In Season: Grow Your Own Produce
5 Healthy Reasons to Grow Your Own Food
One of the surest signs of the end of winter is fresh, ripe produce. There’s no way to replicate the juiciness of a still-warm-from-the-sun tomato or the crisp snap of a fresh green bean. And while farmers markets and CSAs are a convenient way to get your hands on seasonal fruit and vegetables, the healthiest option is to plant your own garden. Growing your own produce is satisfying, fun and healthy. Plus, it’s the ultimate way to eat local.
Everyone knows you need to eat healthy to be healthy. When you’re growing your own vegetables, fruits and herbs, you increase the likelihood that you’ll eat these healthy foods. After all, you can’t grow chips, ice cream or french fries in your backyard garden. Plus, foods fresh from the garden can taste better than those same foods from the grocery store, which are usually picked before they are allowed to ripen.
It can be hard to know what types of fertilizers or pesticides are used on various fruits and vegetables. Thoroughly washing produce before you use it can help prevent you and your family from ingesting any of these chemicals. But growing your own produce will remove the guesswork and ensure you know exactly what you are putting in your body.
Even light or moderate gardening counts toward meeting daily exercise goals, burning up to 330 calories in just one hour. Research has shown that regular gardening can cut the risk of a heart attack or stroke and prolong life by as much as 30 percent for adults over 60.
Stress Relief + Mood Booster
Many experienced gardeners rave about the peace they feel when they dig in the dirt. As it turns out, science backs up this feeling. Studies have shown the combination of physical activity, awareness of natural surroundings, cognitive stimulation and satisfaction of work all benefit mood and mental health.
The sun your skin soaks up as you garden isn’t all bad. While you should always lather up with SPF, don’t avoid the sun entirely. When skin is exposed to sunlight it produces Vitamin D, which is important for immune system function. Additionally, being exposed to the billions of bacteria lurking in the soil, can further build immunity.
How to Get Started
Starting a garden isn’t hard and can be a fun way to get outside all season long. Before jumping in, consider these tips:
- Start small and plant things you know you’ll eat and enjoy.
- Find a spot that has at least six hours of daylight and easy access to water.
- Growing from seeds can be more challenging for beginners, so consider starting with small plants.
- Plant invasive herbs like mint and fennel in pots to prevent them from taking over.
- Add interest and dimension with container gardens or raised beds. Standing container beds are especially good for those with back or knee pain.