are of organic products.

The report, led and co-written by Dr. Crystal Smith-Spangler of the Stanford Center for Health Policy and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was not an original study but instead surveyed 240 existing studies on the health benefits of organic foods.

Smith-Spangler reported the studies showed no special benefits in nutrient content for foods raised without man-made fertilizers and pesticides. The study indicated organic produced was 30 percent less likely to contain detectable levels of pesticide residue, but added most conventionally grown fruits and vegetables remained below federal limits for such substances.

But some customers at the Napa market declared the nutritional value of organic produce is the least of its benefits, compared to the avoidance of chemicals — reflecting media criticisms of the report since its release Sept. 4.

“I think we understood that, but the pesticides are the important point,” said Sandra Koo, a recent transplant from Seattle to Napa while perusing the stalls at the farmers market. “An apple’s an apple, true, but how it’s raised is important. I think it tastes better too.”

Original article here at napavalleyregister.com:

Chris Peterson of the Corvallis Gazette-Times weighed in pretty heavily in favor of — wait for it — organic produce. He has his own reasons. Something to do with the dirt and how it’s grown. Why would that matter? Not addressed in the study by Stanford, so probably not important.

You’ve probably heard about the Stanford University study concluding that organically grown food does not appear to be any more nutritious than conventionally grown food.

The study was a four-year meta-analysis of 237 narrower studies, which raised more questions than it answered. It prompted consumers to re-examine their values concerning how their food is grown.

Frankly, after reading the inconclusive preliminaries, I don’t see why it warranted such press. Stanford paid for this study, but who funded the ones this research relied on? Then questions about one researcher’s suspect connections and university funding from nonorganic food and ag companies called it all into question. Big surprise.

As with elections, fact-checking is advised.

This whole dust-up only strengthened my resolve to buy from local farmers. Don’t just “hug your farmer,” as the bumper sticker commands, talk to her. Ask questions. Most who sell directly to consumers are happy to describe their farming practices.

Soil health is the key to nutrients in food. Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides can’t make up for depleted, lifeless soil. You know that just from repotting houseplants. Healthful food comes from healthy soil.

See Chris’ entire article here at gazettetimes.com:

Now, when you can get someone who works for a major university to say something, well, that’s saying something. Mike Jett wrote this piece for the Courier-Journal.Com and pointed out some inherent bias in the study in terms of who paid for it, what questions got asked and what kinds of answers were sought after. This is a crucial point. The average layperson believes research is funded to find the truth. Wrong! It’s funded to get the answer that the funding agent wants to see. Truth be told, and as a former research scientist myself, everyone doing research has a set notion of what’s going to be found out from any study or experiment. You have to. It’s your thesis. Truth gets discovered when you get an answer you didn’t expect. Taking a bunch of previously completed research studies (as was the case for the study here) and amalgamating them together into what’s called a meta-analysis gives a result, but it’s out of context with what the original studies were designed to show. I left the links in the excerpt so you could these out directly for yourself.

There was much to-do last week over the media headline ‘Stanford Study Finds Little Evidence of Health Benefits of Organic Foods.’ This headline sparked discussion nationwide and speculation that the term ‘organic’ is over-hyped and merely a method of charging more money for basically the same foods. (For a link to a summary of the study, click here. Curiously, I could not find a link to the actual study…..)

As usual, the media report was misguided on many levels. First, with so many media outlets these days, organizations are forced to ‘sensationalize’ headlines to grab attention, often distorting or embellishing the facts to make a splash. A very recent example of this is the headline: ‘No Yolk: eating the whole egg as dangerous as smoking?’ This came out a month or so ago and claimed that eating eggs is equally as damaging to the body as smoking. Seriously? Yes, that is what was reported. For a breakdown of this headline/study, visit Dr. Peter Swanz’s website , where he discusses the flaws in the study.

Second, it is very common for large corporations to fund studies. As a university employee I can tell you that research costs money, and funding has to be secured from an external source. Large corporations are very eager to fund studies that support their own agendas. One can imagine that this particular Stanford study may have been funded by a multi-national conventional produce provider. We cannot know for certain, however, because it was claimed that the funding source for this study is ‘unknown.’ Again, as a university employee, I can share that we document EVERYTHING, and every single thing we do has to be approved by multiple people. So, to state that something is unknown is completely absurd.

