Learn About the Health Benefits of Growing Your Own Food
Growing your own food is associated with countless benefits that pertain to your physical and mental health. Whether you grow all your own food or supplement store-bought produce with home-grown fruits and vegetables, you can experience tremendous lifestyle improvements. Although there are other options for obtaining fresh produce such as farmer’s markets, growing your own food is increasingly satisfying and rewarding.
However, some of the health benefits you may experience depend on the types of produce you grow and how often you tend to your garden. Still, the following sections explain the unique health benefits of growing your own food that may make you reconsider relying solely on grocery stores for your daily food intake. In the following sections, you will also learn how to take advantage of these health benefits and how they may affect other members of your family who may get involved with gardening.
Healthier Eating Habits
By managing your own produce, you ensure you consume fresh, organic foods and can increase the amount of nutrients you receive. Because food labels can be difficult to interpret and some foods may be made using harsh chemicals, growing your own fruits and vegetables can help you and your family consume safe foods that you can thoroughly trust.
Additionally, you are able to eat more fruits and vegetables without having to purchase them at a store. If you are part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, you may be able to use SNAP benefits to purchase seeds.
When you grow fruits, vegetables and herbs in your backyard, you are more likely to incorporate them into your everyday meals to ensure they do not go to waste. Therefore, you may limit the amount of junk foods in your home in preparation for a fresh harvest. By choosing to grow your own produce, you are also encouraging your children to practice healthy eating habits.
Foods that you and your family grow have unique benefits besides those directly related to owning a garden. The produce that you harvest from your garden may be fresher and tastier than processed foods or the same foods available in grocery stores.
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Since stores must pick unripened produce to guarantee they will remain edible on shelves, you often have little control over the freshness of store-bought produce. The taste of fruits and vegetables is a huge factor in determining if someone will eat them, so having constant access to fresh, delicious food is invaluable.
Increased Physical Activity
Getting involved in your garden can help you work off some weight and enjoy the fresh air. As a form of exercise, gardening is intensive, involving bending, stretching, digging and walking. However, most gardeners fail to notice the physical activity required to maintain their gardens and simply revel in the act of growing food others can eat.
To reap the most physical benefits from gardening, you are advised to garden at least 30 minutes per day. Studies have shown that regular gardening can burn over 300 calories per hour depending on the produce in the garden bed.
Gardeners, especially those in urban areas, who spend long periods in their gardens can more easily escape the effects of pollution and other contaminants. While the threat of dangerous sun exposure is always a risk, gardeners who wear protective clothing and sunscreen can actually boost their immune systems. The vitamin D found in sunlight and the bacteria found in soil can promote a heightened immune response.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lack of exercise combined with the insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables is one of the leading causes of illness and death even though it is entirely preventable. Growing your own food seems to counteract all of these public health risks.
Not only does growing your own food have immediate health benefits for you and your family, but it also helps create a safer and “greener” environment that positively affects the health of the planet and all of its inhabitants. If you maintain your garden and dispose of food waste responsibly, you are helping reduce the herbicides and pesticides used in the production of many fruits and vegetables sold in stores. Also, you minimize your contribution to the use of fossil fuels for the transportation of produce to and from grocery stores.
The process of growing your own food may be challenging, but the satisfaction of harvesting home-grown produce tends to offset the challenges. Exercising and engaging with nature can improve your mood by relieving stress.
You can also use your garden bed to create an inviting greenspace perfect for relaxing and entertaining when you are not actively gardening. Adding decorations, plant tags and other features to your household garden can help you both express your personality and interact with the environment.
Although gardening is often perceived as an introverted activity, growing your own food can create opportunities for you to get involved in your community. You may just share gardening and cooking tips with a few friends, but you may also attend gardening events or competitions.
How to Start Growing Your Own Food
From start to finish, growing your own food is beneficial, but the idea of growing your own food may be daunting. You should begin growing your own food by choosing the types of produce you and your family eat the most often.
You should also consider your gardening experience and choose plants that you believe you will be able to maintain at your house. For instance, tomatoes are great for novice gardeners and are adaptable to most spaces.
Before planting any produce, designate an area for a garden, even if you live in an apartment. The area does not have to be very large, and it may expand as you add more produce. However, you should separate this area using stones. Prepare the area with fresh soil and remove any rocks, weeds or objects that may interfere with planting. Then, plant the seeds as instructed.
Note: Remember that you cannot immediately rely on the food you grow as your only source of food, so do not be discouraged if your garden takes time to mature.
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