The direction that commercial food growing and processing has taken has raised many questions and provided few answers. The rising cost, reduced quality, questionable nutritional value, and health dangers that commercially produced fruits and vegetables have led many to elect to rely on their own, carefully grown produce.
The fact is that as the nation’s food growers continue to produce higher cost, lower quality crops, their likelihood of holding on to the market grows increasingly slim. As it is, smaller growers often receive operating subsidies from the government. Another hit to larger growers may signal the demise of mass-production growers, leaving consumers with little or no mass-produced fruits and vegetables and the cost of the produce that might be available too expensive to afford and too much of a drain on the planet’s energy reserves.
So, what is the answer to rising prices, lower quality, and food that drains the energy resources of the planet? For many people, it’s the grow-your-own philosophy. This home-grown revival is reminiscent of the World War II “Victory Garden” campaign endorsed by the government to help combat decreased farm production and save money. By the early 1940’s, more than twenty million neighborhood gardens were producing nearly eight million tons of food. People saved money, helped the wartime effort, and ate healthier.
Home gardens can help combat the shortage of safe, nutritious, and reasonably priced food, in addition to saving on healthcare costs, reducing the nation’s dependency on foreign oil supplies, and helping the environment – research shows that home grown gardens reduce the use of climate-damaging fossil fuels by nearly twenty percent. And home gardens can become self-sustaining in mere months reducing your dependence on high-priced, quality deficient growers.
The primary key to self-reliance and a self-sustaining garden is seed saving. Reaching back to that newly self-sustaining society in which one person was given the weighty responsibility of keeping the seeds safe from growing season to growing season, without that individual, many foods would not be available. Somewhere along the way, someone thought to save the richest seeds from the best produce and to continue that practice year after year. Thus, without chemicals, heavy metals, or artificial means, the world’s first growers began the process of producing the most bountiful crops from the most productive seeds.
Seed saving is the safest and least energy intensive method of food production. Some seeds packaged by mass seed distributers have contained bacteria that can cause illness. And, without thinking about it, gardeners who purchase seeds instead of saving them to use from last year’s crop, inadvertently encourage increased energy use by requiring the production of seeds – a commodity that is free and readily available without industry involvement. Yet, because seeds are readily available and inexpensive, few people think to practice seed selection to ensure that next year’s crop produces even better fruits and vegetables.
The planet can benefit from even small changes to the way we hunt and gather food. With a small investment of time and money, every family can grow their own food and reduce the energy burden on the planet from the food industry.