Read the complete article here at blogs.courier-journal.com:

The controversy over organic produce versus commercial rages on. I certainly suspect that there are powerful money interests in favor of commercial methods because of the enormous profit potential. The organic produce camp is swayed by the knowledge that local and sustainable and pesticide free is the only way that we as a species can survive in the long run. Unfortunately, no monied benefactors are waiting in the wings to fund a counter study to substantiate their position. On the other hand, there are those who take the viewpoint that the way we grow our food is destined to change out of necessity in order to feed and provide nutrition to everyone on this planet. ElizabethMcVay Greene argues in The Huffington Post that the future of our agricultural practices are going to be unconventional in nature. That the best way to produce vegetable and fruit crops that have the highest nutrient content and are most desirable to consume are at present only grown locally.

This organic nonsense has to stop. I’d like to politely request that those who don’t know agriculture cease writing about it as though they do, stoking an already divisive debate that misses the heart of the problem we face: We’re not sure how we should be growing food, and thus we’re not sure how to eat.

Anyone who suggests that a crop can be raised without the provision of nutrients and pest management should not opine on agriculture. Roger Cohen, I’m talking to you.

Saturday’s opinion piece in the New York Times, “The Organic Fable,” shows me just how far off course the discussion of agricultural production has gotten, because it spreads misinformation and focuses squarely on the wrong problem. If we continue to debate organic versus conventional, continue to view food choices as an emblem of class, and continue to use the nine billion future people of the world as a gauntlet that the human race must run, we are in trouble because the question is not first about production. It’s about distribution.

We produce enough to feed 1.3 billion more people than we actually do. And that’s in American proportions. In 2000, the USDA reported that Americans consumed almost 2,000 pounds of food per person per year. Meanwhile, 1.3 billion tons of global food production goes to waste each year. Production by any method, standard or label is not our most pressing problem.

Read the original piece at huffingtonpost.com:

Whether you favor organic produce or conventionally grown, the argument about which is better for you may be increasingly moot in the future with availability for all becoming the new focus for concern. I agree that the highest nutritional value is while it’s still attached to the soil it sprang from. Once harvested, it’s a race to the bottom as far as nutritional content is concerned. An organic apple that traveled 3000 miles and was on the tree 2 weeks ago is never as good as one just picked. True, there are fewer pesticide residues in it versus one from the factory orchard in, say, New Zealand. Is one better nutritionally than another at that point is anyone’s guess. The Stanford study simply measured what it could, but the truly important measurements may not be, in the end, measurable at all. Good nutrition for all without too many harmful extras is best.

What do you think of this? Is it important to you what you eat and where it comes from? Leave a comment below and please share this with those friends and others close to you who care about this subject. Click the share button and spread these ideas to others.

Get The Best Dirt On Vegetable Gardening

There’s a lot of dirt being spread about vegetable gardening these days. No, really. The soil is where it’s at. Plenty of organic material broken down and decomposed from previous tenants of the earth ready to feed your garden for next season. Anything that grows uses nutrients from the soil to build itself into a plant. Only by decomposing and leaving its components behind can something else grow there in its place. Replacing nutrients with things like compost (the ultimate in nutrition for soil I might add) is a natural way of keeping your vegetable garden’s soil well balanced in the building blocks of life that your tender young plants will need to thrive in the spring. UC Master Gardener Nanette Londeree writes in Marinij.com how to amend your soil to get it ready for next year.

Get The Best Dirt On Vegetable Gardening

FALL IS FOR PLANTING. Whether you’re ready to set out cool season vegetables, add a specimen tree or divide your perennials, you can get a jump start on next season’s growing by planting now. It’s also a great time to invigorate beds for spring planting.vegetable gardening

If your garden is blessed with oodles of chocolate-colored, crumbly, vibrant soil just waiting to be used, you needn’t read any further. But if, like many Marin gardeners, you’ve got soil that looks like brick in the summer and glue in the winter, you may want to transform it into plant-friendly soil by amending it — adding materials to improve it.

