Oct 14, 2009

Are Local Vegetables safe to eat?


Increasing concern among consumers in and outside the country about the security level of the vegetables produced in Sabah. Importing vegetables more careful to buy vegetables produced in the state. Are these concerns unfounded?

Research made by members of the Council of Consumer Affairs State of Sabah has been found that most of the vegetables sold in the market for local consumers are not given identification tag. Identification tag or label is a measure used to ensure that vegetables are produced to meet the minimum standards of health and also as a way to monitor the use of materials of pesticides by vegetable producers. Currently, the only vegetables locally exported only given a temporary identification tag vegetables marketed to local consumers is not so. Vegetables sold in supermarkets, market stalls and not given the tag identification. The absence of the tag identification is difficult for authorities to ensure that minimum health requirements for 1985 full of vegetables.

In principle, all vegetable growers are required to register with the Department of Agriculture, Sabah. It is important to do so that each vegetable growers are given the code by the Department for the purpose of monitoring. Currently, the majority of vegetable growers who are registered to export vegetables because this is the prerequisite for export. Vegetables that are not given identification tags are not allowed to be exported. But will need identification tag is not yet enforced the grower-local vegetable growers.

Department of Health took samples of vegetables at random from the vegetable gardens, markets and supermarkets to test the residual insecticide. Recently, the Department has claimed that the owner of supermarkets in Kota Kinabalu for violating the Food Control Act 1985 for selling vegetables containing high residual insecticide that (Daily Express, 3.9.00). If the vegetables sold in local markets given the tag identification, the Health Department can also detect and fine-grower vegetable growers who use pesticides excessive.

Vegetables that contain levels of residual insecticide that proved to be higher in the statistics obtained. In 1999, four vegetable exporters from Sabah was found to export vegetables that exceeds the Maximum Level Waste (MRL) (Source: FAMA). Research Branch Department of Agriculture has also found that 10.4% of the vegetables imported from Sabah found exceeding MRL in 1998. MRL high levels found in 75% of the total sample of Chinese celery leaves, 50% chai sim (mustard flowers), 40% chilli (capsicum), eggplant 20%, 25% spinach (spinach) and 15.6% Chinese cabbage. Statistics in 1998 from the Department of Health also found that the insecticide is exceeded MRL for vegetable oil, bitter mustard, mustard flowers (Chai Sim), fragrant beans, spinach, mustard Taiwan, leaves "Sadri", cilli, horseback, coriander leaves (Chinese celery ) and spinach white. Statistics from the Department of Statistics showed that 21% of vegetables, low soil samples taken between January and May 2000 had levels of waste pesticides exceeding the MRL EBDC, according respectively.

Following this discovery, there is urgent need to improve the quality and level of security glassy-vegetables produced in the state. Control of pesticides must be tightened because of dietary vegetables that contain residual pesticides harmful to the user community in the long term. Furthermore, the image of vegetable products in Sabah will be contaminated local market and if there is no guarantee from the authorities that vegetables produced here have a high quality and meet the minimum health standards.

As a rare start, it is proposed that the test results of samples for a variety of vegetables made by the authorities published in local newspapers or the appropriate website. This is not only useful information is important to realize as a consumer but also pressure to vegetable producers to be more careful and responsible in the use of pesticides in their activities.

At the same time, more service connections (extension services) is required to educate growers about the vegetables in an integrated management of pesticides and other methods that is safe in their production process. It is also necessary to ensure that pesticides are prohibited (banned Pesticides) for vegetables stopped immediately. In fact, there has been awareness among consumers to switch to organic vegetables safer. The relevant authorities can promote organic farming by providing more assistance to vegetable farmers.

Based on Department of Agriculture, the cost to test a sample of vegetables is very high. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the provision of vegetable samples for testing to ensure that the sample size studied enough. Total staff in the Department that runs the test sample is added to vegetable also more frequent testing can be done at the farms, wholesale and retail markets and export door. We must ensure quality and safety of vegetables for the health of consumers before we go further promote the market for exports.

Oct 13, 2009

Organic Rice And Vegetable For Better Life

Healthy life is the most choice for modern people nowadays, because healthy life can bring them to another choices which give theme more happiness. With healthy life, someone can do a lot of activities they want to do, for examples he can come together with people he love, travelling to amazing places, sharing each other, or another hobby he can do, which can’t do when he isn’t healthy.

