Soon a new study will appear at the Faculty of Public Health Journal of Public Health It suggests that participation in local food projects can have a positive effect on well-being and psychological health.
Local food is a growing movement, and includes initiatives such as adjudications, community gardens, community agriculture, farmers' markets and food buying cooperatives. Consumers are increasingly interested in the place where the food comes from. Retail sales of local foods have grown significantly in the last decade, as well as participation in farmers' markets, community support agriculture programs and purchase cooperatives.
The research has explored the benefits to the physical health of food crops, but so far it has not systematically explored how local food projects can influence psychological well-being. Mental illness presents a growing global public health growth. In the United Kingdom, mental health contributes to 28% of the total financial cost of healthcare. Psychological well-being generates significant benefits for people and societies, including good health, longevity, personal relationships, improved productivity and civic engagement.
Through an online survey, researchers compared the participants of local food initiatives through three English counties: Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk, with members of the general public. They discovered that those who participated in local food initiatives scored higher in standardized welfare measures than those who did not participate. They also explored why it could be so, looking at four different mediators who know how to influence well-being: connection with nature, satisfaction of basic psychological needs, better diets and physical activity. Finally, they explored how different types of participation influence, such as for longer duration or more active roles.
These results are encouraging for those of us who seek the interaction between sustainability and well-being. They demonstrate that we should look more seriously at projects such as plots, community gardens, agriculture attached to the community and farmers' markets, which can unite people, improve diets, improve the connection with nature and help people to learn new things All of them contribute to improving mental health, which is one of the most significant public health challenges of our time. At the same time, they help build the foundations of a truly sustainable food system, which is also essential for the well-being of people and the planet. "
Zareen Bharucha, principal researcher at the study
Oxford University Press USA
Bharucha, Z.P. et al. (2019) Participation in local food projects is associated with better psychological well-being: tests from England. Journal of Public Health. doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdz057.