A Study Says Growing Your Own Food Is “Bad for the Climate.” Here’s Why They’re Wrong.

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Important news: growing your own food is bad for the climate. Leave it to the experts if you love the planet.

Ever notice how we’re not supposed to respond to any of our current crises by learning and bettering ourselves?  We weren’t supposed to confront Covid with the conviction to improve our health through diet and exercise. We were just supposed to follow CDC guidelines.  We weren’t supposed to ask difficult questions about how war in Ukraine could have been avoided. We were just supposed to accept whatever legacy media told us.  

And now it turns out that we are not supposed to address environmental concerns by shortening our food chains and lessening our reliance on complex transportation systems. 

Didn’t you hear?  Growing your own food is bad for the climate.

Grow flowers, not food.

In what might be the stupidest article I’ve ever read, a new study from the University of Michigan announced that growing your own food in urban settings can emit five times as much carbon as those grown in “conventional” settings.   Scientists say that the emissions don’t come from the vegetables themselves but from infrastructure in the form of sheds and raised beds.  They suggest that, for those who must garden, growing high-carbon input foods like tomatoes and asparagus is less harmful.  Those foods take a lot of carbon regardless of where they’re produced.  Asparagus, in particular, is often flown into the U.S. from around the world.  

The article’s suggestions to “grow green” were to:

  • Grow tomatoes
  • Grow asparagus
  • Use recycled wood and building materials
  • Repair, don’t replace, aging sheds and garden beds
  • Grow 90% flowers, not foods, to offset emissions with “social benefits”

I do grow tomatoes and asparagus because I like them, not because of “climate change.”  My shed is over twenty years old, as I imagine a lot of sheds are.  Who would put up a new shed every year?

This article does not even pretend to address the carbon offset by producing your own food rather than getting it transported into cities.  I’ve been fortunate enough to live in a few agricultural valleys where I can get many of my basics (carrots, potatoes, cabbage, onions) grown within a 50-mile radius.  

However, I’ve also spent time in bigger metropolitan areas, where you just can’t.  The Chicago metro area, for example, extends for dozens of miles in every direction from the lake.  There are some really nice farmers’ markets in the city and the suburbs, but in general, your food in Chicago is coming from a significant distance.  Any way you can shorten that will be beneficial in terms of carbon offsets.

And this article doesn’t even pretend to quantify the myriad other benefits of gardening, benefits that also reduce costs to the environment.  

Rebuttal: Growing your own food can actually benefit the environment.

I began gardening as a young at-home mom with multiple children.  We lived in a suburban area. We had to drive almost everywhere. And because we were in Texas, with its limited publicly-owned lands, if I wanted to get out of the house, that meant we were spending money.  

My family was young, energetic, and trying to make ends meet on a single income.  Our suburban garden paid for itself in terms of money saved at the grocery store within four years. However, I realized that the project was “worth it” almost immediately.  Time spent playing in the garden was time I did not have to spend driving around town to various playgrounds or children’s outings.  As the kids grew older, the garden turned into an endless science project that I didn’t have to pay for.  Our continually fed and used compost pile kept food out of landfills.  This at-home entertainment allowed us to reduce consumption without reducing our quality of life.

And the money/kid entertainment value is only the beginning.  Gardens add beauty and uniqueness to suburban lots.  I can’t think of many sights more depressing than row upon row of cookie-cutter houses with cookie-cutter yards.  Think of the beginning of Harry Potter, when they introduce the Dursleys. Gen Xers can hearken back to the music video for Rush’s “Subdivisions.”

Gardens change that.  A lot of people have to live in cookie-cutter homes for one reason or another. A skilled gardener can make any lot interesting and unique.  

Mental health benefits of growing your own food

This is not just some luxury.  Access to natural beauty has a whole host of benefits for mental health.  Common sense should reveal this to most of us. If you don’t want to take my word for it, read clinical psychologist-turned-neural imaging specialist Dr. Iain McGilchrist’s books The Master and His Emissary for a deep dive into the science behind the stress-relieving power of natural beauty.

Living in a pleasant environment means less of an urge to go away all the time, less driving to tourist attractions, less money spent trying to kill the time because you can’t really relax at home.  A pleasant home reduces the need for other kinds of consumption, and a garden can be part of that.

Gardening has other mental health benefits as well.  As a nation in the midst of a mental health crisis, we ought to be paying attention.  As any skill develops, failures occur.  If you are gardening with children, they will learn that sometimes seeds don’t sprout. Sometimes, late frosts kill things. Sometimes, hailstorms destroy your lovingly tended plants.  If children grow up watching their parents try, fail, and then try again, they grow up less afraid of making mistakes.  This builds resilience.

