Growing more of your food in the city takes creativity
Whether organic food is or isn’t more nutritious than conventionally grown produce has been a topic of debate for quite some time. Even in the light of studies that clearly show that the benefits of organic food are greater, commercial food producers still insist the difference is negligible.
An analysis of 343 individual studies by the University of Newcastle, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, has shown that not only is organic food more nutritious than conventional produce, but it provides up to 60% more of specific antioxidants (polyphenolics), which protect us from chronic disease. In fact, the concentrations of these antioxidants are so much higher that eating the usual three servings of organic fruits and vegetables per day is the equivalent of consuming 1-2 extra portions of conventional produce.
Organic produce contains substantially less heavy metals and is 48% less likely to contain cadmium. The largest exposure to cadmium – classed as a probable carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – for non-smokers, is through high levels in food as the result of caustic fertilizers used in mass farming operations. The study also found that pesticide residues – which accumulate in the body over time and act as neurotoxins – were four times higher in conventional produce, and that nitrate and nitrite levels were 30% and 87% lower in organic fruits and vegetables. A 2016 study, also from New Castle University, showed similar results when comparing organic and conventional meat and dairy products; organic milk and meat contain 50% more healthy, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
It’s clear that we all need to be eating more organic fruits and vegetables. For lots of people, that can be difficult because the price of organic produce is often higher, sometimes significantly so, for certain items when compared to conventional. If you live in the countryside, one of the solutions is to raise more of your own food. Even if you live in the city or suburbs, you can become an urban farmer and grow your own organic produce, which will improve your health while saving you money. It’s all about being creative with the amount of space you have.
A pallet is a wooden base on which large boxed items are usually stacked so they can be transported easily via forklift and moved to other locations or loaded onto trucks. Any store, such as Best Buy, Costco, Home Depot and grocery stores that receive large deliveries of items or deal with “big box” products like electronics or appliances, will generally have extra pallets they’re willing to give away, if you ask. Simply lay one or more (based on your available space) on the ground or a patio. Fill in the gaps between the planks with a good quality soil. Plant your vegetables in the rows. No tilling the ground is required, and it’s much easier than using raised beds. It also limits weed growth. At the end of the season, stack and store the palettes until next year.
Dr. Habib Sadeghi is the co-founder of Be Hive of Healing, an integrative health center based in Los Angeles. He provides revolutionary healing protocols in integrative, osteopathic, anthroposophical, environmental, and family medicine, as well as clinical pharmacology. He served as an attending Physician and Clinical Facilitator at UCLA-SM Medical Center and is currently a Clinical Instructor of Family Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences. Dr. Sadeghi is a regular contributor to Goop, CNN, BBC News and TEDx. He is the author of Within: A Spiritual Awakening to Love & Weight Loss, as well as the foreword to Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good, and is the publisher of the health and well-being journal, MegaZEN.