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Growing your own food is a big venture that usually takes quite a lot of effort. So why do people do it?
While I can’t answer for everyone, I know why we do it. We want to get to the point on our homestead that we are growing over half of our own food. While that’s a lofty goal, it’s achievable! Here are 10 good reasons why you should grow your own food.
1. To eat healthier.
Homegrown food, especially when you grow your own organic food, is always fresher and more nutritious. Too many people don’t eat as many vegetables as they should.
But I promise you, when people take the time to grow their own, they will ALWAYS try to get the most out of it, and will most certainly eat it! Try to focus on foods that you like to eat, or know you should eat, and learn new ways to make them even better.
2. To save money.
Growing your own food usually results in saving a lot of money. Yes, it is more time-intensive, but you get paid back with cheaper, more natural, food. Gardening can actually be a cheap hobby that provides you with loads of healthy food, if you are resourceful with your materials.
Seeds to grow your own vegetables are very cheap. Scour websites like Craigslist or Freecycle to get cheap or free building materials for raised beds or garden fences. I have even found cheap or free garden plants on Craigslist. Take your time, plan, and be resourceful to save lots of money on your food.
On the same token, buying baby animals to raise yourself is an inexpensive way to get started raising meat. We bought Jersey calves one year ago for $20 each, and they are now big, beautiful cows that are ready to butcher. Each one should provide our family with about 400 pounds of meat.
Of course, you have to factor in the cost of the feed that you put into them, and it will also cost money to butcher them, but I still think that is an awesome price for homegrown beef!
3. To make sure the food you eat is safe.
Too many times I’ve seen recalls on different types of food. From e-coli outbreaks in spinach or lettuce, to mad cow disease, there is just too much that can go wrong when we don’t really know how our food is grown. Have you ever wondered what chemicals have been sprayed on and around the food you eat? I have, and that’s one of the big reasons I choose to grow my own food.
I have complete control. My garden gets only natural fertilizers and bug sprays. My cows, goats, chickens, and rabbits are very healthy, have never had antibiotics or steroids, and I don’t use chemical fly sprays or dewormers, so I know that my meat, dairy, and eggs are safe for me and my family.
4. To get more variety.
Growing your own food can give you more variety. Most stores don’t sell heirloom variety vegetables, so if you want any “specialty” varieties, you’ll need to grow them yourself (or buy them at the farmers market).
There are delicious and beautiful heirloom vegetables, like yellow tomatoes and purple carrots. I have never seen these varieties at the grocery store, and I’m willing to bet you haven’t either. These vegetables have a different flavor than the “standard” varieties.
If you like them (or would like to try them), chances are you’ll need to grow them yourself. Check out Mary’s Heirloom Seeds for a great selection of open-pollinated, non-GMO, non-hybrid heirloom seeds.
5. To get outside.
When the weather is nice, I like to spend all the time I can outside. That’s the beauty of gardening for me. It gets me out there during nice weather! Just the act of watering, weeding, or just watching the veggies grow is very therapeutic.
Getting lots of sunshine is one of the best things you can do for your health. Your body absorbs Vitamin D from the sun’s rays. Vitamin D allows your body to absorb calcium and promotes bone growth. It also helps regulate the immune system, and even helps boost your mood.
A few years ago, our doctor told me that me and my teenage son were both low on Vitamin D, and suggested we take a supplement and get more sunshine. I then told my son that he needed to spend an hour outside every day. I didn’t care what he did, I just wanted him outside! We started feeling better when we spent time outside. Sunshine is so important!
6. To get some physical activity.
Growing your own food forces you to be active. From tilling to weeding, there is never a lack of physical work to be done in the garden. Experts suggest that everyone needs to spend 3-5 hours per week doing physical activity. Gardening easily gives you that amount of work, and it’s enjoyable! Who needs a treadmill??
The fresh air, the sunlight, the sounds of the birds chirping, the smell of the dirt, all build a greater connection to the world around us. Gardening is especially valuable for older people, since it is a great low-impact activity and gets them outside to get the benefits of the sun.
7. To cater to food intolerances.
When you grow your own food, you can avoid things that your family has intolerances to. For example, if your family is gluten-free, you can grow barley or amaranth to replace the wheat (ugh, don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t have gluten!). If your family has dairy intolerances, you can try other alternatives, such as goat’s milk. Goat’s milk is more easily digestible and causes less issues in lactose-intolerant folks than cow’s milk.
Luckily most of my family doesn’t have any food allergies, but my son is lactose-intolerant. Even though goat’s milk DOES have lactose, he can handle goat’s milk. And we can also make other dairy products that are just as easily digestible for him. Yogurt, cheese, butter, and ice cream made from goat’s milk has the same gentle form of lactose in it.
8. To be more self reliant.
How amazing would it feel to walk into your backyard and gather all of the food you need for many of your meals? That’s how it can be when you diversify our food growing. Our little farm provides us with vegetables, meat, eggs, and dairy.
My vegetable garden has been a little sparse due to not weeding enough, and we don’t have any fruit right now, but that is something that I will change next year. Raspberries are at the top of my list!
With the right planning and effort, you can provide a good amount of your family’s food supply, and not have to rely on the grocery store as much. What a relief that is when there is an emergency, or there’s just too much month left at the end of the money!
9. To help protect your family’s food security.
In these uncertain times, many people are beginning to question our food supply chain. I’m one of those too! During a pandemic, or any widespread crisis really, the food supply can be limited due to issues with distribution. We each need to take steps to protect our food security.
What will you feed your family if you can’t go to the store, or if you still can but there is limited food on the shelves? This is a question that can be answered easily if you make an effort to grow at least some of your own food.
I firmly believe that during this unprecedented time, everyone should be growing a Victory Garden. Did you know that during both World Wars, the humble backyard Victory Gardens grew the majority of the food that was needed, for the whole country?
10. It’s easy and fun!
While some foods have a learning curve in growing a good quality product, for the most part, gardening is easy and fun. It only takes a little bit of internet research, or talking to seasoned gardeners to get all the info you need on growing a particular food.
I love to work in the dirt, and watering by hand is my favorite (and cheapest) therapy! If you haven’t gardened before, you should definitely try it! If you are starting a garden and need some help, you should check out my Facebook group, The Homegrown Food Movement. It’s for gardeners of all experience levels, working together to grow more food!
Growing your own food is fun, rewarding, healthy, and a great thing to do in the warmer months. As you get a little practice, you can even extend your gardening season by fall gardening and experimenting with earlier-season crops. I hope you will put some effort into growing your own food. You won’t regret it!
I highly recommend Mary’s Heirloom Seeds. They have over 700 varieties of Heirloom, open-pollinated, non-GMO, and non-hybrid seeds. With good prices and excellent customer service, you’re sure to find some amazing seeds!