The main benefit of home-grown over store-bought fruit is the nutritional merits. Fruits grown and picked from your own garden and eaten fresh are higher in nutrients than those that have travelled possibly thousands of miles to your local supermarket.
Nothing compares to the flavour of freshly picked fruit, plucked straight from your garden and prepared to be eaten right away. Today’s global food system means consumers can buy fruit at any time in any store across the country - but the flavour of the fruit is often a far cry from those ripe strawberries or raspberries grown in your own garden.
The fresh fruit in supermarkets contains fewer nutrients than the same produce from half a century ago. In 1951, an adult could meet their daily requirement of vitamin A by eating two peaches. By 2002, they would need to eat 53 peaches to obtain the same amount of vitamin A, according to a study by Ramberg and McAnnelley.
Commercial agriculture is focused on enhancing the shelf life of produce - often at the expense of nutrition and taste. This means maximising your nutrient intake in our current supermarket climate is difficult, resulting in fruit lacking in flavour and quality.
Several factors are to blame. In order to survive the 1,500 to 2,500-mile trip that the fruit may have travelled to reach your supermarket trolley, it is harvested before it's ripe. This early harvest interrupts the fruit's natural ripening process and limits its capability of reaching its full nutrient potential.
Another important factor in the loss of nutrients in supermarket fruit is the storage and travel time that produce endures while being shipped over great distances. All fruit steadily loses its vitamins while in storage, even at the correct temperatures.
Most commercially-available fresh fruit is chosen for its ability to ship and store well while continuing to look fresh, rather than by its flavour or nutritional value.
Modern harvesting methods used in agriculture today can affect the nutrient content. Mechanical harvesting is more likely to bruise or injure the fruit and this damage can accelerate the loss of nutrients. The vitamin C content in bruised fruits can be up to 15% less than that in non-damaged fruits.
Fruit grown in your garden is great for your health because it is rich in nutrients - especially anti-oxidants, phytochemicals, vitamin C, vitamin A and folate. Growing your own enables you to control the amount of pesticides used, giving the fruit the potential to be more natural and healthy.
Types of fruit
Many types of fruit are easy to grow in your garden. Strawberries are so versatile you can grow them in the ground, in containers or even in hanging baskets. Raspberries too are easy to grow and can be harvested at any time from late summer to autumn.
Blueberries have beautifully scented flowers in spring, brightly-coloured autumn foliage and provide a nutritious crop of fresh fruit in late summer. They require ericaceous soil and are low-maintenance, bearing fruit after around three years.
Make sure you protect your crops from the birds with Henry Cowls' fruit netting and cages. As an environmentally-friendly and fruit sensitive way of protecting your crops, our nets fuse a traditional craft with modern techniques.