For the last several weeks we’ve been covering the topic of how we can all work towards storing food in a way that is both eco-friendly as well as budget-friendly. Together we can stop the waste, and save some cash. On March 2 we dove head-first into our kitchen evaluation. The following week, we covered how to properly buy and store bulk food. For today’s final post in the series on storing food in an eco and budget-friendly manner, we’ll cover tips on easily growing and storing your own food (the simple stuff – no need to get overwhelmed!).
Why grow your own food? Glad you asked. There are several reasons…let’s focus on the top three: taste, cost, and environmental impact.
Taste – Have you ever tasted a homegrown tomato? We don’t want to talk smack, but homegrown tomatoes make the stuff of stores taste like our idea of tomato water – bland, slightly tomato-flavored. No good!
Cost – For the cost of a packet of seeds, you can grow an abundance of food (especially if that is a packet of zucchini squash seeds). Even purchasing transplants at your local nursery will provide you with food for far less money than the grocery store, or even the farmer’s market.
Environmental Impact – Growing your own food is a good weapon in your environmental artillery. Because you wouldn’t dare use pesticides, it is helping to preserve the land. If enough people start growing even a small amount of their own food, it helps to minimize the amount of food needed from a supply and demand perspective. When that demand goes down, the need for large scale production farms goes down (these are the Monsantos of the world, who lobby our congressmen and corrupt our Farm Bill). Finally, growing your own (even a little) means you are purchasing less. The purchase you would have made might have included plastics (as in the case of herbs) or other packaging, as well as the petroleum needed to lug said food from wherever it was grown, to your local market where it eventually made its way into your basket.
So…where to start? We’re not advocating extreme change here (unless you’re ready…in which case read more about urban homesteading). If you’re ready to dip your toe into the soil, we’d suggest starting with either something that will have a big impact (think tomatoes…they produce abundantly, and can be used to make salsas, pasta sauces and stewed tomatoes; they slice nicely onto sandwiches and toss wonderfully into salads), something you eat a lot of (perhaps blueberries…they’re expensive, usually come in plastic, and one large bush could produce a season’s worth of blueberries), or something convenient (growing herbs in pots is easy to do, and when people need herbs for a recipe, well, they’re never there. You then have to trek to the store, potentially purchase your herbs in plastic packaging, and most of the time what you didn’t need for the immediate recipe will end up going bad in your refrigerator).
Once you’ve decided what makes the most sense for you to grow, check out these resources:
Grow Your Own Tomatoes (In All Sorts of Small Spaces) (The Budget Ecoist blogs at Greenopia.com)
Drying Annual Herbs