Homegrown vs. Store-Bought: Overcoming Doubt

26 Mar


Vegetable Garden, by Alie Kruse-Kolk

A recent discussion on my favorite Facebook page, Cold Antler Farm, got me thinking about how we think about our food and all things “homegrown”.


Someone on this Facebook page mentioned that he had a nagging little doubt about the safety/quality of his garden produce.  He knows that doubt is silly and he knows that doubt has been planted in his head by the corporate food industry.  After all, it’s in their best interests to ensure we buy their veggies (fresh, frozen or canned) instead of growing it ourselves.   His garden produce is perfectly safe, though, and he knows it logically – and likely even safer and healthier than the store-bought produce.  But he admitted he still feels funny about it sometimes; that he sometimes has doubts about what he makes/grows himself.

Others chimed in on Facebook, telling stories of how one family’s rural lifestyle was used in court as evidence that they were unfit parents in a custody battle.  Or about how the doubt isn’t restricted to food, but can even affect how we feel about our homemade soaps and detergents.  I mentioned how a co-worker had refused a gift of eggs from my backyard chickens because they hadn’t been “properly processed”.  Apparently, this man was not the only doubting soul within this group!  It seems we’d all witnessed or experienced the doubt about homegrown ourselves.

I have nagging worries and doubts, too.  I know my garden, my eggs, my canning and homemade soaps are as good – often much better! – than store-bought.  But how long before all doubt vanishes and I no longer worry at all?

Is it because homegrown doesn’t cost as much as store-bought that I think “cheap/free” is somehow inferior to “expensive”?  I wasn’t raised to think that way, but maybe the continual media exposure has worn away some of what my parents (and even my little sister!) have taught me.  Or maybe I feel doubt because I haven’t been doing it very long and, thus, there are things I could be doing better (a LOT better!).

Overall, I think the best remedy for such worries is knowledge.  I have yet to hear about someone who eats a radish out of their own yard and dies from it.  We all know, rationally, that the Twinkie is much worse for our health than our own broccoli.  Shiny cellophane wrappers that make that crinkle noise do NOT mean the food is any better for you than the stuff you hose off before bringing into the house.  Homegrown IS better for you – better for your health, better for the planet, and better for your budget.

If you have these doubts, try not to worry.  It’s apparently very normal to feel this way.  You know, intellectually, that you’re doing better for yourself and your family through your garden, chickens, etc.  Keep up the good work and don’t succumb to irrational thought processes!  Plus, telling the corporations to stick it in their ears the next time you feel a twinge of worry about the quality of your homegrown food/products is a little bit of bliss!

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