Growing your own food ‘good for the soul’

Image from Global Artist Village
Article by Peter Collins at
GROWING your own organic food is not just good for the environment but “good for the soul”, according to graphic designer Amanda Pritchard.

There is a fair choice of organic foods on sale in High Street, Barry, close to where 37-year-old Amanda and her 41 year old partner, Justin, have their allotment.

But growing her own food means that Amanda does not often have to visit the organic shelves of supermarkets to shop for the foodstuffs she can produce herself.

Standing in her allotment on a fine, sunny afternoon, Amanda is proud at what she is able to produce.

“I’ve has this allotment for four years,” she said. “My parents were keen gardeners and I have always been interested in it. It’s something that over the last few years we’ve really got into.”

Her allotment boasts tomatoes, peppers, butternut squash, summer squash, courgettes, various berries and beetroot.

“We don’t have to buy salad throughout the summer,” she said, “and it’s nice to be able to give some of our produce away.”

But when she does shop, buying organic is not her main consideration.

“I’m really anti-packaging and you often find that a lot of organic stuff has a lot of packaging,” she said.

“It’s a complicated matter trying to be a good shopper.”

She said food miles was another consideration to be taken into account when considering whether or not to buy organic food.

A recent study commissioned by the Food Standards Agency found there is little difference in nutritional value and no evidence of any extra health benefits from eating organic produce.

But the Soil Association criticised the study and called for better research.

Amanda said she found some organic food, such as courgettes and tomatoes, better tasting that the “ordinary” varieties.

But as the recession drives consumers to cut costs, their commitment to organic food has been tested. Although sales haven’t dropped the growth in organic food has slowed

Yet it’s not so much buying organic food, as growing our own organic produce in gardens and allotments that is likely to be the important debate in coming years.

Environment secretary Hilary Benn has warned us to rethink how we produce food in the near future in the face of rising global human populations.

Mr Benn said: “I think we should all make use of the land that we have – our gardens – to grow as much of our vegetable supplies as we can. It can be as simple as growing runner beans up and around a garage, or lettuces in our window boxes.”

Amanda, a vegetarian, believes more people will be taking up his advice.

“Someone once told me that unless you are working at it all the time you will never make money out of growing your own. But it is good for the soul and good for the plant. The environmental impact of what we do is important.”

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