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Food for thought

I'm sure that most of you don't need persuading that growing some of your own food would generally be a good thing. It's just a lot of the information we get to see on the topic is being yelled by people who think if you eat 8 spoons of turmeric a day you will NEVER GET EYE CANCER... so here are some of my reasons for growing most of our own food, which may hopefully inspire some of you to give it a go too, even if it is just a plant pot with a few herbs in it, it will improve your food, amongst other things. (please don't see this as a guilt trip or an attempt to blackmail you into a life in a shed whittling your own spoons) Very small gardens and even windowsills can make a great place to start growing your own, which is fun, tasty and worthwhile.

1) Children have no idea where there food comes from, I work with a 19 year old boy in a professional kitchen, who up until two days ago didn't know what a lime was or what a leek was. Sadly not exceptional!

2) Most of the vegetables and fruit that you buy in the supermarket is wrapped in delightful plastic packaging, which helps to contribute to things like the plastic islands that can be found floating in our oceans, by 2050 it is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. which is horrifying. New plastics will also consume nearly 20% of the worlds oil production. So if you like the idea of the ocean being alive rather than being a giant waste dump reducing plastics is a good idea, the veg and fruit you could grow will be pleasantly plastic free and fresh!

Here is a really melodramatic advert to get you in the mood for a small gardening revolution.

3) The pesticides and insecticides that are used on our food are not good for us or the environment! SURPRISE! It's contributing to killing of bees as one simple example. In the UK now there are thought to be no wild honeybees. As in none. If you grow some of your own food you are probably not going to be out spraying it with glyphosate so you are helping to reduce the problem, also it allows you to enjoy the organic food you probably agree would be better for your family without the hefty price tag.

4) Some of the working conditions for those growing our food within the EU equate to modern slavery, imagine what they are like in countries where regulation on working conditions is almost absent. Here is a Guardian film about the reality of the lives of those who work within the plastic jungle in Spain, it has also been widely reported that workers in the tunnels are commonly sprayed with pesticides causing widespread illness and a shockingly high rate of miscarriage. All of the UK's major supermarkets buy products from these farms, check your labels a hell of a lot of our fruit and veg comes from Spain.

5) Food Miles, if your food comes from your garden it isn't contributing huge amounts of C02 to the atmosphere and contributing to global warming, this can only be a good thing. For example beans grown in Zimbabwe which are common in UK supermarkets travel upwards of 5147 miles. Yikes. Here is a really cool calculator to work out how far your food has travelled before it reaches your plate. And don't forget these results are as the crow flies so the actual result is going to be much higher. Not to mention the fact that a lot of our food is grown in areas of huge deforestation, also not great for the environment.

6) As your food is more of a hot shot traveller than you, how old actually is it by the time it reaches your table? On average your fresh apples are 6-12 months old by the time you are digging in, if its in your garden you can get it in the pot in 10 minutes, which means it contains more of its vitamin and mineral content and unsurprisingly tastes a whole hell of a lot better! here is an article about how fresh food is processed and stored if you haven't bothered with any of the links yet this is the one that is really worth a read!

7) Get your 5 a day? Probably not. Fewer than a third of adults in the UK and only 1 in 10 children get their five a day. If you can get your kids out in the garden picking their own and if you have fresh food to hand at hand for when you want it, might you eat more? considering we live in a country with chronic diabetes, and obesity if more people ate more veg and less crap that would be a good thing right?

8) Gardening can help alleviate depression, the evidence on this is so clear that the NHS runs gardening courses for those with depression. Depression is the second leading cause of disability in the world. Even if you don't have any mental health issues if it can help lift people out of clinical depression you might find it to be a positive experience yourself.

9) Help prevent food waste, we in Britain throw away 5.8 million potatoes a day. If you can grow a few of your own and get them when you need them from the garden/ pot/ balcony/ windowsill you wont be inclined to throw half of them in the bin which is what households in the UK currently do. 35% of bagged salads are thrown away, and most of those bagged salads come from the Spanish plastic jungle, where there is modern day slavery, as seen above. This is after the vegetables have been filtered through a system which throws away anything which is misshapen before it reaches the supermarkets literally millions of tonnes a year. Up to 2/5 is wasted before going to the shelves. If you do happen to harvest a little too much of your home grown veg why not then make it in to lovely compost to help grow next years crop?


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