Growing your own food helps us look after the planet!
Gardening and growing your own food can be one of the best things you can do for our precious planet. Food miles, chemicals, plastic and food waste can all be reduced drastically whilst also creating a wildlife haven.
Supermarket food is transported long distances by air, boat or lorries and is then driven to your home by you or a delivery van. It usually needs to get from the farmer, to the packaging and distributor, and then transported to the country where it is being sold. In that country it may need to go to a central distributor hub and then move on to the supermarket, and then home with you. Your homegrown food on the other hand only needs to be carried from the garden to the kitchen – if you can resist the urge to eat it while picking it of course! Imagine how many food miles you save for every mouthful of food that you grow!
Chemicals and pesticides are destroying our planet and wildlife at an alarming rate. Pesticides killing our precious pollinators, whom our very own existence depends on, are sprayed on field after field across the world. The sad truth is that chemicals are often used in big scale farming, which not only destroys the wildlife, but impacts our health. New research consistently shows that some of the pesticides used are more damaging than previously thought, and what was labelled safe in the past is no longer deemed to be.
Plastic is a very difficult and complex subject with lots of existing opinions. What most people agree on is that we must reduce single use plastic, we must recycle more and we must ensure that recyclable plastic is actually being reused. A lot of fruit and vegetables are packed in plastic that can not be reused and instead, goes to landfill where it takes hundreds of years to break down. Homegrown food needs no packaging at all of course, so imagine how much single use plastic we would save if we all grew food in our own gardens!
When it comes to plastic being used in the garden, such as plastic pots, the best thing we can all do is make sure we use what already exists until it can no longer be used. Don’t throw your plastic pots away if you no longer want or need them, there is always someone looking for something! Advertise your free-to-collect plastic pots and someone will be sure to snap them up, therefore reducing the opportunity for them to be taken to landfill.
A lot of the fruit and vegetables we buy in the supermarket have been grown in huge monocultures where only one type of crop is grown in huge areas. Monocultures are very problematic for reasons such as deforestation which leads to climate change and increased amount of carbon in the atmosphere, extinction and loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, mudslides and other disastrous conditions. Monoculture crops also draw all of the nutrients from the soil, degrading it year after year until it is no longer viable for growing anything.
Big scale farming in general, and monoculture farming in particular use enormous amounts of water. Often in areas prone to drought which deprive entire communities of the water they need to survive. All for the price of people from the other side of the world eating a particular type of crop. When we grow our own food at home we can be very careful with how we use the water, plus, we tend to grow many different types of vegetables in one garden. The complete opposite of a monoculture!
Another huge environmental benefit of growing your own food is the reduction of food waste. It has been estimated that a third of all the food produced in the world is wasted somewhere along the journey from field to plate. Cutting out the transportation and multiple handlings of the crop reduces the food waste, as the time between harvesting and eating is reduced. The supermarkets struggle with supply and demand, and often food that is not sold, has to be thrown away.
When we grow our own food we know the hard work and resources that go into growing it. We make sure not to waste anything because we have learnt the value of it. Another benefit of this, is that we can use much more of a plant than what is being sold in the supermarket! For example, after cutting the broccoli head off we can allow side shoots to form and put the leaves in a stir fry. Even the top bit of the stem is delicious sliced and fried – there is so much less waste, when we grow our own.
Apart from making better environmental choices when eating, we can create something wonderful for wildlife in our own gardens. We can invite wildlife and encourage biodiversity by growing lots of different types of foods, feed the soil, create a natural circular system, plant pollinator friendly flowers, tidy less and build more natural wildlife habitats. We can make sure that our gardens are a safe haven for wildlife and a little piece of the planet that is working for the climate change solution. Growing your own food may actually be one of the best things you can do for our planet.