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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Benefits of Growing and Eating Fresh Produce

Submitted by the Guilford County Department of Public Health / March 17, 2017

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Anyone willing to do a little work can learn to garden.

Anyone willing to do a little work can learn to garden.

More and more these days people want to eat healthier. Are you trying to make some changes to improve your diet? Have you considered growing your own fruits and vegetables? If yes, it’s time to get started. Growing your own food in a pot on your deck or patio, in a plot in your backyard or as a group in a community garden has multiple benefits.

Regarding your health, when food is home or locally grown, it’s fresher. As soon as food is picked it starts to lose some of its nutrients. Because there is less time between when it is picked and when you eat it, it is more nutritious. Also, the fewer steps between your food’s source and your table, there are fewer chances for contamination or food borne illnesses. Last but not least, when you know where your food comes from and who is growing it – you know a lot more about the food and whether any chemicals have been used on the plants during the growing process.
Fresher foods just taste better. Also, foods that are grown seasonally can be canned or frozen for future use and enjoyment. As far as the environment, when your food doesn’t travel as far to your table it creates a smaller carbon foot print which is better for the environment.

One doesn’t have to own a big farm to garden. Gardens can be created in one’s backyard.

One doesn’t have to own a big farm to garden. Gardens can be created in one’s backyard.

Growing your own produce can also save you money. To maximize your food dollars, you can grow produce like lettuce mixes, cherry tomatoes, peas, spinach and herbs like basil and oregano cheaper than you can buy them at a store. For example, a mixed lettuce packet costs roughly $2 or $3, but can generate an entire month’s worth of daily salads. If you want to save on your food bills, plan for a three season garden that takes advantage of the wonderful climate we have here in the south. You can plant cool season vegetables in the spring, warm season vegetables in the summer and then come back in with cool season vegetables again next fall. That’s how you can really save money and get the most out of your gardening space.

A gardening space of about 8 feet by 24 feet can potentially feed a family of four. If you find you have produce to spare, consider donating it to a local food bank in your area. Finally, if you decide not to grow your own, consider purchasing locally grown produce. This helps the economy here at home by supporting local farmers so our whole community can benefit.

If you are not sure what or how to plant your own fruits and vegetables or which supplies you’ll need, consider contacting your local N.C. Cooperative Extension office for advice on planting, harvesting, canning and other food preserving information.

This is a monthly column written by employees of the Guilford County Department of Public Health. If you have suggestions for future articles, please call 336-641-3292.


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