WFP: Sharing and chia seeds.

I wasn’t quite sure what to post about this week- the humidity and my big ol’ belly have left me doing the bare minimum, food-wise. That’s okay though, lots of salads and simple stuff. But yesterday, being in that funk, I felt inspired by the end of the day to get out of my own head. Back when the garden was just being conceptualized, I think it was my big sister who had the idea to put a giveaway basket on her fence to get rid of extra veggies rather than just compost them or push them on relatives. I thought it was a great idea, and so last night I made it happen. We’ve got more lettuce than we can possibly eat, and radishes are ready (but we can only eat/pickle so many of those), and there’s just more to come. It was the perfect time for this project. So I found an old, slightly broken basket and made a simple sign.

Then I attached it to our light post and voila! Veggie giveaway basket!

Now be honest, if you were walking by and saw this and there were random veggies in it, would you take them home? I think if it was me then I’d take some, but I don’t know about other people. People have food boundaries that I don’t have- like issues with homemade candy on Halloween, etc. I don’t know how they’d feel about random veggies in a basket… Hopefully some people will like it! I suppose whatever they don’t take will go to the chickens or in the compost. So no loss really. 
I’m also really feeling like it’s important to give back a little. I’m so privileged to be able to do all of this, to spend this time at home messing around in my back yard growing my own food… it’s such a blessing. And so many people don’t have the time or ability to do this stuff, so I just really want to share some of our bounty, even if it’s just a few radishes here and there.

I also wanted to share a little about a new food discovery. Well, new to me anyway. Chia seeds. The only experience I’d ever had with chia seeds was admiring other people’s chia pets back when I was a kid… but anyway. I bought chia seeds at my food co-op when I was getting started with sprouting. I tried soaking the seeds to sprout them, but quickly learned my lesson when they turned into a gelatinous mess. There was no way I was going to be able to sprout them without a gooey hassle. So I had this whole bag of them, and I started doing some research. I found out that chia seeds are kind of an amazing food.

There’s so much information, I’ll just go point by point. Keep in mind this is just stuff that I’ve gathered by googling very non-scientifically… I am by no means an expert. Anyway. Here’s what I’ve found:

  • The chia seed was once a staple food for natives throughout North America- valued so much it was even used as currency.
  • Aztec warriors and some Indians in the southwest would use the chia seed sometimes as their only food on conquests (it was just that nutritious and helped to keep them hydrated!).
  • It absorbs lots of water, creating a gelatin-like substance when mixed with water (very similar to tapioca or flax seed)
  • They can slow the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar (because the gel creates a barrier to the digestive enzymes), making it a very beneficial food for diabetics. This slowing of the conversion can benefit anyone by minimizing the highs and lows associated with carbohydrate consumption, and prolonging the opportunity to use them for energy.
  • It is the richest vegetable source for omega-3 fatty acids, and is also a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
  • Chia seeds are about 20% protein
  • They are super high in antioxidants, which actually improve their shelf-life despite their high oil content.
  • They are high in fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and copper
  • There’s also a load of purported health benefits, such as prolonged energy, weight loss, relief of joint pain, improvement in skin health, healing of issues related to adrenal fatigue and thyroid problems, regulation of blood sugar in diabetics, etc.

Anyway, what was there to lose? I started adding it to my yogurt, smoothies, and oatmeal. It’s really got no noticeable flavor, and I just keep a small jar of hydrated seeds in the fridge and just add it to stuff. Also, because I’m not a fan of your conventional vitamin, it’s nice to have something that’s food-based that is so high in nutrients and essential oils. Chia seeds! Not just for weird clay pet things!


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Comments (17)

  1. 93_millionmiles

    That is such a sweet idea. 🙂 If I saw a free veggies basket, I’d take some. Even if it’s just to show support for the project and make the giver feel like their efforts are valued.

  2. muirichinnahali

    That is such an adorable idea! I’d probably take some. 🙂

  3. purerandomness

    Oh, your free veggie basket makes me happy. Way to go giving back to the universe!
    I would totally take some free veggies from a basket, but I might just leave something in it for the people offering the next time I stopped by 🙂

    How does one grow chia? Are you going to sprout some to keep your supply up or continue to get from the co-op?

    1. Gracie (Post author)

      I think you can just put the seeds in the ground to grow chia, but for sprouting it just turned into a gel. I hadn’t thought about trying to grow my own supply, though. What a good idea!

  4. yayhappens

    The basket and your sign look so cheerful. I’ll admit, I would only take veggies if the house they are coming from looked well-kept/maintained. Something about that would make me feel better even if it could mean nothing at all. In the case of your basket, yes I would grab veggies.