For those who stick it out, the ability to grow a portion of your own food builds confidence.  Any skill, once mastered, is good for your self-image.  But growing food, in particular, gives you a sense of security and a sense of connection with past generations.  It connects you with your place; you can’t grow the same varieties in Chicago as you can in Houston.  Gardening forces you to acquaint yourself with your environment.  In our highly mobile society, gardening can give us a sense of stability.  

All of these are facets of an experience that can make us happier, healthier, more confident, and less reliant on the global trade network.  Again, gardening is a way to reduce consumption (better for the environment) without reducing quality of life (better for us).

Why take the fun out of something so wholesome?

I don’t think this is just about money.  Yes, I think there is a push to consolidate the food supply, as we’ve discussed before.  The fight over independent food production seems to be getting more important every day.  In this past week, the European farmers’ protests have heated up enough that Belgian police began firing rubber bullets and water cannons at the protesters.

But I think this aspect, in particular, the drive to make people feel guilty about an enjoyable hobby, has to do with demoralization.

One of the lines within the articles is,”. . .vegetables were 5.8 times better for the environment when left to the professionals.”

“Left to the professionals.”  Don’t we hear that often enough? 

I mean, sure, some things need to be left to professionals.  I don’t want a hobbyist resetting a broken arm.

But food produced by yourself is often better than what you get from the store, as any experienced gardener knows.  It’s fresh and has never spent a day in the back of a truck.  The only objective standard by which “conventionally” grown produce is typically better is usually the price tag.  Living on poor-quality food is demoralizing, and so is the thought that we can’t take any steps to better our circumstances.  

Forces within our society are trying to keep us stupid, helpless, and compliant.  This becomes more obvious to me every year.  We are constantly being seduced by the siren song of convenience, ease, and how we should just leave every aspect of our lives “to the professionals.”

No. 

Professionals have their place, but competent hobbyists have their place, too, and there are a lot of areas in your own life in which no, actually, you don’t need a college degree and specialized training.  Growing your own vegetables is one of them.  

I’m not saying everyone has to get out and garden.  But if you are looking for projects, if you’re feeling the itch, don’t let the bastards get you down.  Learning to grow some of your own food is a wonderful experience.  

What are your thoughts?

Do you think there’s any merit to the theory of growing your own food being bad for the environment? Why do you think these theorists want to reduce self-reliance? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

About Marie Hawthorne

A lover of novels and cultivator of superb apple pie recipes, Marie spends her free time writing about the world around her.

Marie Hawthorne

Marie Hawthorne

A lover of novels and cultivator of superb apple pie recipes, Marie spends her free time writing about the world around her.

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  • Anytime, check that, every time a university, state A&T college, or state extension service writes an article or has a presentation on or to do anything (especially if the words carbon, environment, sustainability, ethical, management, production, soil, quality, livestock are used) do the opposite.

    All college Ag research is funded by big Ag/chem. globalists. I cross referenced this article and found the study on the UM website. https://news.umich.edu/food-from-urban-agriculture-has-carbon-footprint-6-times-larger-than-conventional-produce-study-shows/

    I stopped reading after the first seven words of the first sentence of the article. “A new University of Michigan-led international study..“
    “International”, ok… that says all I need to know.

  • Absolutely agree with your sentiments. Learn and do what you can for yourself. A life spent learning is a life well-spent. In my opinion, being a professional is overrated now.

  • Please, protect the climate and eat only an effective and safe, super-useful superfood. Take the example of anti-globalist countries:

    November 11, 2023
    Murmansk region [Russia] will be the first in the country to produce superfood from manure and feces

    In the Murmansk region, the production of biotechnological products from manure, feces and fish waste will be opened

    300 million rubles will be invested in the Arctic Industrial and Production Technology Center, it will be put into operation in 2025.

    The final product can be used in various areas, including as an active additive in animal feed or a superfood for people performing special tasks with high intensity and physical and psychological load, including in difficult environmental and climatic conditions, as well as undergoing or preparing for rehabilitation procedures.

    • Safe and effective??? Where have I heard that from?? What in the sam hell are you talking about in that word salad?

      • Well, isn’t the article about garden food, what’s wrong with my salad? (By the way, did they ban jokes in theorganicprepper? I didn’t understand, sorry..)

        • I assumed you were joking, but it would help if you’d add a s/ for sarcasm. We can’t hear a tone of voice through reading.

