Archived site section

Please note that the content on this page has been archived and is not actively reviewed at present.

Sustain / City Harvest

Urban agriculture research

Search for urban agriculture resources using our dedicated database from across the world.

You can search by keyword or words and apply filters to show documents from a specific category.

Health benefits of 'grow your own' food in urban areas: implications for contaminated land risk assessment and risk management?

Compelling evidence of major health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity, and outdoor interaction with 'greenspace' have emerged in the past decade - all of which combine to give major potential health benefits from 'grow-your-own' (GYO) in urban areas. However, neither current risk assessment models nor risk management strategies for GYO in allotments and gardens give any consideration to these health benefits, despite their potential often to more than fully compensate the risks. Although urban environments are more contaminated by heavy metals, arsenic, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and dioxins than most rural agricultural areas, evidence is lacking for adverse health outcomes of GYO in UK urban areas. Rarely do pollutants in GYO food exceed statutory limits set for commercial food, and few people obtain the majority of their food from GYO. In the UK, soil contamination thresholds triggering closure or remediation of allotment and garden sites are based on precautionary principles, generating 'scares' that may negatively impact public health disproportionately to the actual health risks of exposure to toxins through own-grown food. By contrast, the health benefits of GYO are a direct counterpoint to the escalating public health crisis of 'obesity and sloth' caused by eating an excess of saturated fats, inadequate consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables combined with a lack of exercise. These are now amongst the most important preventable causes of illness and death. The health and wider societal benefits of 'grow-your-own' thus reveal a major limitation in current risk assessment methodologies which, in only considering risks, are unable to predict whether GYO on particular sites will, overall, have positive, negative, or no net effects on human health. This highlights a more general need for a new generation of risk assessment tools that also predict overall consequences for health to more effectively guide risk management in our increasingly risk-averse culture.

Publisher: Environmental Health 2009, 8(Suppl 1):S6

Author: Jonathan R Leake , Andrew Adam-Bradford and Janette E Rigby

Link: http://www.ehjournal.net/content/8/S1/S6

Category: Health

Back to results

If the information displayed above is incorrect or the link broken, please email cityharvest@sustainweb.org

City Harvest: The City Harvest website collects information on the wide range of benefits associated with urban agriculture, aiming to strengthen the movement in the UK and across the globe.

Support our charity

Donate to enhance the health and welfare of people, animals and the planet.

Donate

Sustain
The Green House
244-254 Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 9DA

020 3559 6777
sustain@sustainweb.org

Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

© Sustain 2021
Registered charity (no. 1018643)
Data privacy & cookies

Sustain