Gar­den your way to bet­ter health

Franklin County News - - OUT & ABOUT - JAN SEDG­WICK

Are you a closet Gor­don Ram­say?

Many of us have watched episodes of Masterchef and won­dered ‘who has the time to do that, never mind the tech­nique?’’

There’s no doubt food, prepa­ra­tion, en­joy­ment and shar­ing of it, is part of our so­cial struc­ture. It cre­ates a sense of con­nect­ed­ness and well be­ing.

And chil­dren who eat din­ner with their par­ents five or more days a week have less trou­ble with drugs and al­co­hol, eat more healthily, show bet­ter aca­demic per­for­mance, and re­port be­ing closer to their par­ents, ac­cord­ing to a study by the Na­tional Cen­tre on Ad­dic­tion and Sub­stance Abuse at Columbia Univer­sity.

I think what this is telling us is, you don’t need to per­form like a celebrity chef ev­ery night.

Some­times the sim­plest meals, made care­fully and eaten mind­fully, are the best.

I’m re­minded of an in­ci­dent when the phone rang just as I was sit­ting down to a meal.

When I ex­plained what I was eat­ing, they im­me­di­ately hung up with­out an­other word.

Sur­prised, I fin­ished my meal then rang to ask ‘Why the weird be­hav­iour?’. The an­swer? ‘Ah, you were eat­ing my favourite meal (sausages, mashed pota­toes and veg­eta­bles). You just can’t in­ter­rupt some­thing as good as that.’

I found that quite en­light­en­ing, as that old standby is not some­thing we gen­er­ally serve with pride.

But maybe we need to get back to ba­sics in all things culi­nary, and by ba­sics I mean way back.

Some en­light­ened com­mu­ni­ties here in the North Waikato have thriv­ing com­mu­nity veg­etable gar­dens.

Mere­mere is a case in point, and there must be oth­ers.

At full stretch, Mere­mere pro­vides free in­gre­di­ents for the free cook­ing classes held in the com­mu­nity cen­tre by some very com­mu­nity-spir­ited peo­ple.

Whanga­mata’s coun­cil of­fices have for­gone flow­ers out­side the build­ing and planted mass pars­ley-free to all.

Te Kauwhata em­u­lated this with herbs in the planter boxes in the Main Rd……and re­al­is­ti­cally this is a re­ally sim­ple an­swer to get peo­ple think­ing about pro­duc­ing healthy and tasty food.

We grudg­ingly ac­cept the ris­ing cost of liv­ing and its im­pact on food costs.

So what’s a man­age­able an­swer?

Veg­etable gar­dens can chop down your gro­cery bill, add more shared fam­ily ex­pe­ri­ences and learn­ing, and cre­ate bet­ter qual­ity food.

You don’t need the old quar­ter acre sec­tion and you sure don’t have to have a su­per fancy raised bed.

You can grow toma­toes, pota­toes, let­tuces, cour­gettes, beans and peas in pots, tyre mounds or even up against a fence if you are re­ally try­ing to do it as sim­ply as pos­si­ble.

Over-en­thu­si­as­tic cour­gette plants - we all get to that point. Swap with your neigh­bour for their ex­cess.

Get kids in­volved with their own plants or gar­dens, so they learn ba­sics to set them up for life and un­der­stand where food re­ally comes from.

Ba­sics like ‘pick leaves from the silverbeet, don’t pull out the whole plant’…­ri­ously!

And if you’re still han­ker­ing af­ter a touch of the celebrity chef, you could do worse than fol­low Jamie Oliver and his 15-minute, por­tion-savvy healthy meals.

Spring’s here …get plant­ing! Jan Sedg­wick is the Whanga­marino Ward Coun­cil­lor for the Waikato District Coun­cil


Letters should not ex­ceed 300 words and must have full name, res­i­den­tial ad­dress and phone num­ber. Write to Letters to the Ed­i­tor, Franklin County News, PO Box 14, Pukekohe or email julie.kaio@fair­fax­me­

Jan Sedg­wick

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