Have you ever wondered whether growing your own food is worth the time
and effort it requires?
Why garden, after all, when you can so easily
and conveniently buy produce from a grocery store?
It’s a fair question — please read on.
Here are five reasons you should
seriously consider growing your own food.
1. Growing food can save you money.
Whether gardening can save you money is often a topic of debate. This is because your return on investment largely depends on what you grow.
Not all crops are created equal — at least not in terms of monetary worth. When we looked at the value of Tower Garden yields, it was clear that growing certain plants could mean significant savings at the supermarket.
Produce prices will fluctuate based on the season, your location, and even environmental factors like drought. But these crops are usually cheaper to grow than to buy:
Herbs (e.g., basil, cilantro, parsley)
Lettuce (and most other greens, really)
Squash (including zucchini)
Part of the reason you don’t see crops like turnips, onions, and carrots on the list is because they are “plant one-harvest one” plants. With plant one-harvest one crops, you plant one seed (or seedling), and after several weeks of growing, you get one harvest. The end.
Contrast that with plant one-harvest many crops — like those on the list above. Though you still plant one seed or seedling, you’ll enjoy multiple harvests. Take tomatoes, for instance. One plant can yield pounds of produce (that you don’t have to pay for, by the way). Seems like a better investment than one radish, right?
2. Food you grow is guaranteed to be fresh.
Did you know 20 percent of fresh vegetables in the United States comes from overseas? How fresh do you think that produce — which has likely traveled thousands of miles over the course of several days — really is?
Yeah. Probably not so fresh.
But food growing just steps away? That’s as fresh as it gets. And since you’re able to harvest and consume your produce at peak ripeness, it tastes better and offers greater nutrition than what you typically find in stores.
Plus, when you grow your own, you eliminate “food miles.” This benefits you because, again, the food is fresher. But it also benefits the earth.
Worth noting: If you buy your produce from local farmers — which I recommend you do for anything you don’t grow yourself — it will likely be fresher, more delicious, and more nutritious than food imported from another state or country.
3. Homegrown produce doesn’t get recalled.
Remember that 20 percent of imported produce? Turns out, only about 2 percent of it is actually inspected.
Draw your own conclusions. Just keep in mind that if you grow your own food, you control the growing environment. And I’m not sure about you, but I haven’t heard of any outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella, or listeria caused by homegrown produce lately.
4. Commercially grown produce often lacks nutrients.
Since around 1940, we have seen a decline in produce nutritional value of up to 40 percent. Did you get that?
On average, vegetables today have significantly less minerals, vitamins, and protein than vegetables did less than a century ago. Why? Well, it appears there are two primary reasons:
Environmental dilution effect. Food producers use fertilization, irrigation, and other means common in industrialized farming to increase yield (and lower produce price). But these methods have been found to also decrease produce quality.
Genetic dilution effect. Much of the food grown commercially now comes from hybrid plants developed to quickly produce hearty yields — again, often at the cost of quality.
In essence, people are trying to grow more food faster. But their approach is impacting produce quality.
(They should just give aeroponics a go, right? Bigger yields: check. Faster growth: check. Nutrient-rich produce: check.)
5. You control what goes in (and on) what you grow.
So supermarket vegetables may be short on nutrients. But you know what they do often contain? Pesticides. Yum.
In some cases, it’s actually pretty appalling. For example:
Strawberries may contain as many as 40 different pesticides.
Celery may contain more than 60 different pesticides.
Cucumber skin may contain more than 86 different pesticides.
Oh, and the average potato has more pesticides by weight than any other food.
Of course, not all produce is pesticide prone. And actually, there are a few plants that, to some degree, naturally resist the chemicals sprayed on them. These tend to be foods with hard outer surfaces, such as winter squash and cantaloupe.
Exceptions exist, but soft-skinned produce (e.g., greens, tomatoes) is what you typically want to watch out for.
Here are the highlights — if you’re concerned about pesticide exposure, you should grow:
Lettuce, kale, chard, spinach, and other greens
Potatoes (Note: Since it’s a root crop, you can’t grow potatoes with Tower Garden.)
Summer squash and zucchini