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Harvest your health!

By Tricia Pearson

This growing season has been spectacular, despite the drought. A drive to local farms will prove this point. My personal farmette has an embarrassment of tomatoes this year. (Whose idea was it to plant 72 tomato plants?) This is a great time of year to meet your maker – your local farmers, I mean.

Got Milk? Greens?

Strong bones, energy, and regularity – who’s in? One of the best things you can do for yourself is get in the habit of adding dark leafy greens to your diet on a daily basis. Step aside iceberg lettuce! Dark leafy greens, such as spinach, beet greens, kale, collard greens and the crucial cruciferous, broccoli, are part of a bone-building posse, which include calcium, magnesium and vitamin K. There are several key nutrients that allow your body to absorb calcium: magnesium and vitamin K. Dark leafy greens are high in magnesium which is dandy, and the vitamin K in greens supports the proteins involved in creating bone mass. Did you know there is a B.C. authored cookbook just for kale?

Eat a rainbow

I know it’s fun to carve a pumpkin and shove a candle in it but what about actually eating one? There is a jaw dropping variety of squash and pumpkin available (check out McNab’s farm in Yellow Point).

Did you know that cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage and broccoli, contain a nutrient that helps block the growth of cancer cells? It prevents them from metastasizing, and even promotes cancer cell death (called apoptosis – your fancy word for the day).

Mushrooms, such as shiitake and crimini, contain chemicals that stimulate the immune system and have been very well researched. Perfect for this time of year.

Immunity – up yours!

Garlic, onions and leeks rank very high among the most effective foods for fighting against several types of cancers. Beta-carotene rich vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes and yams, are known to be antioxidants, substance that protects cells from chemical damage.

Try to get at least 8–10 servings per day. Think of it as eating a rainbow everyday!

A convenience truth

I know those pre-portioned and prepared meals are convenient for the busy person but at what price? It’s at least double if not triple (or more) the cost of purchasing the whole food ingredients and making your own lunchables. You get more for your dollar and you know exactly what has gone into the food you are eating and serving to your family. Oh – and what about the nutritional cost? There is not a two inch long list of ingredients on a zucchini. I propose an “end of the year” resolution – spend more time in the kitchen.

The flag is not the ship!

Now what is she talking about? Hardly a day goes by when we don’t hear about some new substance in a vegetable or fruit that has been shown to have some kind of protective quality. Food in its whole form contains thousands of phytonutrients along with other life-preserving substances, such as antioxidants. Never mind all of the substances not yet discovered!

Scientists cannot create a pill containing all of these incredible substances. Isolating one or two of the latest “discovered” ones ignores and oversimplifies the synergistic qualities that these compounds require to be properly absorbed and utilized. The flag is not the ship – I love an analogy, don’t you?

So back to my point about whole foods and the harvest season. The prescription is nutrition and it’s written on the back of your mother’s hand. Mother Nature to be more specific. Check out what she has created for you at your local grocer or farmer’s market! The Ladysmith Farmer’s Market runs Tuesdays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the 49th Parallel Grocery store parking lot until October 27; and the Cedar Market continues in the grassy field next to the Crow and Gate on Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., until Thanksgiving.

Tricia Pearson is a certified nutritionist specializing in cancer and diabetes. Find out how to harvest the best of your health at www.stepuptotheplatenutrition.com

About the author: Angie