When people come to my house in California, they always comment about the freshness of the food– especially my friends from NYC. I remind them that it is possible to have fresh food themselves — even if there aren’t many farmer’s markets nearby — by growing it themselves.
Many people think growing fruits and vegetables is overwhelming, but it’s actually much simpler than it seems. (And you don’t have to move to some field in the middle of nowhere to do it.) All you need is a few square feet of the great outdoors (or even just a little a container), a water source, and a little time. Your foremothers and fathers did it, and so can you!
There’s so many great reasons to grow your own food. Here are a few:
1. Improve your whole family’s health. When you grow fruits and veggies yourself, they have more vitamins than when they come on trucks from far away (or even your local market). Studies show that kids who who eat homegrown produce are more than twice as likely to eat (and like!) 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day than kids who rarely or never do. When my 7 year old niece and nephew come to my house, they love my lettuce, kale, peas, dandelion, strawberries– you name it!
2. Save money. Watch your food bill shrink as you grow fresh produce. A packet of seeds can cost less than a dollar, and if you buy heirloom, non-hybrid plants, you can save the seeds, dry them, and use them next year. You can also dry, can, or preserve your summer or fall harvest to keep feeding yourself even after growing season is over.
3. Be more green. Backyard gardening helps the planet in many ways. If you grow your food organically, without pesticides, herbicides and chemicals, you’ll reduce air and water pollution for the earth. You’ll also reduce the use of fossil fuels and pollution from refrigerated trucks and planes that carry food to your local supermarket.
4. Get an outdoor workout. Gardening activities are a fun and gratifying way to get a exercise. If you have kids, they can join you. They’ll love it and it’s so good for them. Gardening is such a wonderful way to relax, de-stress, calm your mind, and get fresh air and sun. It beats a jaunt on the treadmill any day, in my opinion!
5. Enjoy better-tasting food. Do you know how long the food has been on your supermarket shelf? Or how far it traveled to get to you? A homegrown veggie will always win a taste test when compared with a store-bought one. People think that you need to be an experienced chef to make great food. I say, it’s all about the fresh and clean ingredients!
6. Get in touch with nature. Growing your own food is one of the most purposeful and healing things we can do. Caring for your plants as they blossom and “fruit” is an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling experience and keeps you connected to the earth and its cycles!
7. Know what’s in your food. When you grow your own food, you don’t have to worry about contamination that may occur at the farm, manufacturing plant, or transportation process. So when there’s another spinach scare, you can still be eating yours—you can trust that your food is safe and healthy to eat.
8. Reduce waste. Americans throw away an average $600 worth of food each year! Many people don’t think twice about tossing a moldy cucumber, but you won’t want to toss a beautiful squash that you patiently watched ripen over the course of several weeks. When you’ve been the caretaker, you will be less likely let it go to waste.
Check out this 2-part video I made with my friend Theresa Soucy, who has been growing her own food for decades to show you how easy it can be to get started doing it yourself!
Help inspire others!
Although technically I have a certification in landscape design, I’m no expert gardener. I just love gardening and picking my own veggies. I’d love for you to share your story about your own garden or pot of herbs in the comments section below. Happy planting!