Growing your own food and buying locally-grown produce have many benefits. Not only are you and your family’s physical health improved, but so are the planet and your own psychological well-being.
Having a household produce garden inherently promotes a more balanced diet, as having ready-to-harvest fruits and vegetables sitting in your own backyard makes incorporating more fresh, healthy produce into your diet convenient and inexpensive. In addition, harvesting food from your own backyard or another nearby source doesn’t depend on long-distance transportation the way purchasing produce at a grocery store does. This allows you to save money on gas and reduce your emissions! Keep reading to learn about even more benefits of home and locally grown produce, as well as potential risks that grocery store produce may contain.
grocery produce vs. home/locally grown produce
There are a lot of unknowns regarding what is used to grow the produce you see in grocery stores. Studies of low level, chronic exposure to pesticides have revealed neurodevelopmental toxicity and other adverse neurological effects and impairments (National Pesticide Information Center). The Environmental Protection Agency has identified the majority of herbicides and fungicides to be carcinogenic and have done very limited research on other approved pesticides (One Green Planet). As a result, it has become increasingly important to stay informed about the pesticides and fertilizers involved in the production of the food you eat.
At local farms, it becomes much easier to track down information about what pesticides and fertilizers were used in the production of the food. Growing your own produce takes this a step further, allowing you to decide yourself what pesticides and fertilizers, if any, you would like to use on the food you eat.
Harvesting food from your own backyard or a nearby source does not depend on long-distance transportation the way purchasing produce at a grocery store does. Estimates show that an average of 1,500 miles must be traveled by trucks carrying mass-produced fruits and vegetables before arriving at grocery stores (OGP). Since the transportation of mass quantities of produce requires the burning of a hefty amount of fossil fuels, buying locally grown produce or growing your own saves fuel and is healthier for the planet (UNH).
Growing your own food or buying locally grown food also saves money. Produce tends to be very expensive in grocery stores; spending a small amount of money on seeds will yield more produce that will provide food for you for a much longer period of time (UNH).
solutions to common obstacles
Many people are in situations lacking the room needed to house an entire vegetable garden. However, there are a few solutions that can help those tight on space still have the option to grow their own food. Certain fruits and vegetables grow well in containers; these are much easier to maintain and require less space to grow. Foods that grow well in containers include herbs like basil, thyme, and rosemary as well as fruits like strawberries; strawberries can even be grown in a hanging pot or basket (Local Harvest).
If you have a small amount of room, a “No-Dig” vegetable garden could be a good option for you. No-Dig gardens focus on minimizing the disturbance to the soil and allows for natural processes to continue while you grow your food. Foods conducive to No-Dig gardens include strawberries, pumpkins, potatoes, and beans (Local Harvest).
Furthermore, if it doesn’t seem like an option to have a garden within your own home, consider suggesting the idea of planting a produce garden to your neighbors and look into starting a community garden somewhere near your home!
where to learn more
For more information on starting a no-dig garden, check out websites that offer guidance and helpful tips on getting started such as the websites of the Permaculture Research Institute and Garden Organic.
Most seed packets have information outlining the climate, watering, and lighting requirements for each given item of produce. Any store with a garden/patio section – such as Lowes – is likely to sell plant seeds.
Also, your local bookstore will most likely have books that provide guidance to those looking to start their own garden. These books are also sold online in hard copies or in an eBook format.