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It’s often thought that living in a country where you can buy lettuce, strawberries or broccoli twelve months a year is a blessing and we are more healthy for it. Maybe we are and maybe not. There are some who believe that we should only “eat in season,” consuming the plants that are naturally available at any given time of year. I happen to have a foot in both camps. I love being able to buy fresh (organic, please) produce in January and I appreciate being able to eat fresh vegetables and fruits from my garden in the summer.

There are several compelling reasons to grow as much food as possible outside your front door. You might want to be sure that the foods you are eating are as pesticide free as possible. Maybe you want to have food that has more flavor than any other you’ve ever eaten anywhere. Or perhaps you want to enhance your sex life. And no, I’m not throwing that in for shock value. Check out this fun and informative new book from Helen Yoest: Plants With Benefits.

For me, I love the opportunity and challenge of eating a garden-driven dinner. At this time of year our meals feature fresh tomatoes, beans, eggplant, summer squash and cucumbers. Earlier in the summer it’s lettuce and peas. In a few weeks we’ll be eating winter squash, Brussels sprouts, beets, and chard. All of these can be taken in several ethnic directions depending on the availability of fresh herbs, spices and our preferences. That is the challenge part…to pick the same veggies several nights in a row and come up with a totally different meal each time.

Tonight, I think, we’ll go with curries. Tomorrow? It could be French, Italian, Asian, or Mexican…or a combination of ingredients that takes our fresh produce in a cross-cultural direction.

Gardens take the local into the global: a Garden-Driven Dinner encourages World Beat Cooking.

Every day we harvest a basket of the freshest food on earth. Here is what I picked on August 31st and cooked using basil, mustard, lemon juice and olive oil.

For tonight's dinner I'll season with curry powder and other spices. Perhaps some coconut milk and fresh ginger will go into one of the vegetable dishes, along with the fresh cilantro in this basket.

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