Why would anyone want to produce their own food when they can simply drive to the supermarket and buy everything they need?
Have you ever reflected on how some words – like ‘love’ or ‘quality’ – mean different things to different people? The word ‘fresh’ is very much like that.
To a supermarket, fresh may have several dimensions. For bread and other baked goods, it can mean several days. For vegetables, it may be anything from a week upwards and for fruit, it will be weeks or months.
Anyone who buys “fresh” fish from a supermarket (and off of many fishing boats for that matter) is buying fish that has been defrosted. If they are lucky, it will only have been frozen once – if they’re not, it may have been defrosted and re-frozen twice or more.
Referring to the sorry mess behind the chicken counter in most supermarkets as fresh is really playing with the truth. You won’t need to smell it (although you can) – the stuff just looks stale.
Much of the fruit and vegetables that are sold in supermarkets are imported. How can something be picked one day, held in cold stores for several days, weeks or months and then be shipped halfway round the world and still be referred to as fresh?
Contrast all of this with the food that we grow.
The lettuce or silver beet we ate for dinner last night was still growing a half an hour earlier. A fresh egg is one that we removed from the chicken house that morning. We can catch our fish and eat it within the hour. Our meat chickens and quail will be in the refrigerator within 30 minutes of leaving their pen and fresh bread is the stuff we baked today.
Your most recent chicken dinner probably got introduced to its first cocktail of chemicals the day it hatched.
Commercial chickens are raised in sheds that contain tens of thousands of birds. Modern broiler chickens are the product of some very clever genetics – their capacity for growth often exceeds the ability of their legs to sustain such growth.
To offset the likelihood of disease arising from the stress of overcrowding or just trying to drag themselves around, broiler chickens are fed antibiotics.
This practice is one of the reasons why your physician will prescribe increasing amounts of antibiotics when you become ill. The simple fact is that you’ve been ingesting antibiotics in your chicken meat.
Commercial poultry diets can contain recycled feathers, blood, offal, fish wastes and all manner of things.
Now, all of these ‘by-products’ may be acceptable if they were processed while they are fresh – they are simply recycled protein after all – but they are taken to a place that you can smell long before you can see it, to be converted to the stuff of which livestock feed is made.
These products will be mixed with other questionable ingredients – whatever is cheapest – to become what is laughingly termed a balanced diet.
You may have heard the saying, “You are what you eat”…..and to a greater extent than with most livestock, this is true of chickens.
Even the eggs you had for breakfast will have been tampered with. Eggs from cage chickens (and so-called ‘barn’ eggs) will have insipid-looking yolks, so feed companies include a special little chemical ingredient to make the yolks in your eggs a nice orange colour.
Your fruit and vegetables will have been treated with herbicides, pesticides and various other chemicals – many of which would cause you serious concern if you knew more about them.
Now, contrast this with the food that we grow.
We know what our livestock eat because we grow much of it ourselves and we take the time to find out where the rest of it comes from. Our animals live in conditions that don’t leave them stressed so we don’t need to feed them antibiotics.
We add a little something to our chickens’ rations to make the egg yolks nice and orange, too. It’s called grass – and they get it as they wander around our backyard.
Supermarkets’ anti-competitive strategies ensure that they buy at the lowest possible price. Current affairs programs often run stories about the way that supermarkets exploit both farmers and consumers.
Produce is marked up to whatever price the market will bear. This is evidenced by the fact that people who live in affluent suburbs will pay more for the same goods than people who live in less affluent areas.
We save so much money by growing most of our own food that we can afford to spend a little more to get the best produce from small growers and specialty shops.
If you adopt the concept of Microponics, you’ll find that the food you grow yourself will be a fraction of the price of the store bought equivalent.
There is simply no better investment that you can make in your family’s well being than to feed them fresh, clean food…..at an affordable price.
Of course, there are other less tangible reasons for engaging in Microponics including:
- Being able to walk out your back door and harvest clean fresh food will underpin your food security and enhance your self-confidence.
- It’s an interesting pastime. If you spend more time growing your own food, and less time walking supermarket aisles, you’ll become healthier while saving money.
- Done right, it’s sustainable and environmentally-friendly.
- It’s an invaluable learning resource for the entire family.
This article was originally published in May 2009. It was reviewed and updated June 2017.