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10 Reasons to Grow Your Own Food

Many of the worlds problems can be solved in a garden

–Geoff Lawton (Permaculturist/self-sufficiency expert)


I have wanted to broach this topic on the tribe now for some time.  I frequently lament how modern food provides too little nutrition with too much sugar and  unwanted additives.  (Herbicides, Pesticides, dyes, preservatives, and flavor enhancers).

On many occasions I have explored the link between common food-stuffs and various medical conditions.  See HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Now let’s look at how YOU can improve your own health by taking action at home!

Reasons to Grow Your Own Food:

1. Bread, cereal, sugar, sweets, cakes, pies, sodas, microwave dinners, MSG, aspartame, Red dye #40, Nitrates, and Nitrites don’t grow in your garden.  As mentioned in the introduction, chemicals, preservatives and dyes undermine our health. These types of foods rob the performance of ahtletes and lead to worsening health for everyone.  Garden foods typically mean fresh vegetables and less grain based foods.  (Yes grains can grow in a garden but at the cost of labor and space…not good for you anyway)

The result?

You eat less processed carbs, less adulterated food.  You expose your body to less harmful additives never intended to enter our metabolism.

2. Vegetables grown from your garden taste better  (Value in Seasonal / Local)  Any gardner knows the growing season lasts only so long (Without greenhouses, etc.).  This forces the natural cycle of planting and harvesting based on climate, conditions, etc.

Ever wondered why a home grown tomato tastes better than a store bought tomato?  The difference stems usually from the soil they came from.  Modern farming techniques rely on industrial techniques to grow large quantities of food.  Often fruits and vegetables are picked prior to ripening so they will survive the shipping process.  This produce also recieves chemical additives and preservatives designed to delay spoilage and chemically trigger ripening off the vine.

Ugh….besides vine ripening, growing at home allows for more organic gardening techniques.  Quality soil provides flavor.  Just like making wine, soil and conditions provide taste and nutrients to fruits and vegetables.  Composting and soil conservation improves land, improves soil sustainability, adds nutrients, minerals and more flavor–more importantly local flavor–YOUR own unique backyard flavor.

3.  You know where your food came from: Mentioned briefly above, herbicides and pesticides are a huge problem.  Many foreign countries still use chemicals to treat foods that the United States banned years ago due to their cancer causing properties.  Our own government has allowed greater amounts of pesticide residue to legally exist on food.

When you buy out of season fruits/vegetables, you risk exposure to those chemicals.   Convenience has a cost.

4.  Less Cost:  Anyone visiting a grocery store lately knows fresh foods cost big dollars. Seeds are cheap.  You can even harvest seeds or grow perienial plants that provide food year after year.  Nowadays everyone is trying to live on a budget.  Think of the double value of raising your own food, saving the gas and hassle of visiting the grocery store less often?  Gardening is a budget saver….

5.  You’re not dependent on others for your families food:  Self-sufficiency or prepping has become popular in recent years.  Maybe economic instability, national debt, healthcare crisis, wars, terrorism, natural disasters and social unrest reminded many of the value of self-reliance again.

Victory gardens during wartime provided much needed food and security from hunger.  In a natural disaster the grocery store shelves empty in well less than 72 hrs.  In that scenario, the time spent growing a small garden for one’s family seems like time well spent.  Imagine the comfort of knowing you can walk in your backyard and provide some sustanence during such a disaster.

The cost of  NOT needing to brave the trip to Wal-Mart during a crisis?  ….. Priceless

A garden provides not only a health alternative, it provides peace of mind.

6.  Gardening is Exercise!  All research regarding exercise points to improved health.  Exercise decreases the risk of hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.  Like the old Nike Ad—JUST DO IT.

Working a small container or square foot garden doesn’t require strenous work, but does allow bending, stooping, stretching, lifting, and general activity certainly qualifying as exercise.

Don’t like to jog?  Don’t like to lift weights?  Garden….

7.  Being outside means sunshine Vitamin D deficiency remains the #1 vitamin deficiency I treat in my clinic.  Sunlight helps convert vitamin D to the active version our body requires for healthy bones, nervous tissue, and immune function.  Feeling down, stressed, or depressed?  Spend 20 min tending a garden a day.  The sunshine alone might save you from costly supplments and the medical problems associated with vitamin D.

8.  Fresh air and simple task are relaxing = Less stress.  Leave the cell phone.  Put away the mouse.  Enjoy a simple task with no judgment, huge expectations, or major deadlines.  Pick a weed, trim a plant, harvest a few vegetables.  The simple activities help clear and re-center the mind.  My clinical experience suggests stress leads to more disease than any other cause.  Grow your own therapy.

9.  Family Activity:  My kids enjoy helping in the garden.  The activity teaches them self-sufficiency, productivity, and teamwork.  They relish finding a new squash or tomato budding on a plant they planted.  More importantly the garden provides a quiet place and time to share the events of the day and enjoy each other’s company.

10.  Surplus: Increased numbers of people barely make ends meet and cut more and more trying to get by. “Getting by” really isn’t good enough.  Gardening requires little space, little money, and typically produces more than one family can consume.  Instead of barely getting by, the family committed to backyard food production becomes a family of abundance.  You become the family with the “Real Wealth” of quality food…so much you can sale or donote to friends and neighbors.

If you want to solve world hunger?  …start with your own community.

If you want to earn of few extra dollars in a tight economy?

Maybe you have other reasons?

I’d love to hear them in the comment section.


{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Stephany May 5, 2014, 3:55 pm

    I have always wanted to do a garden, but Im not real confident. Do you know of a SIMPLE book for gardening basics? Like gardening for dummies in South Texas? I know there are probably a million to choose from, just wondered if there is a good one that you know of????

    • William Curtis MD May 6, 2014, 1:47 pm

      First off…stuff grows…you’d be surprised how little skill it takes.

      The easiest option in my opinion (time, construction, cost, maintenance, etc.) is square foot gardening.

      I bought the following book which had very clear examples and explanations.

      Water is an issue in South Texas. I find myself constantly underestimating the water requirements. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses seem most efficient. Those areas are covered in the above book.

      The concept of raised bed gardening is by far the easiest to maintain even with a busy schedule.

      Good Luck! Shoot more questions as they arise.

  • Rachel July 21, 2014, 1:16 am

    Watch the PBS documentary “Rape in the Field” for yet another very good reason to grow your own.

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