I was interviewed recently for Natural Solutions magazine on whether gardening affects the way I eat. My answer? You betcha. Sure, a garden gets you the freshest of vegetables and taste alone would be reason to start one–there's nothing like an heirloom tomato still warm from the sun; even lettuce has a ridiculous amount of flavor when it goes from backyard bed into the bowl. But there are bonuses with gardening that go much, much deeper.
When you finally pick that heirloom tomato, you're not just tasting the tomato. You're experiencing the excitement you felt when the first flowers gave way to tiny green globes. You're reliving the anticipation of inspecting it day after day wondering when it was going to be ripe enough to eat. You're feeling that sense of joyful peace that comes from witnessing a miracle of nature. All this in a tomato.
It doesn't take acres to reap the rewards of growing your own food; a sprig of thyme snipped from a pot on the windowsill will transform even the most humble of dishes. The simple truth is that when you grow an eggplant or a cucumber or a bunch of mint you are connected–literally and viscerally–to it, so that the phrase “eat more vegetables” is turned from drudgery into luxury.
This week, I challenge you to plant something to nibble on this summer. If you're already an experienced gardener, expand your territory and try something new (I just planted lemon verbena for the first time). If you're an apartment dweller, try some potted herbs on the windowsill or a cherry tomato in a rooftop container. As your project takes root, I look forward to hearing how it affects the way you eat.