Most of our parents or grandparents (depending on your age) gardened. Many even full-fledged farmed, and nearly all cooked. In recent decades however, our increasingly busy lifestyles have most people not even cooking, much less growing some of our own food
All you have to do is take a quick peek at Pinterest or other social media to know that the desire to cook and garden has never left us. And with good reason. Growing food, and cooking the food you grow is the most fundamental way to connect to the earth. Nothing beats fresh-from-the-garden taste and nutrition. In case you need any more convincing than tasting a homegrown cucumber, tomato or strawberry, consider the following 10 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.
- Reduce the number of chemicals you ingest. 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! Use natural products like garlic, natural soaps and diatomaceous earth to combat pests.
- 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. Focus on your movements and get in a good workout, plus a healthy dose of Vitamin D.
- 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.
- Appreciate all food more. When you see what it takes to grow a ripe tomato, pepper, onion, and cilantro; to chop it up and combine it with the perfect seasonings; you'll never look at fresh salsa the same way again.
- 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 improving biodiversity. Gardening automatically sets up an environment that attracts beneficial wildlife such as pollinator insects, birds and in some cases even amphibians. Planting a diversified garden is a far cry from the huge monocultures of corporate agriculture.
- Prevent 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. Using hand tools and small tillers, plus adding organic compost to your soil builds topsoil rather than destroying it.
- Enjoy family time. Slow down. Get the kids and grandkids, or sisters and brothers involved. Plan, plant, tend and harvest together. Cook the bounty together. Discuss the successes and failures and lessons learned! They may grumble, but ask any adult if they are glad they worked in a garden as kids, and the answer is a unanimous, "Yes!"
- Enjoy reconnecting to your community and your roots through food sharing. 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, allowing you to grow, care and share it with gratitude and respect.