No Longer A Dirty Secret

June 10, 2009
by Eriks Janelsins
The Intelligencer

This weekend, I will dine on produce supplied by Susan and chicken from Eric. Each Sunday morning, I enjoy eggs from "happy chickens" that are supplied by my friends Greg and Jill. I've seen their farms and know them personally. I've discussed their process, seen their soil, and shared their stories. I'm not sure if it is because I'm more connected to that food or proud of my friends, but for some reason, their food always tastes better.

The number of urban community gardens and backyard vegetable gardens is booming. In fact, seed companies such as Burpee and the Seed Savers Exchange reported record sales in 2008 with some companies doubling the previous year's sales and completely selling out of certain plants such as potatoes. Our current economy and gas prices can be linked to this phenomenon, but health issues, environmental concerns and taste also are helping feed a trend growing across the country. For the first time since Eleanor Roosevelt's victory garden planted during World War II, there is a vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White House.

One of the main benefits to growing a vegetable garden or visiting the farmers' market is related to our health. It's estimated that as many as 90 percent of Americans eat less than the USDA's recommended number of servings of vegetables and fruits each day. One way to instill healthy eating habits at a young age is to grow vegetables at home with your kids and grandkids. Research shows that kids who garden are more likely to eat a greater quantity and wider variety of vegetables. Eating healthy is of a major concern in West Virginia. According to the Trust for America's Health, the state ranks second for obesity, has the highest rate of type 2 diabetes, and ranks third for hypertension. Becoming active in the garden and eating healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables can be part of the solution to the health of West Virginians.

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