Free Food

If you’ve been reading the Good Food Gardens blog, you’ve probably figured out that I consider gardening the best way to get free food. Not only does food you grow yourself cost virtually nothing after the initial investment of soil and seeds, it’s also the surest way to have quality, locally grown ingredients and make sure that the things you love to eat are always available to you.

Of course, you can’t grow chardonnay smoked sea salt or vanilla beans in your backyard (although I’d love to hear about it if you are), but you can grow a huge variety of lettuces, vegetables, and herbs -- exactly the kinds of garden goodies that make it easy to layer summer meals with texture and flavor. Farmers' markets are also superb, and I still count on real farmers to do the heavy lifting, but even they can’t beat the ease and freshness of picking greens from the garden just hours before dinner.

So you live in a tiny apartment in a big city with no light or backyard? Trust me, you can do it. We’ve proven that anyone can grow a garden by planting one, tended by school-aged kids, between high-rises in the middle of New York City. Okay, my can-do attitude is made significantly easier by the help of Teich Garden Systems, who build our Good Food Gardens, but my own little plot of dirt at the Two Coves Community Garden in Long Island City should be even more convincing. My garden, now packed with strawberries, lemon verbena, rhubarb, Hungarian peppers, and over 10 varieties of lettuces and leafy greens, started out as a packed plot of dead soil just a year ago. Its success is the result of several bags of organic compost tilled into the soil, a few sunny weekends with a shovel, and the occasional rain dance.

Probably the easiest and most prolific garden doesn’t even require a plot of soil at all. The Earth Box, used in schools in Harlem, rooftops in Chicago, and by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for a international program called the Growing Connection, requires little more than an upfront investment and the desire to grow food—a lot of food. 4 to 6 boxes, some say, can feed a family of four for a summer.

So, what’s your excuse now?
Sarah Copeland, Recipe Developer and Good Food Gardens Spokesperson

Next Up

Sugar-Free Foods: Good or Bad?

They’re marketed as healthy and low-calorie alternatives to your favorite sugary treats, but are sugar-free foods actually better for you?

Top Ten Free Food and Nutrition Apps

Our dietitian's 10 favorite free iphone and ipad apps related to food and nutrition..

Is Free Work Food Making You Fat?

You may be taking in more calories at the office than you realized.

How to Choose Dairy-Free High Calcium Foods

If you're lactose-intolerant or cannot eat dairy, here are some other ways to boost your calcium intake.

Cheesy Comfort Foods You Can Enjoy Guilt-Free

Treat yourself to cheese. Get healthy recipes to satisfy your cheesy cravings.

No, Nitrate-Free Bacon Is Not a Health Food

Though they're considered "diet-friendly," nitrate-free processed meats still should be eaten in moderation.

Michael Symon’s 3 Tips for Making Dairy-Free Comfort Food

In his Food Network Kitchen classes, Symon shares his dairy-free cooking secrets, including how to make the creamiest dairy-free mac and cheese in the universe.

Gluten-Free Comfort Food Is Just a Slow Cooker Away

This one-pot, simple-to-make supper recipe turned this home cook into a slow-cooker convert.

On TV