Every year since 1979, World Food Day has been observed on 16 October to mark the establishment of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 1945. World Food Day 2020 also marks 75 years since the foundation of the FAO and the theme for the year is “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together”.
The theme was created keeping the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in mind; the campaigns this year would be focused on highlighting the value that food and nutrition hold in our lives. With lockdowns in place due to the pandemic for a large part of the year all over the world, people have had to stay at and work from home for months on end. Initiatives like growing your own food at home have been taken up by many as a result.
The benefits of growing your own food
Growing your own food in kitchen gardens, planters on window sills or plots of land is a habit many people in urban India are taking up in recent years, especially as familial or community pursuits. This is because many studies have shown that growing your own food can help increase your nutritional intake, provide you with physical exercise, keep stress, anxiety and mood disorders at bay and improve your cognitive functions too.
“Kitchen gardening is one the best ways to get wholesome nutrition,” says Akanksha Mishra, a Nutrition and Wellness Expert associated with myUpchar. “If you are growing your herbs and spices at home, you can get the purest form of these foods and avoid a lot of harmful chemicals and food adulteration.” She goes on to suggest a few plants people can easily grow at home, like microgreens and veggies.
“Microgreens are compressed versions of green leafy vegetables and are richer in terms of flavours and nutrition,” she says. “I usually suggest everyone grow microgreens at their home and add them in salads, sandwiches, juices and soups to make your meals more healthy and nutritious. Additionally, if you are growing your own vegetables at your place, you can avoid harmful pesticides, chemical spray and injections. With this, you can get fresh, low-cost vegetables at your place.”
Plants you can grow easily at home
If you’re creating a kitchen garden at home for the first time, it may seem like a daunting task. Not everyone has a green thumb, after all, so you may not want to start with plants that may be difficult to grow. If that is indeed the case, the following are some nutritional plants that are easy to start with.
- Herbs: All herbs are packed with essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are usually small in size, grow in bunches and are easy to manage no matter how big or small space you have available at home. You can easily grow herbs like tulsi, curry leaves, carom leaves, coriander leaves, lemongrass, kalonji leaves, brahmi, thyme and oregano at home.
- Microgreens: Green leafy vegetables contain high amounts of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and even plant proteins. Microgreens are smaller versions of such green leafy vegetables, are more nutrient-rich and easier to grow even in balconies and window sills of apartment buildings. You can easily source the seeds for the leaves of wheatgrass, radish, sunflower, carrots, beetroots, spinach, parsley, cabbage, amaranth, fenugreek, moong beans, chana and green peas.
- Vegetables: You may not be able to grow a lot of vegetables at one go in an apartment but there are a few you can easily grow like eggplants, tomatoes, bottle gourd, sponge gourd, bitter gourd, green chillies, onion, garlic and capsicum. All these vegetables are packed with dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and essential antioxidants like carotenoids and flavonoids.