Growing food for personal and family consumption is a significant global activity, but one that has received insufficient academic attention, particularly in developed countries. This paper uses data from the European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) to address three areas of particular concern: the prevalence of growing your own food and how this has changed over time; the individual and household context in which growing takes place;and whether those who grow their own food are happier than those who do not. Results showed that there was a marked increase in growing your own food in Europe, in the period 2003–2007. This increase is largely associated with poorer households and thus, possibly, economic hardship. In the UK however the increase in growing your own food is predominantly associated with older middle class households. Across Europe, whether causal or not, those who grew their own were happier than those who did not. The paper therefore concludes that claims about the gentrification of growing your own may be premature. Despite contrary evidence from the UK, the dominant motive across Europe appears to be primarily economic — to reduce household expenditure whilst ensuring a supply of fresh food.
Bibliographical noteOpen Access funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council under a Creative Commons license.