Grow Your Own Food: Benefits of Connecting with the Soil
Growing your own vegetables is one of the most rewarding processes. It’s such a magical experience to witness the process from seed to vegetable and the invaluable lessons that are learnt along the way. There’s something to be said about the energetic attachment from eating food from your own backyard that you put love and energy into. It’s a fantastic way to teach children (and yourself) the importance of fresh, seasonal food especially in today’s society where we have been conditioned in such a way that we have access to fruit and vegetables year round since improvements with refrigerated transport. If you can’t grow something locally, from an innate/universal intelligence/holistic point of view it doesn’t make sense to have it picked unripe from another country where it is in season and sent over via cold refrigeration for our convenience. The energy expenditure and ‘food miles’ that is associated with this model of feeding the planet is not sustainable.
I like mangoes as much as the person next to me, but they have a finite season, thus I’ll enjoy them for this short period then move onto the next amazing produce when it’s in season, and the process repeats itself. Of course if something in the garden is in abundance and there is excess you can always share with your neighbours and friends, and it is a great way to stimulate a community of home growers around you. With this, one’s cooking and food preparation skills are forced to expand to make use of all the diverse amazing produce out there seasonally and locally, not just sticking to the same old recipes and favourite foods, and thus makes sure we consume a range of vitamins, nutrients and minerals for vibrant health year round.
Alternatively, you can lacto-ferment the excess. The benefit of this is it not only preserves the excess food but the nutrient profile is increased. For instance, sauerkraut will have increased B-vitamins, vitamin C as well as compounds such as Isothiocyanates and Indoles (which are not present in the raw cabbage) and have anti-carcinogen properties. In fact, the concept of fermentation is amazing as it’s essentially a continuation of the microorganism actions. If you consider the process of how a cabbage is grown from seed to the point of full vibrant vegetable it’s a process that is dictated by the incredible amount of microorganisms in the soil. Once it’s ready to be pulled from its earth connections and turned into sauerkraut it’s the action of these microorganisms again at play that naturally ferment the cabbage transforming it into this preserved superfood.
Appreciating The Soil
“If I could give one piece of important information, it would be to spend time nurturing the microbial activity of the soil!”
If I could give one piece of important information it would be to spend time nurturing the microbial activity of the soil!! Any good organic farmer will tell you, the soil is key. Good quality soil is rich in microorganisms, which for the most part are invisible to the naked eye and are the powerhouses and the magic behind how a seed ends up morphing into a vibrant, nutrient filled vegetable. It is said that 1 teaspoon of organic soil has around 50 billion microorganisms in it, incredible!
In fact the state of human health, which is dictated largely by the trillions of microorganisms on and in us is more likely a reflection of the health of the microorganisms in soil producing the food we eat. Pesticides, glyphosate (Round up) etc are equivalent to anti-biotics in humans. They wipe out the pathogenic bugs and weeds, but in turn cause collateral damage killing off a large portion of these good beneficial microbes. I’m not saying antibiotics don’t have a place in modern medicine, but rather we need to be very selective in their use.
If all that wasn’t enough to convince you to start growing some of your own produce, what if I were to tell you that getting your hands dirty in the soil could potentially have a positive effect on your mood and quality of life??
Turns out research conducted in 2007 found a microbe in the soil Mycobacterium vaccae seems to activate a subset of serotonin neurons in the brainstem which in turn may have positive effects on coping responses, behavioural responses to uncontrollable stress & depression. Hence may explain why most avid gardeners report simply feeling good when they garden!
Lowry CA, et al. Identification of an immune-responsive mesolimbocortical serotonergic system: Potential role in regulation of emotional behavior. Neuroscience. 2007; 146(2):756-772. Doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience. 2007.01.067
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