The benefits of adding home-grown food to your diet
As society has developed, the desire to grow your own food has been lost to many of the population. In recent years the dream of self-sustenance has seen a significant comeback, but some are still left wondering if the effort required reaps enough benefits.
How we choose to feed ourselves now has significant implications for future generations and the planet. At Harvst, creating an environmentally conscious ‘grow your own’ community is at the heart of our values.
What are some of the benefits of growing your own food?
Easy access to fresh fruit and veg
For those of you still on the fence, a tremendous amount of effort has gone into weighing the value of growing your own food. Fruit and veg are very good for you, we all know that! While that isn’t mind-blowing knowledge, the specifics of how they are good for you may be less known.
Luckily for us, the fine folk of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Harvard, the Imperial College of London and many other institutions performed a large study – analysing the data from over 220 research efforts to determine the specific impacts of eating fruit and vegetables .
The study found that by having 500 to 800 grams of fruit and veg daily your chances of stroke, cancer, cardiovascular and coronary heart disease, and early death were significantly lowered. While that number may seem easily manageable, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey from 2014 to 2016 found that only about 31% of UK adults actually meet it . A homegrown garden or greenhouse gives you accessibility to hyper-local sourcing of all of these delicious life-extenders, and the short time between harvest and consumption means consuming it at peak nutritional value .
Improved mental health and mindfulness
Humans evolved in the wild, but as our modern responsibilities force us to stay behind closed walls more often, it’s important to make time for contact with nature. A study with nearly 20,000 participants in 2019 found that by spending just 2 hours a week outside, participants’ general mental state improved significantly .
Growing your own food means you must allocate time to do this, therefore providing a therapeutic aspect to nourishment that shopping at the grocery store can’t rival. Not only that, but taking the time to care for plants gives you the peace of mind to understand exactly what you’re eating, with no mystery chemicals or harmful pesticides hiding in your meals.
Serotonin – a feel good brain chemical, is activated when we touch soil. Low levels of serotonin are linked to many mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, and anti-depressants work by increasing the serotonin levels. The fact that researchers have found that touching soil works in similar ways is just extraordinary. Talk about back to basics!
The sad truth is that chemicals are more often than not used in big scale farming. The scariest part of it is that new research consistently shows that some of the pesticides are more damaging than previously thought. What was labelled safe in the past is no longer deemed to be. What is being labelled safe now may not be in a few years time as new research develops. Due to this, organic, hyper-local produce will always be a safer choice, although they can use certain pesticides too, albeit most naturally occurring. When you grow your own food there is never a reason to use chemicals. You are in control of what you put on your crops and ultimately into your body, meaning you can grow your food without any extras that can damage our planet and health.
Vegetables in the supermarket have been selected, bred or modified to have a long shelf life and to be robust enough to be transported long distances. They are picked prematurely so as not to go bad whilst being transported and laying on the shelves in the shop. This means that they have not yet developed the full flavour and optimal nutritional level before being picked! Furthermore, the time between being picked and eaten, and the conditions on that journey, depletes the flavour and nutrition.
Create a community and educate future generations
Early civilisation began through communities coming together to make food. The universal need to eat and the willingness to work to make that happen allowed humans to unite and flourish. The knowledge of how to grow and harvest food was passed down and cultivated from generation to generation, creating a tighter family and community that could come together to reap the benefits of their shared hard work.
Unfortunately, this passing down of knowledge and subsequent camaraderie hit a snag as more and more people didn’t depend directly on the fruits of their labour [pun intended] to survive. However, starting to grow your own food quickly restarts that cycle, allowing you to learn and teach your children knowledge they will later also pass on. Having a greenhouse or garden in the home is a perfect opportunity to relearn as a family the skills that served as the glue to society for thousands of years.
Not only does growing your own, hyper-local food bring these benefits and a whole host of others, it also allows you to have more control over the constitution of your diet, that otherwise can be lost in large supply chains. If you are what you eat, don’t you want to know yourself?
·  Aune D, Giovannucci E, Boffetta P, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality—a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. Int J Epidemiol, 2017
·  Van Duijnhoven et al. “Fruit, vegetables, and colorectal cancer risk: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition”, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 89,5, 1441-1452, April 2009
·  Are Organic Foods Worth the price? (2022) Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. ·  White, M.P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J. et al. Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and well-being. Sci Rep9, 7730 (2019)