I love food.
It might sound like a ridiculous statement, but I do, I love food. To me, food is not just that which sustains me but something which should be enjoyed.
I seem to have developed a serious passion for food in the past few years, I was much more of a fussy eater when I was younger. I’ve always enjoyed cooking and I love baking, but as I’ve gotten older, I have learned to really appreciate good, healthy food.
Two years ago, when my dad started his allotment, I didn’t know much about gardening or “growing your own” and the positive impact it could have on one’s life. I didn’t fully understand just how much of a joy it could be and how much it would change my attitude towards food. Over the past two years, my parents have grown some wonderful fresh fruit and veg including some I’d never even heard of before. It opened me up a whole new world to me.
I have since become increasingly interested in food and food production. I have learned so much about where our food comes from. It’s startling to think that so many of us are so unaware of just what it is we are putting in to our bodies.
We are very lucky in a way, to live in Ireland. Our food regulation standards are very strict in comparison to other countries. All of our meat has to be traceable back to the farm and we have strict dairy regulations. When it comes to good quality meat and dairy, Ireland is the place to live.
If you walk into any supermarket, you will find any vegetable you want at any time of the year, and while this may be convenient, it is indicative of just how unaware we are of the seasonality of food. The amount of food miles people spend on a weekly basis on exotic vegetables alone is astronomical. In addition to this, the nutirional content of the fresh produce in the supermarket is a fraction of what it should be. In fact, our apples alone contain 76% less nutrients than they did in the 1950’s. This is caused from a variety of factors ranging from overproduction of crops, using chemical pesticides and genetic engineering of crops to create higher yields.
If you get a chance, I would recommend you watch a film called Food Inc. It is a brilliant documentary about food production in the US and while most of it doesn’t apply to us in Ireland directly, much of it does. It’s a real eye opener about the state of modern food production and consumption. In particular, it will open your eyes to how corrupt farming practices have led to an onslaught of deadly new diseases. It is, without exception, the scariest film I have ever seen.
A few years ago, I almost scoffed at the Organic trend that seemed to be taking place in our food markets, now however, I attempt to buy mostly organic and traceable food. I dream of someday owning a small bit of land where I can have some chickens, and maybe a pig. For now, I am making it my mission to grow enough veggies to sustain myself for the year. With a 100 square metre plot, you can feed a family of four in veggies for a year. That is one hell of a saving on not only the shopping bill but it also benefits the environment. What have I got to lose?
For me, deciding to grow my own is not just about gardening, or having a hobby, it is also an attempt at a healthy life choice. It is my little effort to help reduce my carbon footprint, to put good food on the table and to learn more about food than I ever could in a book or on TV.
The satisfaction of growing your own food beats a greasy, deep fried, fatty, sugary, carb filled take away any day of the week.