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Diversity on Your Dinner Plate: Good for You and the Planet

Did you know it’s important to have a diversity of plants on your dinner plate? A wide array of plant-based foods in diets has been found to be beneficial for the health of both humans and our environment. But we’re only tapping into a tiny thumbnail of plant kingdom resources and benefits on a daily basis.

 

According to BioDiversity International, 95% of world energy needs are supplied by only 30 crops. That leaves a lot to be desired from what we currently have access to for the health of our families and the planet.

 

Take Sorrel, for example.

Sorrel

A rare find outside of farmers’ markets due to its short shelf life after harvest, a one-cup serving of sorrel provides over 100% of daily recommended vitamins A and C, and brings a healthy dollop of 2.6 g of plant-based protein.

 

Beyond being a delight for the taste buds (sorrel adds a refreshing lemony tang to dishes) this herb helps vision, organ function, immune health, and contributes to cardiovascular health.

Imagine if you could take your health from adequate to optimal by simply amplifying food biodiversity. We’ll show you how to step out of the conventional norm to upgrade meal nutrition and expand to new flavors that pack a positive health punch. (And help the planet!)

Here are three ways to diversify your dinner plate:

#1 - Grow global, in the comfort of your own home.

Gardyn has a wide array of nutritional (and flavorful) powerhouses meant to be grown and consumed from the moment of harvest. Different varieties of our portfolio, like Red Amaranth, for example, outpaces your common grocery store spinach in protein, calcium and iron.

 

Truly fresh Chervil won’t even show up in your grocery store, because it’s best eaten fresh, and its flavor and quality is lost too quickly after harvest to survive the supply chain.

 

Leafy greens and lettuces that expand beyond your standard grocery store romaine, will add vibrant color, depth of flavor, and diverse nutrients to your dishes. Not that we are knocking Romaine, we just really appreciate the value of fresh, tasty, and sustainable.

Benefits beyond tasting great

According to Food Insight, “it’s important to maintain the biodiversity of our agricultural ecosystems in order to fight gaps in the food supply chain and prompt environmental sustainability.”

 

Growing local not only helps resources recover, it lowers the use of natural resources and lessens the waste of single-serve packaging added to landfills.

#2 - Get rid of the idea of monoculture

Our current food system enables large scale cultivation of a few selections of plant varieties, many (such as corn and soy) grown from genetically engineered seeds that are optimized by the controlled application of herbicides and pesticide. The trouble with this approach is that a “one-size-fits-all” solution does not promote the health of the environment. From soil ecology to pollinator health, water quality to habitat loss– we now know better and we should decide to choose our food accordingly.

Benefits beyond tasting great

Beyond biodiversity, there are benefits to eating fresh versus store bought. The moment vegetables are harvested they start to lose nutritional value, and some fruits and vegetables take weeks and months to arrive at your local grocery store. Most produce loses 30% of its nutrients 3 days after harvest.

 

Because the food system is grown for transport (to last a long time before it even hits the grocery store shelves) and not for optimal nutrition, studies show that vegetables can lose 15 – 55 percent of vitamin C within a week. Growing from home and harvesting fresh, you benefit from 100% of the intended nutrition of the plant.

#3 - Get out and about in the world of flavor

Farmers’ markets provide you with an opportunity to try flavors you wouldn’t normally find on a grocery store shelf without travelling far to purchase or laboring over a traditional garden. A diverse portfolio of nutritious food that also entices the senses, is beneficial and, according to Dong (Dan) Han, PsyD, a clinical neuropsychologist and associate professor of neurology at the University of Kentucky and one of the principal founders of the International Society of Neurogastronomy, has the ability to improve overall health.

 

Food scientists like Dr. Han are currently exploring new findings of how the brain responds to gastronomy — the study of our relationship with food — and how exploring flavors can bridge gaps in society.

Benefits beyond tasting great

Make it a weekly ritual to visit local farmers’ markets. The trip out of the house and into the community will boost your mental health and help you reconnect with humans, nature, and your food. Plus, shopping local not only invites new flavors into your kitchen, you also end up supporting local food businesses that help drive plant biodiversity to forks across the foodscape.

Growing food sustainably helps us and the planet in the long term by paving the way for a balanced food system. How will you bring plant diversity to your plate?

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