Our Changing Lifestyles
The American economy has changed, and so have our lifestyles. The majority of us don’t get our hands dirty. According to the 2010 census, over 80% of the US population lived in urban areas, representing growth of 12% over a decade. In 2016, approximately 40% of US workers have jobs in the professional or managerial sector. So what do these two facts have to do with The FruitGuys Community Fund and sustainable farming? These trends point to a significant number of Americans losing touch with the health effects of digging in the dirt.
The Nature of Work
Modern office life, reliable internet access, and 24-hour news feeds are all recent technological advances. In general, Americans are more in touch with their smartphone screens than knowing how their food is grown. We all know that sitting at a desk all day isn’t healthy.
Scientists are linking allergies, depression, and stress to this indoor and sedentary lifestyle. Researchers from the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at Deakin University found that the total sitting time each day was directly correlated with an increased risk of anxiety.
So what’s the cure? Simple… go outside and get your hands dirty!
No Prescription Needed to Get Your Hands Dirty
It’s good to unplug and get back to our roots (pun intended). Being in touch with nature (literally) is a natural stress reliever.
Some research has even shown that soil contains microbes that can have an anti depressant effect. So don’t worry about a bit of dirt under your fingernails! It’s like a free Prozac.
Other studies have shown that getting your hands dirty and being outside literally, as well as figuratively, ‘grounds you’; when your bare feet touch the earth, the electrical charges of your feet neutralize free radicals. According to an NCBI abstract, scientists found that sleeping on soil can lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body.
If you need yet another reason to get outside, consider the idea of building a robust immune system. Allergies are on the rise. There’s a hygiene hypothesis; it suggests that our lives are too clean. As our environment becomes more sterile, we’re not exposed to as many germs and bugs as our ancestors. As a result, we don’t build up natural immunities. Gardening and working with soil exposes you to nature in a controlled way. You will come into contact with different plants, soil, and various different creepy crawlies.
And the benefits don’t stop there. While working in the garden you’re also getting some exercise. What’s not to like? So get out in the garden and start weeding that flowerbed. Doctor’s orders 😉