This picture says it all. In just a few generations, the Big Food and Big Ag companies have successfully produced a whole generation of people who do not know how to grow their own food. This, my dear friends, is worse than creating an illiterate generation because growing one’s own food is key to survival. And the quality of one’s food is key to the quality of one’s health.
We’ve traded a slower pace of life for convenience. We’ve traded the hard work of growing one’s own food for the hard work of working for someone else.
Free food changes the way one looks at food. We no longer have to compromise on quality or taste. In supermarkets, the choice is often that processed food is cheaper than organic produce. Not if it’s been grown yourself. And if you save your seeds, it just multiplies from there.
Reversing this trend takes time and purposefulness since there’s a little bit of a learning curve and long-term planning in getting some more land space, but the investment is HUGE and generational and gets bigger with time.
GROW YOUR FUTURE RICH with investing in a garden.
Let’s visit with Anne Osborne who has been eating an exclusively raw food diet for decades. She is raising her son 100% raw and is making the transition. See why she feels that growing one’s own food is critical:
1) What types of fruits/vegetables do you grow on your own property?
We grow Mangoes, Chocolate Sapote, Black and White Mulberries, Youngberries, Loganberries, Strawberries, Pineapples, Peanut Butter Fruit, Blackberry Jam Fruit, Tomatoes, Avocados, Blueberries, Guavas, Payapayas, Longans, Watermelons, and Soursops
We also have lots of baby fruit trees of other varieties that have yet to fruit.
2) How big is your property?
About three quarters of an acre.
3) What do you do for pest control?
We generally do not have concerns about sharing with other creatures, but sometimes we will relocate particularly hungry caterpillars to another part of the garden.
4) How important do you feel it is to grow your own food?
I think it is very important if you are relying on fruit for the vast majority of your nutrients.
In general, commercial fruit is grown primarily for profit rather than nutrient content.
This means that the nutritional content of many fruits is less than optimal.
In addition, most fruit is priced according to weight or size, which means that growers will get more profit if a piece of fruit is big in size; this can encourage the addition of large amounts of artificial fertilizers to the soil.
I believe that the single thing that could most improve people’s health, is if fresh produce was priced according to nutritional content rather than size or weight.
If it was economically advantageous to grow nutritious fruit, the Planet’s health would, I believe, greatly improve.
In 2011, I went to a talk by Costa Georgiadis, who hosts permaculture and gardening shows on Australian television; I took much away from Costa’s talk, but what struck me most was that Costa said, “We may need to eat four times the amount of produce as we did in the 1970’s to get the same amount of nutrition.”
This really shocked me and made me realize more than ever that those on fruit diets, or high fruit diets, really need to source great quality fruit grown in good soil, otherwise we are at risk from not getting the nutrients that we need to thrive.
If we are raising children, I feel that it becomes even more crucial to source fruit grown in healthy soil.
It is the micro-nutrients (vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants) that we are most at risk of becoming deficient in, if we rely solely on commercial crops for our nutrition.
If we are unable to grow our own food, we can buy from local growers who build up their soil, and we can also forage wild fruits which tend to be high in micro-nutrients.
Another option is to have a plot in a community garden, or an allotment, where we can grow our own fresh produce.
5) Any types of fruits or vegetables that you haven’t been able to grow but would like to?
I have tried several times to grow Charentais and other orange-fleshed heirloom Melons, but it really is too humid where we live for these Melons to thrive and the crops have not been successful.
I would also love to be able to grow Durian, but we are not quite close enough to the equator!
6) What sorts of tips have your learned from your local organic farmers have you learned that have helped you?
That building up your spoil is so important.
If the nutrients are not in the soil, then they are not going to be in your fruits, and then not in you!
Also the importance of not mono-cropping but having a more holistically arranged garden. (Mono-cropping is when we plant large chunks of the same type of crop on plots of land. Poly-cropping is mixing in different species with each other which creates stronger ecosystems that are more balanced and pest-resistant. Mono crops lure the same type of pest and there is not enough of other crops that lure their predators thus keeping their populations in check. Thus mono crops deplete the soil faster and the crops are more disease prone due to lack of variety).
Another important tip is that if your plants are healthy then, like people, they are at much less risk of getting sick.
Healthy plants will tend to resist fungal, bacterial and insect attacks!
