Change Your Health Right In Your Back Yard
By: Dr. Peggy Malone
If you have been reading my posts in the past couple of years or following me on social media, you may have noticed that I have an interest in food and nutrition and how it has a major influence on health and wellness.
Our current conventional industrial food production system has problems that are having a negative effect on the health of our population.
Unfortunately, the way our current system works, the quest for higher yields and higher profits trumps the need to produce food that is good for health.
I usually sum this up for people with the following statement:
We have a food system that isn’t interested in health and a health system that isn’t interested in food.
I’m very interested in helping people to negotiate this particular conundrum by making food choices that are taking them closer to a better state of health rather than further away from it. (With the lovely outcome that they will have less need for the health system… doesn’t that work out great?)
When speaking with patients and clients, my first recommendation to them is to get back to basics. I tell them to eat less CRAP and eat more FOOD.
CRAP is an acronym that stands for:
C: carbonated drinks
R: refined sugars
A: artificial sweeteners and colours
P: processed foods
FOOD (you know… besides the obvious food) is an acronym that stands for:
F: fruits and veggies
O: organic lean protein
O: omega 3 fatty acids
D: drink water
We are so conditioned as a society to buy the latest and greatest and to buy what is convenient and so sadly, most of the people have a lot of work to do to get away from CRAP and closer to FOOD.
Even those who are eating less CRAP and eating more FOOD are still not out of the woods!
Conventionally grown veggies and fruits have their challenges as well.
Here are some concerning bits of information:
- Our soils have been stripped of minerals and nutrients that are necessary for nutrient dense produce.
- Air and water, both of which are vital to grow healthy vegetables have more and more pollutants in them.
- Many farmed vegetables and produce are covered with mass amounts of pesticides and herbicides.
- Genetically modified foods which have serious health consequences are making their way into our food supply. (If you eat any processed foods eg. Cereals, chips, crackers, dips, spreads, condiments then you are already eating genetically modified foods every day. In Canada and the US it is not a requirement for companies to label these foods.)
All of these pieces of information have motivated me to take action, in a seemingly small way… but I believe in a very important way.
I planted myself a backyard vegetable garden.
Not only is this backyard vegetable garden project a great way for me to keep my body moving, the vegetables that I grow organically in my back yard will end up canned in sauces or frozen so I can have them through the fall and winter months.
I see it as a way to really invest in my health by not only eating better, but taking part in the process of growing the food that will be fueling my body.
I find it to be an empowering way to take control of an aspect of my health that is super important and I encourage anyone that has a few extra square feet on their deck or in their yard to plant their own backyard vegetable garden! (Or even balcony vegetable garden in a few small pots to start.)
Here’s how I got started on my vegetable garden project:
First I had to pick a spot for the garden in the backyard. (I did this a couple of years ago but it’s a good review if you are just getting started.)
Sunlight from the south for at least 6 hours per day is what your plants and vegetables will be happiest to grow in, so I made sure to have an area that was flooded with this light for the appropriate amount of time.
I had my handy significant other help me build a raised bed and then filled it with good organic soil.
I then purchased organic seeds or in some cases, small organic plants and planted them in the vegetable garden.
I sprinkled a handful of compost that is essentially worm droppings in the hole as I planted each plant to give it extra nutrition.
I planted marigolds in the corners of my vegetable garden which is a trick that organic gardeners use to discourage certain pests from coming near your plants. I also planted the annual Alyssym around the edges of the garden. Its flowers will attract beneficial insects to help pollinate my plants.
I also added a wire fence this year to prevent critters from having a snack on my veggies.
I’m also going to put up some chimes and some old CDs and tinfoil plates to scare critters off!
I have enjoyed the veggies that I have grown in my backyard vegetable garden in the past couple years and I’m really looking forward to harvest time this year too!
They seem to taste extra awesome when I know that I have invested my own sweat equity in their production 🙂
I would love you to share any tricks or tips that you have used while growing veggies in your backyard gardens.
Now I think I’ll head out back and pick a few weeds and talk to my plants… I’ve heard it helps them to grow 🙂