In the U.S., everyone is talking about the economy-and it seems like nobody has anything good to say. Energy prices are soaring, and according to the New York Times, the unemployment rate has risen by 0.5% in just the last month. Scary stuff! These factors have combined to create a difficult financial situation for a lot of people. It's no news to anyone that high energy prices and increased demand is driving the price of food ever higher. Those of us that have tried to switch over to more earth-friendly organics, even just in part, have seen a tremendous increase in prices that were already high to begin with. Other than living off of organic cabbage soup, is there anything that you can do to reduce your grocery bill?
Try planting some of your own veggies instead! Organic vegetables grown in your garden are cheaper even than conventional produce, and growing them might be easier than you think. You just have to be able to invest some time and some physical effort. Most of us need more exercise, anyway. As the New York Times reported on June 11, the current state of the economy has driven more and more people to try growing their own food. Burpee, a major seed company, reported that sales of herb and vegetable seeds have risen almost 40% since last year! That amounts to a lot of people starting brand new gardens. Even given that many of these people probably are not gardening organically, this is still an encouraging trend -- homegrown vegetables are tasty, nutritious and don't have to be carted halfway across the globe.
If you are planting a garden this year to save on grocery bills, please don't stop there. Remember, even in America, hunger is a problem, especially with energy costs going up. Food banks around the country have reported a massive increase in clients, anywhere from 15% to 40% depending on the area. Increased transportation costs also make it harder to get the food where it's needed, and donations have gone down as well. Food banks are struggling under the extra load, and of course there's always a need for fresh vegetables, even in good times. So, if you decide to grow a garden this year, keep in mind that many food banks are asking gardeners to plant a little extra to donate, as this article reports.
The only thing better than having a garden full of fresh produce to enjoy is being able to share some of your produce with people who need it. The vast majority of food available at a food bank is nonperishable, of course, and much of it is highly processed. Contributing some of your garden produce to a local food bank helps get nutritious fresh vegetables to people who need them and probably don't get to eat them as often as they should. To find contact information for your local food bank, you can look them up via the Second Harvest website.