While every household should have adequate provisions in their home in case of a natural disaster or other emergency, protecting the environment and our food source is equally as important. The benefit of eating and buying locally produced foods is quickly gaining popularity and momentum. The best way to ensure that the foods you are feeding your family are free of dangerous chemicals or are genetically modified organisms is to either purchase as much as you can from local farmers or betters still, grow as much of your own produce as you can.
Many of the plants and/or seeds that we buy from our local gardening outlet still have GMO (Genetically modified Organisms) components to them. Among other things, this means that the seeds from these plants will not yield a second crop which forces the consumer to purchase new seeds each year. Non-hybrid seeds on the other hand allow you to save seeds from your garden that you can plant year after year. Because these plants are naturally pollinated, the seeds you save can be replanted or shared with neighbours.
Growing your own food provides a multitude of benefits to your family as well as to your neighbourhood, community, and the environment as a whole. Purchasing less fresh fruits and vegetables means saving money at the checkout, less produce being shipped via trucks, rail, or air, and greatly reduces each household’s carbon footprint. Most people understand the nutritional value and benefits of eating fresh produce, but what many of us don’t know is that food that has taken several days or a week to reach us has lost much of its nutritional value. Freshly picked food from your own garden can not only be enjoyed the same day but can be preserved by freezing or other methods to help maintain its nutritional value.
Planting a garden doesn’t mean you have to have a huge backyard or spend hours every day weeding, watering and caring for your plants. Virtually anything that grows from the ground can also be grown in planters and home-made containers. Self-watering containers can be purchased at your local gardening store or easily made at home. These containers promote healthy root growth and generally produce higher yields than even plants in a backyard garden.
Aside from nutritional value, taste is yet another incentive to home gardening. A tomato that you have picked from your own garden tastes nothing like a tomato that has been sitting on a store shelf (and possibly traveling) for several days. It can be difficult to get children to eat the recommended amount of vegetables every day; no matter how creative we are! Making them part of the planting, caring and harvesting process has significant positive effects on their willingness and enjoyment of eating what they have helped to grow. It is also a great way to teach them about food sustainability, the environment as well as the importance of preparing and storing food for future use. Providing your family with home-grown food that is GMO and pesticide free will not only keep them healthier, it will show them how we can all do our part in protecting the environment.