focus photography of green cabbage

5 Ways That Gardening Will Make You More Independent

Why garden at all? Because growing my own food makes me (and many other Tower Gardeners) more independent in the following five ways.

1. Independence from poor food quality

Most of the fruits and vegetables you’ll find at your local supermarket aren’t as fresh as they could be. And that’s because they usually spend weeks in transit from other states or countries before landing in the produce aisle.

The result? Bland fruits and veggies that lack nutrition.

Buying from local farmers is one way to overcome this problem. But nothing will ever be as flavorful or nutrient-dense as a tomato you pluck from the vine in your own backyard.

2. Independence from toxic chemicals

Nearly 70 percent of conventionally grown produce is contaminated with pesticides. And even crops that are certified organic often contain residue from natural — but still potentially harmful — pesticides.

The only way to really know what goes in and on your food is to grow it yourself. For instance, I follow integrated pest management practices to prevent and control common garden problems. And as a result, I can be confident there’s nothing dangerous lingering in my harvests.

3. Independence from food-borne illness

If you feel as though you’re hearing about food recalls more often these days, well, it’s because you are. In the U.S., their frequency has increased four-fold in just five years. And we’ve seen a coinciding increase in food-borne illness outbreaks — from listeria to salmonella.

But produce from your self-sufficient garden? That doesn’t get recalled. Again, you control the inputs, which means you control the outputs.

4. Independence from food insecurity

If all grocery stores were to shut down tomorrow, how long would your current stock of fresh produce last you? Unless you’re already growing a self-sufficient garden, I’m guessing your answer is “not long.” Sourcing your fruits and veggies solely from a supermarket is risky because you’re subjected to any disruption in the supply chain.

Alaskans, for example, often see “out of stock” signs instead of greens for weeks at a time. And even for those in the Lower 48, unpredictable events — from severe weather to recalls — can result in food shortages.

Complete self-sufficiency may not be a realistic goal for most of us. But the more food you grow yourself, the less affected you’ll be by changes that are outside of your control.

Tower Tip: When you grow food indoors, you’ll also enjoy independence from seasonal shortages. But fair warning — once you have fresh herbs and greens year-round, you’ll never want to live without an indoor garden again.

5. Independence from rising produce costs

In the last two decades, food prices have risen by an average of almost 3 percent a year.

As with availability, produce costs fluctuates without much warning. That’s because food prices are dictated by a number of volatile factors, including weather, oil prices, labor costs, and even politics.

But the costs of growing a food garden stay rather consistent. Plus, once yours is established, it will likely pay for itself many times over.

Grow Your Own (Food) Independence

If you’re not growing your own food yet, I hope this post has encouraged you to get started. Self-sufficient gardening is easier than you think.