I am so pumped about this whole Winter Growing Challenge that I want every household to do this with me and I’m going to give you 13 reasons to grow your own shoots. By doing this together we can encourage the people around us to eat healthier too; we can inspire our friends and family to make a conscious choice to eat more fresh vegetables in the form of leafy greens.
By growing your own shoots you can effectively provide your household with fresh leafy greens every single day. No need to go to the grocery store to look over their sad selection of bruised and wilty leaves, or to resort to the pre-packaged iceberg salad mix. You can have a leafy green salad any day of the week─even in the depths of winter by growing your own shoots.
#2. Super healthful and nutritious
We all know we should be eating more fresh vegetables in order to be healthy, and shoots are some of the most nutritious vegetables you could hope for. Typically, about a week after sprouting, the shoots will have the highest concentration of bioavailability of nutrients. These tiny seedlings are jam-packed with important organic compounds, vitamins and minerals that our bodies can utilize.
It seriously takes just 15 minutes to set up 5 trays for growing your own shoots to provide a week’s supply of greens. Daily watering takes less than 2 minutes, and you can harvest the shoots with scissors while you’re already in the process of making a meal. The benefits are well worth the time.
It’s so easy that you could teach your children to do it and delegate the task to them as a weekly responsibility. This teaches the the whole family about growing your own food, and the intrinsic value of feeding the people we care for.
The primary expense in growing your own shoots is the seed itself, but in 7 days you can more than double the return on your investment simply by growing those seeds out into fresh greens.
In his book “Year Round Indoor Salad Gardening”, Peter Burke shares that a 3 and a half cup jar of peas is enough seed to plant 56 trays. If you sow 5 trays each week, that’s a little over two month’s supply of fresh greens. The cost of the seed is around $6 and 56 trays of shoots will yield approximately 10 and 3/4 pounds of fresh leafy greens. Peter figures the cost of the trays, soil and fertilizer at .17¢ per tray, which comes to $9.52 for all 56 trays. That’s $15.52 for 10 and 3/4 pounds of fresh veg that you would end up paying $269 for if you were to purchase it at the grocery store.
IF you can find them locally.
#6. Not a lot of equipment
Aside from the seed and some soil, you really don’t need anything special to get started growing your own shoots. You could even cut the bottoms off milk jugs and avoid the cost of trays, and the other supplies you likely already have in your kitchen: measuring cups and spoons, a small sieve for straining seed, and a small watering can─but even a soda bottle could be improvised in a pinch.
You are in control when it comes to growing your shoots. You can use a soil mix that is free from synthetic chemical fertilizers, use natural and organic fertilizers, and produce your own organic greens at a fraction of the price that you would pay at the farmers’ market.
#8. Small space
It requires very little space to grow shoots to supplement your family’s diet. For 5 trays, depending on their size, it might take 2 feet of space. And for the first four days they should be in the dark, so it’s totally cool to stash them in a kitchen cupboard, a dresser drawer or a closet shelf. After that the trays need a sunny window-spot, but if your windowsills are not deep enough to accommodate the trays it’s super easy to fix a shelf in a window, or simply set the trays on an end table near the window.
There are so many different kinds of shoots and sprouts to choose from, and so much you can do with them that it’s unlikely that you’ll ever get caught eating “the same old thing” ever again.
Grow a myriad of brassicas, grow mustards, legumes like peas, leafy things like buckwheat. Eat salads til they’re coming out your ears, put shoots on a sandwich, use them to make soup stock, add them to ramen or a stir-fry. Get creative with shoots!
Growing your own shoots and sprouts is an act of love and caring. You’re caring for something living, green and growing at a time of the year when cold and snow prohibit plant growth. Largely though, it’s caring for ourselves and the people we share our lives with. By feeding ourselves better food we’re nurturing our bodies and our spirits, and that’s every bit as important as saving money on the grocery bill─maybe even more so.
#11. Supports a plant-based diet
Health experts agree that a diet consisting primarily of plants can significantly reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. While I’m not here to convert you to vegetarianism, I am an advocate for a diet consisting of less meat, and especially less process foods. I believe that eating more vegetables and fruits is better for my body and my long-term health, as well as for the health of my children and those I care about.
#12. Better for the environment
Not only is a plant-based diet better for our bodies, it’s better for the planet too! Agricultural production of meat is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as contributing to water and soil pollution. Monocultures are depleting soil nutrients and require the use of pesticides that are in turn killing insects and other wildlife. Growing shoots ourselves offers next to no impact on the planet, while providing our families with superior food.
#13. Reduces dependence on the industrialized food system
Growing our own food offers us independence from industrialized agriculture. It’s an incredibly powerful way of making a statement. The government is slow to make changes, and many in positions of power have been swayed by the influence of money to believing that this chemically intensive food system is OK. Yet the system is a broken one, causing harm to the planet, the animals─even to ourselves. Industrialized farming is not only destroying the soil required to grow food, it’s polluting our water and air. The resulting production of processed food products are spreading chronic illness throughout the population.
Note: To learn more about the industrialized agricultural system currently in place, how it came to be and how you can help bring about change, read: Vote With Your Fork to Save our Broken Food System.
This is one situation however, where we have the power in our very own hands to change things.
3 times a day we can vote for the kind of food system we want. Simply by making conscious choices when it comes to food─opting to purchase organic food, or local food, and by learning once again to do it ourselves. When we stop spending our hard earned money on those processed products or factory-farmed meats we’re reducing the demand for those products. Imagine if we all just said “No” and no one was buying those things anymore. There would no longer be money to be made that way and the suits profiting from industrial ag would finally be forced to change. Afterall money talks, right?
Be Part of the Winter Growing Challenge!!!
Geez, I guess I got up on my soap-box for a bit there with number 13 huh? I’m not going to apologize though. Food is such an elemental part of our lives─like water, air, a roof and clothing─food is essential to life. And yet, at the same time, food is so much more.
Through food we have cultivated humanity: community, family and tradition all center around food. Food is also our connection to the Earth and the creatures living in coexistence on this planet with us. We don’t need to wait for the government to make the changes we want to see in the food system. We have the power to make those changes in our own lives and to inspire others to follow suit. We can be the change we want to see in our lives. Be the change; grow shoots with me this winter and be a part of the Winter Growing Challenge. Together we can do more.
There are lots of great reasons why you should take up the Winter Growing Challenge with me. I’ve given you 13, if you see another leave a comment below to share with others!