Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Home-Grown Food Pays Off In Dividends

As winter wears on, the value of home-produced food becomes increasingly evident.

My fondness for leafy greens compels me to put up a number of wild plants, all of which satisfy this craving. Dandelions, goosetongue and lamb’s quarters complement fiddleheads, Japanese knotweed and a host of garden vegetables in my freezer and on my shelves.

Sometimes, though, the craving for fresh veggies draws me out of the house and to the nearest grocery store. And it’s then that I truly realize the worth of my foraged and homegrown produce.

The last visit gave me a bad case of sticker shock. Food prices had risen by perhaps one-third since last I prowled the produce isle. This made me wonder to myself, “What do people do who must depend upon the store for all their food?”

This wasn’t a self-righteous quip either. I truly cannot imagine paying what people are compelled to pay for their food in today’s world.

Besides that, it appears that our sluggish economy has had the effect of driving grocers to keep outdated produce on their shelves longer than in the past. The end result of this is that food costs more and is not as fresh.

After examining many containers of wilted peas, half-dried mushrooms, tough-looking lettuce and wizened zucchinis, I finally settled on a small head of cabbage. That’s a sad commentary on the current situation.

I also recall how last year I found myself wondering if all the work involved in picking, cleaning, freezing and canning wild stuff and garden vegetables was worth it. It was, and is, without the slightest doubt.

So if like me, you have qualms about paying exorbitant sums for outdated produce from faraway points of origin, make a promise to yourself that next year, you will go foraging. And it wouldn’t hurt to consider growing a garden, either.

It doesn’t take a huge garden to provide a decent quantity of food. It makes more sense to start small and increase garden size as needed. To start, though, it’s surprising how much one 3’ X 10’ raised bed can produce.

And for those who for whatever reason cannot build a raised or in-ground garden bed, a certain commercial product can serve very well. This is called “The Earthbox” and it works wonderfully. I’ll highlight The Earthbox in a future blog.

The benefits from foraging and gardening are inestimable.

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