Although the day may very well come when the members of our society are forced to grow their own food, there are so many health benefits to this practice that it makes sense to get our feet wet (or our hands dirty) right now. It’s acceptable, maybe even preferable, to start small. A small vegetable garden, a couple of fruit trees, and one or two berry bushes can start you on the way to a healthier life.
One of the health benefits of food gardening is often overlooked. Today we live in a hectic, stressful world. It has been shown that spending time in your garden working with soil is an excellent antidote to this stress. We tend to become more in touch with ourselves and with others that share our gardening chores. The cooperation of family or community members, breathing the fresh air, and getting a good physical workout are undoubtedly a bonus to our health. Growing your own food gives you a level of creativity and independence you wouldn’t enjoy if you were depending on others for food.
Not only is the physical act of growing our own food good for our health, but the food itself is more nutritious than what we normally purchase in the store. Much of the produce we buy at the grocery store has been grown in soil that is, basically, exhausted. Due to a lack of proper crop rotation, the soil becomes depleted of many nutrients. When the soil is lacking minerals, so is the food grown in that soil. Huge farms are cranking out large amounts of produce, and it usually looks very healthy, but the vitamin and mineral content does not compare to produce grown properly in a small homestead garden. Just one example of this is the tomato. Hothouse tomatoes, the kind you buy in the store, have about half the Vitamin C content of tomatoes fresh from the garden.
In addition to being grown in inferior soil, the fruits and vegetables we pick up at the local grocers are nowhere near as fresh as you might think. The companies that grow and ship produce in large quantities have all kinds of tricks to keep their products looking fresh, even when they are not fresh by any stretch of the imagination. As produce ages, it loses its vitamin and mineral content. A good example of this is citrus fruit. Oranges and grapefruit lose around 30 percent of their Vitamin C by the time they find their way into your grocery cart.
So do a little research on soil fertility and the best crops for your area, and dive right in. Learn from your successes and failures what works best for your little plot of land. You and your family will live healthier lives, you will be less dependent on others, and you’ll get to spend some time digging around in the dirt. What could be more rewarding?