Gardening Households Consume More Fruits and Vegetables and Create Less Food Waste, Study Finds
Looking to reduce your food waste? Or eat more veggies? If so, maybe it’s time to start a home garden. According to new research from the University of Sheffield, people who grow produce at home tend to consume more fruits and vegetables, and have much lower amounts of food waste compared to households without gardens.
The study, published in Plants, People, Planet, found that people who grew about 50% of their annual vegetable supply and 20% of their annual fruit supply ended up consuming 70% more produce than the national average in the UK.
Further, people growing their own food at home were creating about 95% less food waste compared to the average UK household, according to the researchers.
As reported by Divert, which was not involved in the study, the average UK household throws out nearly 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of food per day, totaling 9.5 billion metric tons of food waste each year.
According to the authors, the findings are promising, showing that growing produce at home can improve food security, self-sufficiency, nutrition and conservation. The study authors wrote that growing food at home could also contribute to several Sustainable Development Goals.
“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,” Jill Edmondson, an author of the study from the University of Sheffield’s School of Biosciences, said in a statement. “This study provides the first long-term evidence that household food production could play [a role] 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.”
However, the authors noted that obstacles prevent access to gardening for some people, including space, suitable land for crop-growing (particularly in urban areas), and access to skill-building in gardening and food preservation. Although low-income households could benefit greatly from growing food, these families also tend to have limited access to space to establish a garden, the study highlighted.
“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,” said Zilla Gulyas, an author of the study, also with the University of Sheffield’s School of Biosciences. “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.”