Vegetable garden provides healthy bounty on the cheap
Posted September 25, 2012
Updated September 26, 2012
Cary, N.C. — Two reasons many people don’t eat enough vegetables are cost and flavor. Many turn to cheaper processed foods packed with sodium.
But one easy alternative is to grown your own.
Organic culinary farmer Maggie Lawrence is getting the most out of her summer produce before time runs out.
“One more good month of warm weather before we get a frost,” she said.
Everything she grows in a garden on the campus of SAS Institute in Cary ends up in Chef Scott Crawford's kitchen at Heron's restaurant.
“The key here is that it's harvested today, cooked today and consumed today,” Crawford said.
As picked produce sits day after day, it loses flavor. So the restaurant menu is built around what's available and ready for harvest.
“This is a very prolific variety of bell pepper,” Lawrence said, showing off the vegetable. “The chefs would be able to stuff that, fry it.”
There's a wide variety of peppers, carrots and tomatoes, including a cherry variety that Lawrence says tastes just like a piece of candy.
She says they're more flavorful than store bought varieties because they're sun-ripened on the vine.
Lawrence also grows a wide variety of fresh micro-greens for salads and edible blossoms for garnishes.
“They have different levels of sweetness, a lot of different textures, they offer, obviously different colors,” Crawford said.
Lawrence also grows several herbs, including rosemary, thyme, lavender and basil. Crawford said the herbs add a real burst of flavor.
Lawrence said anyone can grow their own produce.
“This is a simple thing that people can do at home,” she said. It requires a sunny patch of soil and some gardening know-how.
“If you can't grow these yourself, the best thing is to go to your local farmers' market, find out what days the farmer is picking them and be there that morning early as possible,” Crawford said.
Crawford says these tips will help you fall in love with vegetables and the healthy flavor they can add to any meal.