“Why should you grow your own food when you can get it from the grocery store instead?”
Well, you could… but what happens when you can’t? Maybe money becomes an issue, or perhaps – God forbid – the zombie apocalypse really does happen! Then what?
Let’s figure this out together, and by the end of the article, I promise you’ll have at least one reason you should be growing your own food!
A huge part of self reliance is the ability to provide your own food. Hunt your meat… forage for food… and grow a garden! You won’t have any need to go back to the grocery store if you learn to grow what you eat. But if you’re still wondering why you should grow your own food, keep reading!
No Harmful Chemicals In or On Your Food
Along with most of my homesteading and self-reliant friends, I consider myself an “organic” gardener. That means I don’t use any chemicals to control pests and diseases on my plants.
Instead, I focus on soil-building techniques to build healthy garden soil that will naturally develop its own “immune system” to ward off most diseases and pests.
Since there are no chemicals being used on our plants, the soil isn’t soaking up any chemicals to be absorbed by the roots and fed to the crops themselves. This means less of a chance of our food actually harming us in the long run, and more of a chance that they’ll taste the way God intended them to taste!
Save Money Growing Your Own Food
If you’re a frugal shopper like my wife and I, you will have noticed food prices steadily going up for a long time. Some are drastic increases due to a shortage of that crop, while others are slowly but surely being hiked along with fuel prices of the trucks that haul produce to the grocery stores and supermarkets.
In order to combat the price hike, grow your own!
Even if the prices weren’t going up, you’re still going going to be saving money in the long run. Grow your own, and you won’t have to buy it from the supermarket.
You’re Teaching Your Children Self Reliance
But watching my kids do something for themselves is a gratifying thing!
If you have toddlers, even letting them water the plants with their own little watering pail is a huge step! As they get older, let them pull weeds, teach them to trim plants, let them harvest the vegetables.
Anything you can do to keep them interested in the garden will help them become more self sufficient in the future!
If they’re learning to grow food, you’re teaching them food self-reliance. Once they learn how to feed themselves of their own volition, they’ll never go hungry!
Gardening is Therapeutic (and Fun!)
I know when I’m in the garden I feel much more at peace – even when I’m in full battle mode against the dreaded tomato horn worm! There’s just something about having my hands in the dirt with sweat dripping from my brow into the soil that makes me feel at one with nature.
I can’t say as I have ever come in from the garden in a foul mood.
Gardening is also fantastic therapy for your body. After you’ve been cooped up inside your house all winter, it does a body good to be outside exercising.
Roll up your sleeves, put on a sun hat, and soak up some Vitamin D from the rays of the sun!
All Those Plants Make Your Yard Look Pretty!
Have you ever seen someone who takes a lot of pride in their yard? I’m willing to bet a lot of those people are also growing food – whether you know it or not!
Even edible plants can be pretty!
You can easily create what’s known as an “edible landscape” that has both form and function! Lots of crops have beautiful flowers (like okra and chives), while others have gorgeous leaves (such as ornamental lettuce, cabbage and kale).
Incorporating these delicious beauties into your landscape will not only give your neighbors a stunning view of your home, but you’ll have something to feed them when they come to visit!
Satisfaction of Knowing You Grew Your Own
This goes back to the whole point on self reliance. You didn’t rely on anyone!
Taking a piece of unworked earth, preparing it, planting it, tending it, and then harvesting all that comes from it is a truly beautiful thing! By your own hard work, sweat, and love, you have nourished your body all by yourself.
How many people that shop at the supermarket can truly say that?
You Are More Aware of What You Eat
If you try to grow as much food as you can, you’ll always pay more attention to it.
A lot of the time when we go to the grocery store, we rely on the produce workers to ensure the best quality of food. They make sure the best looking fruits and vegetables are put on their shelves, kept fresh, and removed when they begin to look bad.
If you grow your own food, you’ll know first hand that sometimes the ugly fruits taste the best! I’m not saying you should go eat a rotten tomato… but if it doesn’t have to be perfectly round and cherry red, either.
If You Have to Buy Food, You Know What to Look For
If the time comes that you have to buy produce at the store, you’re aware of what a good fruit looks like versus a bad one.
Referring to the section above, the produce doesn’t have to necessarily be perfectly shaped. Knowing what to look for in produce means much more than that. You’ll know when a fruit isn’t fully ripe. You can tell when one is about to go bad.
