11 Convincing Reasons To Grow Your Own Food
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Have you felt the urge to dig over a patch of earth and grow something good to eat? This was intended to be a list of 10 great reasons to nurture your inner farmer, but number 11 might just be the clincher.
1. Home-grown food tastes better
Let taste be your priority.
Any fruit or vegetable will taste best at its peak of ripeness, not five or six days later after it has been washed, sprayed, wrapped in plastic and had a gallivant across half the planet. Grow your own and you can eat your veggies within minutes, even seconds, of harvesting.
Take a string of peas in their pod. From the very moment the pod is picked, the peas begin to metabolise their own reserves, converting sweet sugars to tasteless starch. If, just once, you could taste the pleasure of thumbing a row of fresh peas from the pod and popping them straight into your gob, you would be convinced to grow your own.
2. Home-grown food is better for you
Your taste buds know what’s good for you. How else did the human race know what to eat before health magazines and diet gurus?
Vitamins are fragile and short-lived. Imagine a bunch of wildflowers picked on your morning walk – how long would you expect them to last lying, without water, on the counter-top? Just so has the nutritional quality of your fruit withered on the supermarket shelf.
Conversely, a leaf of lettuce, picked from a window box while the cheese on your lunchtime toastie is melting, packs a powerful nutritional punch.
3. Avoid pesticides and preservatives
Pesticides used in commercial food production damage our ecosystem and have been linked to disorders of the nervous and hormonal systems, allergies, and cancers.
Peaches, apples and strawberries are deemed the most likely to carry a high pesticidal load. If you have space, plant an apple tree. If not, stick a few strawberry plants in a hanging basket.
4. Recover lost gems
Some foods are deemed unsuitable or uneconomical for large scale production so, you might never taste them at all unless you grow your own. Gooseberries, white currants and broad beans don’t appear in the supermarket, but they are delicious and easy to grow. Don’t stop there; try tummelberries, crowberries, huckles or acais.
5. Discover variety
Commercially grown varieties are chosen for reliability, pest resistance and length of shelf-life. Grow your own tomatoes and you will be staggered by the range of varieties available to you. Select for a long harvest, a rainbow of colours, intense sweetness, for salad or for sauce. The choice is greater and the choice is yours.
6. Protect The Planet
By growing your own food you can reduce waste and eliminate pesticides and air miles. That much is obvious, but it doesn’t end there.
When you watch the bees pollinate your apple tree, you gain a sense of appreciation and wonder. You see their beauty and become concerned with their plight. It is inevitable. When you are concerned with soil composition you become a fervent composter. Before you know it, you will be hanging welcome signs for ladybirds and hedgehogs. You will forge links with the natural world and it will do you good.
7. Learn something new
Learning is reported to bring more happiness than having sex, playing or watching sport, or doing the lottery.
Gardening is a constant learning experience. Every new nugget of knowledge gives me a thrill. I learned yesterday that a clove of garlic buried beneath my tomato plants will deter pests and a borage plant nearby will improve the fruit’s flavour. On a daily basis, I am amazed.
8. Involve children
My five-year-old grows her own tomatoes. She has invested time and labour into her tiny plot and has watched the flowers develop into fruit. She knows that the green calyx on her tomato is what remains of the flower. To her, that is like magic. How could she not love tomatoes?
9. Get a workout
I might drag myself outdoors with the intention of nicking a raspberry, and before I know it I’m stripping off layers of clothing and down on all fours getting dirty. Weeding, people, weeding.
When we exercise with purpose we are more motivated than when we make a half-hearted trip to the gym. The lifting, bending, stretching and pulling of gardening provide a natural workout with the added satisfaction of a job done.
10. Save Money
Seeds, muck and rain (in Ireland at least) come cheap. Blueberries, gooseberries, currants and raspberry canes produce buckets of fruit for almost nothing beyond the initial outlay on baby plants. A few crowns of rhubarb will keep you in crumbles and jam for the annual price of a bucket of horse manure. Herbs such as mint and oregano grow like weeds.
You may think that the pennies saved aren’t worth the labour, but time in the garden isn’t the same as work and cost effectiveness is the least of the rewards.
11. Live Longer
There are reports, both anecdotal and scientific, that gardeners (even those who just grow flowers) living up to fourteen years longer than the average. This is usually credited to the exercise, relaxation and sense of investment in the future which gardening provides. Add to that the nutritional benefits of peak-quality food and you’ll find that time is no longer your enemy.
By growing your own food you will have the best opportunity to feel and look better whilst saving money and making a contribution to your planet. You can gift yourself a happier, healthier, longer life. Seriously, how many good reasons do you need?