Teacher | Blogger | Mom
Children who help to grow vegetables are more likely to eat them, compared to children who don’t get involved in the growing process, according to research. This is vvvitally important as 93% of children don’t eat enough vegetables. Growing fresh produce with children is easily done and is a great way to have fun with your kids. So, what are the biggest health benefits associated with growing veg with your kids?
They’ll eat healthier
Children today have very unhealthy diets. A recent study found that 67% of a child’s calorie intake comes from ultra-processed food. This type of food lacks vitamins and nutrients as there are little-to-no vegetables in them. When children help to grow vegetables they’re intrigued by them and want to eat them. Saint Louis University researchers found that children were twice as likely to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables per day when the produce was homegrown. They’re also more likely to eat a bigger variety of veg which means they get more goodness into their bodies.
Increased vitamin D levels
One in 10 children in the U.S. are believed to be deficient in vitamin D. A further 60% are estimated to have levels below what’s expected. Vitamin D supports children’s immune systems and keeps their bones strong. Growing vegetables involves spending lots of time in the garden. Sunlight causes your body to make vitamin D, so the more time a child spends in the garden, the better their vitamin D levels will be. Just make sure you apply sunscreen to protect their skin. Some vegetables also contain vitamin D, including mushrooms and spinach, so it’s worth growing these if you can. In the U.S. there are 11 planting zones that take into consideration sunlight, temperature, and elevation. To ensure a crop will grow well, you need to plant plants that are suitable for the zone you live in. Mushrooms typically grow in zones 3 through 8 and spinach in 5 to 10.
Better physical health
Growing fresh produce involves kids getting their fingers dirty. This is good for them as the exposure to microorganisms in the soil helps to build their immune systems. Studies have found that these microorganisms also reduce the chances of children developing allergies and asthma. If that’s not enough, growing vegetables also keep children physically active. Digging holes and watering crops usually involve the most physical activity. Being outdoors will also encourage children to play and run around and this will keep them active too.
7 million children are regularly left home alone. This can impact the relationship they have with you. Growing vegetables is a great way to build a connection with your child. This will benefit their socialization skills and their happiness. Learning together, sharing responsibility, and discussing the vegetables as they grow will give you a mutual hobby and something for your child to look forward to discussing and doing with you.
Every parent knows that vegetables are healthy and that their kids should be eating more of them. By growing your own with your children, you’ll encourage healthier eating habits and improve your child’s health in lots of different ways.
About Jane Sandwood
Jane has been a freelance writer and editor for over 10 years. She has written for both digital and print across a wide variety of fields. Her main interest is exploring how people can improve their health and well-being in their everyday life. And when she isn’t writing, Jane can often be found with her nose in a good book, at the gym or just spending quality time with her family.