Growing A Garden For The Mediterranean Diet

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Growing A Garden For The Mediterranean Diet

With a focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, and the inclusion of seafood and some meat, it’s no wonder people choose to eat the Mediterranean way! In its annual survey, U.S. News has awarded the Mediterranean diet the top spot for 2024. Eating delicious Mediterranean-style food is my jam, and since the number one gardening rule is to grow what you love to eat, I always fill my garden with Mediterranean-style crops. It’s easy!

Live Longer

The survey evaluates 30 diets and interviews 40 nutrition experts specializing in diabetes, heart health, and weight loss. The research found that the food on a typical Mediterranean plate is mainly plant-based and nutrient-dense, so people who regularly eat this way have a better quality of life and live longer. They’re less likely to suffer from chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

There’s plenty of research showing the benefits of following the Mediterranean diet. It’s also one of the diets featured in Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones, a positive and fun documentary streaming on Netflix.

Mediterranean Eats

The experts warn that the Americanized Mediterranean diet isn’t the real deal; take it easy on the refined pasta, red meat, and cheese. Whole grains and veggies should always be the shining star in a meal; anything else is a side and should be eaten in moderation.

Deciding to eat differently can feel overwhelming; luckily, there are plenty of cookbooks and blogs on eating the Mediterranean way. My current favorite is The Mediterranean Dish by Suzy Karadsheh. Suzy’s got a great blog, and her cookbook features 120 delicious recipes the entire family will love, tested in my kitchen and at my dinner table repeatedly!

Growing Mediterranean Foods

Cooking Mediterranean-style food is one thing, but what about growing it? Because this diet is mostly plant-based, it’s easy to incorporate Mediterranean crops into your garden. Consider the following options:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, basil, and mint
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Onions and shallots
  • Garlic
  • Bell peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Artichokes
  • Potatoes
  • Leafy greens like arugula, romaine, oak leaf lettuce, and baby spinach
  • Citrus fruit
  • Olives

You can plant Mediterranean-style crops directly in the ground or raised beds, buckets, or grow bags if you don’t have a lot of space. In his book Grow Bag Gardening, Kevin Espiritu designs a Kitchen Garden combo bag with leaf lettuce, chard, and mint at the top and fresh herbs in the pockets on the sides. He recommends multi-pocket grow bags because you plant six or more veggies in the same bag. Have fun with this, and develop your unique crop combinations (keeping proper spacing in mind)!

Grow What You Love

One of the things I love most about the Mediterranean diet is that it’s simple yet delicious. Growing a garden to accommodate how my family eats is fun, cuts down grocery bills, and builds a deeper appreciation for our food and where it comes from. What’s not to love about making a Mediterranean plate with food picked from the garden?

 

Garden Culture Magazine

✿ Read More: Gardening Tips and Advice.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.