10 Good Reasons to Grow Your Own Food:
1. Great tasting, fresh, and nutritious food right outside your door.
There is no doubt about it, home grown food tastes better and is more nutritious than imported foods. In fact, the nutritional content of fruits and vegetables begins to decline the moment they are harvested. Considering the typical weeks or months it takes for much produce to get form the field to our plate, it is no wonder that both taste and nutritional content have highly declined.
2. Practice good economy.
Both economy and ecology come from the same Greek word oikos meaning “household.” When we grow some of our own food, we are beginning to bring together both the ecology and the economics of our household. Many urban dwellers find that they are able to save a substantial amount of money every year by growing some of their own food. The value of one apple tree producing bushels of fresh, organic apples year after year cannot be underestimated. Such a practice also reduces many of the “hidden” environmental costs (use of fossil fuels, water, pesticides, soil erosion) of the food that we eat. Furthermore, much of the food we import is grown by underpaid workers in difficult conditions on land that is much more needed to sustain their local populations.
3. Nurture your physical, emotional and spiritual health.
The therapeutic benefits of gardening are many. The physical activity involved in regular gardening activities contributes to general health and well-being. The pride and satisfaction that comes from harvesting one’s own produce is hard to match. Growing and consuming our own food, however, goes one step further – it connects us to the earth in a fundamental way that has been lost for most of us. Thomas Berry says that “Gardening connects us to the deepest mysteries of the universe” and many gardeners find that this is so.
4. Create beautiful, aesthetically pleasing spaces.
Gardening is a very creative activity and growing your own food is no exception. Developing a landscape with diverse food producing trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals adds tremendous colour, texture, smells and tastes to the local environment and in turn attracts many insects, birds, butterflies and other creatures. Such a beautiful landscape nourishes both the body and the soul.
5. Conserve wilderness, natural areas, and bio-diversity.
As world population and consumption increases, the pressures on our little remaining wilderness and natural areas builds. When we grow some of our own food, we help to reduce the pressure on yet uncultivated lands. This is particularly critical as the available agricultural land on the planet is finite and is degrading at a very alarming rate. Our own gardens can contribute to supporting bio-diversity both by decreasing pressure on wilderness areas and by providing additional habitat for local flora and fauna.
6. Connect with your own bio-region.
One cannot help but learn about their own ecosystem when actively gardening. Gardeners, and particularly food gardeners, are invariably more attentive to the seasons, the weather, the water cycle, and the local flora and fauna. Our gardens and we ourselves, become active participants in the bio-region in which we live.
7. Learn and preserve endangered wisdom and essential knowledge for living.
While most of us are the descendants of small farmers, there are relatively few people who now know and practice the essential human activity of growing food. With close to half of the world’s population now living in cities, it will become increasingly important for urbanites to play a role in learning and passing on this critical wisdom. From Africa to Asia to Latin America, city dwellers in the Southern hemisphere are leading the way in developing intensive urban agriculture. Many cities in North America are beginning to rise to this challenge.
8. Contribute to world food security.
Most of us depend on others, usually “far away others” for all of our food. When food production is far removed from where we live, we are vulnerable to events or circumstances that could interrupt this flow of food. The inevitable decline in the availability of fossil fuels will spell great changes for world food production and distribution in the coming years. It will be in all of our interests to invest in local food production – from our own yards, to our communities, to the farms that surround our cities.
9. Help to preserve diverse seed stocks.
The diversity of world seed stocks have been rapidly declining over the past 100 years. As more and more agriculture is controlled by transnational corporations whose primary agenda is to exert control over food production for profit, fewer and fewer strains of many fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes are now available. The development of genetically modified crops further threatens the integrity of our food supply. By planting and collecting diverse seeds, you are helping to protect our common heritage created by countless generations of small farmers over the past five thousand years. (For information on seed conservation in Canada go to Seeds of Diversity).
10. Reduce climate change.
Growing our own food is a tremendous way to reduce our impact on climate change (see The Earth Policy Institute). Most large scale, conventional farming uses tremendous inputs of fossil fuel in the form of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, fuel for machinery, and other indirect means. Fruits or vegetables grown thousands of kilometers away must be refrigerated and shipped from the field to our community. Much of the food (some estimates are as high as 50%) never gets eaten as it is lost due to spoilage at various stages of the production and distribution chain.
When we choose to develop a yard lush with fruit trees, shrubs, vines, and diverse annuals and perennials, we are reducing our own use of fossil fuels and are also contributing to the absorption of CO2. This very simple act can be a major step in redirecting our path towards a more sustainable future.
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