Taking the “risk” out of our food

In light of increasing food health scares and increasing attention given to "risky foods", there's never been a better time to start growing your own produce. GardenWise editor Carol Pope shares a comprehensive collection of vegetable gardening options from the experts at GardenWise.

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eNews about “risky food”

A recent eNews from Rodale reminded us of the 10 “Riskiest Foods” routinely purchased by most families. Among them were sprouts, tomatoes, potatoes, berries and leafy greens – all susceptible to becoming tainted by life-threatening E. coli and salmonella from contaminated equipment or poor worker hygiene during production and processing.

Rodale’s solution: First and foremost, grow our own wherever possible. And for those fruits and vegetables we do need to purchase, choose organic and buy from a local supplier where we can see the root of our food. Think Farmers’ Markets and local growers here!

The good news from my perspective is that based on the experience of my family, once we start growing our own, it becomes almost impossible to go back to the supermarket produce shelf.

Consider sprouts, a key ingredient in our house for many of our favourites including homemade Odon soup, veggie wraps and stir fries. After (reluctantly) purchasing a bag of sprouted mung beans despite their somewhat dodgy appearance, I brought them home and then opted to dump them after deciding they reeked like rancid prawns. That was the last time I bought sprouts. Instead, we now grow our own in a matter of just a few days, using large Mason jars that we twice-daily flush with fresh water. There is no comparison flavour- and texture-wise between home-grown and store-bought sprouts. Ours are fresh-smelling, crunchy and delicious. The store-bought versions are sour smelling, soggy and often offensive. And as GardenWise contributor Carolyn Herriot, author of The Zero-Mile Diet, tells us, there is a huge choice of seeds we can sprout at home  – from mild to spicy and crunchy to chewy. So, don’t hesitate! This is one of those cases where growing your own is so incredibly easy, you (like me) will be kicking yourself for not doing it sooner.

And don’t stop there . . . whether you have a backyard or balcony, there are many easy and fun ways to grow safe foods for your family:


20 top tomato tips from Carolyn Herriot
Upside-down tomatoes
Tomato Tips from Conway Lum
Good plant companions: tomatoes and marigolds
Container vegetable gardens 


Growing potatoes in containers
Growing potatoes and other edibles on your balcony
How to plant potatoes


B.C.’s best berries
Delicious and decorative blueberries
Currants and gooseberries
Zero-mile-diet small fruits
Saskatoon berries
Sheena’s best berries

Leafy greens

8 garden greens for winter harvest 
Summer planting for winter vegetables
8 self-seeding salad greens
“Cut-and-come-again” salad greens