You are making your child read a story and they get through it incredibly slowly. You tell yourself that they are learning so of course they will be slower at it, but you can’t help feeling that you wouldn’t get distracted as easily at their age.

If this sounds familiar, don’t be surprised. World over scientists are noticing a reduction in attention spans for all age groups, and as the next generation begins its journey on earth they are expected to follow the same trend.

This trend of a deteriorating attention span can be attributed to a couple of factors. In his article on the subject, Johann Hari said: “Tech – which is normally the first cause we think of – is playing a significant role, but it isn’t the biggest of the causes [of our degrading attention span].” In this article, we will focus on another significant factor: nutrition.

Nutritional psychiatry, a relatively new field of study, studies the impact of food on your thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. An article in Harvard Health Publishing identifies a couple of foods that negatively impact brain functioning, processed/refined foods and sugars. It found that meals comprising vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, fish and seafood, and only modest amounts of lean meats and dairy significantly improved the mental state of people.

This is where urban farming comes in. Urban lifestyles with their heavy reliance on preservatives-filled supermarket consumables make it very difficult for us to make these changes in our diet. Everything from the cereals we eat to the water we drink is processed in some way, very frequently with additives including sugar and salt, among others. Our grain is refined, our vegetables are polished, our fruits artificially ripened, and our milk artificially preserved. A significant portion of the nutritional content of our food is lost.

Urban farming provides a solution to this. Producing some of our daily requirements of fruits, vegetables, and fish within our houses ensures that we reintroduce unprocessed foods back into our diet. Taking steps to cut out things like preservatives and hidden refined sugars from our diet can significantly impact our health.

Children are still growing and their brains still developing. A Dutch study asked kids to consume a diet that removed almost all of the synthetic, processed foods we usually eat. The attention span increased for 70% of the children with the average improvement being as much as 50%.

Making smart choices about the food our children eat can benefit them for the rest of their lives, and involving children in urban farming can help in making that happen.