How a garden can help grow healthy kids and reduce obesity | Erin Guerricabeitia | TEDxBoise

How a garden can help grow healthy kids and reduce obesity | Erin Guerricabeitia | TEDxBoise

Translator: Lisa Rodriguez
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven I have three children. And sometimes, I feel like
I have been through the trenches. I have caught puke
in my own two hands, which is disgusting. I have run for hours
behind a bike seat, bent over, holding on, just waiting to let go. And I’ve had that heart-stopping moment
when I thought that my child was about ready to dart
into the middle of the street. And as a parent, I’ve done everything within my power
to protect my children. I have taught them things
like ‘wash your hands’ to protect them from germs. I’ve taught them things
like ‘put on a helmet’ to protect their head. And I’ve taught them things like ‘look both ways
before crossing the street’ to protect them from cars. But the day that I was at the
grocery store with my oldest daughter, and she asked me ‘How does the
grocery store make broccoli?’ I realized I was missing
something pretty big. Today, kids have lost the connection between where there food comes from and how to properly nourish their bodies. Gone are the days where children
have the daily interaction with a growing garden or with a meal prepared
with fresh fruits and vegetables. And there are major health consequences from this new disconnection. In the United States, the number one health risk for children is childhood obesity. That’s pretty big. Depending on the state in which you live, half of the kids are not receiving the recommended servings
of fruits and vegetables each day. And 22-40 percent of the kids
are already overweight or obese. Every year, millions and millions
and millions of Americans are diagnosed with diseases like heart disease, stroke,
diabetes, and cancer. Diseases that combined are the cause of death in one
in five adults, here in the United States. Now in comparison, one in 146,000 adults will die every year because of a biking-related accident. Now understand, I am not down-playing
the tragedy of biking-related accidents, but what I am saying is, for every time we remind our children
to put on their helmet, shouldn’t we start
a conversation about food? That day as I was leaving
the grocery store with my daughter, somewhere between the drive home
and unloading the groceries, I knew that I wanted to teach my kids how they could understand where
their food comes from, and why it matters. I’ve grown up in Idaho my entire life. I’ve lived just miles away
from our famous potato fields. Yet I had never seen a potato
growing in the ground. I, like my daughter, had no idea
where our food was coming from. So when I decided I wanted to teach
my children about gardening, I decided to start small. We planted two pots
with two sets of seeds and put them out front. And we had fun. So the next year,
we built a 4×8 raised bed, and the year after that,
we built three more. And every day, I would race out
to the garden with my kids, and they would race out
to the garden with me, and they would fight, literally fight,
over who was going to be the first to put their hands in the dirt,
to pull a weed, or to try a new vegetable. So here are my children, they’re fighting over vegetables, they’re trying new foods, they’re incorporating them
into their daily diet, and they’re asking for more. Now when you talk
to my friends and family, I don’t really do anything in a small way. So I decided I was going to go really big with this new gardening thing, and I started running
a non-profit organization called Boise Urban Garden School, otherwise know as BUGS. What BUGS does is we teach kids the science, health, and environmental sustainability
of organic gardening. The first year, I was pretty new
to gardening still; I wasn’t an expert. So I knew I needed to look
at the research and the studies to find out how can I be the most
successful in my position. How can I know what I need to
about youth gardening? What I found was exciting and amazing. All the studies show that kids
who participate in youth-based education like more vegetables. Like more vegetables,
simply by working in the garden. They increase their fruit and vegetable
consumption by 2 to 2.5 servings per day, and they take those healthy eating habits all the way with them,
through their entire life. As I started working
in each one of the programs, I started to see these same studies, and I started to see this is happening
right here in Boise, Idaho. At BUGS, our programming always consists of teaching kids everything,
from seed to plate. So the kids come into our program, and we start by teaching them
how to plant a seed. Every single day of the program, we also teach them how to cook
with fresh fruits and vegetables. Inevitably, every time
that we start a new program, on Monday, the program’s first day, I have a mom, and she calls me. She says ‘Hey Erin, this is Timmy’s mom, and I just need you to know
that Timmy loves science – can’t wait for gardening camp, hates vegetables. He’ll be packing a lunch.’ I say, ‘Well that’s fine. Timmy doesn’t have to eat
the lunches that we make. Go ahead, let Timmy pack his lunch.’ Tuesday rolls around,
