With the weather really warming up lately and signs of early spring coming around, the urge to get out and get the yard ready for a garden is strong. We will be planning a vegetable garden this year and possibly a butterfly garden with Squeaker. I’m unsure if we’ll go the organic gardening route or not but we’ll at least try to go as organically as possible. One of my favorite things about spring and summer is being able to go to the local Farmer’s market to buy fresh vegetables. But are there really any major health benefits of eating organic food? For that matter, are there any health benefits of organic gardening?
What are the Health Benefits of Gardening
Today, a majority of Americans (74 percent) purchase organic food and beverages because they believe it is healthier-and safer-for themselves and their families. Recent evidence suggests that organically grown crops contain higher levels of vitamin C, polyphenols (naturally occurring antioxidants) and some minerals.
Just as important to many families is the fact that organic fruits and vegetables are never grown with synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides or growth regulators. People feel safer without these chemicals in the produce they eat.
Growing your own organic produce has never been easier. In fact, organic growing can be as simple as planting seeds in a pot or two in the backyard or even on your kitchen windowsill. Before you know it, your own fresh and fragrant, homegrown vegetables and herbs will be ready for the dinner table.
Most people think about going to the nearest grocery store for fruits and vegetables, unaware that many of these foods come from faraway places and have been grown with the use of potentially dangerous pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides.
If you have a little bit of land on your property, however, you can consider growing much healthier food without such chemicals that are used in growing commercial produce. Growing your own food supply also saves money and allows you to contribute to a more health earth for all living things.
Your Commitment To Healthier Growing
When you decide to grow organic, you are committing to growing food naturally. This means that instead of chemicals, you use mulch, manure, or compost to fertilize the garden. You are committing to weeding, watering, and harvesting the vegetables and fruits when they become ripe.
Since no chemicals are involved in maintaining an organic garden, the food will be free of poisons and much healthier for you than foods you get at the grocery store.
As an up and coming organic gardener, you will learn how to grow foods holistically and with health as a priority. Your own grown vegetables and fruits will contain valuable nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for better health. These foods haven’t yet had these nutrients leached from the long packing and delivery process. You simply go out your door and pick them at their peak of freshness.
You might have to learn about crop rotation. This is when you grow one type of food for one year in a single place and alternate it with another food the next year. This is because different foods take and give back to the soil in differing amounts and you can use some nutrients from the food you grew the year before to nourish the food you are growing this year.
Added to this, you need to have a compost pile, which contains leaves, dirt, food remains and manure that mix together to form the best soil and fertilizer available. No longer will you throw your meal scraps away but keep them in a compost heap that is regularly turned and aerated with a pitchfork. Worms in the compost heap convert raw matter into black, healthy dirt.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Conventional Farming?
It is now well known that conventional farming is harmful to the environment. It leads to poor soil and vast areas of deforestation, loss of indigenous animals and birds. Some species have become all but eliminated or extinct because of the conventional farming practices throughout the world.
This kind of farming has become a great threat to global biodiversity. There have been huge declines in the numbers of bees throughout the world and there have been similar declines in bird and animal population. The deforestation of nature areas is destroying the habitats of many living species and since all living things are directly or indirectly connected, it affects the human population as well.
There are known increases in toxic substances in our bodies after consuming a diet of conventionally-grown food and, if these are allowed to build up over time, we can sustain organ damage, shortened lifespans and an increase in various types of cancers.
How Can Organic Gardening Help Us?
Organic farming and gardening has many positive effects on our lives—benefits that range from physical to social to mental. There is nothing so stress relieving than working an afternoon in your own garden, growing your own healthy foods. In the city, where there is less space for gardening, community gardens have sprung up which bring people together in a positive and enjoyable way.
People can spend more time out in the sun tending their gardens and this adds to the vitamin D content of our bodies. You can be more physically fit by working in an organic garden. You get to use your muscles on a regular basis and you will be growing foods that are actually healthful to all parts of our body.
You can feel comfortable that you are not adding to the destruction of the earth and its valuable soil. Putting your hands in the dirt can be soothing and can bring about a greater sense of calm.
The Three Top Benefits You Get From Eating Organic Vegetables and Fruits
Decrease the risk of having Cancer – organic vegetables and fruits are rich in antioxidants that prevent cancer development. Many studies have backed this fact. Organic foods have more antioxidants than commercial varieties. If the latter do have antioxidants, the ones found in organic foods tend to be more effective.
Boosts the Immune System – lab rat case studies were conducted to research the dangers of non-organic food. It showed astonishing results. Scientists discovered an increase in immune system degradation, reproductive dysfunction, cancer, allergies, toxicity and more. The reason for this is quite simple — nearly 80% of non-organic foods are genetically modified. Meanwhile, some have been sprayed with chemical substances, altering their original composition.
Organic vegetables contain generous amounts of nutrients. Compounds, such as organosulfurs (keeping you safe from major chronic diseases) and isothiocyanates (prevent and battle cancer), are found in fresh leafy vegetables. By eating these, you will get antiviral and antibacterial agents that will help keep you free from disease.
Better Taste – organic food tastes better simply because of how they are grown. No chemicals were injected or sprayed while they grew. Most produce came from naturally fertilized soil. Moreover, they are sold fresh in the local market. Organic foods are not frozen, shipped, and transported across long distances.
Additional Benefits of Organic Gardening
Promoting the consumption of organic foods is not only good for one’s health, but also good for the environment and the local economy. Companies and corporations, both nationally and internationally, are the ones who truly benefit from processed, canned foods. If organic produce were in greater demand, more local farmers could increase their income.
Thus, increasing their purchasing power and enhancing their lives.
Organic farming and gardening produces healthy plants, which also keeps the ecosystem healthy. The air will be cleaner and safer to breathe. Small local businesses will also thrive once demand increases. If you think about it, buying your fresh foods in the local market perpetuates the local economy; creating jobs and enhancing a city’s progress.
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