With the rise of urban gardening, many city residents have had the ability to garden even though they live in a “concrete jungle.” However, a recent concern surrounding urban gardening has many questioning whether it is really “healthy” or not. A study in 2014 investigated the soil in New York City community gardens and found high levels of potentially harmful substances like lead, cadmium and barium. This has led some experts to question whether consuming vegetables grown in this type of soil is safe.
A New Study Questions Old Findings
Recently, Kansas State University has released a new study, published in the Journal of Environmental Quality, which found that though urban garden soil may be polluted, the risk of health issues in consuming vegetables grown in urban gardens is not as high as previously thought. The study involved scientists growing tomatoes, carrots and other vegetables in urban soil, then analyzed the crops for levels of harmful substances. The scientists found that almost all of the tested vegetables had low levels of these contaminants. They concluded that though the vegetables may absorb some of the harmful chemicals found in urban soil, the plants do not absorb enough to harm those who eat them.
The scientists found that root crops, like carrots, seemed to absorb the most harmful substances. However, they concluded that as long as an individual does not over-consumer these vegetables there is little health risk. Ganga Hettiarachchi, KSU Assistant Professor of Agronomy, stated, “A person isn’t going to be eating those carrots for every meal 365 days a year. In the grand scheme, personally I wouldn’t worry much about the possibility of contaminants in carrots because I know I’m not really eating that much carrot.”
What If I Plan On Eating a Lot of Home-Grown Vegetables?
One suggestion for those who plan on eating a lot of home-grown vegetables is to grow them in less-contaminated soil that you can buy and place in containers. Researchers have also found that urban gardeners can take advantage of a variety of safeguards that will further reduce their toxic exposure. These include washing vegetables with special soap. Simply rinsing the vegetables in water will also provide a degree of protection. It is also possible to dilute the level of contaminated materials in the soil by adding compost.
Urban Gardening with Juniper Landscape Company
If you live in an area where you are limited on space, but you still want the many benefits of growing your own vegetable garden, JLS can help. Our highly trained landscaping and design experts can transform any outdoor space into a relaxing retreat or productive garden. Give us a call today and we will be happy to discuss the many options that are available for your outdoor space.