Any way you slice it, it’s clear that we’re all looking for safer, healthier ways to eat and feed our families. With sales of organic food now over $45 billion a year, the U.S. organic market has more than doubled in size in the past decade, according to the Organic Trade Association’s annual survey. Interest in organic gardening is growing right alongside this trend, as the organic movement sheds its hippy-dippy image to become squarely mainstream.
Why the rising interest in growing organically? People adopting organic gardening point to these three key motivators – saving our health, our money and our environment.
More people are turning to organic gardening as concern mounts over cancer risks and other potentially harmful health impacts of exposure to toxic chemicals. While studies have long indicated a link between cancer and exposure to chemicals in certain pesticides, fungicides and herbicides, recent headlines about multi-million-dollar jury awards are turning up the heat. For example, two California men have been awarded $289 million and $80 million in damages by juries who found their cancer was at least in part due to using glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup weed killer.
Besides dangers from chemical exposure during use, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) warn that chemical residues on foods can lead to a host of serious health problems. These include: Damage to the developing brain; loss of IQ; respiratory disease; non-Hodgkins lymphoma, childhood leukemia; early breast cancer; asthma; autoimmune disease; and thyroid disease. The PSR recommends lowering your pesticide intake by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables. If any of your favorites are on this list, you may want to start your organic garden with some of these: apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and potatoes.
In addition to avoiding toxic risks, growing your own organic fruits and vegetables pays dividends in nutritional benefits. A growing body of evidence shows that eating fresh fruits and vegetables not only gives your body the nutrients and vitamins it needs to function properly, but they’re also loaded with phytochemicals and antioxidants — specific compounds that help prevent and fight illness.
Have you noticed the price of produce at the grocery store lately? Whether organic or traditional, you can save real money by growing your own vegetables, fruits and herbs, according to the Penny Hoarder, the personal finance website. For example, the National Gardening Association estimates that a 20 X 30 foot vegetable garden will grow more than 300 pounds of produce in a year worth more than $600 at the grocery store. If you’re short on space, you can grow your own organic food in containers on decks and patios, in community gardens, at schools, senior centers and even on small balconies.
Some crops will yield more savings than others. These offer some of the best deals for bargain hunters: Tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash, green beans, leaf lettuce, herbs, berry bushes and okra. Looking for more ways to save money on your organic garden? Check out the county extension service resources listed in 5 tips for summer gardening success.
For many, a desire to do something positive for our environment is a strong motivation to try organic gardening – often even more powerful than personal interest. More people – especially the 18-to-34-year-old Millennial generation – see gardening as a way to be kind to Mother Nature, according to Garden Media Group’s 2019 Garden Trends Report. Just as with human health concerns, there’s expanding awareness of the damage caused by synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides to our water, soil and wildlife – especially to birds, bees and other pollinators.
For example, while bees and other pollinators are responsible for helping grow one-third of all food globally, more than half our native bee populations in the U.S. are in decline. Nearly one in four native bee species is imperiled and at serious risk of extinction. You and other organic gardeners can be a part of the solution by avoiding the use of harmful chemicals and adding bee-friendly plants to your landscape. See Beesponsible for ideas on how to garden to attract bees and other pollinators.
On top of all of these reasons, gardening is just plain fun! Nurturing your garden from seed to harvest brings a great feeling of satisfaction, and it can be a wonderful learning experience for parents and children to garden together. The team at Sarasota Green Group is passionate about bringing safe and effective gardening products to you and your family to help make gardening easier and even more enjoyable.