Cultivate Your Soil

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I’ve been gardening “organically” for nearly a decade now. But up until recently, I carried a narrow definition of “organic” in my head as what I wasn’t putting on my plants—no pesticides, no herbicides, no synthetic fertilizer. And while that is part of the equation, I’ve learned that organic gardening is so much more than what you don’t do; it’s about how you nurture the soil to be healthy long-term and, consequently, produce fruitful crops.

cultivate-soil-postThis isn’t revolutionary. In fact, Thomas Jefferson wrote this advice—about pesky pests—to his daughter in 1793:

“When the earth is rich, it bids defiance to droughts, yields in abundance, and of the best quality. I suspect that the insects which have harassed you have been encouraged by the feebleness of your plants, and that has been produced by the lean state of your soil.”

There’s a strong parallel here to the Nourish Network approach. One of our fundamental aims is to help people get beyond thinking of healthy eating as being what we don’t eat (fat, carbs, sugar, processed, whatever) and instead take a long-term view to mindfully nurture themselves through the foods they do. And, to come full circle, a healthy garden can be one of the best ways to achieve that.

This week, consider cultivating a garden (from the soil up) as you ponder the concept that a healthy body is as much about what you put into it as what you refrain from eating.

If you’re curious about what it takes to start a garden, here’s a helpful guide from the Sonoma County iGrow program

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Flash-Roasted Carrot Sticks with Cumin-Carrot Yogurt Sauce

Roasted carrots are a dinnertime staple, but this recipe spins them as more-ish finger-food appetizer or snack. The inherent sweetness of garden-fresh carrots is heightened by honey in this dish, and given a spicy kick from cayenne. Make the dip as spicy as you like with a little or a lot.

Flash-Roasted Carrot Sticks with Cumin-Carrot Yogurt Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Flash-Roasted Carrot Sticks with Cumin-Carrot Yogurt Sauce


  1. Cumin-Carrot Yogurt Sauce
  2. 1/4 cup carrots, peeled and finely grated
  3. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  4. 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt, Greek-style
  5. 2 teaspoons honey
  6. Dash cayenne
  7. Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  8. Carrot Sticks
  9. 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch by 2-inch sticks
  10. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  11. Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Set a heavy-duty roasting pan inside on the middle rack.

To make sauce: Mix ingredients together and let sit for 10 minutes before serving to let flavors meld.

To make carrot sticks: Toss carrot sticks with olive oil, salt and pepper. When oven and pan are preheated, spread carrot sticks in pan in a single layer. Roast, turning frequently, for 10-12 minutes, until golden-brown in spots and crisp-tender. Serve with Cumin-Carrot Yogurt Sauce.