  • Oh my gosh, there is no way I would believe growing our own food at our own home is bad for the environment. I started gardening four years ago, and all the food I grow is done with no pesticides or other unhealthy materials. And every single thing I’ve grown has tasted better than what I would get in the store from “professionals.” And all my raised beds were made with wood from already fallen trees. It doesn’t get healthier than that.

  • The guilt-tripping over self-sufficiency is in high gear. More pretend “science” to demonize those of us who want clean food, just like those who promoted the Vax demonized Vitamin D. Hungry people are easy to manipulate with ration cards.

  • As I sit anxiously awaiting time to plant seeds in my greenhouse, I can’t express enough how utterly exciting it is to grow my own vegies. I have gotten so much empowerment & thrill this past first year I can’t tell you.

    And oh my, the flavor! One tiny piece of celery radiates the entire smoothie, just fantastic. And I know what is on my produce…nothing! My husband even has a new respect for me so there’s that! 😉

    The idiots that be are so dang arrogant they think they must interject on everything we peasants do.

    • Question: if a force or entity dedicated to the destruction of humanity since time immemorial were to write a position paper on home gardening, how would it read?

  • It is funny that it is about do as we say, not as we do. They say eat bugs, while they dine on meat. They say do not drive your car, but yet they fly in private jets. They say by growing your own food is bad for the environment, but yet wars are being fought. Guess bombing and destroying towns and people are good for the environment. This has been in the works for over a hundred years. It reminds me of ancient times when the church claimed that your body did not belong to you. Amazing to me that the more things change the more they get worse. I myself do not have a lot of time left on this planet, however what I see is that when you stand up for nothing, you will fall for everything. All I know is that people were suppose to help one another and all of that over the last 60 years has turned to sh!t and everything has gone to hell in a handbasket. Good Luck!

    • Not everything, KnightMare. There are lots of young people turning away from the propaganda and seeking “old school” solutions.

  • I am really getting tired of being told to leave it to the experts! How are we to know what these “experts “actually know? What is their expertise in? Who, and how did they become “experts “? What I do know is the welfare of my loved ones are our responsibility! I will continue to do what l, and my loved ones consider to be best for us. As we are also Experts on being free to make our own decisions!

  • So, they’re trying to tell me my raised beds which are mostly made from trees felled on our own property, plus a couple of metal beds which will out-live me and an upcycled bunk feeder produce a carbon footprint five times greater than produce from conventional agricultural practices…?! Like the one a county away that glows so brightly at night it can be seen for MILES around…??!!
    Garden sheds?? Bought used.
    Greenhouse?? Bought used.
    Paths?? If they’re referring to the area between the beds, then they’re talking about mulch delivered free by our electric company that otherwise would have gone to a landfill.
    Compost?? They mean the upcycled kitchen scraps, leaves from our property which would otherwise be burned (CO2 anyone??) and chicken manure from the neighbor, right??
    My homegrown food has WAY more value than the kg of CO2 it produces.

    You’re right Marie.
    Sometimes there just isn’t enough duct tape!

  • I do not plant anything, and I mean anything, unless it produces food or draws in pollinators to pollenate my food.

  • Garden sheds and pathways are included in their gardening infrastructure?
    That has got to be the dumbest thing I have ever read.
    Yes, I have a shed. But not only does it house various gardening tools, but it is my wood shed too!
    I am beginning to seriously question the value of higher education.

    • I don’t question the value of higher education – I have a profound disrespect for it. It’s a racket and an especially evil one. They forcefeed marxism and the cost puts students in debt for many, many years. The degrees are mostly worthless and seldom result in jobs that will pay off the loans in a reasonable amount of time.

      Unless your child wants to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher or engineer, don’t send them to college. And even then, be very very choosy about the school. We helped one of our sons go to college (the other was on G.I. Bill) and it’s one of our worst mistakes.

  • well said. As an organic gardener for over 25 years I was appalled at the UM article. They should stick to football. I’ll stick to my home grown strawberries

  • 100%, though I believe you may even be understating the food production centralization and demoralization objectives above. Independent people tend to make poor slaves.