    Just this afternoon I was talking to SK about making kefir water because so much of the cost of groceries goes to his sodas and I wondered if he would be interested. I also wondered how your cultures were doing. Good, I hope!

    The benefits and different uses for the chia seeds make them like miracle food. I love it! I’m glad you share these interesting finds. I would totally be growing sprouts to put in my sandwiches and grinding them up to add the powder to try adding to sauces or something.

    1. Gracie (Post author)

      I’ll definitely update on the water kefir. It’s still pretty much in the experimental stages, but so far so good.

      I think I’ll also clean up my front yard a little. 🙂

  5. jamievulva

    I am all about Chia seeds!!!!!

  6. haurelia

    I would TOTALLY take veggies from the basket Grace! In fact, my first thought was: “I wish I still lived within walking distance to get some lettuce.” 🙂
    I think it’s a great way to deal with your surplus and pass on good eats to the neighborhood.

    And yay for finding a use for all the chia seeds! I wonder if, when you’ve hydrated them, they’d mimic a poppy seed-ish element for breads (like when your zucchini starts to produce and you have to make 8000 recipes up for extra zucchini!).

    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Yay! It would be so nice to see you this summer… but I know you’re living it up as a yooper. 🙂

  7. pagangoat

    Chia seeds are amazing, we bought them a few times, but not recently, just because they’re a bit pricey. But I’d like to get back into them. I didn’t try soaking them, that’s interesting, I’ll have to try it.
    I would definitely take free veggies, it’s a really nice idea:)

  8. jess3686

    My stepmom does the same thing with extras from her garden, but her sign isn’t nearly as cute! Clip art is great 🙂

  9. stupidfool

    i don’t like veggies, so in practice, no. but in theory, i think that i would take them if i knew you, for sure, even if i’d just talked to you once or twice in passing (enough to be sure that you were a real, sane person). if i didn’t, but knew that i’d be likely to pass by your basket again, i’d probably ask around about you, until i found somebody who knew of you and could vouch for you, and then i’d probably take some the next time. i don’t think i would take any from a perfect stranger, though, because i’m pretty paranoid–unsealed halloween candy and everything. it’s sad to think about, really. my parents can remember a time when the whole neighborhood left their doors unlocked, and that’s something i never got to know, in my lifetime…

    1. Gracie (Post author)

      You crack me up! Well I think you’re right about neighborhoods now. I think people are generally just more wary of each other now. Oddly enough, that’s what makes me feel less safe! I wonder if it’s a self-perpetuating problem. Maybe if you see a basket of veggies you could just take one to break the cycle!

  10. lilpeace

    Yay for free veggies!! I’m going to do it too, as soon as I have a surplus. I’m thinking about ways to keep veggies fresher for a little longer outside…but maybe it’d just be a daily thing and if they weren’t gone by dark I’d just put ’em in the compost.

    And chia seeds sound amazing. Sounds like a great thing to add to everything! Plus some bee pollen, you’ve got everything you need and more!

    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Yay! Yeah, if they don’t get taken they’ll just go to the chickens or something. Plus with a basket they can just quickly glance and see that something is in there, whereas if I used a cooler or something then people would maybe keep looking and be disappointed if it’s empty… I dunno.

      Yeah, I need your sourdough muffin recipe! I want to make sourdough strawberry chia muffins!

  11. brigittefires

    I know when I was living downtown and even the neighborhood I lived in as a kid, there were problems with homeless people taking people’s veggies from the gardens. I know the Normal Park community garden’s remedy for this was to put out a similar free-veggies basket, and a lot of people (even those growing in the area at home) started growing extras to put into it. So I suspect that even if there are fewer homeless folks in your area, there are probably enough folks around that can’t afford fresh veggies who would love the ability to have some, or even just try something they don’t have in their own gardens.

    In any event, if there weren’t many veggies or if I knew there were other people in the area who NEEDED them and might stop for them, I wouldn’t take them. But if I were broke or just kinda felt like garden-fresh veggies looked good, I would. But then, I would probably also make a point of coming over to say hi and thank you and maybe see if you needed some help in your garden (assuming I didn’t have one of my own) or anything I had that we could trade for. But maybe that’s just me. I know plenty of people who would just go “OOh! Free lettuce!” and take it.

    1. Gracie (Post author)

      I hope people start to take them! No such luck over the past day, but I may just have to move the basket to make it more visible. We’ll see how it works out!


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