There was a time when having a home garden and growing most of your own food was the norm, not so much for environmental reasons, but because it was the absolute cheapest way to produce the food your family needed. Later still, it became a symbol of patriotism to grow your own victory garden, which would reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by WWI and WWII. It has been a long time since those days, and home gardening has all but disappeared. Nevertheless, producing your own food is still a great idea. Here are three reasons why you should plant a home garden right away!
If you have ever bothered to read the labels on the produce at the supermarket, then you already know that it usually has traveled thousands of miles to get to you. It’s a hard truth to face for many people, but when you buy apples that come from New Zealand, you are persuading the store and anyone else in the supply line, that picking fruit before it is ripe so that it doesn’t spoil and then shipping it several thousand miles is a viable business model. Just think how many tons of carbon is pumped into the air to get food from the farm to our doors. When we buy food that must be shipped that far, we become part of the reason it is being shipped in the first place. Farmers markets are great because they allow you to get fresh produce that is, for the most part, locally grown. Still, the farmers have to drive sometimes hundreds of miles just to set up shop at your local farmers market. It’s important to remember that when you buy your kale from a farmer who drove 200 miles to get to you, and will drive another 200 to get back to his farm, you become part of the reason that those mile get driven. Eating local is a great way to reduce your contribution to carbon emissions caused by shipping. Just keep in mind that you cannot possibly get any more local than your own back yard.
You have total control
When you are the person in charge of growing your food, you will inevitably be more considerate of the final product. You know everything about the food you grow yourself, like whether it’s a GMO (it won’t be) or if it is organic (it will be). You have total control over the final product, because you are the only one involved in the supply line. The nature of large farming is why we have things like GMOs and non-organic farming in the first place, but by growing only five or six pepper plants, you have the luxury of tending to each one individually. A traditional farmer must treat all of their plants as a single crop. It’s much harder for them to keep pests at bay when they have acres of a single plant attracting them from miles away. They also have to worry about weeds infiltrating the unnatural eco system that is a farm and ruining their profits. This is why many farmers feel they must use pesticides and herbicides, as well as herbicide resistant GMO seeds. When you are the grower and the consumer, you don’t have to worry about that. You just have to make sure the critters who’ve manage to find your little garden get taken care of before they can do too much damage. Even if you do lose a few plants to garden pests, you’re not really losing money. You’ll just have a few less ingredients in your salad.
Gardening teaches us about food
If you’ve been to the grocery store lately, you know that all tomatoes are bright red perfect little spheres with absolutely no blemishes. Except that’s not really true, is it? Over the course of the last century, farmers have realized that tomatoes that are bright red and even in color and shape sell the best. You have probably found yourself taking part in this situation by choosing one fruit over another because of minor discoloration or a few spots. In all likelihood, that produce was just as good as what you ended up with. We don’t blame you for choosing what looks the best, but here is a secret that farmers would probably rather you didn’t know: looking the best has nothing to do with tasting the best! Just because a fruit or vegetable looks perfect, doesn’t mean it tastes better than other varieties, and in fact, it is usually the opposite. Breeding tomatoes to look the best has taken precedence over breeding them to taste the best. The varieties we have today at the grocery store may look far better than they would have 75 years ago, but their taste absolutely pales in comparison. Growing your own food teaches you that not every fruit or vegetable ends up looking perfect, but the flavor remains unchanged, and better than anything you’re likely to find at the supermarket.