Friday, March 16, 2018

Why Grow Food?

I can't tell you just how many times I've been asked, "Why go you grow your own food?" I hear the question over and over again. People point out that there is an abundance of found in the stores, the prices are cheap or at least affordable, it takes lots of work to grow a food garden, it takes money to grow your own food....and on and on and on. Lots of reasons. I've already talked about this topic before, but I'm getting so many questions about it recently that I thought I'd explore it again from a different angle. 

I have my own personal reasons for growing food, but other growers have their own, sometimes much different reasons. I'd like to list a few of mine in order to give people thinking about this topic something to mull over. 

... Independence. There's something very satisfying to me to be food independent. I find comfort and satisfaction in self reliancy. 

... Cleaner food. I can control what, if any, chemicals my food is exposed to. Commercial foods, even those listed as organic, can be exposed to a wide assortment of chemicals. Not only chemicals concern me. Bacteria, parasites, feces, and urine at times contaminate commercial foods and I'd rather not be part of that on a regular basis. 

... Fresher food. I like picking my food right off the plants, often moments before I consume them. I like eggs and meat that are extremely fresh. 

... Better flavor. Until I moved to Hawaii I wasn't aware of just how superior fresh picked fruits could be. The taste of bananas and citrus that are tree ripened is amazing. Some of the heirloom bean varieties have incredible flavor. There are plenty more examples. Freshly harvested food simply tastes so much better. 

... Variety. Though not an issue for most urbanites, rural areas often don't have a good section available. I can grow a broad selection, including edible flowers. How cool is that! I can grow herbs that are difficult to near impossible to find in the stores. 

... Confidence. Personally growing my own food, I know what went into producing it. Commercial foods, you have to guess and have a lot of faith. Is that cheese really safe? Is that meat contaminated? Is that organic milk truly organic? Are those veggies really safe? I have personally heard tales of overt cheating, right from the mouths of the farmer involved. Sprays applied the day before harvesting -- a real no-no. Chemical dewormers used just prior to slaughter. Antibiotics used just prior to slaughtered. Commercial forbidden herbicides used on organic fields.  It's happening. Plus I've read news accounts of cheating -- fish and meats misrepresented, GMO evidence in labeled organics, that sort of thing. 

... Satisfaction. I like being a small farmer. It's a passion that had smoldered in my soul for decades. Plus I like being a member of a dying race, the small farmer. Sadly, the small farmer is disappearing. Perhaps I'm enough of a rebel to like bucking the trends. 

Learning to grow or otherwise obtain our food has been an experience! It is physical work, but also a major learning challenge and emotional rollercoaster ride. I'm happy to be doing it. 

Do I save money growing my own? That's a question I'm often asked, I think because everybody expects me to say yes. In my own situation, I'd say that I now do, over the long haul. But initially there were up front expenses and losses that negated any gains. Even now, there are crop losses that I have to deal with. The trick for me is to be mindful not to put too much of a financial investment into a crop, no more than I'm willing to risk and lose. For example, it makes no financial sense for me to invest in a modern hydroponic system. The cost of the pumps, piping, racks, tanks, greenhouses, etc would be an investment I could never get back in food savings, ever. 

Yes, I grow my own good for many different reasons. I works for me. 

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