Timmy doesn’t have a lunch. Friday rolls around, same mom calls me. ‘Hey Erin, Timmy’s mom again, I just want to let you know well, really I just want to say thank you. Timmy’s now eating vegetables. He’s asking for vegetables at home, and he’s encouraging our family
to eat vegetables.’ I’m like, that’s a mom a win. I’m a mom, you’re a mom,
we’re all winning here. We’re eating more vegetables. Absolutely fantastic. But there’s one major roadblock
for a lot of families. And it doesn’t matter how much
your kid loves to eat vegetables. It’s money. Low-income families in the United States have less access
to fresh fruits and vegetables. Vegetables simply cost more
to buy at the grocery store than all other types of food. In a lot of low-income neighborhoods, families cannot actually find
those fresh fruits and vegetables. When a parent from a low-income family
is trying to make a choice between spending $1.25
on a hamburger at a fast food restaurant or $3.99 on a pound of tomatoes, the choice is pretty clear. Now in my position at BUGS, I get to spend time with a lot of kids
at a lot of gardens throughout our city. The city has three community center sites, and each one of these sites
is for low-income families, they’re located at low-income schools, and each one of those sites has a garden. And I get to go every week
and work with all of the kids at each one of these sites. There’s always a lot of kids
who want to come, but at this one site,
there’s one boy and his name is Tanner. And Tanner is eight years old,
and he is always right by my side. He is there with me,
and he loves to garden. At this particular garden, we rely on overhead sprinklers, and those sprinklers sometimes
don’t get everything wet, as wet as they need to be. In Idaho, our temperatures
can reach about 100 degrees. So every summer,
we bring out the watering cans and the sprinklers and the hoses, and for some reason, inevitably,
everybody gets wet. Really, really wet. Especially Tanner. He’s always the wettest. Last September,
I was in the garden with Tanner, and we were picking
green beans and cucumbers and tomatoes, and I asked Tanner, ‘Tanner, what is your favorite part
about working in the garden?’ I wasn’t surprised at all,
because he said, ‘watering’. I was like, ‘Yeah, but why watering?’ And what he said next stopped me. Tanner said, ‘I like to water because
my mom doesn’t have very much money, and I know when I work in the garden,
I can bring home snacks.’ As a parent, as a human being, that is difficult to hear. But this is what I know about Tanner. He’s eight years old, he likes to eat fruits and vegetables, and he’s learning skills every day
at our community center garden that he can bring home to his family, and he can teach them how they too
can grow fresh fruits and vegetables. And what Tanner is learning, is that just like that fast food
hamburger that cost $1.25, a packet of seeds costs $1.25 as well. So we’ve talked
about some of these studies, the studies show kids who are in a garden
are going to eat more vegetables. The studies also show
that low-income families have less access to food, but if we can get those kids
in those gardens, and they’re eating vegetables, is it going to make a difference? Is it going to make a difference
with childhood obesity? It does. Another recent study showed
that the the most cost-effective way to lower childhood obesity is by increasing
fruit and vegetable consumption. So kids who are eating more vegetables are going to lower their rates
of childhood obesity. This is good. This is pretty good stuff. I feel pretty validated. What I’ve been doing
for the last five years is working. So what can you do? How can you make a difference? You can start by planting a seed at home. You can start just like my family did. We started with two pots
and two packets of seeds, and we grew from there. You can plant a seed at a local school. Does your local school district
support school gardens? Do they want a garden
at your child’s elementary school? Can you start something indoors? Can you start a rooftop garden? Can you plant a seed in your community? Here in Boise, Idaho,
over the past five years, our local government has been working
to increase our community gardens and our urban agriculture. In 2014, our program,
Boise Urban Garden School, partnered up with the City of Boise because they really saw the value
in what we were doing with our students, and they wanted to see
their programming grow as well. So this past September, we also passed
a new community garden ordinance that shows how families
throughout our entire community can start opening
community gardens on public parks. So for those families,
a lot of them like Tanner’s, who are living in an area, in an apartment where they are not able to grow
that garden in their own yard, they can go right down to their local park and they can start growing there. And about that daughter of mine. She’s pretty cool. She’s eleven years old. She still loves gardening. She cooks with us every day. Since we’ve started gardening, she’s increased her consumption
of fruits and vegetables. She likes vegetables. Except for zucchini. She still hates zucchini. But at least when we grow it at our house, she knows where it came from. (Applause)

One comment

  1. Looks like preventing disease is not too popular. Well I'll tell you it's a lot more effective than trying to stop a train

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