Monday, August 11, 2014

Reasons For Growing My Own Food

Cindy asked via email, "Why are you so set in growing your own food? You preach frugality, but isn't it really cheaper to buy food from the stores? Plant fertilizer is expensive and so are seeds. And you have to buy all those garden tools. If you add up all the costs, supermarket food is a better deal. You'd save a lot of money." 

Well Cindy, if I was just growing a little garden, yes, those few tomatoes or few beans would be very expensive. It wouldn't make much sense from a money saving viewpoint to shell out , for example, $100 for seeds, $100 for fertilizer, $400 for tools, and put hours of labor into producing a little food. But I have plenty of reasons why I think raising my own food is worth it. Let me discuss a few....

...pride in knowing that I can be self reliant. There's a deep satisfaction knowing that I can survive. If the stores closed tomorrow due to war, strike, or other catastrophe, I wouldn't go hungry. And it's because of me, I can do it. contributes to my kakou, my sense of being part of a community, of belonging here, of being "we" rather than "I". The food I produce is often used in trade with others or shared outright within my community. Having never been part of a community before, I have been amazed how great it feels to share food with others, share with no strings attached. It's the no strings attached that is new to me. I anticipate and expect nothing in return. Since living here I have been the recipient of such sharing and it is still surprising to me. 
...fresh fruits and vegetables. Freshness and flavor go hand in hand. To us, fresh foods are superior to anything that can be purchased in a store. My veggies and fruits mature on the plant, rather than being harvested early for shipping purposes. 
...fresh eggs from content hens. Fresh eggs are superior. The flavor depends upon what the hens eat, and mine get very little commercial feed with their diverse diet. They have daily access to pasture in the afternoons and get an assortment of foods in their feed bowls. It makes a difference in the frying pan. Happy hens are important too. While my hens do not free range 24 hours a days they do voluntarily go back to their pen each evening after hunting and foraging in the pasture all afternoon. A much better life than any commercial hen. 
...humane, grass fed meats. Mass production meat and slaughter is not humane, in my opinion. I am relieved to now be able to eat predominantly humane meat. Most of my meats are either home raised, open pastured, or hunted. Besides being more humane, I find that this meat has a flavor I prefer. Sometimes not as tender fall-off-your-fork, but surely tastier. Home produced lamb and pork has the added bonus of being able to be "harvested" at a much earlier age than commercial meats, thus it is tenderer and superior in every way. 
...safer, cleaner food. Commercial foods are far too often contaminated in some way. Antibiotic resistant E. coli, salmonella, listeria, etc. Chemical residues from herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, etc. Purposeful dousing with assorted chemicals to enhance store shelf life, extend longterm storage life, suppress sprouting, retain or give color to, etc. And that's just the fresh foods. What they do to processed foods is mind boggling. Cheeses that never mold even after 9 months in your refrigerator, bread that ferments after 4 weeks but never molds, ice cream sandwiches that get soft but don't melt. A whole list of chemicals listed in the ingredients, plus lots not required to be listed. Foods being modified in bizarre ways. Then there are those foods brought in from unregulated areas. Most of it is never inspected when it's imported. 
...GMO free. I don't produce any GMO foods. While some GMO foods pass my acceptance protocols, others don't. I will eat GMO papayas. But I don't want to support the excessive use of roundup thus round-up ready GMO are out. I've seen reports that higher levels of roundup is now showing up in food, and that is a concern to me. source safe from the effects of shipping strikes and disasters affecting important commercial farms. I'm told that Hawaii ships in 90% of its food. Therefore shipping strikes can have a serious impact here. And anything that effects commercial farms on a big scale certainly impacts the availability, affordability of food. modified foods in my diet. No pink slime, high fructose corn syrup, modified starch, gums, etc. No artificial foods such as colorings, texturizers, flavorings. No fake crab meat, no imitation anything. from terrorism. No fear of my food being sabotaged by some wacko or terroristic group trying to make a political statement. Just picture it, killing one little old lady won't do much for their international image. It surely won't cause the President and Congress to faint in horror. So I figure my garden is safe. Besides, the farm guard dogs do a good job at keeping strangers at a distance. from food fraud. My lamb isn't secretly old donkey or fox meat. My tilapia won't be some sort of secret trash fish. My honey isn't modified sugar water. 
...I don't indirectly support things I don't want to. For example, I'm not an advocate of monoculture. I don't wish to help support the economy of certain political regimes. Nor support what I consider the unfair exploitation of certain ag workers....children, slaves, coerced labor, and the conditions those people have to work and live in. money. Now that sounds like the opposite than Cindy's experience. Sure, store bought food is cheaper if I had to buy commercial livestock feed, commercial fertilizer, commercial pesticides, commercial seed, commercial ........ See the pattern? If I were hooked into everything being commercial sourced, then home food production would indeed be pricey. But I don't buy most of my supplies. My operation is small and thus doesn't require large equipment nor employees. I can eat a large selection of foods that would be rather pricey in the stores. And a bonus of living where I am, I don't have to go to the expense of storing food for winter. I can grow food year around. But even if I lived back in NJ, I'd still be better off eating my home raised foods. I'd just need to come up with methods to economically store foods. And learn to eat seasonally. 


  1. I agree with all you stated. I still wonder why, in a place that could sustain year-round agriculture, with cultural precedents to promote the interconnectedness of communities, that the overwhelming tendency is for dependence on government handouts and welfare. I fear widespread breakdown of societal norms in the event of some disaster of an extended duration. I'm not a "prepper" at all, but I AM a person who totally understands the Boy Scout motto "Be Prepared".
    Think back a few days - as the threat of possible double hurricane disasters approached, you made reasonable preparations, but you weren't racing down to the local Sack and Save to buy all the toilet paper and bottled water you could find - yeah yeah yeah, a lotta folk did do that! What would happen if there was a shipping strike that blocked all the ports for weeks? Perish the thought!

  2. Barry, we very well could have a shipping strike. The government here is quite aware of that and has been warning people for a couple of years now. But very few heed the warning. No, I'm not a prepper, but like you I believe in being prepared. That's one of the main reasons I'm running the community garden here, training interested people how to grow food, how to be prepared. If a disaster happens, the price of food will go sky high here. If one can't grow some of their own food, then those people will quickly be eating a poor nutrient diet = malnutrition. And if there's no food to buy in the stores, you can't eat your EBT card! Far too many people here are dependent upon EBT. It's crazy. Food is so easy to grow year around, if you know how.