Nutrition: how to maximise it from a small growing space

What nutrients does your body need? What are the healthiest, most nutritious crops you can grow in containers? Is it really healthier to grow your own – and why? What are the impacts of air pollutions? Professional nutritionist, Elizabeth Quinn, answers all these questions and much more.

Elizabeth is also the founder of ThirdPlanetFood, of which she says:”A few years back I noticed it was hard to find basic, science-based nutrition information online. Most of the information out there is biased because the web site is either selling a product or promoting a lifestyle. This is when I started the thirdplanetfood web site. I call it “no strings” nutrition information.”

1. Introduction / Nutrition basics

  • Introduction to our nutritional needs:
  • Fats, carbohydrates and proteins – and how much of each do you need?
  • Essential amino acids and protein content of different foods
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Phytonutrients

2. What to grow

  • Which crops are good sources of the different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients?
  • Do some salad leaves have more nutrients than others?
    Herbs for cooking and healing.
  • Five of the best fruits and vegetables to grow for health.

3. Why it’s healthier to grow your own

  • Seven reasons its healthier to grow your own.
  • The different ways food in shops lose their nutrients.
  • The best ways to store and preserve fruit and vegetables.
  • Cooking produce for best nutrition
  • References

4. Other questions

  • The affect of air pollution on nutritional quality? And dog poo?
  • Do flowers have nutritional benefits?
  • What veg are you most disappointed by when you eat out?

More references

The UK organisation, Sustain, has an interesting project called Growing for Health, which reviews and summarises the evidence for the variety of ways growing can contribute to both physical and mental health.

Air pollution. This study in Berlin  looks specifically at air pollution, it requires payment to access but you can read a summary here. Other research by Sheffield University concludes that health risks are sometimes overstated (see “Outcomes” tab), and need to be looked in conjunction with the benefits.

Urban gardening fact sheet – this is a useful guide to urban soil pollution issues, produced by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Aimed more at growing in the ground than containers but still quite interesting.


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