Through our programs and community outreach work in food access, Sustainable Food Center creates opportunities for individuals and families to make healthier food choices. When you grow what you eat, and eat what you grow, healthy and affordable food is much more accessible. Growing what you eat is a foundation of homesteading – creating a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. Edible gardens can provide outdoor exercise, stress relief, natural beauty in urban and suburban landscapes, habitat and food sources for wildlife, and a chance to enhance our diets with locally grown produce. Read on to learn five more reasons to grow what you eat.
Five Reasons to Grow What You Eat
Liz Cardinal, Grow Local Teaching Garden Coordinator
Once a garden is established, the cost of growing food is very minimal. A packet of seeds is usually less than $3.00, and an organic tomato start is about $3.50. Two pounds of seed potatoes will produce about 50 pounds of potatoes. As Los Angeles guerrilla gardener Ron Finley once said, “Growing your own food is like printing your own money.”
In an age where time is a precious commodity, having access to fresh food in your yard or community garden makes it very easy to add that produce to the day’s cooking without needing to drive to the store and shop for groceries. Menu planning can be done by taking inventory of your garden and deciding what recipes make use of the produce that is ripe.
Speaking of ripe…produce that is purchased in grocery stores often comes from far away and picked way before it is ripe. Sometimes it is coated with preservatives to keep it from ripening too quickly. Growing what you eat also allows you to get the ripest, most nutrient dense produce right off the plant.
Scientific studies have found a decline over the last century in the amount of nutrients found in common vegetables grown under large-scale agricultural conditions due to the practice of growing food for traits like size, growth rate, and pest resistance, rather than nutrition. Food crops grown in nutrient-rich soil contain more nutrients that enter our body when we eat them. In your own garden, you can also control the amount and type of fertilizer and pesticide you add to your soil and plants—this means you can be absolutely sure you’re eating produce raised organically.
The accomplishment of growing a small sprout into a mature, fruit-producing plant is very meaningful, and spending time outdoors is beneficial to physical and mental health. Also, children are more likely to eat a vegetable that they have grown, and they always enjoy observing the insects that live in a garden.
Want to learn more about how to grow what you eat and eat what you grow? We offer a hands-on Introduction to Food Gardening class series in the spring and fall that will equip you with the knowledge you need to start an edible garden.
For a hands-on experience harvesting, cooking, and eating from SFC’s Teaching Garden, sign up for our Seed to Plate class on June 10th from 9 am – noon. We will tour the SFC Teaching Garden and harvest produce, herbs and flowers, and then we will make a meal using these fresh ingredients with The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® staff.