#10 of 31 Ways to Eat Healthier in the New Year



#10 is not going to feature a specific edible plant. In this post we want to highlight the health benefits of actually having an edible garden in your yard. These benefits go beyond the obvious of eating more fruits, veggies, and herbs. It came as somewhat of a surprise to us just how impactful to our family having an edible garden has been.

First, the garden gets us outside and keeps us there. Being out in nature helps us to slow down from the demands of daily life while taking in fresh air and sunshine (most days). In fact, it is hard to just “stop by” our edible garden. Once you walk through those gates you could be in there for a while. It is not so much because gardening is a chore. It is more about the desire to explore. What is ready to pick today, how are the string beans doing, etc.

Next, edible gardening reconnects you with the natural world. Many of us spend lots of time on the computer, working in flourescent lit offices, text messaging, and more. As a result, we lose our connections to the foods we eat, the seasons, and more. When you have an edible garden you are forced to be more in tune with the growing seasons. For example, each March we eagerly anticipate planting peas in our garden. We have noticed this to be a nice kick off to Spring fever for us. A month or so later we are eating fresh snap peas, pea shoots, pea soup, and more. Everyone in or home knows where their peas comes from, when they grow, and when they will disappear for the season. You eat peas like mad and then poof…they are gone and you are on to the next fresh edible.

Also, they say families that play together stay together. Gardening with kids is a lot more like play than it is like work. For this reason we have given each child their own small raised bed to take care of. Watching over living soil and plants is a great developmental experience for children. It also gives them a sense of control and a great curiosity for learning the taste of a new fruit, veggie, or herb. We have had house guests tell us their kids returned from our home begging them for an edible garden or for a fruit or veggie the child had tried for the first time at our home. Plus, it is a great excuse for them to join their parents in gardening activities.

Finally, there may just be more micronutrients in home-grown edible plants. It seems like common sense that edible plants that travel long distances and sit on the shelf too long will have fewer nutrients than locally grown produce. However, you also need to consider the types of plants you are growing. Perhaps the mass market grown hybrids lack nutrients that heirloom edibles have? Growing organic takes this one step further because plants use various compounds and nutrients to fight off pests and disease. It stands to reason organically grown plants would have to produce more beneficial nutrients them conventionally grown plants. There is even some research to support this claim.

#10 seals the deal. If you have some clean, healthy soil you need to grow edible plants in it!

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