Why are vegetable prices soaring? Recent reports from agriculture industry analysts shed some light, but don’t promise any relief. So take a stand. Start growing your own food at home for these 4 reasons, some of which we’ll bet you haven’t even considered.
Have you seen what a head of cauliflower costs these days? Crazy. According to the most recent average vegetable prices from the USDA (from November 2015) show that cauliflower was a whopping 79% higher than it was in the same month the previous year.
Celery was 53% higher and broccoli had jumped up 45%. Lettuce was 22% higher year-over-year, and 75% from the previous month.
Agrimoney.com explains why costs are so high: “The surge in US vegetable prices caused by too little rain in California and Mexico is now under threat of being spurred by too much of the stuff.”
A WBUR radio report details more reasons for the increase in cauliflower, in particular, (which it calls “the new kale”).
Does Growing Your Own Vegetables Really Cost Less Than Buying Them?
It’s almost impossible to say whether any one household will spend less overall on vegetables and other edibles by growing them at home. It’s obvious that you can save money in certain circumstances.
In a post on Southern Living’s blog, “3 Reasons to Grow Your Own Vegetables,” they point out how much it costs to buy herbs:
“A pack of herbs from the grocery store can cost anywhere from $3 to $6 and you use the pack for one, maybe two meals. Buying potted herbs, on the other hand, costs $2.50 to $4 and they last for about eight months. Some herbs, like rosemary and thyme, can even last for years. Growing your own herbs can be made cheaper by starting out with seeds, which cost $1 to $2.”
A great many other edibles are cheaper to grow than buy. It’s difficult, however, to calculate how much money you might be able to save by growing your own food. It depends on many variables, not the least of which is whether you can effectively grow year-round, such as with an indoor greenhouse.
As you weigh the value of growing at least some of the fruits, veggies, and herbs at home, take into account these 4 concrete, long-term advantages of doing so:
1. You’re More Likely To Cook at Home
The very best way to save money on food — and improve your diet, according to food guru Mark Bittman — is to cook at home. Google “save money with home cooking vs. eating out” or something similar and see what pops up.
Investing your time and effort into a garden, indoor or out, creates a special bond between you and the food you grow. For one thing, you can grow what you like. You don’t have to stop eating it because some new flood or drought or pest causes a spike in the cost of your favorite stuff.
You’ll be more enthusiastic about turning, say, a glorious batch of home-grown sweet peppers into something special than you would be about store-bought peppers.
2. Your Produce Costs Are Front-Loaded
An investment — because that’s exactly what it is — in gardening equipment and supplies front-loads your expenditures. The harvest is your payout over time, taking some of the strain off of your weekly grocery expenditures.
You can increase your investment return by canning, freezing, or otherwise preserving fruits, vegetables and herbs you grow.
Just picture your fridge and pantry stocked with homegrown, homemade jam, tomato sauce, dried herb and tea blends and the like. SO much less expensive than store-bought, and naturally, your “private label” goods are TWICE AS GOOD as what you buy in any store. Just sayin’.
3. Homegrown is Healthier, and Healthier is Cheaper
Pesticides, artificial flavors and preservatives, massive amounts of sodium — all stuff we consume regularly with industrially grown fruits and vegetables and pre-prepared food. Every bite you take of the food you grow is one less bite that contains those harmful substances.
Look, we’re not saying everything in your grocer’s produce section is poison. You can choose wisely and get perfectly good fruits and vegetables. But why not eat more food that you know is clean because you know everything used to grow it?
In the end, the greatest health benefit of homegrown food probably isn’t the lack of synthetic chemicals, it’s the fact that you’ll eat more fruits and vegetables overall.
Going back to point #1, the more you cook at home, the better you get at it, and the less unhealthy food you and your family are likely to eat over the long run. This can only improve your health and help decrease the many serious costs — monetary and otherwise — of eating poorly.
4. The Convenience of Garden-to-Table Saves Time and Money
Swinging by the store on your way home from work isn’t a big inconvenience or a big waste of gas. But how many times have you had to run out for just a few tomatoes, a couple of onions, or some cilantro?
Oh, and speaking of cilantro, does your store only sell it in bunches the size of a basketball? Be honest: How much of that ends up in the garbage?
Having your own food a hop, skip and/or jump from your kitchen saves time and fuel while reducing waste. And having your own garden year-round might motivate you to reduce waste still further by composting your kitchen scraps. Circle of life, y’know? It really works.
Yes, Growing Your Own Food is Work. Until it Isn’t
There’s no denying that it takes money, planning, and a little elbow grease to get started in growing your own food. But once you get that ball rolling, you might be surprised how soon it stops being work and starts being something you love.
It’s like any endeavor that has tangible rewards: You get better at it, which makes you want to get better still. And the intangible rewards will also motivate you, [TOUCHY-FEELY SENTIMENT ALERT] like your pride in growing something that looks and tastes fantastic.
Peace of mind is a nice intangible payoff, too. You know your family is eating good food, and in the process perhaps they’re learning about turning seeds, soil, light, water and nutrients into food. Talk about long-term value.
Are you ready to grow your garden year-round?