The road to optimal health includes eating the right foods, like wholesome, organic, locally grown food that deliver numerous health benefits. However, going strictly organic is often thought to be cost prohibitive.
One solution to reduce the cost of food is by growing your own! Doing so also gives you complete control over everything, from soil composition to chemical exposure.
The Benefits of Eating and Growing Sprouts
Sprouts are in and of themselves a source of outstanding nutrition and, when added to your meals, can improve your food’s nutritional value. They can be the perfect additions to any salad or meal. Fortunately, growing sprouts is simple and inexpensive to do. It’s also a fun activity that doesn’t require an outdoor setting.
Benefits linked to sprouts and growing them include:
• Up to 30 times the nutrition of most vegetables – Sprouts are great sources of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes that defend against free radicals.
• Improved nutrient absorption – Sprouts help your body absorb more vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and beneficial fat from your diet.
• A way to alkalinize your body – Being more alkaline can help strengthen your resistance to disease. It can help protect your body from many diseases including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
• Prevention of abnormal cell growth, viruses, and microbes that cannot thrive in oxygen-rich environments – sprouts are abundant in oxygen.
• The binding of minerals to protein – This increases the bioavailability of minerals.
• Enhanced quality of nutrients – The quality of vitamins, essential fatty acids, protein, and fiber in beans, nuts, and seeds and grains are enhanced when sprouted.
If you’re interested in starting your own sprout garden, below are some helpful tips that can give you a head start.
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Step 1: Ideal Options for Sprouting
Although you can sprout beans, nuts, seeds, and grains, sunflower seeds and peas are nearly ideal choices. Both offer high-quality protein and are very easy to plant and harvest.
When sprouted, the nutritional value of sunflower seeds increase by as much as 300 to 1,200 percent. They are excellent sources of both iron and chlorophyll – an antioxidant that supports your liver and helps detoxify your blood. Likewise, sprouted peas can increase the bioavailability of minerals, such as zinc and magnesium.
Step 2: The Quality of Soil and Types of Containers to Use
Always remember that the quality of soil determines the quality of your produce. Plants receive minerals from the soil they grow in, and convert it into plant-available form. You can help retain the quality of soil by composting and adding worms.
Composting benefits both the plant and the soil. You’ll need water, air, heat, and organic matter in the right balance in order to compost. Successfully creating a compost will not only support your plant’s health, but can also contribute to the environment by reducing pollution, decreasing greenhouse gases, and reducing pressure on landfills.
On the other hand, worm farms can help detoxify soil. They can break down toxins like cadmium, lead, and other heavy metals by optimizing the beneficial bacteria supply of the soil. They can even break down cardboard waste fibers, helping in your recycling efforts.
Doing these can limit your need for chemical-laden fertilizers.
As for containers, ball jars are often used in sprouting. But they can be inconvenient since you will need to rinse them several times a day to stop mold growth. Instead, it is advisable to use trays. These take up less space and you don’t need many. One whole tray is equivalent to dozens of Ball jars.
Step 3: Natural Pesticides and Herbicides
Did you know that American homeowners use about 78 million pounds of herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides on their lawns and gardens? Just imagine how much chemicals you are exposed to through your yard and neighborhood.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides, and 30 percent of insecticides are carcinogenic. Problems associated with using chemical-loaded pesticides include toxicity, immune system impairment, endocrine system disruption, cancer, infertility in men, and miscarriages.
Go natural! Use mashed garlic paste with cayenne pepper or horseradish to drive pests away. You can create this by adding a small amount to a gallon of water. Let it sit for about one to two days, and shake it occasionally within that time. Spray small amounts on your produce to check if the solution is not too strong for them.
Step 4: Be Inspired to Garden!
If you’re a beginner, start small. Grow sprouts in one container. Once you get the hang of it, you can plant sprouts in more containers, or you may experiment on planting other types of produce.
Before you know it, your meals will contain food that is grown from your own garden, and food costs will no longer be an issue.