Did you know that fruits and vegetables continue to “breathe” after harvested? It is a process that is referred to as respiration. This process causes a loss of water and nutrients, resulting in a reduction of value and flavor. The way in which the produce is handled can slow down or accelerate this process. Being that here at Hippocrates Health Institute we treat our food as our medicine, understanding what slows down this natural process and promotes optimal nutrient levels is a worthwhile goal.
Here are some things to consider:
1. Gentle handling (hand picking)
• Mechanical harvesting methods can cause stress to plant tissue which will promote enzymatic release and speed up nutrient breakdown.
2. Harvest when mature
• If harvested immaturely to prevent damage in transport, it will not have reached its maximum nutrient potential.
3. Proper storage
• Removing heat, light and oxygen as much as possible with air tight containers and refrigeration will help slow down the process.
4. Reducing the time from harvest to consumption
• Commercially grown produce may spend up to 5 days in transit, 1-3 days on display and up to a week in consumer storage following harvest.
One of the easiest ways to assure that the above conditions are present is to consider buying locally or growing your own food. You can explore localharvest.org to find locally grown produce in your area and even though growing your own food is a commitment of at least 15 minutes a day, it offers numerous benefits.
Let’s explore some:
1. Purposeful physical activity
• Remaining active keeps you young.
2. Fresh air and sunshine
• Oxygen and Vitamin D strengthen your body’s immune system.
3. Reduce carbon footprint
• Modern farming uses more petroleum than any other single industry.
4. Take responsibility for safe food
• The average child today is exposed to more pesticides and genetically modified food than that of their parents.
5. Save money
• A packet of seeds costs less than a dollar.
6. Encourage healthful eating
• Studies have found that preschoolers exposed to homegrown vegetables are twice as likely to eat and enjoy five servings of fruits and vegetable a day.
7. Better tasting foods
• Chefs seek out the freshest food possible because they realize it makes a difference in the success of their dishes.
Our Hippocrates Health Educators get firsthand experience in growing their own food under the expert guidance of our Organic Garden and Greenhouse Manager, Brian Hetrich. They sprout beans and legumes, leafy sprouts without soil, leafy sprouts with soil, and microgreens. They witness how the seed contains everything it needs to grow and get in touch with the miracle of life. They taste the reward of being directly involved in the care of their own food. They also have the opportunity to spend time in the Hippocrates garden learning about organic gardening practices and the serenity that can be found in the outdoors.
We welcome anyone who may be interested in learning more about the Hippocrates Health Educator Program to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 561-471-8876 x2110.