While growing and preserving food is still a widespread activity in many cultures around the world, it isn’t necessarily popular in America. Many people take food for granted, simply going to the grocery store without much thought as to where the food comes from. We just expect it to be there, right?
Imagine a world where grocery stores did not exist, where there would be no fresh veggies, fruit, or herbs unless you grew them yourself. While you may think this could never happen, I urge you to consider the reality. We are living in fragile times — times that require us to prepare for the possibility of a severe food shortage.
Here are just a few of the many reasons why you should consider growing at least some food in a home garden
You will save money
One of the factors that inspired me to start growing my own food was that it would save me money. Organic produce can be expensive, but a pack of organic seeds? Not so bad.
Even with the cost of water and plants factored in, you can save quite a bit of money when you grow your own plants instead of paying the high price at the grocery store. For example, a bag of organic baby spinach costs around $4 at the local grocery store, and it’s only enough for a few servings.
Compare that to organic seeds, which are a fraction of the cost, and will yield about six pounds of fresh spinach. To me, it makes great sense. And even if you do have to work a little for it, you can still enjoy fresh, organic spinach all season long,
You will be healthier
Even more important than the savings, is the opportunity to consume produce that is loaded with valuable nutrients. Food that’s grown organically, without synthetic pesticides, contains more nutrients than non-organic foods.
In an analysis of more than 300 studies published in 2014 in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that organic crops, which included everything from blueberries and apples to broccoli and carrots, had a substantially higher concentration of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. In just one example, there were 50 percent more flavonols and anthocyanins in organic crops than conventional ones.
Plus, when you grow your own fruits and veggies, you tend to eat more of them. You also know more about what comes in contact with your food, and you can control when it’s harvested. Store-bought produce is often harvested too early and is lacking in essential nutrients.
You can protect your kids
When my kids were young, I remember being shocked when I read the staggering statistics about how susceptible young children are to pesticides. That was over fifteen years ago, and things are worse today.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, children are much more susceptible to chemicals than adults. Estimates show that 50% of lifetime pesticide exposure occurs during the first five years of life. The average child receives four times more exposure than an adult to at least eight widely used cancer-causing pesticides in food.
If nothing else, this should encourage you to begin gardening for the health of your children.
You will be prepared for a food shortage
During World War I, and especially World War II, Americans were asked to grow their own food to help support the war effort. Although we may not be in the middle of a world war, our food supply is extremely vulnerable nonetheless.
All you have to do is take a look around the world to see what might happen. In Venezuela, for example, citizens have been enduring a catastrophic food shortage due to an economic crisis and total collapse of the food system that relied heavily on imported foods. As currency controls food imports, hyperinflation eats into salaries, and people line up for hours to buy basics like flour.
There are people starving in that country. Amid the crisis, the government advised Venezuelans to start growing their own food and raising their own chickens. But gardening takes time, and if you don’t know anything about it, it can take even longer.
Regardless of the type of government or those who are in power, any population that relies on imports for its food supply could be next on the list to experience a dire food shortage. The United States imports more food than any other nation on the planet, followed by China, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
There doesn’t have to be a major economic crisis, either. What happens if truck drivers go on strike or delivery trucks are unable to deliver food to the stores? What if there is a fuel shortage which prevents them from delivering, or causes the prices to skyrocket? Taking action now is a must to prevent future tragedy.
Your food will be fresh
Around one-fifth of the fresh vegetables in the United States come from overseas. How fresh can it be when it’s had to travel thousands of miles? The quality of store-bought produce gets lower and lower the further it has to travel. So unless you’re buying from the farm or a local farmer’s market, you’re probably not getting the freshest foods.
However, when you grow your own, it just doesn’t get any fresher than that. You can choose when to harvest and consume what you grow when it reaches peak ripeness. It naturally tastes much better this way. In fact, some have noted, after growing their own food, that they never really knew just how good a fresh tomato, or perfectly ripe ear of corn really was.
You will be less stressed
There is something incredibly relaxing about spending time caring for plants, watching them bend and reach for the sun, and keeping an eye on them as they produce delicious food for your table.
Science even confirms how valuable growing a garden can be to your mental health. One study asked volunteers to perform a stressful activity followed by either 30 minutes of reading indoors or 30 minutes of gardening. While both managed to reduce stress, gardening had a much more dramatic impact. All sorts of mental health experts and physicians have determined that getting out in the garden is great therapy. It’s even being used to treat anxiety, depression, PTSD, and Alzheimer’s disease, among many other ailments.
Gardening also gets you moving outside in the fresh air, requiring digging, planting, harvesting, and so on, all of which is excellent low-impact exercise. Forty-five minutes of gardening burns about the same amount of calories as running a mile and a half in 15 minutes.
You’ll help the planet
Our planet could really use some love, and when you grow your own food, you’ll be improving the earth and our environment in several ways. First, you won’t be polluting the air by driving to the grocery store, and second, you’ll be helping to cut back on the energy used by modern farming. Modern farming currently utilizes more petroleum than any other single industry! It consumes 12 percent of America’s total energy supply. So if you grow your own, you’re reducing pollution both from your travel and modern farm equipment.