But what do you add? A visit to your local nursery can put you on overload with the dizzying array of products, so it’s helpful to understand what you want from a material before buying it.

First some terminology: an amendment is any material mixed into the soil that indirectly aids plant growth by improving the condition of the soil, like its structure or texture, water retention or microbial activity.

The terms soil conditioner and amendment are often used interchangeably, both serving to improve the chemical, physical or biological properties of soil. Mulches are organic or inorganic materials placed on the soil surface to help prevent weed growth, conserve moisture and add organic matter to the soil as they break down. A number of materials used as soil amendments can act as a fertilizer by providing nutrients to the soil, or be applied to the soil surface as mulch.

Original article here at marinij.com:

Vegetable gardening teaches us many things, including a very important lesson about the continuity of life. We “get out” what we “put in” to our vegetable gardens. The seed provides the program, the sun and the earth provide the energy, and the nutrients within the soil contribute the building blocks to make a new plant. It’s truly amazing to contemplate the magnitude of such elegant simplicity! Why not try it yourself? Connect yourself to the infinite through your gardening next year.

Please leave a comment and share your experiences with us. You can also like this and share it with those you know and care about.

Shall I not have intelligence with the earth?  Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mold myself.    —  Henry David Thoreau

Plan Now For Next Year’s Vegetable Garden

Just when you’ve  gotten this year’s vegetable garden put away for the year, it’s time to start planning for next year’s garden. When you come to realize that the majority of Americans plan to engage in some form of gardening projects next year, it’s truly amazing. Just think about how many are pulled into the vegetable patch each year. MyWestTexas.com put out a recent article that I thought would provoke those of you who were going to hibernate for the winter and get you starting thinking about what you’ll do for next spring’s planting season.

Plan Now For Next Year’s Vegetable Garden

Planning a spring vegetable garden? According to the National Gardening Association, eight out of 10 Americans will engage in some

vegetable garden

Photo by audaxl c/o Photos.Com.

variety of gardening in 2013 whether it’s in the form of planting an extensive vegetable patch, forcing indoor bulbs or planting some color near the front door of your home. Don’t allow the cool temperatures and shorter days of fall to retire your thoughts from chores that can be done now to make a spring vegetable garden more successful.

Decide today which vegetables you want to have on your table next year and plan accordingly. Site selection is the first step in planning your garden. Chose a flat location that receives plenty of sunlight; most vegetables require six to eight hours. If the garden receives too much intense light you can always provide shade, but a site that is too shady can’t be corrected. High winds can really do a number on your vegetables, so chose a site that provides protection from our West Texas gusts.

The best vegetable garden is the one you plan well ahead of time and get everything ready for in advance. Remember to keep your garden plan in line with your ability to manage it. In fact, you could even plan for a denser garden within the same footprint by adopting some square-foot gardening techniques. Try something new you haven’t done before and just see how it goes. Then share it with us here.
Please leave a comment and let everyone know what you’re up to in the garden plot.
A vegetable garden in the beginning looks so promising and then after all little by little it grows nothing but vegetables, nothing, nothing but vegetables.   — Gertrude Stein

Hong Kong Elevates Organic Vegetable Gardening To New Heights

When it comes to organic vegetable gardening, maintaining higher standards is everything. In Hong Kong they appear to have a distrust for the produce coming from mainland China. With all of the scandals that have been reported concerning what is getting sprayed on ghe produce coming out of China that is for sale in Hong Kong, many locals are going out of their way to avoid this produce and growing their own vegetables by organic methods. Writer Mary Hui presented a piece in the New York Times, reprinted here in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s online edition, describing the lengths to which Hong Kong residents have been going to in order to ensure their food’s wholesomeness.

Hong Kong Elevates Organic Vegetable Gardening To New Heights

HONG KONG — Kimbo Chan knows all about the food scandals in China: the formaldehyde that is sometimes sprayed on Chinese cabbages, the melamine in the milk and the imitation soy sauce made from hair clippings. That is why he is growing vegetables on a rooftop high above the crowded streets of Hong Kong.

