If you’re concerned about your long-term health and living a prosperous life, you may want to consider the many benefits of a plant-based diet. If you choose to raise your own food, not only can it help you lead a longer, healthier life, but it also helps preserve the environment by reducing energy usage and the loss of fore. It may even help people in poorly-developed countries enjoy better nutrition by reducing international demand for their produce. But how is a plant-based diet healthier? How does this type of diet help the planet and how do you get started with one? Keep reading to learn more.
Generally speaking, the average American diet tends to be heavy in carbs, fats, sugar and meat. This diet is part of the reason why we also have an epidemic of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and similar diseases in our country, possibly including cancer. Diets that tends to be heavier in fruits and vegetables have been found in studies to reduce the instances of these illnesses, while reducing obesity and improving overall health. There are a wide range of health issues that can be significantly improved by simply following a well-balanced, plant-based diet. But why is this so?
Plant-based nutrition, especially that based on fresh produce, tends to be much higher in essential enzymes, vitamins and other compounds that are very beneficial to human health than processed foods, carbohydrates and meats. Eating a diet rich in these foods means that you’re usually taking in less saturated fats, refined sugars and simple carbohydrates. At the same time, the higher nutrition from the produce gives your immune system a huge boost, helping keep disease from taking hold in many situations.
When you grow your own produce, you’re actually doing a lot to help the planet and people in other countries as well. Consider taking a stroll down your local grocery store produce. How much of the food is imported, especially when it’s the off season for that type of produce locally? That food is transported hundreds or thousands of miles to the grocery store, burning fossil fuels in the process and releasing greenhouse gasses into the air. What’s more, that food is then taken away from those in foreign countries who could otherwise use the better nutrition. A great example of this is the Irish Potato Famine in the 1800s, where people were starving to death, but grain was still being exported to England.
There are other ways that growing your own food locally helps the planet and humanity closer to home. Rooftop gardens not only produce food, they often provide shade on asphalt-based roofing, which in turn helps to moderate the heat island effect that is common to cities with large areas of pavement. Community gardens often donate produce to local food banks, providing those in need with healthy, delicious produce, while at the same time providing carbon sequestration and fresh oxygen in urban areas where pollution can be a problem
Now, you may be wondering why you can’t get these same benefits by purchasing your produce from the local farmer’s market. You can receive some of these benefits, but at a loss of control of your food supply. The farmer may claim that they use no pesticides on their crops, but how do you verify that? Are you sure that the produce they’re selling is actually local, or is it being trucked in from other parts of the country? Is it really being produced sustainably, or are they simply using the popular buzzwords to make sales? These questions are impossible to answer without actually spending all of your time visiting farm operations and verifying every claim.
A common malpractice, is buying wholesale produce from distribution warehouses at a lower price to profit though farmer’s markets.
When you grow your own food, you’re able to control the entire process. You can choose whether or not you use pesticides at all, whether chemical or organic. You’re in control of the exact varieties of produce that you’re growing. You have the option of trading some of your carrots with the neighbor for their amazing lettuce. You can choose to grow produce year-round in your basement or on a countertop in your kitchen with a basic hydroponics system. You’re also getting great exercise and have a built-in reason to eat more healthy, fresh produce. This allows you to get the best possible benefit out of your garden, whether your reasoning for starting has more to do with the planet or your own personal part of it.
So how do you get started with growing your own local produce? There are any number of options available. Start small with a few herb pots on a windowsill to spice up your meals. Add a few patio or balcony tomatoes or lettuce plants to fill in your diet. Go big with a backyard garden that allows you to put up food for over the winter, whether canned, frozen or dehydrated. Enjoy year-round produce with minimal pest issues by adding a hydroponics operation to meet your needs and improve your health while conserving water.
To get the best possible produce out of your garden, you need to grow the best possible plants. To make this happen, you need to ensure that they are receiving the best nutrition available to pass on to you through their fruit. Plants that do not have proper nutrition tend to compete more poorly against weeds, have more issues with insect pests and are more susceptible to disease. Plants that do have all the nutrition they need grow well and pass those vital nutrients into the food that is produced. This is why plant nutrition is such an important part of gardening and food production. To grow the best food, you need to provide the best possible nutrition.
Following a local plant-based diet provide you with a wide range of health benefits and help improve our world. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll be stuck with boring options! You have the opportunity to use greenhouses to grow tropical plants, hydroponics for indoor year-round production, organic options for low- or no-chemical produce, raised beds for health issues, container or windowsill gardening for small spaces or any number of other gardening possibilities to grow your own food. Making this change not only benefits your own health and the planet, it allows you ownership of your food supply as our world’s population continues to grow. Fitleaf is your partner in nutrition for your gardening needs. Check out our other resources to get started.
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