Over the past few years my interest in keeping and growing plants has grown by leaps and bounds. And, based off the reactions to some of my recent IG posts, I’m not alone. Our new home was nearly 2 years in the making. Shortly before the process began in earnest I became super interested in home gardening and ways to maximize small spaces. I knew there would be some challenges with growing in the desert but as I did more research I realized it wasn’t impossible — but more on the ‘how’ later. For now, let’s talk about what made me want to do this in the first place.
Reasons to Grow Your Own Food
It’s Really Really…Fun
I don’t know if this is a sign of the times or what, but I find myself increasingly drawn to ‘old lady’ hobbies like crocheting and now canning and gardening. There’s something about producing a useful, functional thing with your own hands that brings a special kind of satisfaction. Watching something you planted grow is very similar, and when that plant is actually edible (imagine creating FOOD with your hands??!) that feeling is 10-fold. I love watching every new bloom, every fledgling fruit and unfurling leaf. I’m amazed anew by nature when I see all the changes my plants are capable of in just a few hours or days. Plus, I find it meditative and relaxing. I can let me brain go quiet while I tend plants just focusing on spotting hungry worms, dead leaves and new fruit.
Eliminating Food Waste
Food waste is one of my absolute biggest pet peeves. It seriously pains me to throw out food because it’s gone bad. Produce, and especially greens and fresh herbs wound up in the bin at our place more than I liked. The idea of being able to walk out on the patio and snip fresh lettuce for dinner or a little more basil for the sauce as needed guarantees me the best of everything I’ve ever wanted — super fresh ingredients with zero waste.
I Know Where You’ve Been…
And what you’ve been in because I grew you myself. I love not having any anxiety around whether or not the ‘organic’ label on my tomatoes is for real real or just for marketing. I no longer panic and go through all the veggies in the fridge every time there’s a food recall or some kind of outbreak from factory farm run off. I hadn’t really anticipated how much peace of mind this would bring me but it’s a great feeling.
Greater Enjoyment in Cooking
I love cooking — that’s no secret — but now that I’m growing and tending the produce myself I feel even more involved with my food. It’s nice to sit with a cold drink in the evenings or a glass of wine, see what’s going to ripen next and start planning meals around it. I go outside to check ‘inventory’ like a chef in a fancy restaurant and because I’m a goof, I imagine the menu descriptions I’d write like ‘ crispy potato gnocchi topped with hand-raised, aeroponic purple basil and organic kale’.
Don’t judge me.
Getting Closer to the Roots
After becoming vegan I had to pay much closer attention to ingredients and cooking methods. It’s shocking to me how many people truly have no idea what exactly is in their food because most of us eating a traditional diet will never read the label past the caloric content. I’m also dumbfounded by people that are perturbed when they find an insect or worm in their organic produce. Worms are a GOOD sign. It’s proof that whatever you bought isn’t covered in pesticides. And, if you’re trying to eat as close to nature as possible, you’re going to occasionally run into other creatures that eat close to nature too. Also disturbing — people that turn up their noses at imperfect fruit but rail against GMOs. In nature, fruit and veggies come out in any ol’ irregular way ALL THE TIME. It’s honestly stranger and more off-putting to me to see row after row of perfect produce because all I can think about is 1) what did they grow it with 2) how much food was wasted or thrown out for being ‘imperfect’ and 3) what did they coat it with when it got here to keep it looking so ‘perfect’? Once upon a time, the average person was much closer to their own food production. Farms were more likely to be smaller and local. But as food growth became more and more industrialized, the distance between how food is grown and where it comes from and us, the people consuming it, has gotten greater and greater.
And, If There’s Ever a Zombie Apocalypse…
The ones that survive will be the ones that know how to find or grow something edible. Just sayin’.