By Kevin Feinstein
Vitamin C is super important to maintaning good health. Humans and other primates must take in Vitamin C through our diets as we don’t manfacture it ourselves (as do all other animals — except guinea pigs.)
You can read about hundreds of fruits and vegetables that are allegedly “rich in vitamin C”, such as brocolli, strawberries, kale and spinach. However, to get a strong dose Vitamin C none of these plants can be eaten in quantities even close to what you should be looking for.
Why consume Vitamin C? You may have been told to take it before or during an illness to boost your immune system. You may want to take extra amounts of vitamin c during stressful times. In our modern world, we are constantly exposed to myriad sources of constant oxidative stress — something that Vitamin C can help with greatly.
Vitamin C is delicate. Simple actions such as cooking can destroy or severly degrade Vitamin C. So it’s not so easy to get after all, and for most people, relying on diet alone to get adequate vitamin C might be enough to prevent scurvy, it is far below what many consider to be optimal.
So how can we grow our own Vitamin C?
Well, we look for Vitamin C rockstar plants of course!
The highest source of Vitamin C is the Kakadu plum, which is native to Australia. Good luck finding seeds or plants of this to grow however in most places. A close second is the Amazonian plant, Camu Camu, which is fairly common as a natural Vitamin C powdered supplement. This is also probably difficult for most to grow.
Another tropical/subtropical plant that is famously high in vitamin C, at least in the health food world, is acerola (aka Barabados cherry). Acerola is common in areas like Central and South Florida. It is easy to grow, but can’t take much, if any, frost.
The highest source that can be grown in cold climates are rose hips. Rose hips are the fruits of a rose bush, and typically it’s the wild form of the rose that is used for the nutritious vitamin source. These hardy plants are super easy to grow, although they are not super productive.
Another very cold hardy source is sea buckthorn (aka seaberry). The fruits of these fast growing, nitrogen fixing shrubs are very tart but loaded with many vitamins and even healthy fats! These do better in cold climates as they need a certain degree of winter chill.
At a certain point we have to stop calling them “rockstars” as the amount of Vitamin C diminshes. The last one on my list is the jujube fruit. They love full sun and heat, are drought tolerant, and can take quite a bit of cold in winter when dormant. This fruit is delicious, easy to grow, and easy to dry. The dried version of this fruit is also known as “red dates.”
Notice oranges don’t make the list? They aren’t nearly as high in vitamin Cas the above mentioned plants. That aren’t even as high as red peppers, black currants, or parsley. Those are probably the most common foods that are “high” in Vit
Notice oranges don’t make the list? They aren’t nearly as high in vitamin Cas the above mentioned plants. That aren’t even as high as red peppers, black currants, or parsley. Those are probably the most common foods that are “high” in Vitamin C, but rose hips for instance are nearly 20 times higher than parsley!
Vitamin C is crucial to so many aspects of health, that supplementation is usually the option for most people. But, if you can start growing these super foods in this article, you are one aspect closer to self-sufficency!