Sure, it is easier to get your veggies from the grocery store or farmer's market, but there are compelling reasons to grow your own. Here are four of them:
#1 Better Nutrition
Numerous studies have been done on the nutrient loss of fruits and vegetables after harvest, and the numbers are astounding. Most fruits and vegetables start losing some nutritional value almost immediately. As an example, spinach can lose up to 90% of its Vitamin C content in just 1 day! Think about that - the produce at your grocery is probably a week old, and produce at the Farmer’s Market is 2-3 days old. Since the main reason people say they want to eat more fruits and vegetables in nutrition, this should be a really a big driver to grow fresh vegetables at home.
Remember your plants nutritional value can vary based on the nutrients it is able to pull out of the soil. Be sure that your soil is chock full of the 12+ nutrients plants need to thrive.
#2 Better Taste
Because produce at the grocery store has to be shipped, most things are picked unripe to prevent spoiling and/or bruising. We have all been disappointed by tasteless tomatoes, rubbery beans, and starchy corn. That’s why chef Joshua McFadden ends his top-selling cookbook Six Seasons with: “Don’t buy tomatoes in winter.”
When you grow at home you can succession plant your crops to have gorgeously ripe produce for weeks. And preserving things at the peak of freshness means they taste awesome weeks, even months, later. You don't need to plant an acre either, start with some containers or a raised bed. Some fresh veggies are better than none.
#3 Wider Variety
Farmers, even small organic farmers, choose crops that perform well. That means they produce a lot and don’t have to be babied. Taste is important, but it doesn’t usually crack the top five reasons a farmer chooses to grow something. As a home gardener, you can pick something based on your specific tastes. Did you know that there are over of 10,000 varieties of tomatoes and 50,000 types of peppers? Compare that to the typical selection you see in the grocery store where the pepper choices are limited to red, yellow, or green bell peppers. If you are lucky, there might be jalapenos or a chili.
Obviously, to have the largest selection, you will have to grow from seed. Buying plants will limit you to the varieties your local store chooses. With seeds, you can go crazy and plant purple celery, white eggplant, or rainbow-hued tomatoes. Some great seed companies are:
Johnny’s Selected Seeds: https://www.johnnyseeds.com/
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds https://www.rareseeds.com/
Pinetree Garden Seeds: https://www.superseeds.com/
#4 Important Life Lessons
Growing your own food teaches patience, perseverance, and self-reliance. Gardening has also been proven to have lots of health and wellness benefits such as lowering stress, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The simple act of watching something grow, mature, and ripen can spark a life-long interest in gardening, cooking, or even farming for kids. It's a great activity that the whole family can do together and is open to everyone from toddlers through grandparents.
So get out and start growing today. If you are new to gardening - start small. You will be surprised what you can grow in a single pot or a 5-gallon bucket. Remember to plant what you like to eat and throw in a wildcard every once in a while, to keep it interesting. Fair warning, you will fail - even the most experienced gardeners’ loose crops to weather, pests, etc. Just celebrate success (even if it is only one bean), and keep trying new things!
By the way - If one of the reasons you don't have a garden is because you hate weeding, there is a robot that does that for you.