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How growing your own food helps reduce your environmental impact

Updated: Apr 16, 2019

Have you ever thought that growing your own vegetables or herbs sounds like fun? I thought so too when my husband and I moved to the country last year. Only thing was, I had zero gardening skills and could hardly keep a succulent alive indoors. Fast forward to today, I am definitely still a novice gardener and my thumb isn't quite green yet, but I'm discovering that I have the capacity to learn these things and it's really not as hard as I had anticipated. It takes patience, yes, but I think we all have the ability to learn how to grow things! I mean, it's practically in our blood, right? Many of our grandparents or great-grandparents were farmers and probably also kept a seriously impressive vegetable garden. (Plus, our ancient ancestors started farming over 14,000 years ago, so...)

Twentieth Century Farming
My great-grandpa Bill farming the land his grandparents homesteaded in 1884. My grandparents live on this land today.

Gardening is fun and rewarding. Maybe it's because I'm new to growing my own food, but each fruit or vegetable that comes out of my garden feels a little like magic. But of course, nature is magical! What adds to the joy for me is the fact that gardening helps to lighten the load we life-crushing humans place on our environment. How, you ask? I would be happy to explain!

Every time I go to the grocery store, I take a deep breath as I walk through the automatic sliding doors with my reusable shopping bags in hand because I know I am going to face a shit ton of plastic packaging over the course of the next sixty or so minutes. Oftentimes, even the produce items are immersed in plastic packaging - plastic produce bags, plastic netting, plastic netting with plastic labels, hard PET packages, plastic banding, cellophane - you know the deal. Avoid this onslaught of unnecessary single-use plastic by growing your own produce!

When you grow your own food you can reduce the number of times you drive to the store, limiting your vehicle emissions. If more people grow their own food, in theory that would also reduce the amount of produce needed at the grocery store, reducing the amount that's transported from grower to grocer (much of which is imported from outside your city, state, and even country), further reducing your carbon footprint.

Rather than spending time indoors at the store, you can instead be outside tending to your plants. Spending time outside fosters an appreciation for nature and the outdoors. In this digital age, kids and adults alike tend to not notice our surroundings as we are often glued to whatever screen is in front of our face at the moment. The sad truth is, if you're never out amongst it, you can't appreciate it. A lack of appreciation for the natural world is a dangerous trait! You might think that nature has nothing to do with your life, but in reality it has everything to do with all of our lives.

If you're not sure gardening is for you or you're not ready yet to start growing your own food, the next best thing is to frequent your local farmers' market! The Farmers' Market here in Lawrence opens this weekend. Most open in early spring, so do a quick Google search and find out when the one nearest to you opens for the season! Farmers' Markets are great for a multitude of reasons:

1) They help your local economy because they support local farmers and gardeners.

2) They are easy on the environment because most of the produce is grown organically and in close proximity to the market (cutting down drastically on emissions from vehicles transporting the goods).

3) They reduce packaging waste. Most items are sold without packaging, and if you bring your own reusable shopping bag you can get your week's groceries 100% waste-free - HELL YEAH!

4) They offer super healthy, seasonal produce that is good for our bodies!

To fully close the loop on eating/shopping smart and doing the most good for the environment, we can compost! Composting is a great way to divert waste from landfills as well as a wonderful way to increase the health of your soil. In another post I will share my thoughts and some facts on composting, as well as some photos to show my VERY basic DIY composting set-ups and how you can easily get started composting right now.

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