Why garden?

It's good for you

"Eat your veggies" isn't just what frustrated parents say to their stubborn kids at the dinnertable- it's good advice. Very few Americans get the proper serving of fruits and vegetables, and we have the obesity epidemic to show for it. Eating well will also lower health costs in the long run, so its the frugal thing to do!

It's good for the earth

Eating locally, seasonally, and organically is good for the earth, period. Ten percent of the nation's energy resources goes towards the food industry- whether it's the petroleum-based fertilizers spread in the field, the transporting and refrigeration of produce, or the energy-intense processing of processed foods. When we eat industrial food, it's full of oil.

Eating what is available in your area when it is available- and growing that food in your backyard- cuts out practically all of the energy consumption. Nothing has to be trucked anywhere, nothing is overprocessed, and you're getting fruits and vegetables that are fresher than anything you'll find in the grocery store.

It's good for the poor

This is one we don't think about. Many grocery stores have left low-income neighborhoods, leaving just gas stations and convenience stores to sell food to local residents who rely on public transportation. These smaller stores have convenience foods, but no fresh fruits or vegetables. Also, when a person has a limited amount of money to spend on food, they must find the cheapest way to get calories. A New York Times article addressed this in a 2007 article:
"Calorie for calorie, junk foods not only cost less than fruits and vegetables, but junk food prices also are less likely to rise as a result of inflation...“If you have $3 to feed yourself, your choices gravitate toward foods which give you the most calories per dollar. Not only are the empty calories cheaper, but the healthy foods are becoming more and more expensive. Vegetables and fruits are rapidly becoming luxury goods."

Doesn't it seems contradictory to think that people that are the most food-insecure also have a high rate of obesity? The fact that our food system is set up to make high-calorie junk food cheap explains this dichotomy. If we garden, grow more than we could eat, and give it to food pantries or groups in low-income areas, the poor will be fed. Because they will be eating healthier, their health costs will go down, perhaps breaking their cycle of poverty. Urban gardens by inner-city groups are also a cool response to this situation.

We can garden for ourselves, for the earth, and for social justice. Gardening matters.

2 pennies for thoughts:

Shalet said...

I hope to start a garden this year (still too cold here now) and I can't wait! Gardening does matter!

Seraphim said...

Hi there! I just came over to your blog after reading a comment you made on the SGF Co-Op :)

I don't have any outdoor space apart from a tiny shaded balcony. However this year I am not letting that stop me and I have baby tomatoes, lettuce and lots of herbs on my windowsills. I hope to have strawberries in hanging baskets and some cucumbers and chives soon, too.

Gardening matters!

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