Produced in a garden

The St. John City Market, New Brunswick, Canada, September 2007

The St. John City Market, New Brunswick, Canada, September 2007

“For all things produced in a garden, whether of salads or fruits, a poor man will eat better that has one of his own, than a rich man that has none.”J. C. Loudon

We are now approaching the time of year when those of us just coming out of springtime will soon be able to enjoy fresh, locally grown produce.  As fortunate as we are to be able to buy almost anything we want shipped in year round, there’s nothing like eating something that was very recently harvested to add a new dimension to understanding the word “fresh.”

Ripe fruit has an appeal to me that rivals any confection, and when I keep it on hand, washed, sliced and ready to eat, I’m less tempted by cookies and ice cream.  Most vegetables are an acquired taste for me, as they may be for you, but corn on the cob, tomatoes and lima beans have always been among my favorite foods.  The first time I grew my own backyard tomato and tasted the difference between it and one from the supermarket, I remembered why I had loved the tomatoes that came from Mom’s garden.

How lucky that these earthy treats are also super-nutritious for us!  I wish for you a season of abundant, delicious produce, from your own garden, a market or a nearby roadside stand.  As Loudon knew, it’s an unparalleled form of wealth and health.


  1. Eric

    Matt is at the center of many of the concerns of Jeff, as well as Julia. Praying for Matt, Julia, and Jeff!

    • Thank you, Eric; Matt is definitely a big concern now, but he is a trooper with lots of medical “connections” so we hope he will be OK soon.

  2. Mike Bertoglio

    No comparison between a real tomato and store bought. I read somewhere they breed the flavor out in order to improve shelf life-just as some melons went out of style as they did not have preservative powers of some other types. In the NW we don’t have much luck with full size tomatoes so we have gone to the little ones-cherry size-black beauty and pear, which still have a wonderful taste.

    • Isn’t it maddening what they do to food to increase the shelf life and/or profits? I remember how angry I felt when I first discovered that most peanut butter companies removed the peanut oil and sold it separately, then injected much less nutritious cottonseed oil (not truly a food crop and not treated as one) or some other inexpensive oils in place of the peanut oil. To this day I won’t buy any peanut butter that has some other oil switched out for the peanut oil. I agree that there is no comparison of store tomatoes; it’s hard to even eat one after getting used to home-grown. I totally get it about how hard it can be to grow tomatoes – I remember having a hard time getting tomatoes to ripen while we lived on the CA central coast. The plants grew like crazy and were tall, full, and beautiful, with abundant tomatoes, but it never got hot enough to ripen them. I remember my husband calling us from CA while Drew and I were in Atlanta for the World Series in 1991 – he said “hey, one of your tomatoes is starting to turn red!” (That, of course, was in October, the only really warm month in that part of the world!) We eat a lot of the little grape tomatoes now, as snacks. They have a nice flavor too, and are grown locally.

  3. Carlyle

    Julia, In spite of our limited physical activity, with Al’s help we are trying to get what we can from our garden. Al likes to say, ” We eat better than kings”. He is right.

    • Yes, he is definitely right! Even though I don’t go for all the venison you eat (a hamburger made with deer meat just doesn’t appeal to me) I must say that I always look forward to eating meals out of your garden. It’s the only place we ever eat where a lot of what gets cooked was just picked a few hours ago – and all organic to boot! I hope you and Mama will keep that garden going. I always tell people how Mom was doing organic before organic was cool!

      • Eric

        The deer has been largely supplanted by Bison. We (7 adults) are sharing a whole Buffalo this year!

        • I won’t ask who killed it… 🙂 but I bet even Dad couldn’t get a Bison with a primitive bow and arrow.

  4. We inherited a strawberry patch, raspberry patch and peach tree when we moved into our current home. As I type, my counter is covered with ripe strawberries (even though I had to pitch many because they were water-logged). You are right there is nothing like fresh fruit – and I can confidently eat it right from the plant knowing there are no pesticides, etc. I didn’t even like peaches until I ate one from the tree in my backyard. 🙂

    I will think of you today as I make jam and eat strawberry shortcake.

    • Barb, this sounds absolutely wonderful and makes me homesick for CA (with us it was Sorrento lemons, pomegranates and different types of mandarin oranges, but same idea). I think I would like your fruit combination best of all. Being a Georgia girl I grew up eating fresh peaches and used to love eating the ones my Mom would freeze. I eat a lot of strawberries now but I always wash them over and over because they are one of the worst foods in terms of contamination with various things. When I started washing and rinsing them at least 3 times, I found that they really did taste better. You wouldn’t need to do that if you grew your own and didn’t put chemicals on them. I guess in your part of the country the insects aren’t as bad as they are in the South. Have an extra piece of strawberry shortcake for me!

