If you are a fan of Michelle Obama, you may have recently seen her Instagram post that pictured a basket of fresh vegetables, sent to her by the new First Lady, Jill Biden, from the White House Garden which was planted by Michelle in 2009 as part of her initiative to promote healthier eating amongst American families, particularly children. As the global COVID-19 pandemic rages on, it is of utmost importance that we all look after our health and immune systems as best we can.
This can start with making healthier food choices and incorporating a range of fruits and vegetables into your diet. Some of us may be facing prolonged periods at home, and if you are lucky enough to have a garden, perhaps looking into starting your own vegetable patch may both provide a fun long-term project, promote healthier eating and even ignite a passion for healthier foods.
On Michelle Obama’s gardening project, that looked to empower American families to make healthier food choices, Vanity Fair recently wrote: ‘It was a deeply intentional project, and Obama published a book in 2012, American Grown, in which she explained every choice made. She said she wanted it to be a “learning garden,” where children could plant seeds and come back and see the literal fruits of their labor, as well as a statement on childhood nutrition.
“As both a mother and a first lady, I was alarmed about reports of skyrocketing childhood obesity rates and the dire consequences for our children’s health,” she wrote. “And I hoped this garden would begin a conversation about this issue—a conversation about the food we eat, the lives we lead, and how all of that affects our children.”’
So, from the White House garden to your own patch here are the benefits of growing your own food.
The most obvious factor is that growing your own fruits and vegetables for your own consumption will most likely be very good for your health. Picking vegetables directly from your garden means that the vitamin content is at its highest, although farmers and supermarkets do their best to preserve freshness and vitamins, the transportation of produce will naturally lead to a loss. Further, you may not be aware of where your produce comes from, some producers may use harmful chemicals and pesticides on the crops to preserve and protect them. Growing your own produce means you know exactly where it came from.
If you have small children, gardening can be a fun place to start when teaching them about healthy eating. It may entice them to eat more healthy options, as they have grown them themselves. Further, the harvesting of your crops will provide a sense of pride and achievement, you may find more enjoyment out of putting together new and healthier meals with your bounty.
Eco-friendly and money-saving
Once you have passed the initial investment of supplies and tools for your garden, you may find that your garden actually saves you money on grocery trips. If you have a particularly good harvest and have utilized and preserved all you can and still have some left over, you could even sell some at an enticing price to neighbors.
Further, it may be more sustainable. When you have your own garden, you cut out your need for green-house gas producing transportation of produce to your local supermarket. You will also likely not use pesticides or herbicides, sparing the earth on water and soil pollution. If you rely on your own garden, you may also eat more seasonally, which also cuts down on emissions. Further, you may begin keeping a compost heap, where you place food waste rather than sending it to landfill. Food waste in landfills are unable to decompose properly, meaning it contributes to the production of harmful greenhouse gasses.
Growing your own food may also teach you to take less food for granted, reducing the amount you yourself wastes – which is always a bonus for the environment!
Physical and Mental health benefits
Gardening has been found to be a natural stress reliever, and especially within the current climate, getting outside in the sun and fresh air will do wonders for your mental health, contributing to better sleep and a better mood. Growing your own produce can also be a rewarding undertaking, providing a sense of accomplishment. Further than this, gardening has also been found to be a great physical activity, helping to keep you active, burning up to 400 calories per hour as you weed, dig, plant and so forth. The exercise will also tone muscles and build strength, all in the highly beneficial environment of the great outdoors!