“Some mainland Chinese farms even buy industrial chemicals to use on their crops,” Mr. Chan said. “Chemicals not meant for agricultural uses at all.”

As millions of Hong Kong consumers grow increasingly worried about the purity and safety of the fruits, vegetables, meats and processed foods coming in from mainland China, more of them are striking out on their own by tending tiny plots on rooftops, on balconies and in far-flung, untouched corners of highly urbanized Hong Kong.

“Consumers are asking, will the food poison them?” said Jonathan Wong, a professor of biology and the director of the Hong Kong Organic Resource Center. “They worry about the quality of the food. There is a lack of confidence in the food supply in China.”

Organic food stores are opening across the city, and there is growing demand in the markets for organic produce despite its higher prices. There are about 100 certified organic farms in Hong Kong. Seven years ago, there were none.organic vegetable gardening

There is no official count of rooftop farms in Hong Kong, but they are clearly part of an international trend. New York has many commercialized rooftop farms established by companies like Gotham Greens, Bright Farms and Brooklyn Grange. In Berlin, an industrial-size rooftop vegetable and fish farm is in the pipeline. In Tokyo, a farm called Pasona O2 takes urban farming a step further: Vegetables are grown not only on roofs, but also in what was an underground bank vault.

With 7.1 million people in one of the most densely populated cities on earth, Hong Kong has little farmland and almost no agricultural sector. The territory imports more than 90 percent of its food. Hong Kong is hooked on vegetables, and 92 percent of its supply comes from mainland China.

On a recent morning at one of Hong Kong’s bustling and chaotic fresh produce markets, known here as “wet markets,” a woman bought three Chinese squashes for a good price. “Vegetables are expensive nowadays,” she said wearily. “Even if I cared enough about organic food and worried about chemicals, there’s nothing I can really do about it.”

Organic vegetable gardening produces nutritious and chemical free produce. Growing cam be done almost anywhere using square foot gardening techniques and raised bed gardens. When your food supply is questionable, do it yourself and make sure it’s safe to eat.
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A vegetable garden in the beginning looks so promising and then after all little by little it grows nothing but vegetables, nothing, nothing but vegetables.                            — Gertrude Stein

Fall Vegetable Gardening Tips

You might be tempted into thinking that the growing season is over now that it’s almost October, but there are still plenty of fall vegetable gardening activities to get going on. Besides cleanup, there are still plenty of crop varieties that can be planted and will yield a nice harvest later in the fall. These have to be cold tolerant plants that can take a bit of mild frost. Here is a short article by U. C. Master Gardener Jim Borland that appeared in the San Luis Obispo Tribune describing all the frenetic gardening activity going on this fall.

Fall Vegetable Gardening Tips

In your vegetable garden, pumpkins and winter squash should be harvested soon and moved into a cool, airy location where they can

fall vegetable gardening

Fall vegetable gardening brings the season to a close and gets the garden ready for next year. Photo by George Doyle c/o Photos.Com.

last for many months. From now on, regularly check your stored vegetable crops and remove anything showing signs of rot or damage to prevent the spread to healthy material.

You can plant hardy lettuce crops, spinach, onions, broccoli, beets, carrots and other winter vegetables. Don’t forget to aid next summer’s effort by making a note of what has been growing, and where, in your summer vegetable garden.

Fall vegetable gardening can be both fun and productive. Do make sure to mark what was growing where in your garden so you can plant something else there next spring. This will hopefully be a normal part of your crop succession plan so that your soil never gets depleted of nutrients because of over planting of one crop. Get out all the dead stuff and make sure you remove anything with disease or fungus and dispose of it separately. Make sure to harvest and store your produce properly (more on this in an upcoming post). You’ll find out that growing and harvesting vegetables in the fall greatly extends your growing season and maximizes the productivity of your garden.
Please leave a comment and share any gardening experiences with the rest of us here.
The day of fortune is like a harvest day, We must be busy when the corn is ripe.
                                                                 — Torquato Tasso

