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Prairie Fare: Food Costs Prompt Renewed Interest in Gardening

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Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist
Gardening is back in style.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

The other evening my sister and I were admiring my 10-year-old daughter’s container gardens of tomatoes and peppers. She has a bumper crop on the way, provided she continues to tend them.

My sister and I reminisced about all the gardening and food preservation we helped with when we were kids. We were literally “the garden girls,” according to our chore list and last name.

“Do you remember all that planting and then all that weeding? I never did get to plant those tiny carrot seeds,” I commented.

“What about all those peas we shelled, corn we husked and the beans we cut?” she noted.

“I wonder how many tubs of rhubarb I cut up,” I lamented or, actually, whined.

“We ate really well, though. Everything was fresh and homegrown,” she said.

We continue to be good vegetable-eaters, too, I thought to myself. Research has shown that kids with access to homegrown vegetables are more likely to meet the daily fruit and vegetable recommendations.

Gardening is back in style. At least some of the interest has to do with the current cost of food. Some seed companies have reported that for every dollar you spend on seeds, you get $10 worth of produce.

With numbers like that, gardening can be a good investment.

Even if you do not have a bumper crop of your own, a visit to a tempting farmers market or some fruit and vegetable gifts from a generous friend may prompt the need to preserve some food.

Doing home food preservation now provides tasty, homemade foods to enjoy when wintery weather returns.

If food preservation is done incorrectly, however, you could end up with a low-quality product. In the case of canned goods, an unsafe or even deadly product could result from using unsafe methods.

How much do you know about food preservation? Test your knowledge with this quiz.

  1. True/False: Vegetables, meats and most mixtures of foods must be canned in a pressure canner, not a boiling water bath canner.
  2. True/False: Paraffin wax is not recommended as a way to seal jams and jellies.
  3. True/False: When canning salsa or tomatoes to be processed in a water bath canner, lemon juice or another acidic ingredient must be added to ensure proper acidity.
  4. True/False: Botulism, a potentially fatal type of foodborne illness, could result from eating low-acid foods, such as vegetables, that have been canned improperly.
  5. True/False: For best quality, use home-canned foods within a year.

How did you do? All the answers are “true” based on current U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations.

For more information about food preservation, contact your local Extension office or visit the NDSU Extension Service Web site at http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/food/ (click on publications).

Enjoy this fresh salsa recipe from the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service.

Salsa Fresca

5 medium tomatoes cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 to 2 jalapeno peppers (to taste)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1/4 medium red onion, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces

3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Wash produce and prepare as indicated. Stir in the lime juice, salt and pepper. Chop the cilantro and only stir until combined.

Makes seven servings. Each serving (1/2 cup) has 25 calories, 0 grams (g) of fat, 6 g of carbohydrate, 2 g of fiber and 30 percent of the daily recommendation for vitamin C.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)


NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, richard.mattern@ndsu.edu
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