Experts recommend adults consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day as part of a healthy diet, but according to the CDC, only 1 in 10 Americans meet this guideline – and it’s having an impact on our health. Luckily, there’s a simple, and budget-friendly way to get more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet: grow your own.
Not only will growing your own food help you eat more vegetables while sticking to your budget, but gardening has its own health benefits, meaning that a small garden will have a big impact on your well-being.
Exercise Adds Up
Gardening may seem like a leisurely activity, but it’s actually a great way to squeeze in more outdoor exercise because it offers many benefits from a functional fitness perspective. As you work, you’ll be bending, squatting, and lifting – all activities that that can build strength and increase your range of motion, and that burn calories. Indeed, many dieticians blame reduced physical labor, such as daily gardening, for contributing to our current obesity epidemic. And don’t forget, because you’re outside, you’ll also be absorbing vitamin D from the sun – just be sure to apply sunscreen.
Connect Kids With Their Food
One reason that young children don’t like to eat their vegetables is that they are biologically primed to reject unfamiliar things, which is why many pediatricians recommend including young children in meal planning to encourage them to try new foods. But why not start at the very beginning. Grab a home gardening kit and help your child plant some of their own vegetables and then cook them together. It’s best to start kids with easy to grow vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce, and green beans to ensure at least moderate success.
Make Room For Mindfulness
Not only is gardening a great form of exercise, but it can also be a meditative activity; the garden offers a wealth of positive sensory input, a chance to slow down and leave your phone behind, and an opportunity to physically connect with the dirt. In fact, the two activities – meditation and gardening – are so naturally linked that major yoga and meditation centers like Kripalu even offer gardening and meditation workshops.
Manage Pesticide Exposure
Finally, unlike mass-market produce, which is often heavily treated with dangerous pesticides, when you grow your own food, you control what pesticides you use and the quality of the soil, and it’s much more affordable than buying organic produce at the grocery store. Most home gardeners can grow plenty of food using only natural anti-pest solutions, such as soap spray to stop beetles and aphids and tin foil to prevent squash vine borers from laying eggs. Meanwhile, eggshells can even keep deer away, as they dislike the smell of albumen. You just don’t need all those chemicals to grow your own food, and you definitely don’t need to ingest such toxins.
Of course, enjoying a healthier, better tasting diet is the best reason to grow your own produce, but gardening also presents a simple solution to a widespread problem. By growing your own food, then, you do more than take control of your diet. Gardening is a whole body wellness practice, making it just what the doctor ordered.