Why are locally grown foods so important?

The victory gardens of WWI and WWII increased local food production, helped supplement rationed food supplies, freed up railroad cars and other resources for shipping war materials, and reduced the cost of feeding our troops overseas.  Today the Victory Garden movement is being revived to help reduce global warming and hunger.  A typical food item today travels 1,500 miles from farm to table.  Much of it is produced on huge corporate farms by heavy machinery, shipped using refrigerated trucks and railroad cars, and heavily fertilized and sprayed with pesticides made from oil and natural gas.  It doesn’t have to be this way.

If everybody grew a little something according to his or her own abilities and tastes, we could significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  For the cost of a few store-bought tomatoes, you could grow a basket of tomatoes and they will taste a whole lot better than ones that are bred to be extra firm for shipping, picked green, and gassed with chemicals to turn them red at the store.  Lettuce, greens, radishes, and peas are some of the easiest things to grow and will literally sprout where they land if seeds are spilled on open fertile ground.  If you live in an apartment or condominium, plant a container garden of herbs, tomatoes, and peppers on the balcony or deck.  You don’t even have to buy pots if you use empty milk jugs.  If you live on a small lot, plant a small garden or a couple of your favorite dwarf or semi-dwarf fruit trees (smaller, more manageable trees, not smaller fruit).  If you live on a larger lot, it doesn’t take much more investment or effort to plant a bigger garden.  Plant only what you like, and if you grow more than you can eat, can or freeze it, or share it with family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

Try not to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides in your garden if you can avoid it.  By composting your leaves and grass clippings, you can create a natural alternative to fertilizer.  The Windsor Landfill composts all of the leaves and brush collected during the year and the compost is available for free (bring your own shovel).  Various varieties of compost are available in volume from commercial recyclers and from garden and home centers in more manageable bags.