For decades, nutritionists and health experts have been encouraging the public to consume more fruits and vegetables. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, most people should aim for nine servings of vegetables and fruits a day, or about 4 1/2 cups. Perhaps your dilemma isn't about how many servings you should eat, but rather which vegetables are better for you--those purchased in a grocery store produce section or the homegrown garden variety. Picking a fresh tomato off a vine from your own garden may offer more benefits than great taste and convenience.
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One of the benefits of enjoying garden vegetables may be a reduced monthly food bill. Due to climate and space limitations, you may not be able to plant all the vegetables you enjoy. However, tomatoes easily grow in almost any climate and can be grown in a pot on your patio or deck. Local farmer's markets are another way to enjoy fresh garden vegetables at a savings. Because farmers are directly selling their produce to you, the consumer, they are able to cut out the middleman and charge less than supermarkets.
Whether you grow your own vegetables, buy only 100 percent organic or make regular visits to the farmer's market, you are reducing the risk of eating vegetables that contain harmful chemicals. According to MayoClinic.com, the difference between the conventionally grown vegetables you buy in the supermarket and certified organic produce, is the farming methods used. Conventional farmers not only use chemical fertilizers to promote growth, they also use insecticides and chemical herbicides to kill pests and weeds. Organic farmers use natural products and avoid chemicals completely. Another benefit of having your own vegetable garden is you know exactly what your are eating.
Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of garden vegetables is the taste. MayoClinic.com states that some people claim they can taste the difference between organic and commercially grown food, but "freshness" may be the actual predictor of taste. Home grown tomatoes, for example, can stay on the vine until they are red, ripe and ready to eat. Store-bought vegetables are pulled from the vine weeks before they arrive on the produce aisle. Additives and chemicals may also take away from the taste of your favorite vegetables.
Organic Nutrition, a U.K.-based website cites a Rutgers University study that compared nutritional content of a few organically grown vegetables with commercially grown supermarket produce. Findings of this study showed the organic vegetables contained much greater amounts of essential trace minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. However, even though the U.S. Department of Agriculture is responsible for certifying organic food, it does not claim the produce is safer or more nutritious. As a consumer, it is always beneficial to educate yourself about the food you are buying and eating, especially when it comes to your health.