Written by : Dr. Randall Hansen 

The Modern Victory Garden

More than a century ago, people in numerous countries around the world — including the United States, Canada, and Britain — were strongly encouraged to grow fruits and vegetables in their backyards. Governments urged citizens to grow their own food to help offset rationing and food shortages during World War I.

The rallying cry around encouraging citizens to grow their own food was, “Food Will Win the War” and the gardens were dubbed victory gardens.

The trend continued with World War II, when America boasted 20 million victory gardens. But after World War II ended, many people abandoned their gardens just as industrial/factory farming was ramping up. 

The modern victory garden 

We are in a different kind of war today that has more casualties and deaths than any military war. We are in a nutrition/health war today, where the enemy includes all the big food producers and their lobbyists that influence government policies on food ingredients, food labeling, and food regulations.

When more than two-thirds of the foods in a typical supermarket are basically junk foods that are manipulated to be addictive (using combinations of sugars, fat, and salt) and offer little nutritional value — including cookies, pies, snacks, crackers, chips, sauces, pastas, breads, juices, sodas, frozen pizzas, pre-made meals — we have a serious food crisis. (Add the even worse conditions of food deserts in inner cities and Native American reservations, and the situation is even more critical.)

Additionally, most restaurants, from fast food to fancy, source their raw materials from low-quality, factory-produced meats, fruits, and vegetables — adding to the food crisis.

Sadly, we are losing this war. Food manufacturers and restaurants go unchecked and we have seen a frightening increase in chronic illnesses and metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes).

We need a new rallying cry; perhaps one of these will stick:

  • “Growing Your Own Food Will Save Your Life.”
  • “Save Your Life: Grow Your Own Farm-acy.”
  • “Grow a Garden. Save Your Life.”

Victory Gardens Everywhere

The theory is that just about anyone who has housing can have a victory garden, though it is much easier for people with a patch of land. But some ideas of locations for victory gardens include:

  • Window boxes
  • Front porch pots
  • Rooftops
  • Raised beds (on driveways, patios, etc.)
  • Yards (side benefit: getting rid of useless grass areas)
  • Community gardens
  • Church/Synagogue/Mosque grounds

 

Once you decide on the foods you want to grow, you can make realistic plans based on amount of space for your garden. Growing at least some of your own food guarantees the quality and freshness of your fruits and vegetables and reduces the amount of money spent at the supermarket.

If you simply can’t grow your own food, the next best alternative is supporting others who do — whether personal friends or local farmers —and only eating the foods when in season. Find farmers and farmers markets in your area.

It’s about more than food

Besides enjoying some of the healthiest and freshest foods, gardening has other benefits, including:

  • Reconnecting with nature. Many of us live sedentary, indoor lives; a garden reconnects us with our food and with nature.
  • Exercise. The amount of exercise relates to the size of the garden, but tending to it, pruning, weeding, etc. all count as movement — and moving is good for us.
  • Vitamin D. Gardening outside (with proper precautions for too much sun) provides us with a natural supply of this important vitamin that helps improve our immune system, bone density, and much more.
  • Improving mood and memory. Gardening offers many people a boost in mood and a lessening of anxiety, depression. Planning and working the garden has also been shown to improve cognitive functions as well.
  • Empowerment. Growing at least some of your own food is empowering — you are taking control of your health and wellness and what you eat.
  • Fosters community. Even if you only grow your own food, you might take a master gardening class offered in your community to get growing/canning tips, or, if you’re like me, share the bounty of the garden with neighbors and/or the local food bank. Of course, if you join a community garden, you immediately have a new community of like-minded people.

 

With so many benefits, what are you waiting for? Why not start planning your victory garden today?


Dr. Randall Hansen is an advocate, educator, mentor, ethicist, and thought leader dedicated to helping the world heal from past trauma. He is founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com, where this article originally appeared.

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