By Olufunke Faluyi
Some years back, I cooked a particular species of vegetable that is ordinarily not the bitter type , but it turned out bitter . Some other time , I ate okro and it had a huge laxative effect on me . Thoughts that the vegetables might have been planted with some chemicals ran through my mind .
It is true we eat vegetables and fruits, but the question is , do we get the nutrients we are supposed to get from them?
The bitter truth is that we are exposed to pesticides used for pre or post – emergence weed control. They are also raised perennially in swamps supplemented with massive dosage of fertilisers . These chemicals , in large amounts , have been found to cause illnesses. The only way out is to eat organic foods .
What are organic foods ? They are foods produced without using most conventional pesticides ; fertilisers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge , bioengineering or ionising radiation.
In a study, researchers found that organic onions had about 20 per cent higher antioxidant content than conventionally- grown onions .
Though organic foods do not necessarily mean toxin- free , as plants produce their own natural toxins , but at least your chances of getting man -made pesticides residues in your diets will be low .
Growing your own produce is a simple solution to numerous health , environmental and economic problems . Whether you are growing a single tomato plant or have a large backyard garden , it is beneficial to your health , as well as the environment .
Vegetables that are harvested in home gardens are better than those purchased from grocery stores .
Gardening is a truly rewarding and relaxing pursuit , when done regularly . You can lose weight and get a full work out too . A survey of 269 people reported a correlation between gardening and lower body mass index .
Homegrown vegetables are the most nutritious . The first finding is that fresh vegetables have the most nutrition compared to pre – packaged and prepared foods . Nothing beats the flavour- and -nutrient – packed power of freshly – picked fruits and vegetables .
Once harvested , produce begin to lose moisture and nutrients . At the grocery store , the freshness of your vegetables is largely out of your control. A vegetable and fruit garden can add life , colour and beauty to your backyard .
Gardening is a fun , family – friendly activity that allows kids to get their hands dirty and learn where their food comes from . From planting seedlings to building salads together , starting a vegetable garden is a great way to get your family off the couch onto their feet .
Watching your garden go from bare ground to ripe produce or beautiful plants offers a sense of satisfaction. If you have neighbours who also garden , the activity sometimes offers social interaction .
Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the most important things you and your family can do to stay healthy . When they are growing in your backyard, you will not be able to resist them and their vitamin content will be at their highest levels as you bite into them straight from the garden .
When you responsibly grow your own food , you do not have to worry about contamination that may occur at the farm, manufacturing plant or transportation process . This means that when the world is avoiding tomatoes , for example , you do not have to go without it —you can trust that the tomatoes in your garden are safe and healthy to eat .
There are more benefits of growing your own garden .
They are more nutritious : When growing your own food , your diet is more diverse and healthy , packed with vitamins , minerals and antioxidants . Food in its rawest , freshest form is not only the tastiest way to enjoy it , but also the most nutritional. The majority of produce sold in grocery stores go through a long process of being harvested , shipped and distributed to stores . Once distributed , the produce can end up staying in storage or on the shelf for an extended period of time before being purchased , thereby making it lose nutritional value.
You get Vitamin D : Gardening is a great way to absorb vitamin D , known as the sunshine vitamin . Vitamin D is crucial to maintain healthy bones and teeth. It can also protect against certain diseases.
Makes you stay active : Gardening is a fun way to get outside for some fresh air and physical activity . The physical activity required in gardening has proven to promote physical health . Involvement in gardening helps to improve cardiac health and immune system response , decrease heart rate and stress , improve fine and gross motor skills , flexibility and body strength. Gardening activities , such as pulling weeds, removing rocks, digging , planting, spreading compost , cultivating , trimming trees and shrubs , and raking require you to expend energy ( burn calories ) .
It saves money : You can save a lot of money by growing your own vegetables and fruits. By spending a little money on seeds , plants , you will produce vegetables that will yield a lot for you. There is a reduced monthly food bill .
Improves your health : When you pick vegetables right from your garden , the vitamin content will be at its highest . Also, you are reducing the risk of eating vegetables that contain harmful chemicals . In addition , getting kids involved in the gardening process will make it more likely for them to try the vegetables .
Gardening is a natural stress reliever : Being outside in the fresh air and sunshine can improve mood and make you feel rejuvenated and happy . Growing your own produce also gives you a great sense of accomplishment.
It has environmental impact : A garden provides the opportunity to make a positive environmental impact. A compost pile allows you to recycle certain kitchen and yard waste products into a nutrient – rich additive for the garden . This reduces the waste you produce and provides natural fertiliser for your plants . If you choose to avoid or limit chemical use, you reduce pollution and groundwater contamination from your gardening activities. Garden plants often help reduce erosion by holding the soil in place . Mulching around plants in your home garden further reduces erosion and runoff .
Reduces risk of dementia : There has been a research that recommends gardening as a way to lower the risk of developing dementia . For instance , one study following a group of people in their 60 s and 70s for 16 years found that those who gardened regularly had between 36 per cent and 47 per cent lower risk of developing dementia compared to non – gardeners .
Farmers can use natural pesticides and organic fertilisers . And to you, why allow that piece of land in your backyard to lie fallow ? Even if you do not have a big backyard or any yard for that matter , you can still grow food . Consider container gardening ; you will be amazed at how many tomatoes or peppers can grow out of one pot .
Get seeds of vegetables and plant them. Nothing can be so refreshing like eating them fresh . Your body , wallet , and taste buds will thank you.