El Paso’s public libraries go beyond feeding the mind with books and videos. The libraries also offer an inventory of free seeds to residents to encourage them to grow their own edible gardens.
The seed libraries include non-genetically modified fruits, vegetables and herb seeds to give El Pasoans easy access to nutritious food, especially in lower-income communities.
“We wanted to help El Paso become more food sufficient and self-sufficient in terms of growing and eating their own food. So, we wanted people to start urban gardens and to start living healthier lives and eating healthier through their own means,” said Jack Galindo, marketing and customer relations coordinator for the El Paso Public Library.
According to a 2013 study conducted by Food Trust and the Institute of Healthy Living, people living in neighborhoods without a nearby grocery store suffer from disproportionately high rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related health problems.
The study also revealed that people who live in a community with access to a full range of healthy foods tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and are more likely to maintain a healthy weight.
“Fruits and vegetables are something that you could have almost an unlimited amount of. It helps you to make you feel fuller because they provide fiber, and there is just a whole bunch of nutrients that come with fruits and vegetables,” said Gigi Shamaley, El Paso county extension agent of family and consumer science.
Easy access to healthy food not only affects people’s diet, but gardening can also improve physical and mental health.
“Gardening is considered a moderate-intensity exercise, so it helps with cardiovascular health. Mentally is great, it reduces stress, and it has been correlated…
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