connections with nature are critical for human wellbeing

Nature is not just a situation that’s happening around us; it is us. After all, we’re not born somewhere else and dropped onto the planet. We are born out of it just as trees and lakes and giraffes are. We often forget this important fact, which is why you might want to consider these seven reasons for growing edible plants.

Happiness: Studies show that spending just 5 minutes in nature can boost your mood. If you need some extra help with that, grow some avocados, nuts or seeds, which are naturally high in Omega-3 fatty acids, also important for our happiness.

Longevity: Okinawa, Japan boasts the longest living people on the planet. They also spend an incredible amount of time outdoors, tending to gardens of healthy foods for a long life, like the goya bitter melon, which you may be able to grow in certain North American climates.

Knowledge: The subtleties of nature are as powerful a teacher as her most dramatic displays, though it’s a different kind of knowledge than reciting the alphabet. The more time you spend in your garden, the more you’ll know this. And for an extra brain boost, try growing greens like kale or spinach, which are loaded with amino acids for optimal brain function.

Fertility: Digging in fertile soil can help us figuratively and literally with fertility. Stress often plays a big role in infertility, so unwinding and connecting with nature can help. Protein-rich plant foods like legumes and nuts may help boost ovulation, too.

Pleasure: There really is no reason to eat something that doesn’t taste absolutely incredible. No, that doesn’t mean spending $500 on a meal at some swank uppity restaurant. Really delicious food can cost less and taste better, especially when grown at home. Don’t believe me? Grow some heirloom tomatoes this season and then try to eat a store-bought mealy one without gagging.

Confidence: Growing your own food is a feat worthy of feeling great about. Just ask any kid devouring a juicy summer watermelon he first met when it was only a seed.

Connection: This might be the most important and often overlooked reason. A true connection with nature is critical for all living things. We are the only species doing our best to deny that. No wonder there are so many problems plaguing us! Spending time with plants, dirt and trees has a profound impact on our understanding of life—it can even have a spiritual quality, bringing a sense of peace and harmony. Eat a fresh garden-grown summer peach and you might have both an out-of-body and deeply inner-body-connection to earth and all living things.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Photo: LOLren