Posted on Aug 25, 2023, 6 p.m.
Household production of fruit and vegetables, in allotments and gardens, could be a sustainable way to both secure and promote more healthful nutrition while reducing waste, according to recent research published in Plants, People, Planet, from the University of Sheffield called “The contribution of household fruit and vegetable growing to fruit and vegetable self-sufficiency and consumption”.
The researchers followed household food growers over the course of a year to assess the production, purchase, donation, and waste of fruits and vegetables. They found that those who grow their own fruits and veggies can produce 51% of the vegetables and 20% of the fruit that they consume a year. In addition to being a sustainable source/access to fresh fruits and vegetables, the household growers also consumed 6.3 portions of the recommended five a day which is 70% higher than the national UK average of 3.7 portions.
"Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is associated with significantly decreased risks of developing health issues like obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, and could help prevent associated deaths and cut healthcare costs worldwide,” said author of the study, Dr. Zilla Gulyas, from the University of Sheffield's School of Biosciences. "Our new study highlights the role that growing fruit and vegetables at a household scale could play in increasing their consumption."
The household growers had only an average of 0.12 portions a day being thrown out which is 95% lower than the waste of the average UK household. The researchers believe that their findings indicate that household food production could promote the adoption of a more healthful diet and play an important role in increasing national food self-sufficiency as well as waste reduction.
"We need to find ways to overcome socio-economic challenges to upscaling household food production, especially among those most affected by low fruit and vegetable intakes, like low-income families. Increasing the amount of space available to UK households to produce their own food is essential to this, especially given the steady decline in allotment land nationally,” said Dr. Gulyas.
"Global food security is one of the biggest challenges we will face in the future, therefore it's crucial that we find new ways to increase the resilience of the UK food system,” said Dr. Jill Edmondson, from the University of Sheffield's Institute for Sustainable Food and School of Biosciences. "This study provides the first long-term evidence that household food production could play in promoting healthier diets through self-sufficiency and adds important support to any policy making that seeks to expand household level fruit and vegetable production."
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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