It’s not enough to insist that your produce purchases at the grocery store will only be organic. Sure, the tomatoes look lovely and are labeled ‘organic’. Yet, how organic can they be if they were irradiated at the border upon import? While no actual chemicals are applied in this ‘ionizing radiation’ treatment, the very cells of the food is changed and the ripening process is delayed. Did you know that the majority of ‘fresh’ produce at your local grocer’s is actually already 2 weeks old? It isn’t fresh at all, its just not cooked.

Fresh, organic food can only be grown locally. Just picked flavor and nutrients don’t hang around for your food to travel thousands of miles, and certainly don’t stand a chance of remaining after irradiation. Real food deserts don’t exist only in low income urban areas. They are everywhere that people depend on grocery stores to supply them with food. Even meat is irradiated. This ‘safety’ protocol exists in 50 countries too, so its not like only US residents face the loss of really nutritious food in their diet.

Urban farming offers much more than sustainable living, it is the answer to putting real food packed with flavor and proper nutrition back into the lives of people worldwide. It doesn’t matter if the food is grown in the soil of vacant land or in an indoor garden using hydroponics and aquaponics. What matters is the no chemicals were used to produce it and it is consumed only a matter of days or hours after harvest. What matter is that all people, regardless of income level, have good food to eat – every day. Its a fact that is spurning the birth of more and more community gardens, commercial vertical growers in downtown buildings, and people in Kansas suburbia areas  to get in trouble with zoning commissions for growing corn in front of their houses.

Fresh organic fruits and vegetables can be inexpensive, no matter where you live.
If you don’t have soil, you can make it with kitchen waste, dumpster diving and a handful of fishing worms. It is rotting vegetable matter and wood that makes new soil, and has been since the dawn of time. With all the concern over the loss of topsoil, this simple return to the organic fundamentals of how soil is made could change a great deal if the food that goes to waste was composted rather than deposited in a landfill. Worm compost is rich in free fertilizer and is totally organic.

You don’t need lots of expensive planters and Miracle Gro. All you need is a good understanding of what plants need to perform and produce fruits, vegetables or herbs. There are probably hundreds of containers every home has let the trash removal service haul away every year that could have been repurposed into helping them be a more sustainable, green citizen who has healthier food to eat…  at a fraction of the cost of buying it.

Hard plastic kiddie wading pools, old horse water tanks, wooden crates, Rubbermaid storage bins and lots of other large containers can be used for growing food. A 5 gallon bucket can be used to grow carrots, onions, lettuce – and a host of other food plants. Every restaurant near you throws these away constantly, or sells them for a couple bucks. An old garbage can can grow up to 30 pounds of potatoes. Container gardening isn’t just for flowers. It can provide you with fresh organic food both indoors under good growing lights and outside in warm weather.

Is there a landscaping company who does installations near you? They will have piles of pots that are not recyclable and most times will give them away to get rid of them. An awesome source for proper plant growing containers that you can scrub up with some bleach in water to sterilize them for best health on your new crop. The large containers from trees will let you grow several smaller food plants or gargantuan tomatoes without getting rootbound to a point of not being able to produce well.

Check out growing corn in 5 gallon buckets. By the way, he doesn’t know it but… the suckers should have been removed so the larger plant could produce more ears. An average harvest off a single corn plant is 4-6 ears, so 10 buckets could provide you with about 4 dozen ears of fresh corn. Plenty for just picked enjoyment and freezing. Trust me, home frozen corn doesn’t taste anything like that stuff you buy at the store.

Tammy Clayton

Content crafter and Senior Editor at Garden Culture Magazine
Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home. (Some feel she's got a perennial obsession, others say the problem is tomato plants.)

If you don't find her at the desk - check the gardens. When not writing and weeding, she enjoys a good book, painting junk furniture, and blending the harvest of heirloom tomatoes and chiles into salsas.