“The best food in the world starts in the garden and ends on your plate, perhaps after a comfortingly stop in a well-stocked pantry or freezer. It never knows the back of a truck or the inside of a factory, and it holds no chemical or genetic secrets. Eating it feels comfortable and good.”— Barbara Pleasant, author of Homegrown Pantry
What is it about growing and preserving your own food that makes it worth the time and trouble? Here are 18 common traits we’ve observed of pantry gardeners… See how many you can identify with!
- You want to know exactly what’s in the food you’re eating and feeding those you love. You have been educated in the effects of chemicals on foods and understand you can’t always simply “wash off” the pesticides. Everything that comes into contact with the commercially grown plant and soil is taken up by the plant affecting the nutrition as soils wane and become poorer with every season of use.
- You understand that “organic” still means pesticides may have been applied to the plant you’re about to eat and “some” pesticides is still too much. You want to feel confident that the food you eat and feed to your family is the best clean nutritious food you can find.
- You understand that plants grown for the grocery store are grown for their transportability and shelf life, not for nutritional value or flavor as the primary goal. Growing your own produce from seed gives you the advantage of picking what you’re going to eat at its peak ripeness meaning it will have all the nutritional benefits you are desiring. Further, you can quickly process the plant at its peak by harvesting, cleaning, and processing it either to eat right away or put into long term storage. In either case, you’ll be locking in optimal nutrition for your body.
- You understand that growing your own food is investing in your own personal health and the health of those you care for on a daily basis. The activity of gardening is good for your mind and body according to research and personal experience.
- You don’t have a consumer mindset where you only buy and live in the moment… instead, you think about your future needs and make an effort to have something on hand in the event you cannot find what you enjoy eating. This mindset of thinking long-range not only gives you peace of mind that you have some food security when tough times come. Those of us that had grandparents that lived through the depression era, now understand why they took the time to plant a garden and can food. Food security can be empowering and peace-giving.
- It feels good knowing that you won’t be the cause for more packaging and plastic to be thrown away. Eliminating the need to purchase items from the store means you are creating a smaller carbon footprint on the need to rely on packaged goods.
- You have practiced persistence and are able to stick with a task over a period of time in order to achieve the end goal (often referred to as delayed gratification.) You know with a little bit of effort, consistently over time, you can achieve anything — including a stocked pantry full of nutritious food you have grown.
- You understand that investing in the right tools to grow food upfront will have a savings effect over time. Your homegrown food will outpace inflation in savings — it will cost less than store bought food (especially if you’re using a hydroponic Tower Garden.)
- You connect with family history through gardening and preserving teaching the next generation through example these simply lessons of healthy living. Maybe it’s making your grandmother’s apply pie or your mama’s fresh basil pesto — these foods have a strong connection to your past and good memories. In sharing that with your children, you pass along these gifts.
- You know that home grown herbs that are dried immediately after harvesting out-surpass anything you can buy in the store when it comes to flavor and nutrients. Store bought seasonings sit on the shelf and lose flavonoids when they are crushed. By the time they are used in your cooking, the flavor has diminished. Drying your own herbs and keeping them in leaf form as much as possible keeps the flavonoids in tack and maintains a superior seasoning when you go to crush them and use them in your cooking.
- You find that maintaining your own food supply helps to connect you more deeply to the earth and the seasons of life. Watching a plant grow from seed to harvest or even to produce seed to collect gives you a deeper connection to living life to the fullest as you appreciate the cycle of life.
- You feel empowered to try something new and aren’t afraid to risk failing. You know that nothing is gained by not trying, so you’re willing to put yourself out there and explore new things in order to gain understanding.
- You have a generous nature in that you freely share what you have grown and preserved either through sharing of a meal together or in helping out a neighbor or loved one when they are grieving or in need.
- In selecting plants intentionally for their usefulness, you are able to gain the benefit of harvesting herbs in particular for medicinal uses to bolster your immune system. Homegrown herbs with medicinal benefits give one access to health care no matter your age or demographic.
- In preparing items for your pantry, the time it takes to go to the store to purchase those items (as well as the cost associated with that grocery run) saves you time in making meals at home. You just walk over to the pantry shelf or go outside to the garden and “shop” from your own aisle.
- You know the importance of being mindful of salt and sugar in your food as it affects your arteries and heart. Store-bought options and eating out expose you to higher than normal recommended levels of sodium and sugar. Plus, aluminum cans leech aluminum into contents (food) over time. Storing your own food puts you in control of how much salt or sugar is put into whatever you are preserving.
- You like working smarter, not harder. If you have an indoor Tower Garden with grow lights, you have total freedom to grow food 3x bigger and 3x faster using 98% LESS water than traditional gardens 365 days a year indoors. You bask 24/7 in your ability to have food freedom no matter what the weather or pest pressure happens to be outside.
- You are resourceful and don’t waste anything—you are the top recycler in your neighborhood. You know that some of the things we consume can be used to feed your soil and garden. The whole chicken you just ate can be used to make bone broth. The bones can be dried and then put into ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) for four weeks to extract calcium for a shelf stable fertilizer that can then be added to water and used as a foliar spray or soil drench. Remove the bones from your ACV and re-dry the bones and they can be crushed down into a powder to add into your soil. No need to go out and buy bone meal or calcium spray. You literally can make your own fertilizers.
Want to learn more about preserving your own food?
Check out a resource we have found to be helpful:
Homegrown Pantry: A gardener’s guide to selecting the best varieties and planting the perfect amounts for what you want to eat year round