Have you ever thought about growing your own food? How about starting a garden in the backyard or maybe even going big and starting a full-size farm on several acres of rich farmland?
Start Your Own Farm
Well, you are not alone. Of course, there are some of you that might wonder why would I? Have you ever tasted garden fresh vegetables? I’m not talking about vegetables from the grocery store. Those are not fresh by any means and they have been processed to get them ready for you to eat. If you’ve never tasted garden-fresh vegetables, it is okay. You would be surprised by how many people who are just like you. The flavor will amaze you compared to what you are used to from the super market.
There are many reasons you should consider growing your own vegetables.
Since the subject of starting a garden is so vast, I am going to gear this topic down to growing microgreens instead of your ordinary vegetable garden.
Let’s consider just two categories of reasons: Availability and Food Safety.
Starting a vegetable garden doesn’t need to be a huge undertaking. It can be as small as a single pot or tray with just the vegetable you are looking to grow.
Grow in Pots on the Windowsill
Microgreens is the perfect choice for this garden. It can be done indoors making it a year-round source of your favorite vegetable.
Grow in a Small Bowl
I’m sure you realize that some vegetables are only available during a certain growing season. There are basically four growing seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. While many commercial growers try to grow year around, have you noticed the times when certain vegetables seem to get harder to find? Growing your own indoors solves this problem.
There are over a hundred different varieties of vegetable microgreens that can be grown right on your window sill year-round. You can even set up the garden to grow in a continuous cycle so that you will always have a fresh supply of your favorite on hand.
I’m sure when you go to the grocery store, you go with the peace of mind that the food is safe to eat, but is it really? When you get to the store you see the produce usually displayed on clean shelves, many with little jets that spray the vegetables to keep the vegetables moist and fresh looking. Everything looks the way you would expect it. But have you thought about the things you can’t see that may have messed with the “fresh” produce you see before you?
If you are thinking that store bought produce is strictly farm to store shelf, you are in for a rude awakening. It might surprise you that most of our food products are supplied by producers from all over the world. Each stop along the way adds to the risk of contamination. How many stores do you know that purchase all of the produce from local farmers?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a good article on “How Food Gets Contaminated – The Food Production Chain” that lists the different ways food can be contaminated before it reaches you the consumer. Here is their infographic showing the various stages in the process to get the produce to you the consumer.
There are basically four different stages where bad things can happen to the food, we consider to be safe to eat:
- Production – From pesticides, herbicides, contaminated water, to contamination from pests,
- Processing – From food handling, storage conditions and food packaging to labeling,
- Distribution – Refrigeration, storage time, transport time,
- Retail Store – How old is the product, how many people have touched this item and then put it back on the shelf, was it handled sanitarily by the employee at the retail level.
Look at the number of produce items carried by a grocery store. There could be thousands of different items available in a myriad of different packaging schemes from loose, bagged, chopped, peeled, and packaged. All of these provide a pathway to opportunities to compromise the safety of the product.
Some things to think about when you shop next time.
- The cleanliness of the employee that works in the produce department
- The Bacteria that collect on the shopping carts and baskets handled by everyone
- Produce as a raw food is susceptible to pick up bacteria and other contaminants along the path from farm to shelf
- Then there is always a small chance of rodent or crawling pest invasion. Airborne pests such as flies also present a hazard
Most grocery stores try to ensure that the produce you eat is safe and fresh.
In early 2015 Consumer Reports rated 68 supermarkets across the country on among other things, the quality of their fresh food. Nearly 63,000 of its readers responded. One of the questions was about the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables, …, as well as things like cleanliness. Of the 68 markets listed in the report only five of them are here in our city. We have a Fry’s, Target, Safeway, Food City, and a Walmart Supercenter.
Fry’s was rated the highest at number 16, and Walmart come in almost last on the list at 67. Food City came in next best at 20, with Target at 45 and Safeway at 58.
For more information on pesticides in produce read the article “Eat The Peach, Not the Pesticide” from Consumer Reports.
Reasons to grow your own
While there are many reasons to grow your own vegetables, here are just a few.
- You might be able to save money
- It is guaranteed to be fresh
- You have over a hundred choices to choose from
- It won’t get recalled
- Microgreens are up to 40% more nutritious than mature plants
- You have full control over the product
- It provides peace of mind and has a calming effect
- The whole family will enjoy it
There is a rewarding in accomplishing something on your own. Start small and work your way up. Get the whole family involved and watch not only the plants grow, but your family as well.
Until next time, Happy Growing!