Growing your own food became infinitely more popular in 2020, as many people found themselves with more time on their hands, and were trying to keep themselves busy while not leaving their house/garden. Thanks to taking on a new full size allotment plot in March (in addition to the half plot we already had), I actually found myself rather busy during the first lockdown which I was extremely thankful for. Having an allotment and growing my own food has completely changed my life. It is something that I recommend everyone tries, even if it is just a few potted herbs by the window. If you aren’t already growing your own food, here are 10 reasons why you should start growing your own in 2021:
1. It tastes better
Most varieties grown for supermarkets are grown for their reliability, productivity and shelf life. Unfortunately, when it comes to large scale farming, flavour is not a priority. Furthermore, many fruits and vegetables are picked before they are fully ripe, and their flavour starts to degrade from the moment they are harvested. Ever tried mangetout straight off the plant? It tastes completely different to mangetout harvested even just an hour before.
2. More variety
When you start growing your own food you very quickly realise the lack of variety available to buy. Golden beetroot, purple brussel sprouts, salsify, cucamelons, black tomatoes – when have you ever seen these on the shelves at your local supermarket? You can sometimes find less conventional vegetables at markets but growing your own really does give you so many more options.
3. More nutritious
The nutrient contents of food starts degrading the moment it is harvested. Foods bought in the supermarket are harvested long before they even make it to the shelves. In fact, you are better off buying frozen fruits and vegetables as these are frozen shortly after harvest which locks in their nutrient content. Meanwhile, you can harvest from your own garden and have it on your plate within minutes.
4. Maintain soil health
Global farming practices are depleting our soils. There is strong evidence that within the next few decades we will have rendered our soil completely devoid of life and nutrients. Healthy soil should be teeming with life – of which a large amount is not actually visible to the human eye. Weedkillers, pesticides, fertilisers and even rotovating destroys all life in the soil that works hard to keep it healthy. This point also connects with the previous point, because healthy nutrient rich soil = nutrient rich food. By growing your own you can manage your soil to improve soil health, boost biodiversity and grow tastier and more nutritious food.
5. Eat seasonally
Growing your own is like a crash course in eating seasonally. You’ll be surprised with the amount of new recipes you’ll find yourself trying whilst using up a glut of something you’ve grown. Not to mention that in season food tastes better too. Growing your own also makes you really appreciate the seasons. There is nothing more exciting than seeing the year’s first rhubarb in the spring or your first deliciously sweet strawberry in June. Even in the colder months, there is always something just around the corner to look forward to.
Now I know you can buy organic food in the shops, but you get a much larger variety of organic food at a fraction of the cost if you grow your own.
7. Physical Health
Being outside, being active, eating nutritious food. Its obvious really. In addition to this, did you know that the beneficial micro organisms in the soil are also good for us too? This is a large reason why they tell you not to peel your organic carrots/parsnips etc.
8. Mental wellbeing
Fresh air, staying active and eating nutritious food is good for our mental health. Furthermore, growing your own food really helps you connect with the earth and nature which is good for the mind too.
9. More Sustainable
You can ensure your food is grown without environmentally damaging pesticides and synthetic fertilisers. Growing your own food also means it comes with zero food miles which makes it much more sustainable. Furthermore, you know it’s not being grown in an artificially heated environment which can be even worse. Choose peat free compost to keep your gardening more sustainable.
10. Package Free
Pretty obvious, but a great reason to grow your own. You’ll be pushed to find foods such as salad/lettuce and herbs without any plastic if you’re not growing your own. Admittedly, there is often plastic involved in protecting your plants (particularly when not using harsh chemicals), but this really is the lesser of two evils and if you buy good quality protection and look after it, it can be reused many times.