Are you thinking about growing some of your own food? Here are a few reasons why you should?!
A more sustainable life and a greener you.
Industrial agriculture is by and large unsustainable and very environmentally unfriendly! Here’s an amazing statistic: 70% of our fresh water reserves are used for industrial agriculture and around 80% of that is wasted through runoff due to inefficient, unsustainable farming practices which also cause climate change. This runoff contains traces of synthetic fertiliser such as Phosphorus, which in large quantities is dangerous especially when mixed with herbicides and pesticides. These end up polluting our rivers and freshwater lakes where they have been shown to destroy marine habitats. The toxic chemicals poison the fish that we eat and will inevitably end up in our drinking water.
Once the produce has been harvested, it is likely packaged in a plastic container. 90% of plastic pollution is not recycled, even if you put it in a special bin. It ends up in a landfill or even worse, at the bottom of the ocean where it takes hundreds of years to degrade. In Singapore now this is largely now incinerated as we can no longer sell it to China. The economics of recycling here in Singapore are not viable and as a result, there is no appetite to sort through bins to separate the waste. We have a landfill for the ash that is produced from this plastic burning. By 2035, it will be at capacity.
Now that the produce is in a plastic container, it has to make the ‘farm to table’ journey. This is often hundreds, if not thousands of miles. As a consumer you are paying for this journey. The environment pays for it too and the farther your meal travels, the larger the carbon footprint and environmental impact. On this long journey too, produce spoils over time and is wasted. Once it arrives at a supermarket it sits on the shelf for a few more days and even more is wasted. 30% of supermarket produce is never even sold! The produce that is bought then arrives at your home where it sits in your fridge where it is often forgotten in the fridge. When was the last time you found a bag of rotten salad leaves in the bottom of your fridge drawer? Estimates show that 50% of produce that is grown is not eaten.
So to recap:
- We use 70% of our fresh water reserves to grow food and we waste 80% of that whilst we pollute the surrounding area with harmful chemicals.
- We wrap it in plastic that ends up in a landfill for hundreds of years or at the bottom of the ocean.
- We then put it on a boat or a plane and transport it thousands of miles over many days, often weeks and on this long journey from farm to table, 50% of it is spoiled and never eaten.
There are many people in the world that don’t have access to fresh water and many that don’t have enough food. There has to be a better way of doing this!
Eat better tasting food
We all know vegetables are good for our health! They are packed with nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, all of which are essential to fight off those free radicals and oxidative stresses that we put our body through in day to day life. It is largely agreed now by the scientific community that these are the underlying cause of aging and a long list of chronic degenerative illnesses that everyone wants to avoid, especially when they start to get a little older. Diabetes, dementia, heart disease…. the list is long.
What you probably didn’t know is that most produce loses 40% – 60% of its nutrients within 3 days of harvest, depending on crop and conditions. Once you cut it, the antioxidants that were enclosed prior become sensitive to the air. They react with the oxygen and are neutralised. If you are buying it from a supermarket it will almost certainly have been harvested a few days ago (even if it was grown locally) and much more than a week if it was imported.
Back to those pesticides, herbicides and fungicides I mentioned earlier. They were designed primarily to kill things. So along with poisoning our fish and compromising our drinking water from the runoff, they also can be found in the produce that they are used to help grow. Many of these pesticides are systemically applied which means they are now within the plant and they can’t be washed off.
When you grow it yourself, you avoid the toxic chemicals. Your produce is farm to table in meters and minutes so you get all the nutritional benefits of the produce too. It also just tastes better when you grow it yourself. More fragrance, more taste. More enjoyment from your food!
Educate and empower. Be more self sufficient
Population migrations to urban environments have caused a disconnect between society and the origins of their food. Agricultural practices form very little part of the school education curriculum and this ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality that has taken hold has led to poor practices that we see now both industrial crop and livestock farming. We should all have a better idea of where our food comes from and how to grow it whilst setting an example to future generations for a more sustainable way of life. It’s a beneficial way to teach children about healthy eating and nutrition, preparing them for a better future.
Covid showed us what it means to queue to enter a supermarket only to be met with empty shelves once making it inside. Now I’m not saying that everything that you can buy in a supermarket can be grown in a family garden, but some of it can! Relying on a few supermarkets to provide our food is a bad idea and we should all try and protect ourselves for the future if borders once again become less porous to trade and goods.
Grow For Fun!
Yes! That’s right! Gardening is fun! It is enjoyed the world over by people of all ages. Whether for purely decorative pursuits or growing vegetables, greens and herbs, gardening has been shown to improve mental health, reduce stress and even anxiety. If you are doing it outside you can boost those Vitamin D levels whilst getting some exercise and if you are involved in the new indoor urban farming movement, then you can enjoy some cleaner purified air in your city home!
If you have a garden or a balcony, that’s a great place to start growing your own food. But even if you don’t, there are soilless indoor farming options out there that integrate well into a home. These vertical farming systems are designed to be space efficient whilst providing all the light that plants need to thrive. Find out more about that here. *** Link to Hydroponics Post ***
It’s a rewarding activity for your family and there is a certain pride and satisfaction that comes with growing your own food. Harvesting and preparing a salad for dinner guests right in front of their very eyes is always a crowd pleaser whilst an on tap supply of basil and kale makes for great pesto parties!