There's no doubt that Kenyan beans are fine and broccoli from Zimbabwe is tasty but what about the distance that they've travelled to get here? If they were collecting air miles, they'd be well on the way towards a trip to Las Vegas.
Not only that but how long has it taken the produce that comes from exotic parts to get on to the supermarket shelves? And what chemicals went into the soil in which they were grown?
Once upon a time strawberries were only found in the shops in summer and Brussels sprouts made an appearance just in time for Christmas. Now we expect to get every kind of fruit and veg all year round which takes just a little something away from the 'specialness' of seasonal goodies.
But it doesn't have to be like that and you don't have to be in the dark about what's gone in to the produce that you eat.
By growing even some of your own fruit, vegetables and herbs your food will be cheaper, fresher and reward you with much more fun than you'd get slogging round a crowded supermarket.
You don't even need an acre of land on which to do it. To get started, all you need is a couple of pots or a patch of soil and you can make a contribution to your family’s five-a-day.
How to start
Serious gardeners can be quite evangelical about compost but all you need to start one is a pile of vegetable peelings. You want the finished product to be rich, dark, crumbly and sweet-smelling. Recycled garden and kitchen waste, including paper products, will feed and condition the soil and be excellent to make potting mixes. Around 40 per cent of the average dustbin contents are suitable for home-composting so it helps cut down on landfill too.
There are a variety of bins on the market but they are all just a container for the composting process. Check with your local council: they may supply a bin or offer a discount on one. Alternatively, you can just build a heap and cover it over with some polythene or cardboard. But bins do look neater and are easier to manage. All you need do is deposit the material, including grass cuttings, and wait for it to rot down.
Water young plants and seedlings for a maximum of two weeks to help them establish. Afterwards they should find enough moisture in the soil. If they are suffering during a long hot summer, go for a weekly drenching rather than daily sprinklings.
If small slugs are a problem, a biological control such as Nemaslug kills them in the soil whereas greenfly and other flying pests can be kept off crops using garden fleece or fine mesh netting from garden centres.
Organic vegetables derive nutrients from the soil and rotted organic matter. Because man-made pesticides are off-limit, the idea is to stop pests reaching your crop in the first place. There are organic insecticides, such as derris and soft soap, but use even these sparingly. Organically produced vegetables grow more slowly and generally give a smaller crop, but it is widely believed that they do taste better.
But whether you decide to go organic or to accept a little help from science, when your home-grown produce arrives on your table it will be as fresh as possible, packaging-free and the only distance it will have travelled is from your garden to your plate.