Basic Vegetable Gardening Tips Every Beginner Should Know

As a now former novice vegetable gardener, I was very interested in getting the very best basic vegetable gardening tips to start my garden out on the right foot. I read a lot of websites and bought several books to help me get everything going. I felt I had mastered a  sufficient amount of beginning vegetable gardening skills with all of my reading. I was now ready to get out and practice in my field. One thing I didn’t consider was to have the soil tested to see what it might be missing. Now, fortunately for me (maybe it was luck), I had a good year and there weren’t any problems. I did add in lots of manure and compost. I never thought to check the acidity, or pH, of the soil. Greg Bowman would probably have advised me against skipping this step. Here he writes for the Calhoun Times and tells it like it is when you start to get down into the dirt.

Basic Vegetable Gardening Tips Every Beginner Should Know

I will be the first to admit it, I do not vegetable garden a lot. Maybe that won’t send shockwaves through the community, but between assisting my clients and then being coach and/or driver to the girl’s ball and 4-H events there has not been time in my

basic vegetable gardening

Follow some basic vegetable gardening tips for the best garden crops this year.

personal schedule.

I did grow up in a family where working in the family garden was a right-of-passage. Still today my grandparent’s vegetable garden is successful with my grandfather and uncle doing most of the management.

Today, I would like to share some tips on successful vegetable garden. The bulk of vegetable gardening for 2012 is complete, but now is a good time to lay the ground work for 2013.

If you do not soil sample, please give it some thought. Regular readers of my articles will know I have said this many times. If you don’t soil test, you are just guessing on what you need to purchase when you visit the store of your choice when purchasing fertilizer and lime.

I am going to venture too that we have folks that may fertilize each year, but have not put a bag of lime on their garden in decades. When you talk soil fertility, you need to give thought to soil pH. Soil pH can really be a big player in you having garden success or failure.

In our area of Georgia, we can tend to be more acidic or have more low soil pH. When the soil pH is low, much of that good fertilizer may never get used by your plants. This time of year is a good time to soil test your garden because you may need to start improving your soil pH now in order to see an improvement for next growing season.

Basic vegetable gardening skills are easy to pick up on but once you get better at it there’s always more to learn to keep improving. Get a new book or go on line and see what you can read about that you didn’t know. Every new item of knowledge will enable you to grow larger and tastier crops every season. Remember, it isn’t what you know so much as what you don’t know that often makes the biggest impact on results.
Please go ahead and leave a comment and share your gardening experiences. Click the like button and share this article with a fellow gardener.
Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables.  They probably get jet-lagged, just like people.   — Elizabeth Berry

Does Vegetable Gardening Save Money?

Many folks start their own vegetable gardening efforts in an attempt to either get healthier or to save money. While it can probably be argued easily that the stuff you grow will most decidedly be fresher, and therefore healthier for you, than what you buy in the store, there are a lot of variables that determine if you’ll also save money doing it. Starting a vegetable garden and getting it established takes time, effort and money.  Here is a very short piece by Jenny Bardsley who wrote about her own experiences on this subject for the Herald Net.

Does Vegetable Gardening Save Money?

Here’s a picture of the harvest from our vegetable garden last Saturday. That’s almost $20 worth of organic vegetables pulled fromvegetable gardening our side-yard. So vegetable gardening must be saving our family a lot of money, right?

Read her entire post here at heraldnet.com:

Growing your own fresh organic produce by vegetable gardening in your backyard is probably going to make you feel better and, depending on how big it is, may even make you healthier because you got it at its freshest and most nutritious. But whether you save money doing it is debatable, certainly in the beginning anyway. Now, having said that, I by no means intend to discourage anyone from starting their own vegetable gardens. To the contrary — go forth and grow something. The exercise you get (just think of all those health club membership dollars you’re saving) and the pride of growing your own food (priceless) are worth quite a lot on their own. Spending money now on establishing and maintaining a family vegetable garden that, say, five years from now will have established itself reliably and has begun to pay back your initial investment is no different than taking vitamins and supplements to help prevent illness in the future. You either spend the money now for good nutritious food or you spend it later on medications and lots of doctor visits. There’s no free lunch any way you look at it.

