Growing your own food has gone from a retiree’s outdoor activity to the trendiest pastime and hobby for young and old alike in the last decade.
Urban gardens, CSAs, schoolyard farms, and gardens in nearly any available space, have been popping up all over the country. Work trade programs like WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms), Growfood.org and Work Away, have given eager volunteers the chance to learn about growing food, inspiring many of them to set up creative food growing operations of their own. In case you need any more convincing than tasting a homegrown cucumber, tomato or strawberry, consider the following 10 persuasive reasons to grow your own food:
- Enjoy the unbeatable taste of homegrown, freshly picked veggies and fruits. Not only do organically grown foods from your yard or community garden taste better than pesticide-laden ones, they also contain more nutrients to keep you and your family healthy and happy.
- Enjoy food free of chemicals. The EPA considers 90 percent of fungicides, 60 percent of herbicides, and 30 percent of insecticides carcinogenic, while the National Academy of Sciences considers pesticides to cause 4 million yearly cases of cancer, birth defects, nerve damage and genetic mutations in the US. Yuck!
- Enjoy the exercise that gardening tasks provide. Building raised beds, raking rows, weeding, planting, turning compost and moving dirt, are all very useful forms of exercise.
- Enjoy the financial savings of growing your own food. Investing it the materials for a garden may take a chunk of money to start off, but will keep your food costs down in the long run. The valuable experiences gained through growing your own food and the added nutritional value cannot be measured in money.
- Enjoy local food. Grown in your own yard or closest community garden or urban garden is as local as it gets.
- Enjoy seasonal eating. Growing your own produce allows you to reconnect with the natural food year, eating more fresh produce when it is in season, and preserved produce in the winter.
- Enjoy creating a wildlife habitat. Gardening automatically sets up an environment that attracts beneficial wildlife such as pollinator insects, birds and in some cases even amphibians.
- Prevent the loss of biodiversity and soil erosion. Corporate agriculture has become the epitome of mono-cropping and genetic modification in order to reap larger profits. The lack of plant diversity caused by these practices have left agricultural land lacking in minerals and nutrients, solved by administering chemical fertilizers. This has created pesticide-resistant insects and viruses that are affecting large amounts of single crops and cause extreme soil erosion. Growing your own food decreases the demand for the destructive practices of corporate agriculture. The health of the soil is demonstrated in the quality of the food grown in it.
- Protect our water resources. The EPA estimates that cancer-causing pesticides contaminate groundwater in 38 states, polluting the drinking water for more than half of our nation’s population. Growing your own food reduces that many pesticides from the water streams, while setting up your own irrigation systems does even more.
- Enjoy reconnecting to your community and your roots through food. Gardening and growing food have been and integral part of our lives since humans first began to cultivate food. The simple act of growing your own food will bring you closer to your roots as a member of that natural world, allowing you to grow, care and share it with gratitude and respect.
Image: Myrtle Glen Farm