If you’ve ever considered growing your own food, or at least supplementing your weekly grocery expedition, now is the best time to start.
Don’t let the absence of a backyard hold you back, or even a lack of knowledge, it’s not hard to find ways to add home grown goodness to your diet. If you don’t believe me, here are some simple reasons that’ll have you sorting through seed catalogues in no time!
6 simple reasons growing your own food makes good sense
- Growing your own food saves you money
- Saves the environment
- Is better for your health
- You know where it’s come from
- Reduces waste of all kinds
- Provides a learning opportunity for everyone in the family.
Growing your own food saves you money
The number one reason most people plant a vegetable garden is to supplement their food budget.
It’s simple, if you can grow it, you don’t need to buy it. If you don’t need to buy it, you can direct that money toward other things like paying down debt or saving an emergency fund or maybe just to give you more options for how you spend your grocery budget. For example, buying better (organic, unhomogenized) milk instead of the cheap, store brand stuff.
A thriving vegetable garden will continue to save you money, even in the non-growing season, by providing a bounty of produce you can preserve for later use. If you’re going to go to the trouble of planting and tending your vegetable garden, don’t let any of that hard work go to waste.
There are lots of different ways to preserve food and not all of them require special tools or equipment. You can dehydrate, freeze, or can your harvest. If you’re going to can your food, you will want to make sure you are using the correct equipment for the process; a pressure canner for low acid foods (meat and most vegetables) and a water bath canner for high acid foods (most fruit).
Once plants and animals were raised together on the same farm — which therefore neither produced unmanageable surpluses of manure, to be wasted and to pollute the water supply, nor depended on such quantities of commercial fertilizer. The genius of America farm experts is very well demonstrated here: they can take a solution and divide it neatly into two problems.
Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America : Culture & Agriculture (1996)
Saves the environment
The central tenet behind the local food movement is the direct benefit to the environment through the reduction of food miles. The fewer miles your food travels from the farm to your plate, the less water, fossil fuels and emissions are either used or created getting that food to you.
When your food travels half way around the world to get to you, vast amounts of energy are consumed, that means production of greenhouse gases. It’s not just the distances involved that matter. The fresh food sitting on the grocery store shelves is refrigerated every step of the way. Plus, energy is used to package the food for the journey and for sale. The less miles your food travels, the better it is for the environment.
How much more local can you get than your own backyard?
Growing your own food is better for your health
There are many ways growing your own food contributes to your health and well-being.
The most obvious one is access to an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. Too often we miss out on the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables simply because we don’t have access to quality produce. I know I’ve walked past the produce section at the grocery store empty handed because the quality has been poor but the prices have been exorbitant.
Plus, if your kids are a bit finicky about their vegetables, they’ll probably love being able to pull a carrot out of the ground, rinse it under the tap and crunch away happily.
Your home grown produce will be healthier for you simply because it is grown with far fewer chemical inputs than commercially grown produce. Even if you don’t use strictly organic practices in your vegetable garden, you’d be hard pressed to ever expose your fresh tomatoes to the same volume or variety of chemical insecticides and pesticides you’d find on commercially grown tomatoes.
Besides, all that stuff is expensive! It’s much cheaper to apply basic organic principles (composting, mulching, etc) to keep your garden healthy than it is to apply chemical bandaid fixes to pesky problems in the garden.
Healthy, vibrant soil produces more nutritious fruit and vegetables.
If you’re growing your own food and taking care to nourish the soil, the produce from your own garden will not just taste better, it will be more nutritious, too. It’s an often ignored truth that if the nutrients are no longer in the soil, they wont be in the food grown in that soil. Over farming and monocropping have depleted the nutrient value of most farmland which is why so much synthetic fertiliser is used in modern farming.
Other health benefits of growing your own food are the side affects of having a garden; fresh air and sunshine, exercise, stress relief, slowing down and just spending time in nature.
You know where it’s come from
You know exactly what goes into your food and exactly where it comes from.
Too often we hear of food recalls or worse, illness and death related to contamination of fresh food. Salmonella and E coli seem to be the most common forms of fresh food contamination. And, frighteningly, recalls appear to be becoming more common rather than less.
It doesn’t seem to matter where in the world you are, the industrial food machine gets it wrong. Often. Those errors can cost lives and can easily be avoided if you’re growing your own food at home.
Spinach, lettuce and other green leafy vegetables can be grown in pots on your veranda. No risk. No plastic packaging. Simple, fresh, tasty. When everyone else is avoiding salad because of the latest food contamination scare, you can trust that your home grown produce is safe.
Other aspects of your food’s provenance can include avoiding exposure to certain chemicals or processes like irradiation or foods grown in parts of the world that don’t have strict health and safety protocols.
Reduces waste of all kinds
When you grow your own food you reduce waste in a number of ways. Packaging is an obvious one. Your vegetables will be packaged as nature intended. Not a plastic container in sight!
There are other ways you reduce waste, too, that are perhaps a little less obvious.
You’ll waste less food.
When you’ve lovingly tended your garden, watching your plants grow and mature, there’s very little chance you’re going to allow the results of your hard work rot on the vine (or stalk). You’ll make the most of every single ear of corn or head of cauliflower.
Did you know that around 30% of all food produced in the world is wasted?
I can guarantee that wont be a relevant statistic when you’re growing your own food. Even if you grow more than you can eat and preserve, you’ll find eager recipients for your excess harvest in your neighbourhood, local charities or among family and friends.
There’ll be a lot less wasted energy, too. All that wasted food is wasted energy. Energy to grow it, manufacture and transport the fertiliser and pesticides, energy to transport the food from the farm to the market, to the warehouse, to the store, to your home and finally to the land fill. So much pollution could be avoided, too just by reducing the amount of food we throw away.
Provides a learning opportunity for everyone in the family
Have you seen any of Jamie Oliver’s School Dinners TV programs?
Were you has shocked as I was to see so many children who couldn’t identify even the most common vegetables?
Unfortunately, our kids are surrounded by ready made everything so I guess it should come as no surprise that they can’t equate a dirt covered potato with the fries piled up beside to their burger.
Growing your own food gives kids a chance to watch a seed sprout, grow and then produce the food that ends up on their plate.
Even better, they get to see fruit grow from a flower. They can see the bees pollinate the blossoms then watch the fruit grow and ripen to that magical moment they can pick it and eat it. Ripe and sweet and delicious.
I defy anyone not to feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment when they pick food they’ve grown, take it into their kitchen and prepare a meal.
Teach your children how to grow and prepare their own food and they’ll never forget it.
- How to Grow Your Own Food, Even If You Live in an Apartment
- 10 Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste and Save Money
- Frugal Gardening – How to Start a Vegetable Garden on a Budget
- How to Slash Your Grocery Bill by 50%
- 7 Financial Lessons My Grandmother Taught Me
Are you ready to start supplementing your groceries with food you grow yourself?
What will you grow first?
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