9 reasons to grow your own food
1. To keep chemicals out of our diets
Modern agriculture uses an array of chemicals to produce our fruit and vegetables. Fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides can all be used in the growing of the plants, and then fumigation, long term refrigeration and irradiation may be used for transport and delaying the ripening of the food. And as you know, there is little if any labelling to to indicate what chemicals or processes are used on fresh food.
By growing your own food, you can be absolutely sure what is used to fertilise it, what is sprayed onto it, and how long it takes between harvesting & eating.
2. To eat a greater variety of foods
Supermarkets are geared to supply what modern agriculture produces. Fruit & vegetable varieties are chosen for their shelf life, appearance & ease of transport. Most conventional farms will grow exactly the same varieties to ensure their product is readily saleable to the big buyers. Often, seed will be genetically modified to ensure the product looks the same every time & can be mass harvested at the same time each year. You might occasionally spot an exotic variety on your supermarket shelves, but more than likely you’ll pay a hefty premium for it.
In the home garden, you have a huge variety of seeds to choose from handed down through the generations. You can experiment with different varieties to find what you like and what grows well in your soil & climate. And most importantly, you can eat a huge variety of foods without paying a single cent extra for it.
3. To do our bit for the environment
Humans have cut down a lot of our forests for modern agriculture – it took minutes to cut down what took thousands of years to create! Now, some of this land created for agriculture is so degraded we can’t use it any more.
It is well known that the United States is the biggest consumer of oil in the world, and it is also well known that agriculture is the biggest user of that oil. Of course oil is effectively a finite resource that took millions of years to create, and the processing and burning of it creates pollution to our air and waterways. The food created with that oil is then shipped around the world – more oil & more pollution!
One simple way of sidestepping this craziness is to buy as much of your food as you can from your local farmers, but an even better way is to grow the food in your own backyard.
4. For your personal food security
At the risk of sounding like a doom and gloom merchant, there’s many & increasing risks to our modern food supply as we know it. Climate change, peak oil, dwindling and low quality water supply, economic collapse, overpopulation, land degradation, wars, extreme weather events, and natural disasters all pose serious if not catastrophic threats to our way of life and the supply of fresh food.
Spare a moment of thought to how you’d handle say a month’s interruption to your fresh food supply – particularly if you live in an urban area.
By growing even some of your food in the backyard, you provide yourself a measure of protection against these events, and who knows, maybe even save the lives of those closest to you if disaster strikes.
5. For self healing
Our bodies have an innate ability to heal themselves. We see evidence of that regularly – like with minor cuts & bruising. The body just goes about the job of healing without any conscious effort or help.
Hippocrates, the Father of medicine, once said “Let food be your medicine, and let medicine be your food”. It’s also been said that we can make the equivalent of any drug or medicine within our bodies. To do that though, surely we need quality raw materials to go in via our diet.
Plants picked fresh from the garden are packed full of chlorophyl, proteins, vitamins, minerals, herbal constituents, antioxidants, amino acids and goodness knows what else. Moreover, they are provided in a synchronistic way that we cannot hope to fully understand. Simply taking a vitamin pill or a medical drug cannot possibly replicate what mother nature has given us through plants.
By eating a large variety of different plants grown by natural means, you can provide everything your body needs to heal itself. This is not to say medical assistance isn’t valuable, just that many minor & some not-so-minor afflictions could be self-healed by improving the quality of the foods that you eat – namely fresh organic produce from your own garden.
6. To eat foods in season
Nowadays when you visit a supermarket, you’ll find virtually the same fruit & vegetables on the shelves no matter what time of year. All fruit & vegetables are seasonal, so to achieve this year round supply, supermarkets must import the produce from another climate – oftentimes thousands of kilometres or even half way around the world. Nutrient content & pollution levels (not to mention taste) must suffer as a consequence of these “food miles”. Furthermore, there must be a reason why only certain produce is available in your area at certain times of year – I’d suggest that mother nature knows what nutrients we need for each season, and those nutrients are amply supplied by the in-season produce.
So by growing your own food, you’ll be accessing just the right nutrients for the season and still get a broad diversity of nutrients over the course of an entire year.
7. To save money
A disproportionate amount of our food these days is grown on large farms, run or controlled by large, often multinational companies. Ultimately these companies are concerned with one thing – making money. They need to answer to shareholders who demand the highest returns possible on their investments. Add to this the rising costs of fuel, water & environmental impacts and the most likely scenario is that food costs will keep rising and in some cases and for some foods the rises could be dramatic.
Compare this to the costs of growing your own food. Maybe the costs of seed & fertiliser will increase, but apart from that growing your own food is free. You can protect yourself from spiralling costs by growing some of your food at least – in your own backyard.
8. To teach our kids
Many kids (and some adults) in our modern society have very little idea where their food comes from. Ask them and they might tell you it comes from a supermarket or factory!
By growing and eating even some of your own food, you’ll raise their awareness and change their whole perception about food.
By actually teaching them how to grow food, you’ll be imparting a valuable life skill to them and perhaps spawn a new generation of home gardeners who take care of themselves and their families!
9. For our overall wellbeing
Growing our own food is a terrific form of exercise – if you ask me, much more fun and relaxing than jogging or going to the gym. It is also a known form of stress reduction – our problems literally seem to melt away while we’re in the garden – even if it’s only for a little while.
You can also expect a feeling of closeness to nature while you’re in the garden – the same feeling humans have had for many, many generations. A connection to our ancestors and the earth if you like!
And there’s also a feeling of great satisfaction in providing home grown food for your family and friends.
All that, without even mentioning the great nutrition that home grown food provides!