I have also learnt the importance of compost in the home garden, and the magic of composting.
7) What percentage of the food you eat would you say is food you’ve grown yourself?
At the moment, not so much, maybe only 10% over the course of a year. But if we have a good Mango Season this will rise to maybe 30% for a few months.
And in Mulberry Season again the percentage will rise.
I feel that because it is the micro-nutrients that are really missing in commercially-grown fruit rather than the macro-nutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) then even a small percentage of home-grown fruit will make a huge difference to one’s health and well-being.
And we also add to our diet local fruit from growers who have healthy soils because they built them up, and foraged fruit, we also greatly increase the micro-nutrient content of our diet.
Ideally I would like to grow a much bigger percentage of our own food, and live on a property that is suitable for doing so.
8) How does growing your own food help you to stay raw and healthy? How important would you say it’s been to the quality of food you eat and being able to eat ripe fruit? How important would you say these last two factors are in being a healthy and successful raw foodist?
I believe that growing your own food helps you to stay healthy because it will be picked perfectly ripe, will be grown with love, and will be grown in good soil.
I think growing our own food is very important to help ensure we get the micro-nutrients we need.
Also eating fruit perfectly ripe is so important because perfectly ripe fruit has many more nutrients than fruit that is picked under-ripe.
Even if fruit ripens after harvest, it will still not have the optimal nutrition or flavour of perfectly plant-ripened fruit.
So I feel that both ripeness and the quality of fruit are crucial if you want to truly thrive on a fruit diet.
9) How feasible do you think it is for almost anyone to grow at least some of their own food?
I think the growth of local community gardens and allotments is creating great opportunities for those without gardens to grow their own produce.
And if we do not have the time to work a full plot then we can share with a friend.
I believe that even if we are only growing a small percentage of our own food, this can make a huge difference to the micro-nutrient content of our diet.
10) Do you compost your fruit peels? Do you have a worm bin? What are your favorite amendments you like to add to your soil to keep your food healthy?
We compost all our fruit scraps, this means that we have very little to put in the regular trash bin each week.
We do not have a worm bin, but we do have plenty of free-range worms in our garden!
I like to add compost, rock dust and seaweed to our soil
11) What do you look for in growing methods in organic farmers that you buy your food from? Who would you not buy from (what practices would they be doing that you wouldn’t want to see)?
I like to buy from farmers who do not mind sharing their crops with the fruit bats.
Because in Queensland, much of the fruit bats’ natural habitat has been destroyed, the native fruits and nectars that they usually eat have been greatly reduced, so the bats are in a situation where they need to eat commercially-grown and garden-grown fruits.
Therefore some farmers put barbed wire up to stop the bats, which causes horrible injuries to the bats.
I try to support the farmers that do not put up barbed wire.
And if I am aware the farmer causes harm to fruit bats, I will choose not to buy from them.
Amy farmer who grows not using mono-cropping, I also love to support.
12) Anything else you’d like to add that you feel is important?
I think that in the raw food community there is often a great emphasis on the macro-nutrients, that is: carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
However, all commercial crops contain these macro-nutrients and it is pretty easy to get enough macro-nutrients from commercially-grown food crops.
I think it is the micro-nutrients that we really need to be focusing on because I believe it is a lack of micro-nutrients that will ultimately cause challenges on this diet.
Anne brings up some excellent points. We as gardeners and farmers need to realize that animals deserve to eat, too. Many birds help us plant by eating seeds from other areas and then defecating those seeds onto our lands and producing crops we otherwise wouldn’t have. We have wild acorn squash and sunflowers in our garden due to this. We can grow enough food for them and us.
Also monocultures need to go. This is agriculture practice due to economics not health. You will never see monocultures in the wild. Never will you come upon a whole field of something growing exclusively or a natural orchard of just peach trees. Nature loves variety because it supports strong ecosystems which bring in a variety of beneficial insects, nutrients and predators.
Let’s learn to garden together. Start small but start somewhere. As your confidence grows, so will the size of your garden. Learn organic methods since the nutrition in organic food has way more micro nutrients than conventional produce. The secret is in the soil. Add seaweed and fish emulsion for micro nutrients like iodine and zinc and add compost for micro organisms.
Rotate crops to replenish nutrients in the soil and try to use cover crops like red clover when soil is not in use.