Serena Caner, registered dietician

Column: Healthiest foods are fresh from the garden

It started with a beefsteak tomato the size of a shot-put ball.

Meaty and juicy, it was like no tomato I had ever eaten before. Served on a piece of toasted bread with a sprinkling of salt and fresh basil, there was no turning back to its distant, store-bought relative.

At the time, I was a student, and had landed a part-time job working on Glen Valley Organic Farm co-op. The farmer, a man named John, was very gracious to take me on because I had never grown a plant in my life.

He loved teaching and still paid me and sent me home with “seconds” every week, despite my below-average productivity. For the first time in my life, I felt very connected to my food and my environment.

From a dietitian perspective, fresh food requires little preparation and provides the most flavour and health benefit. A carrot pulled out of th

e ground does not need to be braised in butter. A new potato does not need to be deep-fried and covered in ketchup.

Salt, sugar and artificial flavours are added to today’s food system to compensate for the fact that food is picked unripe, and shipped great distances before we eat it.

We expect to eat fruits and vegetables in all seasons; however, they are only in season certain times of the year.

Luckily, summer is the best time to make fresh fruits and vegetables part of our daily diet. Furthermore, living in the Shuswap, you can eat fresh food without ever having to get any dirt under your fingernails. Fresh, local foods are available at many of our grocery stores and farm markets, including:

DeMilles: Thursday is Family Day, 10 per cent off groceries if you bring your kids.

Shuswap Farmers Market now located outside “Its Handmade” store at the old Canadian Tire, 2090-10 Ave SW. Market runs Tuesdays and Fridays, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Saturdays 9:30-2 p.m.

All-Organic Market: Wednesdays 3-5 p.m. outside Askews Uptown.

Interested in learning about growing food?

Shuswap Food Action has a new Community Garden/Learning Farm at the top of North Broadview just before 60th Ave NE. Drop-in 10 a.m. to noon Fridays to sample foods, weed or just check it out.

-Serena Caner is a registered dietitian who works at Shuswap Lake General Hospital.