Kitchen Gardening: A way forward to healthy life

F.P. Report

LAHORE: With the genetically modified crops and edibles flooding our markets and use of polluted water to irrigate vegetable farms, people have started worrying about their health looking for chemicals and pesticides free diet.

As the population grows world over increasing the demand of edibles, different multi-nationals and local companies have started using the modified seeds besides other additives to enhance production of fruits and vegetables.

Use of pesticides and insecticides is another phenomenon adulterating our crops and farms produce resulting in health hazards, cost the people in millions due to eating unhealthy food products.

Experts believe that due to multiple pollutants and soil fertility issues, the current human diet was resulting in susceptibility to both infectious and chronic diseases.

Therefore, these experts are strongly advocating promotion of kitchen gardening deeming it quite possible for people to organically nurture fruit and vegetable plants at their lawns and rooftop by using natural fertilizer, organic seeds and fresh ground water.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has envisaged that if the world population reaches nine billion by 2050, the people would require an additional 70 percent food items for their consumption.

This tendency would exert extreme pressure on available agriculture land to produce more and more food items with fears of compromised food standards as well as shortage in certain areas.

Biological scientists say that organic-produce tends to contain good level of vitamin C and a lower level of nitrates.

“Organically grown 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 food like fruits and vegetables can potentially be more beneficial for human health than conventional produce,” he added.

With increasing concerns of food allergies and the presence of chemicals or preservatives in some traditionally grown food, the concept of kitchen gardens has given people a safe food alternative, he added.

“Eating homegrown fruits and vegetables through kitchen gardening protects both; our health and our money; as most of the families in our country spend 60 to 70 per cent of their budget on food items,” he claimed.

Since kitchen gardening method is not commonly used on commercial basis, therefore small spaces at homes like rooftop, balcony, lawns and backyards can be easily used for this purpose.

Mohsin Abbas, a 40-year-old retired Pakistan Army officer, spends time every evening in his small garden at his house in Shadman area of Lahore, and picks harvest of the day almost daily. From juicy red tomatoes to crunchy green-chilies, Abbas has been growing almost all seasonal organic vegetables he needs for his daily cooking.

Proud of his latest harvest, he told APP, “I grow spinach, mint leaves, tomatoes, carrots, cabbages, eggplants, beetroots, broccoli, coriander, bitter gourd, chilies, and even cauliflower.” Abbas said, a year ago, he prepared soil with the help of a friend, his wife and a colleague for gardening and created a small farm.

“I use my garden-fresh spinach leaves in chicken curry and freshly plucked beetroot leaves, stir-fried with grated coconut, which make me happy,” he said sharing his experience.

Abbas grows pesticide-free food as he deems it as therapeutic and a source for good health. “If you have a backyard or a balcony and have not yet started kitchen gardening, then you must try it immediately.”

A recently published research study by International Journal of Microbiology finds out a clear difference between organic and conventional kitchen garden produce in terms of nutritional value, pesticide contamination, and microbiological safety.

Noted nutritionist Dr. Asma Javaid said that at least a bare intake of 300 grams of vegetables and 85 grams of fruits per day is required for proper functioning of normal body and avoid chances of fatalistic diseases.

“For a healthier and better lifestyle, growing your very own garden is a genuinely great and most required practice,” she said claimed that use of fruit and vegetables grown with the help of urea and sprayed with pesticides are harmful for human health.

“By eating such food we also eat injurious ingredients with our food,” she warned and argued that even the environmentalists were promoting kitchen gardening, because organically grown fruit and vegetables were easily consumed.

According to official statistics, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) has set up more than 300 clubs in Rawalpindi and Islamabad since 2019, under a kitchen and rooftop gardening program, introduced to promote organic agriculture.

As the time changes and growing world population is exerting extra burden on food chains, therefore in a country like Pakistan housing around 50% population below poverty line, kitchen gardening can be a good money earning source for the poor families.

Furthermore, we can also save a major chunk out of billions of rupees incurred on ailments every year by promoting healthy growing and healthy eating habits.

Therefore, it is high time for the federal and provincial governments to encourage kitchen gardening and provide, if possible, the organic vegetable seeds to desiring families. (APP)