Post by Contributing Writer, Jill
You hear the terms thrown around everywhere these days: sustainability, urban farming, modern homesteading, backyard chickens, etc…
You’ve seen others partake in this growing trend, and maybe you’ve even considered it yourself. But, you keep coming back to the same old question: is it really worth it to grow your own food, especially when it is so plentiful at the grocery store?
Why add another commitment to your already busy life when you can easily drive to your neighborhood market and pick up a dozen eggs and a gallon of milk?
My family and I are working toward growing and producing as much of our own food as possible. When we first started, I asked myself many of these same questions. Today I would like to share some of the reasons that we’ve chosen to make the commitment to grown our own food, even though it’s not always easy at times.
Awareness of food quality, pesticides and additives is growing. When you grow your own food, you have complete control of what the animals are fed, what goes into the soil, and what is sprayed on your crops. No more guessing or wondering what side effects pesticides or food additives will have on your family.
No fossil fuels are required to truck the food to you from across country when it’s grown right out your back door. Not only will you be able to feed your own family a more local diet, but you can “share the wealth” with your extended family and friends, enabling them to eat more local as well.
This is one question I hear frequently: is it REALLY cheaper to grow your own food? My answer is yes and no. For example: if you consider the cost of raising chickens as compared to a cheap carton of regular ol’ storebought eggs, then homegrown eggs are definitely more expensive.
However, if you compare your chicken costs with a carton of organic, free range eggs that have been fed a completely natural diet, then it becomes much more cost effective. (Plus, things like truly natural eggs or raw milk are completely unavailable in my area. Therefore, my only option is to produce these things ourselves.)
It’s More Humane
My family and I choose not to follow a vegetarian diet, since we feel that there are definite health benefits to consuming animal proteins. However, it makes me very sad to think of the way that conventional meat, dairy, and eggs are raised.
Though the system is set up to maximize profits, I don’t believe that it is fair or humane to the animals involved. When we grow our own animal products, I know for a fact that each animal was cared for in the most natural way possible and allowed to live the way God intended them to until their days are finished.
It’s Better Tasting
If you’ve ever had a glass of fresh milk or a snap pea picked straight off the plant, then you can’t deny the incredible taste difference in fresh food! Items that have been trucked across country and allowed to sit in a grocery store quickly lose their flavor and freshness.
It Boosts Self-Sufficiency
In our uncertain times, more and more people are looking to become as self sufficient as possible, for both long-term and emergency situations. Additionally, learning to produce your own food can definitely help to off-set expenses if your family were to go through a time of financial difficulty or the loss of a job. In the summertime when our garden is thriving, I rarely purchase any vegetables at the store, which really helps our budget.
Simple Living at Its Finest
Last but not least, I love growing our own food because it is absolutely enjoyable. I love spending time with the animals, getting dirt under my fingernails, and especially having the chance to share these experiences with our daughter.
While there are definitely back-breaking and disappointing days, the feeling of that first harvest, first egg, or first gallon of milk is totally worth it. Not only has it been empowering to learn the “old-fashioned” ways of gardening, preserving, and animal husbandry, I have also learned to love many of life’s simple pleasures in the process.
So whether you live in a rural, suburban, or urban setting, I encourage you to explore the options you have in raising food for your own table. From windowsill herb gardens to backyard beehives to urban chickens, there is something for everyone!
Jill writes from the homestead she shares with her husband, baby daughter, and an ever-changing assortment of animals. When she’s not in the kitchen preparing traditional foods, you’ll find her outside riding her horses, growing vegetables, milking goats, and killing rattlesnakes. She shares homesteading tales and kitchen tips at her blog, The Prairie Homestead.