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Could Gardening for Kids be the Breakthrough that’s Getting Them to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables and Abolish Childhood Obesity?
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Hey, guys, Yuri here. I hope you’re doing great; I hope you’re having a great day. Today I’ve got some very inspiring news to share with you. I was doing some searching on my good, ol’ CBC Health News. CBC is a Canadian Broadcast Corporation…I believe that’s what it stands for.
Anyway, there’s some really cool stuff that they just came out with, kind of middle of May-ish—and I’m just kind of getting to this now—talking about how schools are using gardening, they’re actually using gardens in schools for kids to get their hands kind of dirty and back to the earth and connected with food again. I thought this was an amazing discussion to have with you because I think this is one of the most important things we can do as a species to thrive as we move forward, especially in this day and age of processed, mechanized food. I think it’s so important that we get back to basics and really get connected to the earth.
There’s a famous economist who I can’t remember the name of right now who once said that in times of high technology, there’s a greater demand for high touch. When you consider the world that we live in now—Facebook and the Internet—more and more, we need physical contact with each other and physical contact with the earth.
As human beings, that’s how we’ve evolved; we need that. That’s just part of what we require in addition to water and oxygen and food to survive. So, why is this so important? First of all, let me kind of briefly tell you what’s happening.
There’s a number of schools—this is within Toronto and obviously different areas of Canada—different schools, be it public schools, even high schools that are incorporating horticultural and agricultural types of programs where they’re just planting gardens. They’re having the kids plant the gardens, put down the manure or the compost, plant the seeds, they’re pulling dandelions out of the ground, they’re planting radishes and other fruits and vegetables.
That is awesome because this is completely intuitive, but studies are now showing that gardening leads to an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. And other research shows that there’s a link between gardening and a healthy body weight, which makes complete sense because if you’re eating more fruits and vegetables then obviously you’re going to have a healthier body weight, assuming you’re not eating all of the other nonsense.
According to Canada’s Food Guide, which, by the way, is a complete crock of nonsense, young children need four to five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. And that’s pretty easy to achieve if you’re feeding your kids good food. This is the great thing about this type of as far as I’m concerned, this is the type of stuff that needs to make the news. They need to get this information out to more people, to say, “Hey, that’s a great idea. Maybe I’m going to start a small garden in my backyard, and I’m going to get my kids involved.” Hint, hint; that’s the message I’m trying to get across here.
We have, I guess last summer actually, so about a year now, we actually, foolishly, I had no experience in gardening fruits and vegetables, really, so I decided in our backyard, I’m going to dig out a huge amount of soil and then use that as our garden. I’m not talking about a huge garden; literally ten feet by ten feet at most, but it took me a good three weekends to finally finish the whole thing. It was so much digging, I was so spent.
Nonetheless, last year was a good trial run. We successfully grew not much, maybe just tomatoes and I think we had some really good mint. Mint is very resilient, so if you want to grow some really good herbs, mint is one of them; you’ll get tons of it. Obviously, I learned some stuff, what to do, what not to do. Some poor soil that didn’t really help us grow; we’re sure not using that this year.
Anyways, at the beginning of this summer—actually, in the spring—I got back into the soil there and started digging up some of the old garbage, putting in some new top soil—not top soil but compost and even manure—to really increase the richness of that soil. The cool part is that Oscar, at that time, was just about two and a half years old, so I wanted to get him involved in the process. He was right there in the garden with me. He wanted to dig that soil out just like Daddy did.
So, yes, you can look at it two ways. Sure, he was in my way a little bit, but it was great because he was getting involved in the process. He was helping me move some of the dirt and pull out some of the weeds and he was pouring the soil down with me, so it was amazing. Those kinds of experiences, guys, you really have to understand that those kinds of experiences will stay with your kids for life.
And when they get in the habit of seeing this is the way that food grows, this is where a radish comes from, this is how lettuce looks when it’s coming out of soil, that is the secret to eating healthy, I firmly believe. We’re so disconnected from our food supply now that when we pick up a piece of meat at the grocery store, we don’t consider that that even came from a living animal.
I feel that most of us, myself including, if we were involved in the slaughtering process of that animal, we would have a tough time eating the meat. That’s just me personally speaking, as well as probably a lot of other people.
The great thing about gardening is that it gets us back to the connection we need with where things come from. Simple things like if you’re having, let’s say you have a tomato. Let’s say your kids are eating tomatoes. There’re seeds in those tomatoes, and it’s really cool to empower your kids to understand how tomatoes grow. You can take one of those little seeds inside the tomato and put that in soil and a tomato plant will grow out of it. How amazing is that? and if you can get your kids involved in understanding that process, that’s incredible power and knowledge that they will have as they grow.
Anyways, I just want to bring up some cool studies here. There was research in Utah that found that community gardeners were less likely to be obese or overweight than their nongardening neighbors. Pretty neat, right? They looked at 198 gardeners, and they generally had a lower BMI than their neighbors, who did not garden, which is awesome.
