Plant-Based Pittsburgh group encourages home gardening amid pandemic


About an hour ago

As the weather begins to warm, plants begin to grow far and wide, and not just in Western Pennsylvania’s widespread forests.

Gardens throughout the state are beginning to take shape, as gardeners prepare their soil, water seedlings and prepare for another growing season.

In Murrysville, the local branch of Plant-Based Pittsburgh, a community nonprofit dedicated to spreading the benefits of plant-based eating, normally would be meeting at the Murrysville Community Library. The reason they’re not — the coronavirus pandemic — underlines the importance of growing your own food at home, according to Sally Lipsky of Murrysville, who leads the east-suburb meetings.

“In this time when we’re all concerned about being healthy and our immune systems, growing your own food means you know where it’s coming from, you know if you’ve put any pesticides on it, and they tend to be more nutritious because you’re picking them fresh off the plant.”

Studies by Penn State and the University of California have shown nutrient content in fruits and vegetables begins to degrade almost as soon as it is harvested, making a home garden an easy way to boost the amount of vitamins and minerals in your diet.

“Whether you’re growing potatoes, zucchini, whatever, they’re all health-promoting foods,” Lipsky said. “The populations that eat the most plant-based foods — fruits, nuts, legumes — tend to have the least amount of chronic disease, tend to live longer and have a better quality of life.”

Potatoes are a mainstay for Lipsky, who began a deeper exploration of nutrition and its power to help the body while undergoing treatment for late-stage cancer in 2008.

“I love them, especially sweet potatoes,” she said. “Starchy vegetables and complex carbohydrates are a great basis for a meal, because that’s where you’re going to get energy from.”

Group member Susan Greenberg of Murrysville has an outdoor garden with garlic, onions and kale, with tomato seedlings growing in the house awaiting a late-spring planting. She enjoys cooking with Japanese eggplant.

“The one I love most to cook and eat is an eggplant sauté with diced canned tomatoes, fresh spinach, mushrooms, onions and garlic,” she said. “And I tend to add garam masala, an Indian spice blend, to add a lovely aroma and flavor. I usually serve it over a grain, like rice or quinoa.”

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, or via Twitter .

Food & Drink | Lifestyles


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