We continue to learn that food is medicine, and that growing your food may be one of the most powerful steps you can take for the health of your family and your planet. Small food gardens near the family home have traditionally made an important contribution to family nutrition. We look at the power of food gardens in the fight against hidden hunger.
First of all, we have to understand what hidden hunger is.
According to Steven Barnard of Farmer Kidz and Garden of Life, hidden hunger is malnutrition – the lack of nutritional value despite consuming a large quantity of food, which causes stunted growth, concentration difficulties, and even death.
Barnard says that agriculture is still the best way to ensure food security and boost economic growth on the African continent.
Barnard says the goal of Farmer Kidz has always been to get young people involved in ending hunger, making sure there is enough food, improving nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture.
“It seeks to create a new generation of farmers who find agriculture cool and acquire agri-preneurship skills through mentoring and trailing.
“The programme teaches fundamental farming techniques and employs technologies such as the Garden of Life veggie tyre hydroponic system and mobile phone applications.”
Farmer Kidz highlights the need of growing and consuming fresh veggies for a healthy diet and body. Vegetables also allow the brain and senses to operate at maximum capability. This includes taste, smell, hearing, sight, and touch, says Barnard.
Why is addressing hidden hunger so crucial?
According to Rob Small, co-founder of Abalimi Bezekhaya, micronutrients are also present in vitamin supplements. However, if we eat healthy vegetables we would not require medication.
He believes that even proteins can be obtained from nutritious vegetables, so we would need fewer meats.
“Meat grown with chemicals, force-feeding, antibiotics with growth hormones, and in sheds (without sunlight, fresh air, or natural pasture) is also significantly less nutritious.”
He adds that wild indigenous foods and medicinal plants, as well as [domesticated] herbs and spices, are extraordinarily rich in nutrients and many other healing elements that keep us healthy.
“So, eat organic, grow organic, be organic. Then you will be healthy and no longer require pills or medications from doctors.”
Small asserts that every organic farm and garden is a school, a university, or a technical college, and that, if we are willing to learn, we can study every subject on the planet and acquire every skill ever invented.
Once we understand food security and that food can grow anywhere, we can combat hidden hunger, he adds.
“Organic farming and gardening improve our mental health, our minds and bodies are nourished by clean air, physical activity, and high-quality food. Thus, we heal our minds and no longer become so depressed and confused by life in the so-called modern world,” says Small.
Alternate options to fight hidden hunger
Anne-Marie de Beer, a certified dietitian at Nestle, asserts that hidden hunger is referred to as rage since it is not visible. She says that it is not important to focus on specific nutrients because the most important thing is to eat a balanced diet.
She adds that we need colours in every meal, such as yellow, brownish in a form of meat or beans, green, and white in a form of starch. “The important thing is around the nutrients that will support the immune system. Zinc plays a key role in our immune system and vitamin A and iron are very important for the immune cells.
“Iron is important because it carries oxygen to every single cell. And if the cell doesn’t have oxygen, it dies.”
According to De Beer, the problem is planning and the lack of diversity in our current diets. She believes that sometimes it is just a matter of not considering fruits and vegetables. And when we do not have a meal plan, we likely to grab the quickest foods accessible in the kitchen and prepare them quickly for dinner.
“The other thing, of course, is to really have a little fruit garden at home. And that’s not difficult. If you have an old tyre, you can grow spinach and carrots in there. If you have flowerpots, instead of flowers, grow some veggies.”
She adds that this is how we can ensure that our family has access to nutritious foods.