Grow Your Own (Garden) Health


I invite you to think back a few decades and recall a wonderful time and place in history I loved so much. It was a time when I was a child without a care in the world. Most children I knew were extremely healthy, with no fear of anything.

Our refrigerators were full of everything we needed.

A big portion of our food was grown locally by our neighborly trusted farmers. We stuffed ourselves with organically grown cantaloupe and watermelon all summer long, year after year, without fear of the COVID-19 virus, E-coli, salmonella, or any other life-threatening pathogen.

I am a big supporter of local farmers and I have spent years teaching the importance of eating locally grown well-balanced whole foods. I have also enjoyed excellent health while practicing what I preach. Fortunately, I have convinced many open-minded folks to follow the same route and enjoy the same good health as I have enjoyed.

What did you do when the coronavirus came to town? Did you immediately panic and shove your way through hundreds of others desperate to stock up on food and supplies, rubbing shoulders and breathing in each other’s face? When the panic first started, no one knew the rules of physical distancing. At the start of the Great Depression of the 1930s, no one knew what was best to do, either. The more money folks withdrew from the banks, the bigger the collapse.

If only they had known.

Wouldn’t it have been refreshing if you could have just waited several weeks before you gave going to the grocery store a second thought? What would it have taken for you to be able to make extremely healthy meals consistently during these crazy times? This is just one reason we need to garden.

Many small farmers in the 1930s scarcely saw a change in their lifestyle after the collapse of the financial markets, except what little cash income they had dried up. For the most part, with the exception of those in the Dust Bowl, the small farmers continued to live on what their farm produced.

Some suggest this will be the only way to survive in the future. It may be a very smart or even a life-saving choice to learn to depend more on yourself instead of on the grocery store.

A second case for the absolute need to grow your own food is food quality. During this panic, most of us have come to the conclusion food from unspecified far-away lands just may not be as healthy as we once believed.

Word on the street is COVID-19 will be coming back around for round 2, and the U.S. Surgeon General even says that may happen. Will you be ready?

There are several ways to be prepared, but only one way to be prepared and healthy at the same time. The best way is to become self-sufficient with a garden. If you can’t do that, look around for a small farmer selling produce. Stock up this summer for food that will carry you through the fall and winter.

For some staples such as beans, turn to the small markets. When the shelves of the big stores are empty, the stock in the small store may remain intact.

Next, begin to adjust your lifestyle. I’m seeing some very unhealthy lifestyles posted on social media during the prolonged period of staying in the house. While some folks are cooking, perhaps for the first time, most of what I’m seeing them cook is not so good. I see constant posts of enormous amounts of fast food, cakes, cookies, ice cream, alcohol, and other inflammatory foods being prepared and served. Many of the favorites are the ones that will keep you fat and sick.

The most troublesome statistic is that alcohol sales have increased 38 percent during the stay at home order. Social media is blanketed with pictures of homebound folks posing with their glass in the air.

I personally predict an alcoholism problem on the horizon. Did we turn a whole new generation into alcoholics? Or even worse, did we bring recovering alcoholics and drug addicts out of the closet? Do you think the good folks who drank all this alcohol will have a healthy immune system when the second round of COVID-19 comes around? Or even worse, what if there is a new virus next year?

Away back before the Y-2K scare when some were cashing-in life savings to hoard gold and ammunition, a 5-gallon bucket of garden seeds would have been a better guarantee for the future. Most folks ignored me when I expressed that thought, but now it has gone full circle. While many were in panic-mode raiding the grocer’s shelves, I was at home eating delicious homegrown canned, pickled and fermented foods, grown with my “garden seeds.”

When illness strikes, we become protective of our health and go to great lengths to ensure our well-being. Then we let our guard down when we feel the coast is clear. Don’t make that mistake. It’s time for you to move back to raising your own home-grown food. That food did not cause disease but worked to strengthen the body’s defenses.

Many readers have never grown a garden, deciding they don’t know how or think they don’t have time. A garden doesn’t need much of your time as it grows while you’re sleeping, without you.

Years ago, when I was lacking the farmyard experience I thought I needed, I simply visited “farmyards.” I went to the local farmer’s market and added to my knowledge at lightning speed. I learned everything I could.

Most farmers and gardeners are generous in sharing knowledge. Farmers didn’t become farmers to be rich. They do it because they are passionate about being healthy and helping you become healthy too. The produce guy at your local supermarket probably won’t have this kind of life-saving information. Gardeners and farmers aren’t afraid to give out their secrets. They know when you start following what they teach you, you’ll be so excited you will send them new customers.

Spring is here and now is the perfect time to start growing your own food. Your locally grown organic food will build your immune system to a healthy new high. Just start small with a few plants in your backyard. You’ll be surprised how fast they grow and the best part is walking out your door and picking your own dinner.

Canning may seem to be too much work for you as it can be a tedious messy job. That’s why I like to pickle, dry, and ferment loads of delicious gut-healthy foods. It’s easy and I will show you how. The best part is you can make one jar at a time or even more without pulling out all the canning equipment and cooking all day.

Another great source of gardening and food preservation information is supplied by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s extension services. The information is customized, mainly by a university in your state. Often you can locate an Extension Service office in your town. You should be able to locate your state’s information on the Internet by entering your state and “cooperative extension service.” A tip: An especially good resource will be the Master Gardener program.

You may also watch my videos and read my book “Healed by Farm” to learn all you need to know about building an extremely healthy immune system. Then you won’t have to mingle with the toilet paper snatchers when the next virus comes to town.

Some of the things I teach may seem unorthodox or even old fashioned. When it comes to food and nutrition, old fashioned wins every time. Eat like the good old days, which is what I teach in John Rankin’s Way Back.