Think about the all the options there are at the grocery store. There's a wide variety of canned vegetables, pre-made dinners, frozen fruit purees, and dried fruits. They're edible, sure, but definitely not preferred.

Then, while wondering away from the frozen fruits that you swear you'll use for smoothies, you stumble upon the fresh food section. The fresh produce, fruits and veggies are ripe, flavorful and better than any of the canned goods. But, in reality the "fresh" produce isn't even that fresh.

To get truly fresh foods you need to go to a local farmer's market or garden yourself. With farmer's market prices being high and the numerous benefits of gardening, it's time for you to consider gardening. 

Fresher Food, Better Taste, Stronger Flavor

parsley, herb, vegetable
Grace Hwang

The most obvious benefit to gardening is that you get the freshest food possible. The moment that your garden’s food grows you can pick it and eat it. Any herbs you plant will have a stronger flavor and taste better. With fruits and vegetables, you can allow them to ripen fully before picking them.

Plus, you know exactly which fertilizers were used. If you want to go organic and fertilize your food with only coffee grinds and compost, you can do that. If you want to buy a giant tub of fertilizer to make the biggest and prettiest plants out there, you can also do that.

Reduce Waste With a Garden

coffee, tea, beer
Rachel Dugard

Once you grow crops instead of buying them, you reduce your carbon footprint and food waste. According to a Michigan based non-profit group called Gardening Matters, “Food in the United States travels an average of 1,300 miles from farm to fork, changes hands half a dozen times, and consumes 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce a single calorie of modern supermarket food”. 

Local gardening reduces the greenhouse gas emissions related to food transportation. Transporting fruits and vegetables can take up to two weeks and by the time they make it to the supermarket, many of the foods have been damaged and are thrown away. If you grew your own crops, you wouldn’t have this same waste.

Gardening will Keep Your Mind at Ease

pasture, herb, vegetable
Rachel Dugard

Mentally, gardening is a silent savior. It's proven to reduce stress. A study from the Netherlands had two groups of people undergo a stressful situation and after that one group gardened while the other one read for half an hour. The gardening group was later found to be less stressed. Another study in Norway found that gardening can reduce depression

Horticulture therapy, which is the therapy of interacting with plants actively or passively, is an accepted form of therapy for mentally and physically handicapped patients. One study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease shows that it can even "cut someone's risk of gardening in half." So, if you're like me and plan on losing your mind at 50, you can bump that number up to 65.

And Your Body at Work 

bird, pasture, grass
Monica Zunick

Gardening is a workout. You need to be outside, on your feet, and using your arms and legs. The CDC recommends doing 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity level activity and studies show that people who chose gardening over other exercises such as biking or walking actually exercise 40-50 minutes longer on average. So, if you hate the gym but still need to move, gardening could be your answer.

For people who spend most of their time inside (which is most of us), it gets you outside for a bit. It gives you a moment to take a break from everything else and focus on something simple. Then when you've successfully grown some fruits or vegetables, you can proud of your work. 

coffee, tea
Rachel Dugard

You really won't know how much of a difference fresh foods are when they're picked straight off a plant as opposed to a grocery store until you try some. The flavors are much stronger and the foods last longer.

I started gardening when I took a class at UF that taught us about plants and gave us samples at the end of each class. Since then, I have started my own tiny garden with a tomato plant, banana tree, basil, cilantro, rosemary, mint, watermelon, and a few other edible plants. My mojitos have never been better. 

Gardening can seem like a daunting task, but if you start small and work with easy plants to start, you'll find the benefits of gardening are endless.

Here's some more info if you want to learn more: 

"Multiple Benefits of Community Gardening"

"How to Harvest Your Own Tender Garden Greens"