Growing Healthy Habits
When you reach for a snack or are deciding what to make for dinner, where do you look for food? Most of us probably search through the fridge or pantry to see what’s left of our latest grocery run.
Unfortunately, the foods we buy at the store are often not the healthiest of options. In fact, studies have shown that, if we choose to grow our own food, we build healthier habits all around. For example, one study found that people who grow food tend to eat more fruits and vegetables than those who do not and are even more physically active (1)! It instills healthy habits in kids as well: a study published in the Journal of American Dietetic Association discovered that “preschool children who were almost always served homegrown produce were more than twice as likely to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day—and to like them more—than kids who rarely or never ate homegrown produce” (2).
Let’s say you don’t grow your own food, but perhaps you are already eating all the fruits and vegetables your body needs each day. This is an excellent step in the right direction, and you are certainly worlds ahead of many. However, did you know that produce purchased at the store, even when it’s organic, is probably inferior to food you’ve grown yourself? This is because produce in the grocery stores is often picked when it is still green. They do this so that the food has time to ripen during the transportation process and in the store, keeping it from becoming overripe by the time it makes it into your hands. A study found that tomatoes harvested green actually had 31% less vitamin C than tomatoes that were picked right off the vine (3). So, when you harvest your own freshly-ripened tomatoes from your backyard garden, you are actually getting more nutrients out of those tomatoes than someone who bought their organic tomatoes at the grocery store.
- Alaimo, K., et al. 2008. Fruit and Vegetable Intake Among Urban Community Gardeners. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 40. pp. 94-101.