One factor which can influence human health is food. Technology expansion in modern life doesn’t always give positive impact in food industry. Basically, food we eat everyday is a natural substance. But in fact, the food precisely contains a lot of chemical substance which comes from pesticide and chemical fertilizer. Remember too about synthetic growth hormone for plants inside food. That’s all because some farmers want to produce faster with high amount and more profit they get.

Basically, human body doesn’t need this chemical substances, moreover in large amount can cause some deseases and toxic substance in our blood and body. Since we were a baby, we consume food with chemical substance as long as we live until now. Can you imagine how much this chemical substance are accumulate in our body? While we almost never clean it with cleansing method. The entering toxics are not balance with exhausted toxics. Finally, this causes a lot of deseases in our body.

Natural and organic products rapidly developed as human awareness and need in healthy life increase. This time, there are a lot of organic products has been produced by organic farmers such as organic rice and organic vegetable. This food product can be an alternative for modern life to change food pattern from chemical substance into organic one to decrease its negative impact caused by chemical substance.

What are organic rice and vegetable?
Organic rice and vegetable are food product which is produced naturally without chemical processing or with no synthetic substances like pesticide, herbicide, chemical fertilizer, and no hormone injection. The process is without ionization radiation or genetic modification. It use organic fertilizer to grow. Organik rice and vegetable contain better nutrient for human body and also can be an alternative for treatment.

Why people choose organic food?
There are 8 reasons why they eat organic food
1. Begin with what we eat
2. Stop consuming chemical substance
3. To protect children’s health
4. To protect water, land, and air quality.

Impact of organic rice and vegetable for ecosystem is very good. It can fertile the soil and the micro organism in the soil grow naturally which can give amazing mineral and vitamin substance. Nature balance and the habitat can be preserved naturally.

5. To protect the farmer’s health
6. To support micro industry of domestic farmer
7. To save money from treatment
8. Because organic food’s taste is delicious

There are another different reason for modern people why they choose organic food. And your reason is inside you. Organic rice and vegetable can bring us into better life. No more money for illness treatment, no more chemical substance in our body, and no more complaint for bad condition of life. Be an organic consumer!

Oct 12, 2009

Good Vegetables For Planter Boxes

Planter boxes give you the benefit of raising organic vegetables right outside your door or window. Rising costs of produce have caused some budget-conscious people to reconsider the money they spend on fresh fruits and vegetables. But at what cost to their health? And the price of organic produce is even higher. You can grow your own vegetables, even without much space. Roots, leafy vegetables, and fleshy vegetables can all grow well in planter boxes, if you choose the right varieties and provide the attention they need.

Root vegetables are edible roots of plants. Vegetables which fall in this category include carrots, beets, turnips, parsnips, radishes, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Root vegetables can work well in planter boxes, as long as the planters are deep enough. Try carrots and radishes.

Leafy vegetables also can grow well in containers. Lettuce, kale, and Swiss chard will provide a base for healthy salads or will give you some extra crunch in your sandwiches. You can also cook some leafy greens for a hot side dish. Whatever your culinary plans, consider growing your own leafy vegetables in your planter boxes.

Finally, some varieties of fleshy vegetables adapt well to containers. Try fresh cucumbers in your salads or make your own dill pickles. You can also grow eggplant and squash in planter boxes. Certain varieties of tomato work well, as do peppers (both sweet and hot). To obtain further information on which varieties of vegetables grow well in planters, consult an experienced container gardener or the staff members at a greenhouse.

When you grow vegetables in planter boxes, your primary concerns will probably be the nutrients in the soil and the moisture of the soil. Some growers recommend a peat-based potting mix as the best base for your soil. Whatever your preferred soil, you can enrich it with compost. Combine your homemade compost with the soil mix, one part compost to two parts mix.

Plants in containers usually require more frequent watering than plants in the ground because the soil in planter boxes dries out more quickly. You should check the soil surrounding your vegetable plants every day to evaluate the need for a watering. If your plants wilt during the day, or seem to have a dull color, these could be signs that they need more water. Give them a little more water and observe if they perk up.

Watering your vegetables in the morning may allow more water to penetrate the soil. Lower temperatures and less wind equal slower evaporation of the water.

