There are many reasons to grow your own food at home. Skyrocketing grocery prices, contamination problems, food recalls, and the surge of genetically-modified foods are just a few of the reasons why I began to garden seriously a few years ago. I went from growing a few tomatoes and herbs on my back porch to a full-blown crisis garden with nearly every variety of vegetable you could think of!
What caused this change in me? Simply put, I wanted to take control of my family’s food supply, and therefore our food safety. Growing my own food and cooking at home were two of the easiest ways I could effectively do this. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had started my own personal food revolution.
I began searching out every available resource that concerned our modern food culture. I began to look for better alternatives. I read books about better ways to eat, and I learned just how fragile our world’s food system really is. I listened to interviews with renowned sustainable farmers like Joel Salatin. My eyes were opened to the dangers of GMOs. I spoke to farmers at my local farmers market and I was forever changed. I could do better. I would do better.
When I adopted this new way of thinking, I also began to follow these three key “food rules” I’d like to share with you:
1. Eat locally.
There is nothing more local than growing food yourself at home! What I couldn’t or didn’t want to grow myself, I found at our local farmers market. One summer, I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and supported a local farmer each week. This past summer, I made a deal with a small grower to swap my fresh eggs from our backyard chickens for her beautiful produce. I grow most of my own produce, but I do supplement by utilizing local sources. I even get my meat and honey from local farmers most of the time.
2. Eat seasonally.
There’s a reason why produce at the grocery store costs so much and looks half-dead in the middle of winter – it was probably flown across the country. Learn to eat what is seasonable for your area. For me, this means strawberries and salad greens in spring … squash, tomatoes, and peppers in summer … root veggies and greens again in the fall, and so on. A wonderful book that will inspire you in your journey to eat seasonally and locally is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I have read my copy several times and it always inspires me to do better when I feel like slacking off.
Growing food is not enough on it’s own. You need to learn how to cook it as well. I’m a big fan of cooking at home and cooking simply. You don’t need a culinary degree or a bunch of fancy equipment and tools to cook well. In fact, most of the yummiest things I fix at home are made with the simplest ingredients like olive oil, salt, fresh peppercorns, and so on. We enjoy lots of fresh produce from our garden and I’ve learned how to cook many different dishes that highlight their superior flavor. Our family now eats better … even the picky kids! We’ve saved money, too. We still eat out on occasion, but we’ve learned to treasure mealtime around the table as a family.