It also means that you might go for the “ugly” fruit in the back because it just might taste better.
Learning the signs of good produce versus bad produce is second nature when you grow your own food. You’ll learn how they’re supposed to feel and smell as well as how they should look.
If the Trucks Stop Running, You Don’t Stop Eating
If there was a nationwide issue, and the delivery trucks couldn’t make their routes, there wouldn’t be any food on store shelves!
Have you ever watched The Walking Dead? You know, the whole zombie apocalypse would surely break the system.
But beyond that, there might be other reasons you wouldn’t see trucks running. A strike would probably be at the top of that list.
Fuel shortages could very well stop the supply trucks, too — or at the very least, jack the prices sky high (which we’ve already covered).
At any rate, if you know how to fend for yourself in the garden, you won’t ever have to worry about this entire situation. You’re covered! You can grow your own food!
Avoid Cross Contamination
The CDC estimates roughly 48 million people each year get sick from foodborne illness. Of those, approximately 128,000 are hospitalized, and an average 3,000 die.
A lot of that is due to people who handle the food – from the field to market shelves – who may be infected with a virus, or by cross contamination from some other raw agricultural product.
That’s why it’s always important to wash your veggies, kids!
When you grow your own food, you know who has touched it, what they had, and (usually) how clean they were at the time.
But maybe your spouse who picked that ripe, juicy tomato is brewing the flu deep inside. They sneeze, wipe their hand on their pants, pluck that delicious fruit, and bring it in to slice up on a sandwich.
Always better to be safe than sorry! Wash that tomato! (…and your hands, for Christmas sake!)
Have you heard all the rave about this whole farm-to-table movement? It’s all the rage in major cities (and some smaller ones) around the globe!
From the US to the UK, chefs are loving working with local growers to ensure the freshest produce is used daily in their delectable dishes.
That said, you can’t get fresher produce than to go out in your own garden, pick it, prep it, and eat it!
Store bought produce gets handled over and over (potentially leading to that cross-contamination we spoke of earlier). You never really know just how fresh it is.
The quality of that store-bought produce is also lower the further it travels. Unless your grocer is of the “farm-to-table” mindset and buys locally grown produce, chances are a lot of what’s on their shelves come from out of state – if not out of country!
Help Your Community
Your home-grown food can actually come from a community garden or crop sharing program!
Maybe you don’t have enough room to grow all the yummy food you want to grow. Why not find a plot close to home and start a community garden with your neighbors? In fact, if you’re an apartment dweller, you could even talk to your apartment manager about starting one for the residents!
If you do have enough room to grow your own food, grow as much as you can! Maybe you find out you’re a terrific melon farmer, but you’re not very good at growing squash, lettuce and okra. That’s where one of the next two options come into play!
Look for or start your own local crop sharing program where you team up with other local homestead growers to share your crops. You grow the melons, someone else grows the squash, a third person grows the tomatoes… and then you all get together once every so often to exchange produce. That way, you all have something to offer and something to take back home with you!
That there’s what we call your basic homestead bartering!
Make a Few Extra Bucks on the Side
If you’re really ambitious and have a lot of space to grow food, why not grow more than you need?
You can set up a small stand at the end of your driveway to sell the extra produce you’ve grown!
We actually had someone that lived near us when we lived further out in the boonies than we are now. They had a huge garden in the back that grew the best watermelons I have ever eaten in my life!
They started by just growing their own, then they expanded more and more each year until they had so many they couldn’t eat them all.
So maybe you’ve got an exceptionally green thumb?
Grow another couple of rows of corn. Double up on your pepper plants. Expand your okra plot. Then take all that extra goodness and make some additional coin from it!
…and if you can’t set up a roadside stand somewhere to peddle your produce, check into a small stall at a local farmer’s market!
Do you grow your own food?
The road to self-reliance is paved with hard work and rinsed daily by sweat. You can’t get anywhere by sitting around waiting for someone to do it for you.
If you’re brand new to the idea of gardening, I urge you to check out the book Food Grown Right, in Your Backyard! It’ll get you started teaching you the basics, like where to put your garden, how to test your soil and how to keep your plants alive!
Being able to grow your own food is probably the best way to provide for your family. Grow only what you know you’ll eat — if you don’t like zucchini, why plant it in the first place?
I love hearing about other people’s success in the garden! Leave a comment below and tell me how and when you got started gardening.