I’m looking for optimal use of my backyard space, so I need to know the easiest to grow—least water usage, most drought tolerant, most productive per plant, that can be stored dry without freezers, electricity, or a lot of plastics (maybe grains or beans for example), least land damage, least pests, most butterfly/bee- and beneficial-insect-friendly food plant that will help save on grocery costs while being environmentally friendly and totally organic. I’m wondering if rice, beans, or amaranth would fit the bill as the greenest way to grow the most dry, storable food.
—Connie, in Springfield, Missouri
I’d love to give you a nice, easy answer, but there isn't one, simply because of the hundreds of crop possibilities, the huge variety of local conditions, differing nutrient contents and fertilizer requirements. This sheer complexity is why I distrust most generalizations about food production put forth as gospel by foodies and armchair farmers whose knowledge of agronomy and nutrition is often very limited if not downright suspect.