Why You Should Consider
Growing Heirloom Vegetables

I don't like to get preachy in my articles or blog posts, but I read a recent article in Mother Earth News that talked about how commercial grown vegetables today have fewer nutrients than ones grown 50 years ago. This was a surprise to me, although if I really stopped to think about it, I shouldn't be surprised at all. With modern day advances, we always seem to sacrifice something in return, I just hadn't thought that nutrient rich foods should have been one of them. Here's what I found out:

Why You Should Grow Heirloom Vegetables
Image courtesy of www.everystockphoto.com

  • Crops grown with synthetic fertilizers and irrigation grow quickly, but don't develop the same amount of nutrients and vitamins as crops grown without synthetic fertilizers and irrigation.
  • Wheat grown today has half the amount of protein from wheat grown 100 years ago.
  • USDA nutrient data shows that broccoli grown today has about 4.4mg/g of calcium as opposed to varieties grown in the 1950's which had about 13mg/g.
  • Plant breeders today are developing higher yielding produce, but at the cost of taste and lower nutrient values.
  • New studies are showing that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) as well as seeds may not be as safe as we once thought. Do we really need to genetically alter corn and rice with human genes? More info on GMOs can be found at the Institute of Responsible Technology's website.

So what can you do about all this? You can grow your own fruits and vegetables, preferably heirloom organic varieties, or buy from a local farmer who does.

More reasons why you should grow heirloom varieties:

  • As I've already mentioned, you will increase the nutrient value of the foods you eat by growing heirloom varieties.
  • Taste - Taste - Taste. Heirloom varieties just taste so much better. The colors are more beautiful too.
  • Heirloom varieties resist a lot of disease and pest problems; they have stood the test of time for sure.
  • Growing more heirloom varieties will help support beneficial pollinators.
  • Growing your own heirloom varieties will save you money; they are open-pollinated so you can save seeds year after year.
  • Variety is the spice of life, and you will surely find more variety in an heirloom seed catalog than the grocery store.
  • Many heirloom seeds are regional, so you may find certain varieties easier to grow where you live.

Where to buy heirloom varieties

Garden centers today are recognizing the demand and stocking more and more varieties, but if you are still longing for Oak Leaf Lettuce and New Zealand Spinach, then try ordering from some of my favorite seed companies.

Now it's your turn to take the next step. Try it. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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