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Could Florida be the Next Blue Zone?

Updated: Nov 16, 2022

The oldest, healthiest people in the world eat simple, garden-fresh meals. These dishes are made with only 6 or so ingredients harvested from just 20 or so different backyard plants. Areas with these mysteriously healthy people are called “Blue Zones,” and in these areas, clusters of people live to be over 100, disease-free. If you haven't read Dan Buettner's work on Blue Zones, I highly recommend getting his books! That said, I have some tips based on reading as many of his books as I could find...

Most Blue Zone centenarians care for a permaculture garden in their backyard. Typical ingredients in Blue Zones, which easily grow in Florida, include:

  • beans like pigeon pea and winged bean;

  • nuts and seeds like chia and tropical almond;

  • starchy tubers, like sweet potatoes or cassava;

  • herbs, like rosemary, oregano, and sage;

  • healthy fat sources, like olives, coconut, and avocado;

  • cruciferous vegetables, like collards and broccoli;

  • colorful, vitamin-rich fruits, like papaya, mango, and citrus;

  • “wild” greens, like chicory, katuk, aibika and chaya;

  • medicinal roots, like garlic, turmeric, and ginger;

  • mushrooms;

  • flavor enhancers, like peppers and green onions;

  • staple crop vegetables, like pumpkin; and

  • above-ground starches, like bananas.

Floridians can grow the same plants as those in the Blue Zones! For Floridians to become the next Blue Zone, it seems as though all we really have to do is support one another in our gardening adventures AND:

Grow enough of at least 20 different plants to eat daily from the garden.

What are your top 20 plants in your food forest?

My top 20 are: jackfruit, pigeon pea, pumpkin, banana, chia, chaya, katuk, aibika, coconut, avocado, papaya, calamondin, ginger, turmeric, rosemary, tropical almond, curry leaf tree, mango, winged bean, and purple collard tree.


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