Grow Your Own Food: Improve your Health and Save Money

by Rev. Carroll Carter

I have learned that there is nothing like biting into a fresh ripe tomato taken from the vine, in your back yard. For that matter Lacinato Kale, or a sweet Fig from your fig tree, where there are no pesticides.

Flavor is just one of the delights you can enjoy when you grow your own food. Did you know that many of the varieties of fruits and vegetables sold in grocery stores are adapted for commercial farming? That right, through selecting and breeding traits, these strains are developed to produce more fruit per plant, be ready for harvesting all at once, have a longer shelf life, be a uniform size and shape and color, ship without bruising, and often finish ripening on trucks during shipping. Now, that’s a mouth full, but true. This breeding can compromise the flavor. The taste and texture of a grocery store bought tomato cannot compare to one that is freshly picked from your own garden.

Growing from quality transplants from your local nursery or better yet, start your own seedlings allows you to select from so many different varieties that offer greater flavor and texture than what is in the grocery stores. You can choose from hundreds of varieties based on shape, flavor and color and hardiness. When you grow your own, you can select varieties that are adapted to your Growing Zone (Roanoke is in zones 7a and 7b).

In your garden, you control the growing medium and the environment of your garden so that there is no need for pesticides, herbicides, nor chemical fertilizers. However, if you have some issues with disease or pests, there is usually an organic remedy to solve them.

Growing and harvesting food from your back yard, side yard or front yard garden (a pretty yard won’t feed you) ensures you know where your food comes from and what’s in it and on it. “The U S Federal Government estimates that 48 million people get sick from foodborne illnesses each year, 128,000

Are hospitalized, and 3000 die (F D A). So, grow your own. There’s no need to worry when you grow your own, in you back yard, side yard or front yard.

Growing your own food will teach you to eat in season when flavors and nutrients are at their peak.

What are nutrients? “Nutrients are compounds in foods essential to life and health, providing your body with energy, the building blocks for repair and growth and substances necessary to regulate chemical processes in your body. There are 6 major nutrients: Carbohydrates (CHO), Lipids (Fats), Proteins, Vitamins, Minerals and water.”

Fruits and vegetables that ripen naturally in the garden and are consumed within days of harvest have more nutrients than store bought vegetables. Reason being, most of the vegetables in the store produce section are picked early, shipped to warehouses, distributed to the stores, and stay in storage or on the shelf for a while until you purchase them. Over time, the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables decline. So freshly picked fruits and vegetables taste better and have a higher nutritional value. That nutritional value boosts your immune system, which is your first line of defense against, bacteria, and viruses that can invade your body. So, grow your own food in your yard.

Look, during the growing seasons, that’s right, seasons, gardening gets you out in the fresh air and sunshine daily. There are crops for spring, summer, fall and winter that will keep you in good shape and eating a variety of fresh food.

Digging, planting, weeding and other repetitive tasks are excellent forms of low-impact exercise. Forty-five minutes of gardening burns the same number of calories as running 1.5 miles in15 minutes. Regular physical activity can help you feel better and improve your well-being in, that it relieves stress, boosts energy and release tension (N H LB I; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute).

You will waste less food when you garden: none of the fruits and vegetables harvested from your garden will go to waste, because you pick from your garden what you need and the rest continues to grow until you need it for consumption, canning, bartering with another gardener or you give some away.

Organic waste is the second highest component of landfills in the United States and the largest source of methane emissions. It is estimated that 30% of food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month. (UNEP, United Nation Environment Program.)

If you stick to the basics, gardening does not cost much in supplies, in comparison to the amount of food it will produce for you. If you grow your own from a package of high-quality organic seeds it will cost half the amount you buy in the stores, plus your garden produces for a longer period, yielding even more.

Growing your own food contributes to your food security. “The World Health Organization states that food security is achieved when “all people always have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy active life. (WHO).”

So, growing your own food garden contributes to your food security by providing direct access to food that can be harvested, prepared, and fed to your family daily during the growing seasons.

Planting seeds and watching them grow to produce food for you and your family is one of the most satisfying experiences. Try it, you will love it. The Growing, the Eating and the Savings. Until Next Time.