Research out of North Carolina followed 95 school-age children who participated in weekly gardening sessions for two years. They found that these kids started eating more fruits and vegetables after they began gardening. A few of them who were overweight to begin with improved their BMI by the end of the study. So, it’s pretty cool.
This is the stuff that gets me really excited. You know, the food industry pisses me off, and my goal is to take them down one day at a time, and the only way to do that is by not consuming their product, and I hope that you’ll join me in that. So, by reducing the consumption of garbage, packaged, processed, boxed foods that take over our grocery stores, why don’t we make an effort to grow some of our own fruits and vegetables and herbs right in the comfort of our own backyard?
By no means am I an expert gardener at this point in time, but my goal is to become one as I age, because I believe it’s important to be able to know how to grow our own food. It’s really interesting if you think about it. Of all the things we know how to do and all the things we learn through school and through our developmental years, we never really learn how to grow our own food. Doesn’t that seem really weird?
We don’t even know how to survive if the worst were to happen. We don’t even know how to grow our own food to keep us alive if, for whatever reason, we were no longer able to get access to a grocery store. Doesn’t that seem a little bit problematic? Not that I believe that the world’s going to come to an end anytime soon, but I think it’s a really important life skill to have to be able to consume food.
We know how to reproduce, right? We need to understand how to grow our own food, because our primal instincts are sex, food, and shelter. We need to take care of that second one there, with respect to our food intake.
Here’re some simple things. There’re a lot of great resources online. If you just go to YouTube and say How to start gardening, I’m sure you’ll find hundreds, if not thousands, of videos that show you how.
What I did in terms of digging grass out of my backyard for several feet and starting like that, I would not recommend doing that. Not only do you ruin part of your backyard, but it’s a lot more work.
What I would’ve done afterward and as I started to learn in the digging process was to create an above ground garden. It’s kind of like a box you create, and if you just have planks of wood, you kind of create the walls that help keep animals out as well.
These planks of wood, maybe they’re a foot high, and you just create this box. The perimeters are different planks of wood, and you just fill that with soil, with topsoil, with manure, with compost, really rich and dark and full of awesome nutrients. That’s what you want.
And then you just kind of divvy it up as you need to, and you plant whatever you want. It’s really that simple. I’m a huge believer in just planting awesome green veggies, stuff that you enjoy. We’re actually planting watermelon this year, so I’ll get some pictures and show you how that’s going along. If we can get some watermelon cranking in our backyard, talk about a fiesta, right?
Isn’t that awesome, growing watermelon in southern Ontario, at least where I am? You can grow anything. All you have to understand is that seeds contain the blueprint for creating these plants. You just put them in soil. They need sun, they need water, and that’s pretty much all they need. It’s pretty amazing.
I really encourage you, even if you don’t have kids, to get started with some kind of gardening. If you’re in a condo and you only have a deck, get some planters. When we lived in an apartment, we didn’t have much room at all. We had a nice little deck, and we grew tomato plants. We had a planter with tomato plants, and we’d have some amazingly delicious organic tomatoes. The benefit of growing your own stuff is that it’s organic because you know what’s going into it.
And it tastes, like, a thousand times better. That’s probably one of the reasons why kids eat more vegetables too, is because they taste better coming from the garden. We would also grow our own wheatgrass. We ordered a ton of wheat berry seeds—wheat berries, I believe they’re called, they’re kind of the seed that sprouts wheatgrass. We had I don’t even know how many pounds of it we had. We had these hanging containers across the railing of our balcony. It was crazy; it was where we had a full-on wheatgrass shop, and we were just growing these containers full of wheatgrass every single week. It was awesome.
You can do that with anything. You can do that with mint. Mint is an amazing herb to grow; it’s very easy. Chives, basil, parsley, those are really simple things that you can grow with a planter. Just buy one of those…I can’t even remember the word. One of those planter thingamajigs, however they’re made out of; I can’t even remember what they’re called right now. And just get some soil, plant some seeds, water it, put it in some sunlight if it’s required for that specific plant, and that’s it. I really, really, really encourage you to do that if you’re not doing that already.
And if you are doing it, I’d love for some advice, some feedback, some tips, or if you have any questions, come back to the blog, SuperNutritionAcademy.com/blog, find this episode, and I’d love to hear your feedback. Do you have a garden? If so, what have you done? What’s been your secret? Or if you’re starting a garden, do you have any questions that maybe myself or other people can answer and help you with? I think it’d be a really great conversation to start, and it’s something that I want to continue exploring as we go through these different episodes.
That’s all for today’s episode. I hope this has inspired you and given you a cool, new idea to help you grow your own food, food that’s going to be healthier for you, that’s going to be more tasty. And if you’ve got kids, they’re going to love it. Get them involved in the process and I guarantee—you plant the seeds now, kind of metaphorically speaking, and your kids are going to bear the fruits throughout their entire life. So, thanks for joining me. I’m Yuri Elkaim and I look forward to seeing you on the blog and then in the next episode.
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