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Grow Back Better

I can almost hear nature telling us to wake up and realize what we’re doing to ourselves. The industrialization of our food system has gratefully given us perfect-looking bananas and tomatoes, but has led to epidemic levels of lifestyle-related diseases. By now there’s no doubt that health is most important, after rugby, and although washing hands seems like the answer to all problems, good health always starts with food.

However, “Despite a clear link between food and health, medical students receive fewer than 25 hours of nutrition education during their four years of medical school, instead focusing on a pharmaceutical-based disease management system,” Rodale Institute. This means that when it comes to improving our health through better food, we are on our own.

Home food gardening doesn't have to be about trying to replace 100% of our supermarket vegetables and live off the grid (although that is the dream)... It can also be about supplementing our diet with food that is of higher nutritional benefit than anything we could buy. Even enough for a salad every day, or seasoning of our meal is great… In every meal there should be at least one ingredient which we are absolutely sure how it was grown.

Those of us who have tried to grow organic, have been tried with pests, weeds and disease. But why is it so hard? It is because we are trying to garden with habits which are not meant for us in SA, which originated about 100 years ago when gardening books from England were circulating the world. For example, we should not be turning our soil, I know it makes it look fluffy and fresh but, it is the most harmful habit which we do (see full science here: In England, food gardeners used to turn their soil because it made the under layers thaw so that they could start planting earlier – but we don’t have that problem. Additionally, have you ever asked why do we make raised beds? They are so much effort, so why do we do it? In Britain they tend to have incessant rain which water-logs the soil, so raised beds allow excess water to drain away from the roots. But here in dusty dry South Africa, we should be doing the inverse!

We are waking up and I think the evolution of our food system is inevitable. We will change the world, one garden at a time.

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