Eating wholesome and organic foods is one of the best ways you can support overall health, and feel your best. But we all know that can be easier said than done! When it comes to the foods we eat, quality really does matter. Agriculture and the food industry as we know it today has been largely controlled and compromised by companies that are trying to grow food faster and in the most economic way, often putting the public’s health on the back burner and their profits at the front.
The food industry has drastically evolved since our grandparents’ time. We can’t assume that all foods are created equal — even superfoods, or fruits and vegetables, which we have been taught provide us with amazing health benefits. Why has this happened? In a nutshell, it all has to do with the way our foods are grown.
Many of the foods we purchase and consume from the grocery store have been sprayed with herbicides and pesticides, and most, unless specially labeled, are genetically modified. This can lead to inflammation in the body which is exactly what we are trying to prevent by eating healthy in the first place. So, what can we do about it? There are multiple options, and you’ll need to choose the best one for your lifestyle, but one of the best ways to ensure that your food is organic, and still retains all of its amazing health benefits, is to grow some of it yourself.
In this article, we are going to dive into how to farm your own food, what hydroponic farming is, and share some tips for how you can farm your own food even with limited space in your backyard.
Farming: The Best Way to Ensure Quality Food
Let’s talk a little more about why you should grow your own food and why it is one of the best ways to ensure the foods you are eating are of the highest quality possible. Here are the top five reasons to farm your own food.
#1 To Save Money
When you grow your own food at home, chances are, you are going to save quite a bit of money on your grocery bill each month. You can save a ton of money if you grow your own fruit, as fruit tends to be costly at the grocery store. Plus, not only do you save money on food but if you cut down on the number of grocery trips you make each week, you will likely spend less on gas as well. It’s a wi-win.
#2 Your Food is Always Fresh
When you farm your own food, one of the benefits is that your food is always fresh. When you buy foods from the grocery store, those foods have likely been sitting on the shelf for some time, not to mention the thousands of miles that food may have traveled just to land on your local grocery store shelf. This often results in foods that aren’t nearly as fresh as foods that were just picked and allowed to ripen naturally. However, when you farm your own food, you can pick your produce at peak ripeness and enjoy it right away.
#3 It's More Nutritious
Farming your own food also means that the foods you eat will be more nutritious than the ones you buy at the grocery store. Due to food travel times and the amount of time produce sits on grocery store shelves before being purchased, not only is the flavor of the food reduced, but the nutritional value also decreases with time. Growing your own food is a great way to ensure that the foods you consume are packed full of nutritional value as you will be consuming them right after harvesting.
#4 You Know What You’re Eating
Since you are the one planting the food, and maintaining it, you know exactly what you are eating and exposing your body to. When you purchase foods from the store, you can’t be sure about pesticides, herbicides, or other chemical exposure, or genetic modification. When foods are imported from foreign countries, they do not necessarily need to pass the agricultural laws and codes that we have here in the states, which is also concerning. Growing your own food is empowering because you are in control and can make the best possible choices to promote optimal health.
#5 Your Food Tastes Better
Another big benefit of growing your own food is that your food will taste better! You can pick your fruits and vegetables once they are ripe, as opposed to buying foods that have been artificially ripened. Naturally ripened foods taste so much better. Not only that but when you farm your own food, you will be enjoying seasonal produce, bursting with flavor and nutritional value.
If you are looking into farming your own foods, you may have heard of hydroponic farming. The popular movement to farm using hydroponic towers involves growing fruits and vegetables without the use of soil, which saves space (most hydroponic towers grow vertically), and will not need endless gallons of water to keep plants well hydrated each day. It also means farming without the use of conventional fertilizers, which means less toxicity and unfavorable gases released into the air you breathe, Another benefit is that foods can be grown throughout the year because farming isn’t reliant on the conditions of the soil and seasons. It also allows for pesticide-free farming and allows people to farm when they may not have access to the right soil or environment outside.
You can buy your own hydroponic farming kit, staying as basic or as complex as you would like depending on how much you want to farm at home. This is a great option, especially if you have limited space outdoors, or don’t have ideal climate conditions during certain times of the year.
If you do have a small area of land you’d like to dedicate to start a small garden, decide which plants and foods you enjoy eating and select those to plant and grow. Make sure to buy seeds that have not been genetically modified. Planter boxes and raised beds are attractive and may make it easier to work in your garden, but they also dry out more quickly. In very dry areas, sunken beds can be used to gather available moisture.
A great suggestion is to plant your garden in blocks or beds of plants instead of single rows. Beds should be 3 to 4 feet across — narrow enough that you can reach the center from either side. Beds should be roughly 10 feet long or less, so you’re not tempted to step into the bed and compact the ground.
Within the garden beds, place plants in rows or a grid pattern. The goal is to minimize walkways and maximize growing space. Add organic fertilizer to the planting area, saving time and money. Also, work with companion plants to attract beneficial insects like ladybugs and improve yields. Onions, for example are natural protectors of strawberries, and keep the bugs off of them without the need for pesticides.
Tips on Getting Started Even with a Small Backyard
So, are you convinced and ready to start growing your own food? Here are some additional tips to get started even with a small space.
- Try hydroponic farming
- Invest in planters that can be hung on fences or against walls outside to save space
- Invest in a grow light to use indoors
- Keep it simple by growing microgreens. Microgreens are like smaller versions of regular dark leafy green vegetables, but they are pretty easy to grow, and they are full of nutritional value. They can sit on your kitchen counter and give you a small taste of what it’s like to have a green thumb.
There are so many reasons to start growing your own food at home, and getting started is easy, even if you live in a small space. Make it a goal this year to start growing your own food to help save money, support overall health, and enjoy fresh food all year long.