As Americans, we have become greatly out of touch with our food sources in the past 50 or so years. There aren’t many of us who have had the experience of eating freshly harvested vegetables we grew on our own.
There are a few books I read that got me thinking about this. One book was Plenty by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon. The book is about the couple and their story of eating a 100-mile diet. Nearly everything they ate for an entire year was grown or raised within 100 miles of their home.
One thing they mentioned that stood out to me most was that, on average, our food travels from farm to plate about 1,500 – 2,000 miles. That’s insane.
The other book that got me thinking about food this way was Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. He said Americans spend only about 10% of their annual income on food.
That number seems frighteningly low. Food is what fuels our minds and bodies, yet we are cheap and skimp with what we put into them. People care more about the grade of fuel that they put into their cars than their bodies.
At this point you may be thinking what I just wrote makes sense, but how does one start?
Last spring, I was in the same boat. Then I just decided to start my own organic veggie garden with no experience and few costs. I can hear you now, “I have no space. I don’t have any experience. It’s too expensive.”
To that I say, “neither did I”. Living as I do on the 4th floor of an eight-story apartment building in New York City, it took a bit of creativity to start my urban gardening project. I now have a fire escape gardenand a backyard vegetable garden at my grandmother’s in Brooklyn.
Up until I started these gardens, I had zero experience in gardening, too. I just kind of experimented to see what would happen. You know what happened? I got some fresh homegrown veggies. No degrees. No books read. I just did it.
Now I’m not expecting all of you to start a garden as big as mine, but I am hoping that my success will inspire you to start and grow your organic vegetable garden.
The possibilities of what and where to start are endless. You can start a small veggie or herb garden in your windowsill. Do you have a balcony? Plant out there. Are you feeling a bit more adventurous? Do you have the space? Plant a small garden in your back or front yard.
Wherever you decide to start your garden, there is one thing that you can be sure of: not only will the veggies be fresh, but you will know exactly from where they came. You’ll also know and appreciate what happened to them while they were being grown.
So starting your own organic vegetable garden is definitely possible and makes sense. What better time to start than right now? It’s the only time you’ve got.
If you are still hesitant to grow your own food but you still want to get more involved in knowing where your food comes from, I’d recommend joining your local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or food co-op. These will help put you in touch with the local farmers and get whatever food-growing questions you have answered by the sources.