Those raised in more rural communities might find it strange that anyone might need “reasons” to grow their own food. In urban settings where grocery stores and markets are far more prolific than gardens and farms, the conversation seems more appropriate, “Why should we grow our own food?”
It’s easy, right, you can just go to the store down on the corner and casually stroll through the aisles filling your basket with whatever suits your taste for the evening. What could be better?
While growing your own food may not be easier than shopping at the supermarket, there are still a wide variety of outstanding reasons why we should take on the task of growing as much of our own food as we can.
10 Reasons to Grow Your Own Food
Most gardeners, of edibles or ornamentals, understand the personal satisfaction of having a successful garden. It’s an amazing feeling to reap the rewards of your own investment of time and attention, especially when those rewards are in the form of delicious fruits and vegetables. It is doubly satisfying to eat a home cooked meal built on homegrown veggies.
Food producers would have you think that their pasteurized, sterilized, sanitized factory production processes make our food safer. In reality, it often strips food of nutrition and flavor while exposing larger amounts of people to food-borne illnesses. Homegrown, minimally processed food handled properly is much safer to consume.
A home garden isn’t going to make the average person rich, but it can put a serious dent in those grocery bills. The simple trick is choosing to grow foods you know you and your family will eat, the stuff you buy at the market. When you start adding up the fruit and veggies you harvest you’ll start adding up the money you didn’t have to spend on groceries, it adds up.
Something interesting has come up as a common theme whenever the Grow Your Own Food conversation starts, the skeptics don’t know anything about growing food. It’s generally a lack of knowledge that keeps more people from growing. This is a relatively new thing in our society as just a few generations ago, the knowledge of how to grow food, store food, save seed and produce food on a personal level was common knowledge. Not anymore. So by making the decision to grow our own food now, we are making a decision to reclaim a nearly lost knowledge base that our grandparents and great grandparents relied on.
Push all the fancy marketing aside. Commercially-grown, factory-processed food products can not compete with fresh, home-grown, seasonal, organic produce. Nutrition loss starts to occur the second a plant is harvested (with some exceptions). This means that the longer a plant takes to get from harvest to table, the less nutritious it will be. Commercially grown produce is also commonly grown in depleted soils and fed synthetic fertilizers, also limiting plant nutrition. It simply can not compare to healthy plants, grown in rich soil, consumed within days or minutes from harvest.
Taste is subjective and some people can’t tell the difference, but many people can. Home grown food just tastes better, richer, sweeter. We’ve personally read so many stories of kids who will only eat veggies from home, or fondly remember the taste of “grandma’s veggies” because they tasted better than anything from the grocery store. Growing your own food means you get to harvest and consume your food when it is at it’s peak ripeness, instead of buying something artificially ripened because it was harvested early.
Providing food for yourself and your family is the ultimate statement of independence and self-reliance. It puts you in a position of control and authority over your own domain that you give up when you rely on commercial food producers and a commercial food delivery chain to bring semi-tasty morsels to your local big-box market.
Think about what it takes to bring a single piece of produce to the shelves in your local big-box market. Huge fields are plowed and sown using massive machines running on fossil fuels, the crops are fed chemical fertilizers and chemical insecticides during their growth, water is pumped in from somewhere off-site, then similar large machines harvest the produce where it is packaged and shipped across the country on more trucks using more fossil fuel. The carbon footprint for conventional commercial produce is massive. Grow at home, using organic or hydroponic methods, harvest at peak ripeness, eat at home…the environment thanks you.
All gardeners know, when zucchini is in season all your neighbors get zucchini! Even home gardens created for personal use become community resources when everyone shares in the abundance of harvest season. If everyone is growing, communities end up creating networks of gardeners and local producers to share and trade with. It becomes a social exercise as much as it is a personal one.
Come on, you knew this had to be in the list! Playing in the garden is serious business but it’s also good fun. You get to be outside, walking among plants that you have a personal connection to, watching nature at work. Many gardeners refer to working in the garden as “zen” or “meditative”. It’s a place to reset yourself, surrounded by nature. Plus you get to play in the dirt!