Organic food seems to be one of the best options to face the industrialization of food. In recent years, a growing movement has been warning us about the excessive use of additives such as fat, salt, sugar and high fructose corn syrup in the most consumed foods, for the sole purpose of making them tastier. This is true not only for “junk food” but also the food which is being sold as “healthy.” It’s part of an addictive diet to which we have become accustomed.
Within the paradigm that considers food in relation to the environment, one of the gurus in consumer issues is science journalist and author Michael Pollan. His recent book, Cooked and other bestsellers such as The Omnivore’s Dilemma, advises “do not eat anything your grandmother would not recognize as food.”
According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), 868 million people (12.5% of the world population) are undernourished in terms of dietary energy consumption and 1.4 billion people are overweight, with 500 million of them being obese. This alarming data requires a new perspective on recovering forgotten traditions and changing habits for better living globally.
The importance of vegetables in the human diet is undeniable. Their benefits are recognized by the scientific, environmental and medical fields, and by international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), which recommend their consumption in order to prevent diseases and keep up defenses. In fact, all the essential nutrients for a healthy life can be obtained through a natural diet.
But at the same time, we are facing a problem: most of the vegetables are interfered with in terms of production and distribution, in order to multiply their yield. The use of agrochemicals and contaminants is being questioned worldwide, and in some countries, they have created new laws that protect consumers. Europe is a pioneer in this regard. Except for Spain and Romania, it has banned the use of certain herbicides and insecticides such as Glyphosate and Endosulfan. In the United States, the number of companies which are changing their producing methods is increasing.
The process of returning to organic consumption requires new legislation and a change in consciousness. For consumers, eating organic food means, besides avoiding added preservatives and pesticides, a way to connect with the earth, be in contact with food and nature, and widen their knowledge of seasonal variations and the influence of temperature and wind on plants.
In order to take advantage of the attributes of organic vegetables, it is advisable to consume them fresh and raw, without even removing their skin. The difference is outstanding. Their flavor and aroma are more intense than those which are industrially produced. As they are home-grown, care and quality are superior. And organic vegetables have a higher mineral content, in terms of calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and phosphate.
Following this premise, fresh vegetables have become an attractive and sustainable proposal at home, even for those with limited space. From a pot with herbs in a balcony or terrace to a shared garden or orchard, the alternatives are varied. These undertakings can also be carried out in schools, dining rooms, groups of families or neighbors, or organizations which may have access to small plots of land or which may ask their governments or municipalities for the assignment of land. An ecological example is the city of Freiburg in Germany, near the border of France and Switzerland. In this “green city,” resources required to integrate the city with the countryside have been implemented. Organic gardens located a few minutes away from the city enable people to harvest their own fruits and vegetables, and to get access to them when they need to.
Even in the most populated urban centers it is possible to create production spaces to fulfill a healthier, more complete and economic diet. In order to start planning it, you should take into account some technical guidelines which will enable you to maintain a productive organic garden throughout the year.
Organizing the Space
The gardens should try to emulate the processes of nature. When there is little space available, you should look for a site that provides sunlight and shade or some shelter to protect the crops from bad weather.