If you enjoy the freshest vegetables, try growing your own. Even if you have little space to devote to growing things, you can grow vegetables in planters. Select vegetables that grow well in containers, or varieties of vegetables bred especially for container gardening. Select roots, leafy vegetables, and fleshy vegetables that you enjoy eating. Consider the best ways you can provide nutritious soil and sufficient water for your vegetable garden. Stick to natural options if you wish to harvest organic vegetables. Start selecting your favorite recipes for your homegrown produce.

Oct 8, 2009

Grow Your Own Vegetables


Growing your own vegetables is both fun and rewarding. All you really need to get started is some decent soil and a few plants. But to be a really successful vegetable gardener, and to do it organically, you'll need to understand what it takes to keep your plants healthy and vigorous. Here are the basics.

"Feed the soil" is like a mantra for organic gardeners, and with good reason. In conventional chemical agriculture, crop plants are indeed "fed" directly using synthetic fertilizers.

When taken to extremes, this kind of chemical force-feeding can gradually impoverish the soil. And turn it from a rich entity teeming with microorganisms insects and other life forms, into an inert growing medium that exists mainly to anchor the plants' roots, and that provides little or no nutrition in its own right.

Although various mineral nutrients (agricultural lime, rock phosphate, greensand, etc.) should be added periodically to the organic garden, by far the most useful substance for building and maintaining a healthy, well-balanced soil is organic matter.You can add organic matter to your soil many different ways, such as compost, shredded leaves, animal manures or cover crops.

Organic matter improves the fertility, the structure and the tilth of all kinds of soils. In particular, organic matter provides a continuous source of nitrogen and other nutrients that plants need to grow. It also provides a rich food source for soil microbes. As organisms in the soil carry out the processes of decay and decomposition, they make these nutrients available to plants.

Make Efficient Use of Space

The location of your garden (the amount of sunlight it receives, proximity to a source of water, and protection from frost and wind) is important. Yet just as crucial for growing vegetables is making the most of your garden space.

Lots of people dream of having a huge vegetable garden, a sprawling site that will be big enough to grow everything they want, including space-hungry crops like corn, dried beans, pumpkins and winter squash, melons, cucumbers and watermelons. If you have the room and, even more importantly, the time and energy needed to grow a huge garden well, then by all means go for it. But gardens that make efficient use of growing space are much easier to care for, whether you're talking about a few containers on the patio or a 50-by-100-foot plot in the backyard.

Get Rid of Your Rows

The first way to maximize space in the garden is to convert from traditional row planting to 3 or 4-foot-wide raised beds. Single rows of crops, while they might be efficient on farms that use large machines for planting, cultivating, and harvesting, are often not the best way to go in the backyard vegetable garden. In a home-sized garden, the fewer rows you have, the fewer paths between rows you will need, and the more square footage you will have available for growing crops.

If you are already producing the amount of food you want in your existing row garden, then by switching to raised beds or open beds you will actually be able to downsize the garden. By freeing up this existing garden space, you can plant green manure crops on the part of the garden that is not currently raising vegetables and/or rotate growing areas more easily from year to year. Or you might find that you now have room for planting new crops—rhubarb, asparagus, small fruits, or flowers for cutting—in the newly available space.

Other good reasons to convert from rows to an intensive garden system like raised beds or open beds include:

Less effort. When vegetables are planted intensively they shade and cool the ground below and require less watering, less weeding, less mulching—in other words, less drudge work for the gardener.

Less soil compaction. The more access paths you have between rows or beds, the more you and others will be compacting the soil by walking in them. By increasing the width of the growing beds and reducing the number of paths, you will have more growing area that you won't be walking on, and this untrammeled soil will be fluffier and better for plants' roots.

Grow Up, Not Out

Next to intensive planting, trellising represents the most efficient way to use space in the garden. People who have tiny gardens will want to grow as many crops as possible on vertical supports, and gardeners who have a lot of space will still need to lend physical support to some of their vegetables, such as climbing varieties of peas and pole beans. Other vegetables that are commonly trellised include vining crops such as cucumbers and tomatoes.

The fence surrounding your garden may well do double-duty as a trellis, so long as the crops grown on the fence can be rotated in different years. Other kinds of trellises are generally constructed from either wood or metal. However, no matter which design or materials you use, be sure to have your trellis up and in place well before the plants require its support—preferably even before you plant the crop. With some vegetables, such as tomatoes or melons, you may also have to tie the plants gently to the support, or carefully weave them through the trellis as they grow.

