Why grow your own food when you can buy it at your local grocers?
After all, growing food is a lot of work, isn’t it? And there’s no way it could ever look as good as pristine supermarket veggies, so why bother?
Well, that all depends on your priorities. If your only concerns are convenience and aesthetics, look no further than your local grocers.
If, on the other hand, you remotely care about any of the following, home growing could be for you:
- Enjoying healthy foods without the mandatory side-dish of toxic chemicals
- A theoretically infinite supply of free food (once you’ve gotten started)
- Knowing that the food on your plate hasn’t been flown halfway across the world, greatly reducing your water, carbon and energy footprint
- Veggies so tasty they'll make you want to throw away anything store-bought (don't actually do this)
I’m not suggesting you move to the country, buy a plot of farmland and begin growing every bit of food you’ll ever eat (though that could be fun). No matter how small your home - food can be grown in even the smallest spaces. And with all these benefits it really is worth looking into.
Still not convinced? Keep reading to learn more about the many benefits of growing your own grub:
1. It can save you money – a lot of it!
Before we talk about the environment, your family or anything else, let's talk about you. More specifically, all the money you're going to save by growing at home.
Though there may be some small upfront costs, you will quickly recover them when your $3 tomato plant reaps a whole season’s worth of tomatoes. Especially if you love eating lots of fresh, organic foods, growing them yourself can work out significantly cheaper.
You don’t need an acre of land or massive garden either. Even with limited space such as a balcony or a windowsill, you’d be surprised how much you can harvest. By utilizing techniques like vertical growing or square foot gardening, you can turn the tiniest space into a real food factory. In fact, a well-tended 5 square foot balcony can actually produce a lot more than a shoddy, disease-ridden 50 square foot garden bed.
Chances are, you may even end up with more harvest than you’ll be able to eat. Preserve your left-overs and save yourself even more money on expensive chutneys, jams, sauces. Or simply give them away. Your neighbours will love you.
2. It’s a lot healthier for you and your family
Everyone knows that chemical pesticides are bad for your health. But do you know just how bad?
Most pesticides in use today were registered decades before extensive research could be carried out on their side-effects. Every year, more and more studies are linking these same pesticides to an increase in cancer and other diseases. Despite environmentalists’ best efforts, the staggering amount of money spent by chemical giants such as Monsanto on lobbying has allowed these harmful toxins to stay legal.
These days, as much as 30% of insecticides, 60% of all herbicides, and up to 90% of all fungicides and are considered carcinogenic, according to studies by the EPA.
Especially if you are feeding your family a healthy diet full of fresh fruit and vegetable, you could inadvertently be serving them a number of harmful chemicals.
By growing your own organic food, you have full control over what goes in it – and what doesn’t.
3. It greatly reduces your environmental impact
Pesticides aren't just harmful for your own health. They are toxic to a huge number of animals, plants and insects, and are thought to be behind the catastrophic decline in bee colonies since the 1990’s.
Though it is difficult to legally fight the companies making these chemicals, you can help hit them where it hurts. By growing your own organic food, you help lower the global demand for these toxins. If enough people joined in, a strong message would be sent to farmers worldwide to stop polluting our planet.
There are plenty of other environmental benefits to growing your own food.
You can, for instance, save a huge amount of water compared to conventional farming methods. With 70% of the planet’s accessible freshwater being used for agriculture (compared to just 8% for municipal user), every drop saved can make a huge difference.
Furthermore, the average American meal travels about 1500 miles to get from farm to your plate. That’s roughly the distance from New York City to Cuba. Imagine the oil and carbon footprint you can save by growing on your balcony, a mere 3 meters from your plate.
4. It tastes sooo much better!
If the only tomatoes you’ve ever tried were store bought, chances are very good you have no idea what tomatoes really taste like.
Research shows that when buying fruit and vegetables, we “buy with our eyes”. Tomatoes that aren’t perfectly round, have bruising or show minor defects are rejected in favour of the plump and flawless. Unfortunately, it is exactly these flaws that often give them their flavour.
Rather than breed crops for flavour or nutrition, commercial farmers now breed for beauty. They select strains based only on how uniform the produce is (ever notice how every supermarket vegetable looks the same?), and how well it holds and transports.
By growing your own food, you have full control over the strains you grow. Rather than grow the same F1 Hybrid available in every grocery store, you can choose between the thousands of strains available in seed catalogs and garden centers. And almost every single one of them is guaranteed to taste better.
It doesn’t stop with tomatoes. Beans, rocket, carrots, you name it. Just about anything organically home-grown will taste magnitudes better than their store-bought alternatives.
Besides - nothing is sweeter than the taste of your own success. Even if your first attempt at growing produces nothing more than a handful of half-shrivelled up tomatoes, knowing how much love and hard work went into those tomatoes will make them taste better than any you’ve ever tried. Guaranteed.