  5. Jenelle

    I was just doing some research about the Mediterranean diet and then read your blog. I want some farmer’s market fruit more than ever! Thanks for a colorful picture of nature’s dessert 🙂

    • Jenelle, I have read in several journals that the Mediterranean diet is pretty much one of the best ways to go, if not the best. There’s nothing like fresh fruit for me, especially in the summer when it’s kept in the fridge! Hope you find some really great varieties at just the right degree of ripeness – and enjoy every bite!

  6. merry

    Hello, Julia…hope your day is better. thank you for this interesting photo.
    I enjoy fresh fruits, will eat them if they’re washed, sliced and ready to eat. Tomatoes, corn on cob and lima beans also my favorite vegetables, too. As you say others are acquired.:} Blessings to you and Jeff.

    • We should eat together, your favorite vegetables are the same ones I like. I did find that the key to snacking on fruits and veggies is to wash and slice them, as you say, as soon as I bring them in. I’ve read where some produce is not supposed to be washed until right before eating, but I like to have it all done in advance so I can grab it when I’m in a hurry. Today has been somewhat easier; thanks for the thoughts and prayers! And for visiting us here!

  7. Sheila

    Julia, you have selected a topic that is “near and dear” to me. It is that special time of year to enjoy the many fruits and vegetables, just as you have described. Lancaster, PA. has a city market that I would love to visit during the summer months, as I have only been able to go there (twice) in November. It is the ultimate market! I read that it is the oldest market, of it’s kind, in the USA. Have you been there? I’m putting Lancaster Central Market on my bucket list. I so hope today has been a good day,Julia. Fight the fight, Jeff! I know it’s good to be home. Love, Sheila

    • Hi Sheila, thanks for telling us about the Lancaster market – Jeff and I have that area near the top of our “weekend trips we want to take” list and I would be so excited to go there! Today has been mixed but much better than yesterday. We are so grateful for your prayers and friendship!

      • Sheila

        Julia, I am hoping and praying that Matt’s world will settle back to normal. We still hold our adult children so close in our hearts….. long after we have held their little hands! Let it be a good day, Lord. Sheila

        • Thanks so much Sheila. I just got off the phone with Matt’s DC cardiologist who is trying to coordinate the surgery plans – I was just informed that Matt’s pacemaker data indicate that he’s been in and out of atrial flutter again, a complication we don’t need right now. We’re trying to find a way to fit Matt’s surgery in between Jeff’s appointments at Bethesda, which have to be frequent and can’t wait. Thanks for your ongoing prayers!

  8. Mike Bertoglio

    I never knew that about peanut butter; removal of peanut and oil and replacement with cotton seed. How can you tell? If there is cottonseed on the label?

    • Yes, read the label carefully, and if there are other oils listed instead of peanut oil (and there are for most major brands) they you know they have switched out the oils. Another clue is that natural peanut butter is almost always separate from the oil, not homogenized — you can see the oil separated out and you have to stir it. It’s not so bad once you get the hang of it, but to get that smooth, spreadable texture, they add some form of hydrogenated oils (or at least they used to; it’s been so long since I actually read the labels on the “mainstream” brands) OR they use palm oil, also high in saturated fat, I think. I don’t know whether cottonseed oil is still used, but it used to be very common in margarines, peanut butter, etc. Many also add sugar, which in my opinion is really not needed in peanut butter. Next time I go to the grocery store I’ll have to have a look.

  9. There are so many choices in our supermarkets now, sometimes, I don’t even know what the items are. Mr B and I went for a long long walk in our river valley yesterday, it was just a gorgeous day. I started to feel sugar low by about the 20th hill and luckily we were walking past a ‘fresh fruit’ stand and bought 1 pear. I don’t know if it was the fact that I was so peeked or what, but that was the yummiest pear I ever ate. She even washed it for me. I left the core beside a giant spruce and hopefully a furry little friend had a treat too.

    • Hey I bet that core was gone before you got back home! I had a similar experience with a nectarine on a hot California day. I do think the context improves the taste of foods sometimes, but fruits are so good they don’t usually require hunger to make them taste WONDERFUL. I’m so glad you had a nice long walk! We’ve had many beautiful days lately and though I’ve not been able to be outside for very long since Jeff went into the hospital, I have enjoyed a few walks here and there. I agree that the produce section of the supermarkets is so abundantly varied that I could not identify many of the items they carry. We are so fortunate!

      • I’m hoping you and Jeff will be enjoying some sun on your face soon. If not for walks, even just to bask in each others company in the garden. Sending hugs your way.

        • Thank you! (xie! xie!) I just love those cyber hugs.

  10. Julia, thanks for the reminder…I deal with MS constantly everyday, yet I find my body feels so much better when I share with it natural fruits and vegetables each day…i find their vitamins provide me with something very priceless…some lasting energy each day! God bless you and your family, and have a beautiful weekend!

    • Thank you Wendell! I too feel much better when I’m eating right, with lots of fruits and veggies. And even the really sweet fruits such as watermelon leave me feeling better than when I overindulge in cookies or ice cream. I hope you have a wonderful weekend too!


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