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Grow-your-own households eat more fruit and vegetables and waste less

Household fruit and vegetable production, in allotments and gardens, could be key to a healthy and food-secure population, a new study from the University of Sheffield has found.

The study followed household food growers over the course of a year to assess their production, purchase, donation and waste of fruit and vegetables.


Year-long study tracked home growers


It found those who grow their own can produce more than half of the vegetables (51 per cent) and 20 per cent of the fruit they consume annually.


The study found that household food growers who provided sustainable access to fresh fruit and vegetables ate 6.3 portions of their recommended 5-a-day, which is 70 per cent higher than the UK national average at only 3.7 portions. This finding suggests that household food production could promote the adoption of a healthier diet.


Dr. Zilla Gulyas, a researcher at the University of Sheffield’s School of Biosciences, stated, “Consuming a minimum of five portions of fruits and vegetables daily significantly lowers the risk of health problems such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and specific cancers. This practice could prevent related deaths and reduce global healthcare expenses.


“Our new study highlights the role that growing fruit and vegetables at a household scale could play in increasing their consumption.”


Homegrown food boosts consumption, sufficiency


The findings of the study suggest that household food production could both promote fruit and vegetable consumption and play an important role in increasing household and national food self-sufficiency, as well as reducing waste.


Households that had the ability to grow their own fruits and vegetables also wasted little, with only 0.12 portions a day being thrown out on average. This is 95 per cent lower than the fruit and vegetable waste of the average UK household.


Household food production led to more waste-reducing behaviors, which implies that these behaviors could enhance household food security at a national level. Participants often engaged in actions such as donating surplus food, preserving, and freezing excess food for later use.


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