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Growing Your Own Food

By Karen Kelly, R.D. | July 8, 2022

Have you ever considered starting a garden and growing your own food? It’s a great way to improve your health by consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, increasing your physical activity, and ultimately saving money.  

Harvesting Your Own Produce vs. Getting it from a Store

When gardening you can control when you pick your vegetables. The unknown of how far that cucumber has traveled to your grocery store, or how long it has been sitting in the produce section is no longer a concern. Grabbing a cucumber off the vine of your own garden and slicing it into a salad for dinner ensures that you know how fresh that cucumber is. Fresh produce is filled with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that our bodies need to stay healthy. By spending a few dollars on seeds in the spring, you can grow vegetables that will yield a harvest in the summer, and save money. 

Vitamin D and Physical Activity

Tending to your garden has additional health benefits. It’s a great way to absorb vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D helps to maintain healthy bones and teeth. While you’re tending to your garden, planting seeds and reaping a harvest, the light physical activity helps you to burn more calories.

What to Plant in the Northeast

If you live in New Jersey like me, there are many different veggies that grow best in our region. Veggies like eggplant, peppers, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, zucchini and, of course, Jersey tomatoes are perfect for our climate. Herbs such as basil, mint, rosemary and parsley also do well in our area. 

Where to Plant Your Garden

Whether you have acres of land or live in a city and use pots on a fire escape, there are many options for gardening. If it is your first time, start small, maybe with a small container garden of a few herbs. Many vegetable seedlings are now bred and sold as container vegetables specifically for those who don’t have the space or inclination to have larger gardens. Even Jersey tomatoes can be bought for container pots. 

Using Your Fresh Picks

One of my favorite summer recipes from my garden is a tomato and cucumber salad with a little olive oil and salt to taste. Check out our blog for more recipes here.

Karen Kelly, RD, is a registered dietitian at New Jersey Bariatric Center, a medical & surgical weight loss center with offices in Springfield, Somerville, Hoboken, East Brunswick, Hackettstown and Sparta, New Jersey. She provides pre-operative and post-operative nutritional counseling to New Jersey Bariatric Center’s Gastric Bypass, Gastric Sleeve, LAP-BAND (gastric band) and revision patients, in addition to dietary counseling for patients in our Medical Weight Loss program.
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