People who grow their own fruit and vegetables eat more than their five-a-day and waste much less than households that only buy, according to a study.
Researchers from the University of Sheffield in the UK say improving access to growing will make people healthier and cut waste.
Their study, published in the journal Plants, People, Planet, found those who grow their own food produce half of the vegetables and a fifth of the fruit they consume annually.
They also ate on average 6.3 portions, more than the recommended five portions a day, compared with the national average of 3.7. They threw away 95 per cent less fruit and veg compared to the average household.
Author of the study Dr Zilla Gulyas said eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is linked with significantly less risk of developing health issues like obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.
It can also help prevent associated deaths and cut healthcare costs worldwide, she said.
“Our new study highlights the role that growing fruit and vegetables at a household scale could play in increasing their consumption.”
The team tracked 85 people growing their own food in allotments or home gardens in July 2020, with participants keeping a year-long record of their production, purchases, foraging, donations and waste.
People grew more food if they had larger gardens or visited allotments more often, with the researchers concluding that increasing the amount of space available or promoting active engagement and skill development can allow people to produce higher yields.
“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,” study co-author Dr Jill Edmondson said.
She said the study provides the first long-term evidence of the role household food production could play in promoting healthier diets through self-sufficiency.
(Australian Associated Press)