As more and more people take an interest in the provenance of their food, there’s a growing trend to grow your own. Whether you plant up a pot of herbs on your windowsill or devote a patch of your plot to growing fruit and veg, growing your own comes with a raft of health benefits.
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High in nutrients
It stands to reason that fruit and veg you’ve grown yourself is tastier, fresher and more nutritious than that found on supermarket shelves.
The way that shop-bought produce is picked, packaged and stored is often geared towards how a product looks rather than how it tastes, with little regard for nutritional content. Indeed, many items of fruit and veg are picked when they’re not ripe, and stored for weeks, where nutrient levels can dramatically diminish by the time they reach your plate. On the other hand, picking items straight from the garden and eating immediately keeps nutrients at peak levels. This is great news for the health of you and your family.
Scientists at Kew Gardens have concluded that home-grown tomatoes contain higher levels of antioxidant compounds called phenols, compared to mass-produced ones. Some home-grown varieties even tasted three times sweeter than those found in the shops.
Researchers have also shown that people who grow their own fruit and veg are more likely to achieve their ‘five a day’ allowance than those who don’t.
Unless you commit to buying all organic produce, you simply can’t be sure what pesticides have been sprayed onto the fruit and veg you buy. Washing items with water is often not enough to remove every trace of pesticide residue. Studies how shown that exposure to foods high in pesticides can cause kidney and lung problems, nausea, mental health issues and some forms of cancer.
When you grow your own crops, you’re in control of what you spray – or not – onto them. Indeed, many items of fruit and veg can grow perfectly happily without needing to be laced with chemicals to keep pests at bay or make them a uniform shape and size. Should crops suffer an attack from aphids or other bugs, then non-toxic biological controls, or simply spraying with soapy water, can do the trick.
Growing your own food is much more than just eating healthy, fresh produce. The act of tending to crops is good exercise in itself, where studies have shown that gardening can burn up to 400 calories in just one hour. All that fresh air is also great news for your health, especially if you’re looking to top up your vitamin D levels from the sunshine. Vitamin D is vital for good bone health, and with one-in-five Brits suffering from inadequate levels, this is reason enough to get outside and sow a seed or two.
Mental health benefits
The physical benefits of growing your own food are obvious, but your mental wellbeing also reaps rewards from this activity.
Growing your own fruit or veg can give you an immense sense of satisfaction and achievement, helping to boost your confidence and self-esteem. Many items are also super-easy to grow and are very forgiving if you occasionally forget to water them. This makes it ideal if you want to get children involved.
Learning where food comes from and eating according to the seasons also puts you more in tune with nature, further boosting your wellbeing.
Fans of growing your own can also enjoy peace of mind that they’re saving money, and making a positive contribution to the environment by not purchasing plastic-wrapped produce that’s stacked with air miles.