Keep Crops Moving

Crop rotation within the vegetable garden means planting the same crop in the same place only once every three years. This policy ensures that the same plants will not deplete the same nutrients year after year. It can also help foil any insect pests or disease pathogens that might be lurking in the soil after the crop is harvested.

To use a three-year crop rotation system, make a plan of the garden on paper during each growing season, showing the location of all crops. If, like most people, you grow a lot of different vegetables, these garden plans are invaluable, because it can be difficult to remember exactly what you were growing where even last season, much less two years ago. Saving garden plans for the past two or three years means that you don't have to rely on memory alone.

A Continuous Harvest

Planting crops in succession is yet another way to maximize growing area in the garden. All too often, though, gardeners will prepare their seedbeds and plant or transplant all their crops on only one or two days in the spring, usually after the last frost date for their location.

While there is nothing wrong with planting a garden this way, wouldn't it be easier to plant a few seeds or transplants at a time, throughout the course of the whole growing season, rather than facing the herculean task of "getting in the garden" all at one time?

After all, a job almost always becomes easier the more you divide it up. Plan to plant something new in the garden almost every week of the season, from the first cold-hardy greens and peas in late winter or early spring, to heat-loving transplants such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant once the weather becomes warm and settled.

Then start all over again, sowing frost-hardy crops from midsummer through mid-fall, depending on your climate. Keep cleaning out beds as you harvest crops to make room for new vegetables that will take their place. You can even interplant crops that grow quickly (radishes) alongside other vegetables that require a long season (carrots or parsnips), sowing their seeds together. This makes thinning out the bed easier later on, since you will have already harvested the quick-growing crop and given the long-season vegetables that remain some much-needed elbow room.

Another benefit of succession planting, of course, is that your harvest season lasts longer for every crop. This means that, instead of getting buried in snap beans or summer squash as your plants mature all at once, you can stagger plantings to ensure a steady, but more manageable supply of fresh vegetables.

Keep Good Records

Finally, we end up where we started—with the realization that, although vegetable gardening can be rewarding even for beginners, there is an art to doing it well. There is also a mountain of good information and advice from other gardeners available to you. Yet one of the most important ways of improving your garden from year to year is to pay close attention to how plants grow, and note your successes and failures in a garden notebook or journal.

Just as drawing a garden plan each year helps you remember where things were growing, taking notes can help you avoid making the same mistakes again, or ensure that your good results can be reproduced in future years. For instance, write down all the names of different vegetable varieties, and compare them from year to year, so you will know which ones have done well in your garden.

Many people keep a book in their car to record when they change their oil and perform other routine maintenance. In the same way, get in the habit of jotting it down whenever you apply organic matter or fertilizer to the garden, or the dates on which you plant or begin to harvest a crop.

Over time this kind of careful observation and record-keeping will probably teach you more about growing vegetables than any single book or authority. That’s because the notes you make will be based on your own personal experience and observations, and will reflect what works best for you in the unique conditions of your own garden. As in so many other pursuits, so it is in the art of vegetable gardening: practice does make perfect.

Oct 7, 2009

5 Organic Foods Every PCOS Woman Should Eat

Here's an article to inform women with PCOS to understand the importance of eating these foods in an organic form. The reason is that these 5 foods that listed below may contain growth hormones, antibiotics, food colorings, etc...

We know that women with PCOS have to avoid all foods with added hormones because of the hormone surge it can create in our body. Remember the secret to getting your PCOS in remission is stabilizing out you hormones and blood sugar levels.

Eating these foods in an organic form required you to seek out stores that carry these foods. Your safest bet is always a health food store, although some grocery stores are starting carry a lot of organic brands as well.

Eating organic does take some work and research to see what stores carry these products in an organic form. But it's well worth the effort. This does not mean that you have to get rid of everything in your refrigerator and replace it with organic; all it simply means is that foods that may contain growth hormones, we should avoid.

In general everyone should, but more importantly woman with PCOS.
.
Try these 5 organic foods the next time you go shopping.
Once you try these foods in an organic form you should notice a cleaner taste, and feel better overall from not ingesting extra hormones into your body.
Try eating these organic foods for a two weeks and see if your body notices a difference.

