24 May 2011

You Are What You Eat

I grew up hearing that saying and it came to mind yesterday as I was planting out some more seedlings and watering the in with compost tea. It was a saying my great-grandma and my mother often told us as we'd screw up our faces at the dinner table and suggest that fish and chips would be a better dinner (it was a long time ago, fish and chips and the local Chinese take away were the sum total of fast food available where we lived).  At the time I didn't understand what they were saying other than "stop whining and eat your dinner".

Now I have a family of my own I well and truly understand the importance of eating good food.  We've had a sizeable veggie garden for years and apart from the financial benefits I believe the health benefits have been huge so when I read a blog post this afternoon, wondering if the increased nutritional benefits of certified organic foods were real or just hype, it had me thinking.

The organic food market here in Australia is growing at a phenomenal rate. Even the three major supermarkets (Coles, Woolworths and Aldi) have introduced their own ranges of organic groceries. 

But is the organic hype just that? Are organic products truly better for us, our homes and our world? Or have we all been conned yet again by an incredibly good marketing campaign? Organic produce and groceries are very expensive, adding around 45% (by my calculations, off my grocery list, often more if you stick to organic meat and poultry) to the average grocery bill. That's a lot of money out of a family's budget.

It doesn't have to be so.

If you want organic produce, without busting the budget, skip the media frenzy and supermarket organic hoo haa and eat real organically grown food - from your own backyard (or balcony)!

For the most part, less than 50 years ago, most Australian homes had a substantial veggie garden and mini orchard in the backyard - our grandparents and their parents ate the original organic produce. 

Grown from seed they sowed, fertilised by compost they made. They practised seed saving and thus helped to keep the plant DNA intact.  They didn't rely on chemicals to keep their gardens green and the crops healthy.

Most backyards had a lemon tree and the obligatory plum tree was often a feature of the front yard or even the nature strip. Fig trees were common too.  I think it should be part of every council's building regulations that every backyard have at least a lemon (or some other citrus) tree growing.

With the advent of the supermarket revolution in the late 1950's early 1960's came the niggling little doubt at the back of the housewife's mind that somehow the produce grown at home was lacking the nutrients available from commercially grown produce. And thus began the Australian family's dependence on supermarkets and the farmer's dependence on chemical fertilizers, bug repellents and GM seeds. 

Once again we were brainwashed into thinking that it was easier, cheaper and better for us to buy all our produce from the supermarket.  It's not true. Trust me.

You can grow your own food, at least some of it, regardless of where you live, even if it's just a cherry tomato and a few herbs in pots. You'll be able to cross those things off your shopping list.

And if you have a glut of cherry tomatoes, try oven-drying them with some of those fresh herbs. Keep them in a jar of olive oil and use them on sandwiches, in salads, add them to rice or quiche - you'll be eating gourmet dishes for a fraction of the cost.

Be brave, I dare you. Start growing your own veggies - it's easy, it's cheap, it's healthful! Use heirloom seeds and you'll be sure that the food you put in your mouth truly is organic.

If you want to give growing your own organic food a go, here are a few ideas:

Growing Your Own Greens in a Home Garden

How to Grow Your Own Organic Vegetable Garden

Is It Organic?


  1. the link for the "growing your own greens in a home garden" doesn't work, it just took me into the blogger signup page

  2. Worked ok for me just now.


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