Please leave your opinions and experiences below in a comment or two. Click on the like button and share with a friend.

Try the mustard, — a man can’t know what turnips are in perfection without mustard.  — Mark Twain

First Hospital-Based Greenhouse To Grow Organic Vegetables Year Round

Wouldn’t it be terrific to be able to grow organic vegetables year round? Having the benefit of all of that nutrient-dense and pesticide-free produce at your fingertips would be a windfall to your continued good health. Well, who better to to implement this idea than a hospital? After all, you have a population of patients who are trying to recover from their illnesses, as well as hospital staff who have to be at their physical best all of the time. Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital located in West Bloomfield, Michigan (coincidentally where I grew up) has become the first hospital in the nation to build and start a hospital-based greenhouse. I mean, such a great idea! Feed people nutritious organic vegetables and fruits so they can recover more quickly and to enhance the dining experience which provides positive psychological benefits that will also improve the overall experience for patients. A recent article by Sylvia Rector written for the Detroit Free Press highlights this concept.

First Hospital-Based Greenhouse To Grow Organic Vegetables Year Round

Perched on a 8-foot ladder, Michelle Lutz reaches into the leafy tops of the pole-bean vines growing toward the glass roof of Henry

grow organic vegetables

Grow organic vegetables year round in a greenhouse.

Ford West Bloomfield Hospital’s new $1-million hydroponic greenhouse.

“The first ones!” the resident farmer declares, holding up several young pods.

Already that morning she had picked red and green lettuces, heirloom cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, edible nasturtiums and bunches of herbs for the hospital’s kitchen, which uses the produce in patients’ meals and its cafe.

Dozens of kinds of vegetables and herbs — five types of kale, 23 kinds of tomatoes, five varieties of basil, eggplants, squash, hot and sweet peppers, fresh herbs, microgreens and even strawberry plants — have been thriving since mid-summer in what Henry Ford officials say is the first hospital-based greenhouse in the nation.

It is surprisingly prolific. Hospital chefs no longer have to buy microgreens or basil, their most-used herb, because the greenhouse produces all they need. “If I manage this properly,” Lutz says, indicating her 12-by-20-foot hydroponic table, “this will produce 15,000 heads of lettuce in a year. For 240 square feet, that’s pretty incredible.”

But growing organic vegetables year-round for the hospital’s kitchens isn’t the only purpose of the gleaming, 1,500-square-foot glass structure and its adjoining educational center, both entirely funded by an anonymous donor.

The buildings, which will be unveiled Saturday, are designed to educate and inspire everyone from patients to the public to make healthier food choices — in keeping with the hospital’s mission of promoting wellness as well as treating illness.

And because of Michigan’s high childhood obesity rates, many of its educational center exhibits and programs are geared toward kids.

“We want to make sure that every single day we have yellow school buses coming here from all over southeast Michigan,” says hospital CEO Gerard van Grinsven. “We want to influence our young ones to start thinking differently about food and what they put in their bodies.”

His vision for the project doesn’t stop at the West Bloomfield campus. “Ultimately, we can take this to downtown Detroit and start producing food for the entire (Henry Ford) system — not have it just here,” van Grinsven says.

“This is not just about a little greenhouse. It’s about planting seeds,” he says.

Read the entire article here at freep.com:

To grow organic vegetables in a greenhouse attached to a major hospital is very leading-edge. Given recent and some would say drastic changes coming soon to a health care system near you, being able to improve nutrition as part of health care delivery is a natural step forward. We should all try to grow something in our own gardens and improve our health over the long run in order to decrease the risk of having to be in the hospital in the first place. Try your own hand at growing something in your backyard. If you happen to be in a position to have access to a greenhouse, it expands your growing season and your options as a gardener.

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Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.   —  Doug Larson

First Lady Michelle Obama: Vegetable Gardening For Health

First Lady Michelle Obama broke ground on the south lawn of the White House in 2009 to expand their kitchen garden. Endorsing vegetable gardening for better health and setting a positive example to help combat the rampant obesity epidemic in the U.S., the First Lady was assisted by students from the Bancroft Elementary School of Washington D.C.  The point of it was to help connect her family to the source of their food as well as to provide fresh produce for the First family’s table. An article by Julia Inslee for the Examiner provides some details and insight.

