A lot of us talk about organic this or that, but do we really know that it means? For a little help, right from the start, let’s look at what the dictionary has to say about the term organic:
…of, related to, or derived from living organisms: being, composed of, or containing matter of plant or animal origins……relating to, produced with, or based on the use of organics as fertilizers without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers or pesticides…
So, if it used to be animal or plant and has not been altered with chemicals, we call it organic. Organic gardeners practices gardening without using artificial or synthetic pesticides, insecticides or fertilizers. The aim is to give to nature what we derive from nature.
Benefits of Organic Gardening
There are many benefits of organic gardening besides the obvious, “It must be good for you…it’s organic!”
Enjoy tastier food
Do you really trust the grocery stores with your family’s health? With the changes in the environment and food labeling, it is difficult to know what you are really buying. Where did it come from and how did it get there? It’s hard to rely on the products that have been beloved and enjoyed for generations. How can we know that the fruits and vegetables we get from the market are safe, non-genetically modified, or have the nutritional benefits they did in the past?
When you grow your own organic food, you know exactly where it comes from and are safe in the knowledge that there are no chemicals involved. Having control over what you eat means that you’ll enjoy more flavorsome and tastier food that is free from pesticides which can cause diseases and defects. Picking fresh vegetables grown from your garden will ensure you’ll be having more minerals and nutrients inside you. You can be assured they have been nourished from the organic soil and your hard work.
You will know the life of that cucumber when you pick it and bring it home for dinner. Just knowing you grew that cucumber, it seems to just tastes better.
Just plain healthier
Among the many advantages of growing food organically, first and foremost is the food produced using organic gardening is more nourishing and beneficial to health. Studies have shown that the vitamin and mineral contents are far more higher in organically grown crops than in its non organic counter crops.
Substantially higher amount of Antioxidants and health promoting compounds are present in organically grown crops than their counter parts which have been cultured with the help of pesticides. Antioxidants can greatly reduce the risk of Cancer.
Studies have shown that the average child receives four times more exposure than an adult to at least eight widely used cancer-causing pesticides in food. Food choices you make now for you and your family will impact your child’s future health.
One of the hidden healthy benefits is eating more veggies. When you grow your own food, you are more likely to want to enjoy the bounty of your harvest. Just by default you are eating more healthy veggies.
Ideally we would grow all our own food, but as we know this is challenging. Starting an organic garden can alleviate much of that pressure and you can enjoy and trust in the foods you consume once again and know that you are eating healthier. It’s a step you can take to help you and your family limit the chemicals in your food.
Trying new foods
Growing in this manner does have a number of benefits outside of health as well. The opportunities to create heirloom varieties can be passed on to newer generations or cross bred with other gardener’s crops. This is possible because heirloom seeds and plants grown using natural methods maintain their ability to produce viable seeds, something that mainstream crops have lost. This lack of terminal seeds makes breeding and continuing on centuries old traditions easy and cost efficient. It is always enjoyable to have a unique vegetable variety that is not in the market.
Reduces Chemical Run-Off
Let’s be honest. Not all forms of gardening are helpful to Mother Nature. A lot of farmers and even home gardeners use toxic chemicals and chemical fertilizers to speed up plant growth and production. The harmful chemical residues are transferred into the soil which are then absorbed by plants. When the plant and leaves absorb the chemicals, you can only imagine where it goes next. Straight to the fruit or vegetable.
The chemical run off from pesticides and chemical fertilizers eventually end up in our streams, oceans and water supply. Even shortly down stream these chemicals are affecting insects, birds and small animals.
Bonding and connecting with family
Gardening together bonds families and is a wonderful activity to enjoy together. By growing, harvesting, preparing, cooking and eating wonderful, flavorful fresh food, together you have found a way to connect.
Growing and then preparing food together gives families a time to share, bond and work together. The reality of today’s family is that most of us are busy, with work, school, kids’ activities, homework and other responsibilities consuming most of our time. Setting aside a time where the entire family can work together gives us a chance to pause, catch up and just connect with each other.
I know we all feel pride in enjoying and sharing things we have grown. Around June my friends eagerly await when my zucchini and tomato baskets are over flowing and they reap the benefits. I have taken pride in summer meals with a table full of home grown food. It is very rewarding and satisfying to share food that you have grown. My family eats more veggies simply because we had grown them.
Growing your own food can help cut the cost of the grocery bill. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars at the grocery store on foods that don’t really nourish you, spend time in the garden, outside, exercising, learning to grow your own food. When you consider organic heirloom tomatoes at $6/lb, I feel rich when I walk out of my garden with 10 pounds of heirloom tomatoes!
So, whatever the reason you find to keep growing organically, the benefits are plentiful, hopefully just like your crops.