5 Organic Foods Every PCOS Women Should Eat:

1) For starter's yogurt and/or diary products should be organic. For starters Organic diary products are made without the use of added hormones or antibiotics and can have higher levels of omega-3s. Organic dairy products are not only good for women with PCOS - they can be much less damaging to the environment. So next your reach for a snack in the afternoon, make sure you reach for an organic yogurt and/or diary products.

2) Salads are equally as important as diary to have in an organic state. The reason is conventional salads have some of the highest levels of toxic pesticides. So it's best to choose organic greens. When making your salad, try adding in some extra organic vegetables and boost your intake of antioxidants.

3) Apples are not too missed. Apples also contain toxic pesticides. With that being said its best to have its best to buy organic apples. You may want to start looking up local farmers markets that come to your area so you can stock up on fresh organic fruits and vegetables that don't contain any harmful pesticides.

4) Tomatoes. Yes these colorful round tomatoes are also best when they are organic so you can again avoid all those harmful pesticides. Fresh organic tomatoes are so health for you; they provide your body with lycopene, an antioxidant that may lower cancer and heart disease risks and may do other wonderful things as well.

5) Don't forget your Meat products. Most people don't realize that animals are treated in such an inhumane way; by injecting animals with growth hormones, antibiotics, force fed, etc...that why meat is so important to buy organic. The best quality of meat is from grass fed cows and it's often leaner than other meats and contains more of the good omega 3 fats. Try switching over any of your meats to organic and notice the cleaner, fresher taste.

- Try these delicious ways products in an organic form and notice how much cleaner and fresher your meals will taste.
- Now that you have this information isn't this a great way to spell 'relief' for yourself?

Oct 6, 2009

Organic Vegetable Garden Planting Tips

Vegetable garden planting is becoming one of the crazes today, especially since the media is promoting organic foods. However, vegetable garden planting is not just about being “in”. It is also about keeping you and your family healthy by eating only organically grown foods, like vegetables, which are free from artificial fertilizers that take not only the taste away but minutes of your life since artificial fertilizers have been proven to be detrimental to ones’ health in the long run.

If you already have a vegetable garden of your own or planning to grown one, here are some vegetable garden planting tips that you can learn from.

Sun, Sun, and More Sun

Yes, one of the greatest vegetable garden planting tips any vegetable farmer knows is that the vegetable crops need sun, and lots of them. If you already have a vegetable garden, check to see if they get ample sun. If not, then move them to a place where the sun is the brightest.

The Soil Matters

It might not be much, but the soil does matter when it comes to vegetable garden planting. So before you plant your seeds, prepare your soil first. Dig up the soil where you are going to place the beds and break apart any compressed soil. Your vegetable garden will need a good drainage, and by breaking up solid soil, you are promoting good water flow to the roots.

Remove Weeds Earlier

Another vegetable garden planting tip is removing the weeds earlier. Do not wait for the weeds to grow. Remove them now because it will haunt you later if you do not. When removing your weeds, remove the rocks as well. Both of these two can compete for space once your vegetable garden is in bloom.

Know Your Vegetables’ Neighbors

Knowing your vegetables’ neighbors is a great planting tip. It pays to know that some vegetables, when planted close to another kind of vegetable, can inhibit or benefit its neighboring vegetable crop. For example, planting beans next to onions can inhibit the growth of the onions.

Keep Them Near

If you are constantly going to go out and pick vegetables from your garden, you should then plant them nearer your kitchen where you can easily look at them as they grow. If you need anything, it will be easier for you to go out and pick the vegetables that you will be needing for your dishes.

Oct 5, 2009

The Basic Planning of an Italian Herb Garden

In order to have the best garden possible, you will want to properly plant it. The Italian herb garden is no exception to this rule. Many people would like to start an herb garden to accompany their cooking. In order to do this, you may need to make some accommodations. Take into consideration light, wind and rain. This allows the plants to get what they need to thrive. It is possible to give every plant what it needs without making others suffer. With the right plan in place, you will be able to enjoy your garden for years to come.

The first thing you will want to do is choose the right land. Herbs grow best when on level ground. The ground itself should not be in a depression. This is because the rain will collect in a pool and drown your plants. Avoid having your plants on a slope, as water will wash away protective topsoil. Remember, the more level the ground is, the more likely your plants will get the right amount of water. Another benefit is the height of your plants can be featured by being on level ground.