  • Great job in pointing out the absurdity of the argument made that “Growing your own food hurts the environment,” my compliments on your restraint. I grow 90-10 vegetables to flowers too, using flowers that attract pollen-gatherers to ensure season-long vegetable pollination in minimal sun+root space (e.g. marigolds). Not about to reverse this ratio to “save the planet.” As if.
    You should be smelling something fishy here. People smart enough to run such a study should be smart enough to make the observations you made. That they did not is a tell. This is not about carbon footprint and preserving humanity from climate change. The Globalists’ Eugenics goals is about controlling every aspect of every life, in this case to be sure everyone gets a full dose of hormone-altering herbicides and pesticides (e.g. atrazine). Their consistent lies / absurd claims about many things (e.g. “carbon dioxide levels threaten life itself”) indicates how dumb they think we are. Historically the planet is very close to the bottom-end of carbon dioxide concentration. Moving CO2 concentration upward moves it closer to normal levels and helps prevent starvation in 3rd world subsistence farming regions of the globe. Keeping CO2 levels down starves those people out and furthers the Globalist Eugenics goals. [Past CO2 levels are determined from microscopic Stomata concentrations on fossilized leaf surfaces.] So, great article. Fight the good fight, let reason reign! And let the Globalists be brought to justice for the millions they have already killed with their CO2 policies.

    • ^^^ This ! I’m a scientist who has been fortunate to have worked on some of the most advanced projects humans have every achieved, including many for human space exploration (including closed system food production systems for researching off-Earth colony self-sufficiency). The Earth is a closed system, and CO2 is part of the system.

      This is all about power and control – nothing more.

      I learned how to garden as a kid from my parents and grandparents (who lived through the great depression). Self-sufficiency by growing your own food is one of the best things you can do….especially if you don’t use chemicals on them (I don’t).

      That study is a load of manure……

  • Taking into account the cost of carbon, growing your food using organic methods may not create a negative carbon footprint, it will be much closer to a 0 carbon footprint.

    I was listening yesterday about a man who said that he wasn’t using bone meal and blood meal in his garden anymore because his wife was vegan.

    What? Haven’t people heard that millions of microscopic animals die in the soil every day so that vegan can get her nonmeat foods? Death is part of life. Remember the Lion King and the circle of life? It’s time we all understood the carbon cycle which includes humans and animals! College doctorate applicants need to get out of the classroom and into a garden to understand what life is all about!

  • I thought all the environmentalists wanted us to “buy” local. Well, growing your own food is as “local” as can be. No fuel spent transporting food from wherever it’s grown to the store and then to table.

    The people who wrote that article are stupid.

  • Food growing and processing plants and farms are being blown up and burned down while our government allows millions of migrants to pour in, making housing and food scarcer and more expensive. To counter our government’s attacks on our quality of life, we need to grow all our own food we can. Gardening has become a revolutionary act.

    • Indeed Jerry….and get as many of your neighbors as possible to do the same…..in our house, we have found we have better luck with certain things, and our neighbors have better luck with other vegetables – so we all grow enough to share/trade with each other…

    • Excellent point….lack of sources often indicates something is either an opinion piece or propaganda……

  • My Mom would grow our own tomatoes. People grew their own food during the Depression and WW2. It’s simply more convenient when you don’t live in the city. Only mental vegetables would prevent people from being able to have their own food supply.

  • Growing our own food is bad for their agenda and that’s it. If the end goal is to cram us into smart cities, what better way to start than to try to make people register their gardens so when they ban them, they know where go to arrest people. It’s ludicrous. Rather than wasting time, money, and nasty chemicals on a stupid lawn, plant a garden using organic methods, eat right out of your front (or back) yard and don’t worry about shortages at the grocery store.

  • Google his name. He’s involved in “water governance” research and the article mentioned above is part of his work on “land use policy”.

  • My streak remains intact re: knowing who is the author of an article just based on its title. Another yawner due to a source looking to make a buck.

    • Are you really that dense that you will not question the conclusion of the UM study?
      Rather then conduct some critical thinking, based off your comment something you clearly lack, you attack the author.
      Yawn.

      • One needs a healthy brain in order to think critically.

        I smile knowing every time it hits “submit comment” it is illuminating itself to the readership how insecure and nutrient deficient it is.

        I think it needs to change its diet. A diet rich in red meat and fat. Hopefully, then, it’s brain will begin to get needed fats and protein and start the healing process.

        • ~Jim, I admire your optimism for your fellow man/woman.
          Unfortunately, after years and years of MSM indoctrination, limited outside stimulus, I am not as optimistic.
          One of the bright spots is . . . it, stopped using “Ray-gun” when referring to President Regan. That shows some degree of growth from the mentality of a six year old.

  • You are an excellent writer Marie, and I appreciate your thorough research and thoughtfulness of commentary. Thanks for an excellent article. (From a girl who loves her homegrown veggies!)

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