Food

Green goodness: 4 reasons to love homegrown produce

(BPT) – Are you one of the 185 million Americans who garden? If not, it’s time to consider joining the crowd. Gardening can be an incredibly rewarding hobby, especially if you grow your own produce.

When you grow your own fruits and vegetables, you can taste the difference between a store-bought tomato and one you pick fresh from the vine. Still not convinced? Discover four ways you can benefit from growing your own food.

1. Savor the taste and the savings

Growing your own produce guarantees you have the freshest possible fruits and vegetables at the best price. Inflation is top of mind for most Americans, and one especially spendy category is groceries. According to a recent U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey analysis, the average household spending on groceries is $1,080 a month. That increases to $1,260 per month for a four-person household.

You can quickly curb your grocery bill by growing your own food. The National Gardening Association found that a 600-square-foot garden, which costs about $70 per year, can yield 300 pounds of fresh produce a year, worth $600. The return on investment is well worth the time, expense and effort you put into cultivating your garden. It’s a win for your wallet and your taste buds.

2. Add variety to your diet

Depending on where you shop, your selection of produce can be limited. However, when you garden, you’re in control of what you grow, so take the opportunity to expand your palate. With just a few packets of seeds, you can grow a rainbow of flavor in your backyard!

For example, Ferry-Morse, one of the leading and oldest gardening seed brands in the U.S., has a new Colossal Collection of seeds that will take your gardening to new heights this season. The collection features six seed varieties that will grow vegetables double the average size — or double the yield — for extra flavor, value and bragging rights!

The collection includes The Big Dill Cucumber, Jack’s Magic Pole Beans, Super Nacho Jalapeño Peppers, Beefed Up Beefsteak Tomato, Sasquatch Butternut Squash and Cinderella’s Ride Pumpkins. Not only do they taste good, but they also provide the most bang for your buck — for example, one pack of The Big Dill Cucumber seeds can grow up to $250 worth of fresh cucumbers. To start your culinary adventure in your garden, visit FerryMorse.com/Collections/Colossal-Seed.

3. Get a natural workout

Skip the gym and get your hands dirty instead! Tending to your garden is a labor of love and an engaging workout. As you nurture your garden, you’ll have to dig, plant, weed, water and harvest. Before you know it, you’ll have gotten your exercise in for the day and be one step closer to enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor. Best of all, you get to do this all in the fresh air under sunny skies!

4. Be inspired to try new recipes

When you grow your own produce, especially if you’re growing items you don’t usually buy at the store, you’ll be inspired to get creative in the kitchen. Tini Younger, a Next Level Chef season 2 contestant, was inspired by Ferry-Morse’s Colossal Collection to create a beef stir fry using Jack’s Magic Pole Beans.

Start by trimming your Jack’s Magic Pole Beans and combine them with chopped broccoli, bell peppers, onions, and minced ginger and garlic. In a bowl, season thinly sliced flank steak with garlic powder, onion powder, chile powder, salt, and pepper. Add a splash of rice vinegar and a tablespoon of cornstarch, mixing to combine.

Add vegetable oil to a pan or wok and place over medium-to-high heat. Place your sliced steak into your pan and cook for two to three minutes on each side or until brown. Remove your steak from the pan and add your vegetable mixture, cooking for four to five minutes or until crisp. Once your vegetables are cooked, combine them with your cooked beef and keep to the side until your sauce is ready.

In a separate bowl, start making your sauce by combining a one-quarter cup of soy sauce, a tablespoon of hoisin sauce, half a teaspoon of sesame oil, a tablespoon of your minced garlic and ginger, one-quarter cup of beef stock, two tablespoons of dark brown sugar, and half a tablespoon of cornstarch, which will help thicken your sauce.

Add your sauce to a large saucepan over medium heat and let it simmer for one to two minutes, stirring consistently. Once your sauce has thickened, add your cooked vegetables and steak to your pan and combine. Plate your stir fry over a bowl of rice, garnish with chopped green onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice, and enjoy!

These are just four wonderful reasons to fall in love with homegrown produce. This season and beyond, embrace the green goodness of growing a produce aisle right in your backyard. Happy gardening!

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