Benefits of Growing and Eating Fresh ProduceSubmitted by the Guilford County Department of Public Health / March 17, 2017
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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.
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.