Beat food prices - grow your own

MARY CURNOW
Last updated 12:45 28/09/2012

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It's well documented and we can all feel it in our pockets when we go shopping - food prices are on the rise.

How many of us have visited the local supermarket full of good intentions to buy lots of fruit and veges, only to find the things we'd planned to buy are just so expensive?

According to Statistics New Zealand, the food price index has risen every month for the last four months in a row. In August 2012, fruit and vegetables rose by 4.4 per cent, with food items like tomatoes soaring by 31 per cent and kumara rising by a whopping 84 per cent.

Of course, buying tomatoes out of season is likely to be an expensive business but even on more seasonal veges, prices can be high and sometimes difficult decisions need to be made.

There is a flip side to all this though; some food items have come down in price. In August, broccoli fell by 34.1 per cent. And for all those chocoholics out there, chocolate biscuits fell by a very tasty 10 per cent - though I'm hard pressed to slip these into my healthy, body-nourishing food list.

So with all these fluctuations in prices and the need to eat food that keeps us fit and healthy, what can we do? One option is to grow your own.

Of course, we can't grow everything we need and want but we can grow some of it, which can save us money especially if we grow things that tend to be on the more expensive side, like tomatoes, salad leaves, cucumbers, peppers and spring onions.

Saving money is only half the story. You'll know how your fruit and veges have been grown and knowing you grew them yourself will make them seem tastier.

You'll be learning a new skill, enabling you and your family to become more self-sufficient when times get tough. You could even use it to get fit - nothing like digging up some homegrown potatoes to give you a bit of a workout. And you'll be interacting with the wider environment, have an understanding of how the seasons work, and ultimately reduce the enormous environmental impacts associated with transporting food.

You'll have a chance to find out more about the benefits of growing your own on Saturday, October 13. Adrian Myers, a local expert in gardening, will be running a workshop at the Nelson Environment Centre on composting and growing food, as part of the Create Your Own Eden programme of events.

This free workshop runs from 2pm to 4pm and is aimed at anyone who would like to learn about composting and growing food, or brushing up on gardening skills. For further information or to register for this workshop, contact Elizabeth Hovell at the Nelson Environment Centre on 03 545 9176 or info@nec.org.nz by Wednesday, October 10.

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With just a little know-how we can turn our gardens into productive food bowls that just keep on giving.

  • Mary Curnow specialises in waste education services for Nelson and Tasman for the Nelson Environment Centre, which supplies Going Green once a fortnight.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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