Kitchen garden: A way to a healthy life
LAHORE, (APP) — With the flooding of our markets with genetically modified crops and edibles and the use of polluted water to irrigate vegetable farms, people have begun to worry about their health and seek chemical- and pesticide-free diets.
As the world’s population grows and the demand for edibles increases, various multinational and local companies have begun using the modified seeds alongside other additives to improve fruit and vegetable production.
The use of pesticides and insecticides is another phenomenon that adulterates our crops and agricultural products, leading to health risks and costing people millions due to unhealthy food consumption.
Experts believe that the current human diet has led to susceptibility to infectious and chronic diseases due to multiple pollutants and soil fertility problems.
Hence, these experts strongly advocate the promotion of kitchen gardening as they believe it is entirely possible to cultivate fruit and vegetable plants on their lawns and roofs organically using natural fertilizer, organic seeds and fresh groundwater.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) assumes that if the world population reaches nine billion by 2050, people would need 70 percent more food for their consumption.
This trend would put extreme pressure on available agricultural land to produce more and more food, with fears that food standards would be compromised and shortages in certain areas.
Life scientists say organic products tend to have good levels of vitamin C and lower levels of nitrates.
“Organic food is produced without the use of synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or sewage sludge, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation,” said National Agricultural Research Institute (NARC) scientist Dr. Noorullah.
“Therefore, organic foods such as fruits and vegetables can potentially be more beneficial to human health than traditional products,” he added.
With growing concerns about food allergies and the presence of chemicals or preservatives in some traditionally grown foods, the concept of vegetable gardens has offered people a safer food alternative, he added.
“Eating homegrown fruit and vegetables by kitchen gardeners protects both; our health and money; since most families in our country spend 60 to 70 percent of their budget on groceries,” he claimed.
As the method of kitchen gardening is not widely used on a commercial basis, small spaces in homes such as the roof, balcony, lawn and backyard can easily be utilized for this purpose.
Mohsin Abbas, a 40-year-old retired Pakistan Army officer, spends time every evening in his small garden at his home in Lahore’s Shadman district, harvesting the day’s harvest almost daily. From juicy red tomatoes to crunchy green chilies, Abbas grows almost every seasonal organic vegetable he needs for his daily cooking.
Proud of his recent harvest, he told APP, “I grow spinach, mint leaves, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, eggplant, beetroot, broccoli, cilantro, bitter gourd, chilies and even cauliflower.” Abbas said he joined a year ago With the help of a friend, his wife and a colleague, he prepared soil for gardening and started a small farm.
“I use my garden fresh spinach leaves in chicken curry and freshly picked beetroot sautéed with grated coconut which makes me happy,” he said, sharing his experience.
Abbas grows pesticide-free foods as he sees them as therapeutic and as a source of good health. “If you have a garden or balcony and haven’t started vegetable gardening, then you need to give it a try right away.”
A recently published research study by the International Journal of Microbiology finds a clear difference between organic and conventional kitchen garden produce in terms of nutritional value, pesticide exposure and microbiological safety.
The well-known nutritionist Dr. Asma Javaid said that at least a mere intake of 300 grams of vegetables and 85 grams of fruit per day is necessary for the proper functioning of a normal body and avoids the risk of fatal diseases.
“For a healthier and better lifestyle, growing your own garden is a really great and much-needed practice,” she said that using fruits and vegetables grown with the help of urea and sprayed with pesticides is harmful to human health be.
“By eating such foods, we are also eating harmful ingredients with our food,” she warned, arguing that even environmentalists are promoting vegetable gardens because organically grown fruits and vegetables are easy to eat.
According to official statistics, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) has established more than 300 clubs in Rawalpindi and Islamabad since 2019 under a kitchen and roof garden program launched to promote organic farming.
As times change and the growing world population puts additional strain on the food chains, in a country like Pakistan where about 50% of the population lives below the poverty line, the vegetable garden can be a good source of income for poor families.
In addition, we can also save a large chunk of the billions of rupees spent on disease each year by promoting healthy growth and healthy eating habits.
It is therefore high time for the federal and state governments to promote the kitchen garden and, if possible, to deliver the organic vegetable seeds to families in need.
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