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Grow local produce with houseplants

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Produce doesn’t get much more local than growing it on your window sill or kitchen counter. By growing your own produce, fuel is saved from not having to transport food from far away or even from not having to drive to the store, and pollution is lessened because there is no need for the processing and packaging that is done for non-local food.

Find it! Products and tools for growing produce indoors

Growing local produce helps you go green because...

  • Fuel and resulting pollution is saved when food doesn't have to be transported long distances.
  • The energy from the packaging of non-local food isn't expended.

Additional benefits

  • Produce you grow tastes better, is fresher, and more nutritious. Plus you know what you're eating because you grew it.
  • Herbs and produce you grow yourself are there when you need them so you don't have to run out to the store. Plus you can impress guests when you pick herbs to serve at dinner.

In the US, the average grocery store’s produce travels nearly 1,500 miles between the farm where it was grown and American homes. About 40 percent of America's fruit is produced overseas. The broccoli bought at the supermarket travels an average 1,800 miles to get there, and a typical carrot travels 1,838 miles.[1]

Getting food across the country or the world means fuel has to be used, in trucks, ships, or planes. Combustion of these fuels releases carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and other pollutants into the atmosphere, contributing to global climate change, acid rain, and smog and air pollution. The refrigeration required to keep food from spoiling also uses energy.

The packaging of food to keep it fresh uses large amounts of paper and plastic packaging that becomes waste. The industrial farms on which these foods are produced are often major sources of air and water pollution. In addition, preservatives are commonly used to keep foods fresh longer, which are potentially hazardous to human health.[1]

Growing your own produce indoors

Even if you don’t have an outdoor garden, you can still grow some of your own food at home. Instead of “food miles,”[2] your produce will only have to travel “food feet” across the house to your table.

Because of advances in portable indoor gardening systems such as hydroponics[3] and aeroponics,[4] abundant amounts of lush produce can be grown in containers. These are basically farming systems that have been compressed so that they act like miniature greenhouses, but because of the methods used to grow them, they use less water than plants grown in soil. Strawberries; grape tomatoes; green-leaf, red-leaf, summer, butterhead, and other lettuces; chili peppers; and a range of herbs can be grown year-round. Some of this type of produce, especially herbs, can be grown in smaller quantities in regular houseplant pots as well.

Popular indoor herbs

Certain herbs thrive indoors, whether you plant them from seed or buy them already grown in pots. These are also some of the most sought-after herbs for cooking and home purposes:

  • Basil
  • Bay
  • Chervil
  • Chives
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme

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