Monday, August 12, 2013

5 Reasons I Grow My Own Food

I was asked by a friend to write some reasons why I started growing my own food for a newsletter he sends out. He was nice enough to let me also publish it here.

The first thing I ever grew was a green pepper on the patio of my apartment in 2006. It was gross, it turned out we were growing a variety that wasn't good for container growing. I'll call that lesson one. I don't know what lesson I am on now, but it is in the triple digits, I am sure. Since then I have become consumed (HA!) with growing my own food. Since I started growing, and helping others grow, I have found that there a few main reasons that keep getting me back out in the yard.

To the left is a picture of me watering my tomato plants in my greenhouse in 2012. I miss those Tom's...

So what was I supposed to be writing about? Oh yeah, why I started gardening...

1. I need the exercise
In 2005, I was fat. I probably weighed around 240 lbs during the '04/05 winter. I have always had to watch my weight, but as I approached 30, I really started to notice how easy it was for me to gain weight in the winter and keep it on through the summer. Part of the reason why was because I hated going to the gym or running. When I do something, I like it to be for a reason other than just exercising. Gardening seemed like a perfect activity for me. I could grow my own food which saves money and also gives me plenty of physical activity.

Today, as I work on my 1 acre garden here in Louisville, I fluctuate between 185 and 195 lbs. While gardening isn't the only thing that has contributed to my weight loss, it has changed my life for the better in a lot of ways and the resulting weight loss has improved my blood pressure as well as mostly eliminated my chronic back and knee pain.

2. Peak Oil
Back in 2003, I first heard about something called the Peak Oil Theory. Basically, the idea is that oil production from an oil well follows a bell curve and overall oil production may also follow a similar bell curve. The "peak" - or the top of the bell curve, according to the theory - will be followed by quick declines in available oil which could cause serious problems in the economy as a whole. While I am less concerned now about Peak Oil than I was years ago, I would be lying if I said that it didn't have something to do with why I started gardening.

3. My family's medical history
I am now 35 years old and, like you, I am not going to live forever. I realize I am stating the obvious, but over the past 10 years I have slowly realized that I have some control over not only the quality of my life, but to some degree the quantity as well. Gardening means increased physical activity and increased consumption of whole foods for me, which will help to offset the obesity, type II diabetes, diverticulitis and heart disease that runs in my family. I don't think that gardening is a cure for anything, but I know that personally I am healthier now than I was 10 years ago.

4. It feels right
I grow food not only for my family, but I also sell a large portion of what I grow here in Louisville. This is the only thing I have ever done for money that I have not felt conflicted about in some way. I believe in the quality of my own produce more than I have ever believed in anything else I have ever sold.

5. Good food is too expensive at the store
At some point over the next few years, I will have my grocery bill reduced down to a few bags of rice, spices and meat. I hope to harvest hogs, chickens, eggs, vegetables and fruit from my own yard sufficient to support my family for the most part and I will be doing it for the price of a few bags of fertilizer and a few bags of feed. To eat the same quality of food if I bought it fresh on the local market I would probably be spending upward of $10,000 a year which I don't believe I would be able to afford. That knowledge is enough to keep me picking!

So, these are the things that keep me motivated. Now, maybe it is time for you to make a list of your own!

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