how a home garden can improve your health 

According to one recent survey, one out of every three American families grows at least some of their own food in a home garden. 

Every year, this trend just continues to skyrocket as people's growing concerns about GMOs, food and nut allergies and childhood health drive families to learn how to cultivate fresh organic produce at home.

Have you been considering creating your own home garden but you aren't sure how to start or what benefits you may reap? Find out how a home garden can improve your health on every level in this article!

Is It Healthier to Grow Your Own Food?

Is it healthier to grow your own food at home? Here, the research delivers a definitive answer: "yes." Unless you are buying 100 percent organic produce, it is definitely healthier and safer to grow your own organic produce at home.

The truth is, when you start your home garden, you have total control over what goes into and onto your produce.

So, for instance, you can choose natural pest-repellant alternatives to commercial pesticides and know there are no toxic chemicals on or in your salad or baked potato.

You can even pick out your own organic potting soil as you tend to your growing fruits, vegetables, greens and herbs personally. It can be such a great feeling to know exactly where your family's meals are coming from!

Why Is Gardening Good for Your Health?

In today's super time-crunched lifestyles, adults and kids alike struggle to find any quality time to spend outdoors.

To hear the National Parks and Recreation Association tell it, kids today report spending as little as four to seven minutes per day outside! Contrast that with the estimated whopping seven and a half hours most kids and teens spend in front of glowing screens and it is clear why, as a nation, we struggle with ever-worsening health at every age. 

For adults, the situation is grimmer still, with many adults reporting they spend no time at all outdoors on the average day. Lack of exposure to natural light disrupts our circadian rhythms to the degree that 68 percent of people struggle to sleep restfully at least once a week and nearly half rely on sleeping medications to take rest.

What does all this have to do with gardening, you might be wondering? Gardening is a fun, easy, nutritious way to get some much-needed vitamin D, enjoy some beneficial physical exercise, give your brain a workout by learning a new skill that doesn't require a computer screen and take some deep, relaxing breaths of fresh air!

Plus, if you or a loved one is eager to shed a few pounds, did you know gardening can help you do it? According to the American Council on Exercise, you can burn off approximately 300 calories for each hour you spend gardening. 

Another notable health perk you can reap from starting your own garden is to clean up your local air supply. This, of course, is because plants and people make the perfect respiratory team. Plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breath out oxygen. For us, it is exactly the reverse.

While reports differ on precisely how much oxygen a single tree or houseplant emits, studies are universally in agreement that adding more green growing things to your home space adds more breathable oxygen-rich air to your personal living environment. This is always a good thing!

Why Is It Better to Grow Your Own Vegetables?

Organic produce is big business today throughout all sectors of the food industry. From the organic section at your local grocery store to the new organic restaurant just opening its doors around the corner, the demand for organic edibles is continually pushing supply trends upwards.

An image of a gardener who holding vegetables in basket

What is so interesting about this trend is that, according to the Organic Trade Association, once a shopper tastes organic produce, they rarely return to purchasing conventional vegetables and produce. 

So the first and most important reason that growing your own vegetables is better is quite simply the taste! If you love food and you enjoy cooking and eating delicious meals with friends and family, the statistics say there is nothing better than consuming food you have grown with your own hands.

Of course, there are other equally compelling reasons why it is better to grow your own vegetables, fruits, herbs and greens. According to WebMD, when scientists associated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science were asked if GMO foods are safe to eat, nine out of 10 reported they are "generally safe." 

For most of us, we don't want to eat foods that are considered "generally safe" - we want our foods to be totally safe!

This is where you see the real health difference between buying conventional produce in stores (either non-GMO or GMO produce) and buying organic produce or growing your own produce organically at home in your own garden.

Unlike conventional produce, organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides, insecticides or herbicides. In fact, there are many natural, safe, healthy methods for repelling pests, but these methods are more expensive to use, especially on a large commercial scale.

Unfortunately, even buying conventionally-grown (non-organic) produce that is non-GMO is no guarantee that your foods will be totally safe due to the high concentration of pesticides used. A recent report stated that a full 70 percent of produce available for sale today comes covered in pesticide residue. For some types of produce (the report uses the example of kale), the percentage of contaminated food is as high as 92 percent. 

Even washing store-bought conventional produce is no guarantee of food safety, since pesticides are used at different times in a plant's life cycle and may actually be incorporated into the produce as it grows.

An image of a cooked broccoli

Truthfully, the one and only surefire way to avoid consuming toxic pesticides along with your produce is to either buy only organic produce, which some families find cost-prohibitive and thus nutritionally limiting, or to grow your own produce at home.

How Gardening Can Improve Your Health?

By now you are probably starting to form a more complete picture in your mind of all the ways that gardening can improve your health and that of your family. Gardening has health benefits on so many levels!

One of the best health benefits of gardening for your family is simply to provide you with regular shared family time doing something that benefits everyone.

Gardening is an especially great project for kids and teens, reinforcing important lessons from the classroom and enjoying the excitement of growing food with their own hands.

Gardening is also a great method for teaching kids and teens - and adults, for that matter - about eating a healthy diet. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Choose My Plate app is just an intellectual exercise until you start working with it in a hands-on way by growing your own food. 

Your family can learn together how to combine foods for optimal health, how to fill up your plate with nutrients to meet your daily needs, the importance of all the different colorful foods and how good each one can taste.

Why Should You Grow Your Own Food?

So why should you grow your own food? Perhaps a better question might be, are there any reasons why you shouldn't? There are so many health benefits to starting a home garden, whether it is a micro-planter of indoor herbs or a full-on garden plot complete with hand-drawn seed labels in your back yard.

Growing your own food is educational, great for exercise and weight control, an awesome way to exercise your brain as well, delicious, nutritious and a fun activity your whole family can enjoy together.

Best of all, if you happen to reap a bumper crop of fresh produce, you can share the overflow with grateful neighbors and friends or even donate it to a local charitable organization that feeds those less fortunate.

If you have just read through this article and are feeling a little (or a lot) overwhelmed, remember you don't have to tackle every aspect of starting a home garden all at once. Just pick one thing to research and take it step by step.

Some people think they can't start a home garden and reap the benefits of fresh produce and herbs because of space limitations. But you can still enjoy fresh herbs in a window box or the yield of a single tomato plant in a sunny window or potted on your porch.

If your kids have some extra land at their school, you might also ask their teacher about the option of growing fresh produce there as a fun and rewarding class project!

So instead of looking for reasons why you can't create a nourishing home garden, look for all the ways you can. We bet you will be off and running to create a beautiful home garden in no time!

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