First Lady Michelle Obama: Vegetable Gardening For Health

In her speech at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night, Michelle Obama proved to the country what a passionate,vegetable gardening loving, intelligent, and conscientious woman she is. She showed the nation that she not only cares deeply for her family, but for the citizens of this country. She has taken her duties as First Lady seriously by championing projects that will affect positive change in the personal lives of Americans. This is no more apparent than in her endeavor to create a White House Kitchen Garden on the lawn of the most iconic house in the country in order to model healthy living and eating habits to a nation of skyrocketing obesity.

Original article here at examiner.com:

Vegetable gardening connects us with the source of our food and links us more tightly to that which gives us life. Our food is more than just a collection of calories we ingest every day. Eating is a spiritual activity that is supposed to enhance our lives. Filling our faces with empty calories and junk detracts from our physical health and robs our spirit. Connecting our bodies with the earth through the foods we eat nourishes our physical bodies and our spiritual nature. Sharing this valuable connection with others through vegetable gardening connects us all together.

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It’s bizarre that the produce manager is more important to my children’s health than the pediatrician.         — Meryl Streep

Best Organic Vegetable Gardening Techniques For Conserving Water

The use of organic vegetable gardening techniques operates under the presumption that resources are precious and they should be used as effectively and efficiently as possible. After all, this is what nature does every day. One of our most precious resources is water. With the extremely dry conditions experienced by much of the United States this summer, it’s an issue that is of foremost importance. Here are two articles that appeared in the Rockford Register Star recently that I believe brought the issue home. Though I live north of Illinois, it’s been a brutal summer in my vegetable garden as well. It got me to thinking about next year and what I can do to make the best use of all the water my garden needs without using any more than absolutely necessary. Writer Meghan Bowe highlights some basic techniques for water conservation.

Best Organic Vegetable Gardening Techniques For Conserving Water

Using techniques like deep mulch, vertical gardening, sheet composting and no till improves soil tilth while also expending fewer

organic vegetable gardening techniques

The best organic vegetable gardening techniques naturally conserve precious resources such as water. Photo by Chris Bence c/o Photos.Com.

resources to have an abundantly producing vegetable garden. Though some watering has been necessary this very hot, dry season our garden is looking beautiful due to the sustainable techniques used.

The conditions this growing season have been challenging due to the lack of rainfall. It is very important that home gardeners start integrating water and energy saving methods into their gardening practices, as well as making smart plant selection choices that will weather drought conditions.

Read the original article here at blogs.e-rockford.com:

Writer Margaret Larson has added a few very useful and important tips for using water that conserves it but still puts it to best use in her own organic vegetable garden.

Vegetables cannot go dormant in times of drought like your typical lawn does, says Extension Horticulture Educator, Candice Miller. Therefore additional watering is necessary to sustain a productive vegetable garden in these times of drought.

In the vegetable garden, there are certain periods of growth in particular where having moisture is especially important. As a rule of thumb, water is most critical during the first few weeks of development, immediately after transplanting, and during flowering and fruit production.

Anytime there are fruits (squash, cucumber, eggplant, tomatoes for example) or pods being filled (peas, snap beans), water needs to be uniformly available. In addition, sweet corn requires even moisture from the time flowers (silks) are pollenated through kernel fill. Therefore, gardeners should be monitoring their garden right now to see what is producing fruit at all times in order to properly water.

Make sure you read about all of Margaret’s watering recommendations here:

The best organic vegetable gardening techniques always seek to maximize the use of scarce resources. This is in keeping with what nature does, and is always sustainable over the long run. As our climate shifts due to natural or man made causes, we’ll all have to become more conscious of the resources we do have stewardship over and how we all need to make the best use of them.

Let me know what you think and whether you are doing anything to conserve water in  your area. Please feel free to click on the like button to share this with a like-minded friend.

Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans.   —  Marcelene Cox