Many people believe that newly introduced vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage are better than traditional vegetables. In fact the opposite is usually true. Locally available vegetables such as spinaches usually contain many more nutrients. Dark green vegetables are good sources of vitamins A and C which help give protection against illness. Even a small quantity of leaves added to a meal improves the food value.

Try not to overcook vegetables because long cooking destroys some vitamins. Add onions, tomatoes or oil to improve their flavour if necessary.

Plant vegetables throughout the year to provide food all year round, particularly during those times of year when vegetables and fruits are in short supply. Waste water from rinsing clothes and washing can be used to keep small quantities of vegetables growing.

The leaves and fruits of many trees can also improve family nutrition. They often have greater drought resistance than vegetables because of their extensive root systems. Plant fruit trees in corners of the garden where they do not shade vegetable crops. Pawpaw, guava and citrus are all useful garden trees and their fruits contain high levels of vitamins.

Discussion

  • Dark green leaves are a good source of vitamins A and C. Name those available in our area. What can families do during those times of the year when few vegetables are available?
  • What wild plants are traditionally used in our area as a source of dark green leaves? Where can these be obtained?
  • How could we encourage people to grow and eat more dark green leafy vegetables?
  • What trees in our area produce leaves that can be eaten? Can people gather these leaves free of charge? Where could people get seeds or young trees of species such as moringa – which produces very good leaves and beans?
  • How could we encourage people to grow and eat more fruit for household use? Is there a nursery where people can buy young trees?