Growing Food versus Solar Cells… Investing in Sustainable Living

This year’s produce isn’t all in, but it’s really not too shabby:

  • a huge pile of basil, thrown into every pasta dish this season.
  • sprigs of cilantro here and there
  • enough strawberries for a cobbler and one tiny pot of jam
  • a big bag of potatoes (maybe 8 or 9 pounds?)
  • 7 butternut squash of between 2 and 5 pounds each (and some tiny ones that might yet beef up)
  • 15 or 20 pounds of tomatoes, eaten by us constantly while also being given away and frozen for canning experiment.
  • a dozen salads worth of greens.
  • One lonely green bell pepper (we’ve still got green plants, though, so maybe they’ll flower in September. We had some great pepper plants last year in September, the only 2015 crops at the house).

While quite wonderful for my brown-thumb, this isn’t much compared to the total food that I eat, or that Husband and I eat combined. However, I saw a comment the other day on a blog that basically pointed out that the impact of growing your own food, even a little, is much higher than getting solar cells or other alternative fuels for your house. I have often been seduced by the thought of solar cells, wondering if we’d ever have sunny enough days that we’d be “selling back” energy to the grid. But thousands and thousands of dollars have always made me forget that idea, no matter now much subsidy the government might give for such cells.

On the other hand, if I think about how much energy goes into planting, fertilizing, growing, harvesting, and transporting my produce, how much effort and care goes into making sure it isn’t bruised (and how many peppers are bruised and thrown away, or thrown away for not being pretty), I realize that gardening does make a difference: while there was fossil fuel energy to transport the bags of compost that we use to enrich the soil, the lone pepper to emerge from my garden didn’t require nearly as much fossil fuel, total, as the ones in the grocery store. I can’t calculate the difference (and we’re probably talking pennies of worth, really), but every bite is something.

I’m also heartened as I look to a future season, where I’ll learn from my mistakes, and maybe grow more food or be able to harvest it better. It’s an effort to do something fun with my hands and something kind of magical with my backyard, but it’s also just a little more sustainable than buying elsewhere… (or at least it is trying to be!) It’s only little impacts, but those can be really good for one’s mind and heart.

8 comments on “Growing Food versus Solar Cells… Investing in Sustainable Living

  1. Kim Smyth says:

    You make good points, and you should be proud of yourself for all of your efforts!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My thoughts as well, every little counts

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My husband and children joke that I grow the most expensive vegetables in Australia. But it is very satisfying to use our own produce.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My husband loves to hear that we’re eating produce from our garden. “Are these OUR bell peppers?” “Did you grow these green beans?” He swears they taste better which is funny because he still doesn’t have his sense of taste back!
    The effort you put into your garden is worth every minute even if you didn’t get a huge yield. Congratulations!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I know what you mean, sometimes it seems to take so much effort and water that you wonder if it would be better left to the farmers. If you don’t buy chemical fertilizers or insecticides and water using your own domestic grey water, then it has to be better for the environment to grow your own. It is also creative and satisfying, which has to be good.
    It isn’t an either or however, here in France the government has encouraged everyone with a south facing roof to put solar panels on and they have generated a huge amount of green energy this way.
    Keep growing , it is worth it!


  6. Great post! I’ve always been fascinated with solar power, too. My husband has said to me many times that making solar cells produces just as much waste as using other forms of energy and solar cells degrade over time. We are novice gardeners this year and your post has inspired me to keep at it this next season! Thank you!


  7. Shannon G. says:

    Gardening is definitely an experiment in faith and trial and error. We’ve got peppers coming out our ears…though none off the plant just yet. My plants are 3 feet tall! But I also find gardening to be great for feeling connected with your food, especially for kids. My oldest was so excited to harvest our corn and carrots!


  8. […] via Growing Food versus Solar Cells… Investing in Sustainable Living — Recipe in a Bottle […]


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