The Italian herb garden prefers hot and dry climates. This does not mean to water your plants less. The best idea is to check the seed packet. The climate and humidity levels are usually labeled. You can plant the herbs, which will grow best in your environment. You may want to plant your herbs next to other plants that absorb moisture. Box hedges are great for providing shade and sucking extra moisture out of the air. This is because of the amount of leaves the hedges have.

The height of the plants in your Italian herb garden will determine where they should be planted. Looking on the back of the seed packet tells you how tall they grow. You want to keep in mind the amount of sun the herb will need as well as root structure. Hedges can offer partial shade during the later part of the day. Herbs that are short and require lots of sun need to be planted in shade free areas. Keep in mind not to plant too many shrubs close to each other. They compete for water in the ground. This starves other herbs from the water and nutrients they need.

The soil you plant your Italian herb garden in will make a difference in how well they grow. Herbs prefer soil, which is not hard packed. Loose soil is best when it is low in nutrients and lime. One thing to be careful of is making sure your soil is not water logged after a rain. Make sure your soil is retaining the proper amount of water. You can accomplish this using gravel and sand. This will give you a happy balance for healthier plants. Not only will this allow your herbs to grow, but also it is very attractive.

Making your herbs accessible is another big point in planning. Using what you grow in your Italian herb garden actually helps the plants to survive. The more accessible they are the more likely you are to tend to them. The more you tend to your plants the healthier they will be. The trade off is you will also feel better by getting more involved. The aromas and the activity will be good for your overall health.

Oct 4, 2009

Choosing Organic Food and Trying to Live Within a Budget

In today's market it is becoming more and more difficult to pick organic. As saving money has become a bigger concern, the decision to be organic is a money issue instead of a health issue. To help with the decision you should know which foods you should be ready to spend the money on because of your health, and which you can make a monetary decision on.

When you are deciding on which fruits and vegetables the worst for pesticides are peaches and strawberries. No matter how much you wash them, they are saturated with poisons, so if you can't afford to buy the organic strawberries and peaches, select something else.

Choose organic apples, nectarines, raspberries, pears, grapes and cherries; studies have shown that after rinsing, they still have really high levels of pesticide. If you are using orange, lime, or lemon zest, you want organic, as the skin holds the poisons in them.

When you are looking at papaya, pineapple, mango, and kiwi you can make it a monetary choice. Although there are traces of pesticides after rinsing, and I completely endorse organic, the scientists state they are well within healthy limits.

Always opt for organic bell peppers, spinach, potatoes, celery, cucumber, corn, green beans and carrots. There are a lot of recent studies that have shown that they have extremely high levels of poisons (especially chlorothalonil, methamidophos, benomyl and acephate), which have been shown to cause brain damage, nervous system damage, and birth defects. Asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet peas, and avocados show lower pesticide levels so you make the choice, although again I recommend organic, and if you shop around you will find reasonable prices for the above organic vegetables.

In today's world of genetic modification and pesticides there are some basic staples you should always have organic. Along with corn, rice is one of the most modified grains in the world. So always want use organic rice. It is also a good idea to only use organic oats as their texture allows them to hold pesticides.

This is also true with nuts, as they have a very high fat content which retains pesticides, no matter how hard you try to get it out. So you should try to always buy organic nuts and spreads. As the spreads can be very costly, it may be easier to remove them from your diet. A different option is to buy the organic nuts and prepare your own spreads. There are a lot of recipes to be found on how to do it.

Meat is always a difficult decision, as organic meat can be pricey. But when you think about the chemicals that are being used in order to make it more profitable for the processors, you should always spend the money to buy organic. There are a lot of studies on the effects of the hormones and antibiotics that are being used on meat.

Seafood, is a very hard food to judge when it comes to organic. There are no real regulations on what is organic seafood, so the best choice you can make is to stay away from fish that is known to contain high levels of mercury and PCB's. Bluefish, tuna, swordfish, and shellfish have high levels of both, otherwise you must do research on the latest studies.

Any manufacturer can put organic on the label, as long as they have used some organic ingredients. Be very wary of any processed and packaged food as what they say and what they actually are is not necessarily the same thing. Your best choice is to stay away from them, but if you choose to purchase them, do your research. Know what is actually in them, and find out how ethical the company is.

Choosing organic does not mean you have to go broke. Do your research and shop around for the best prices. With the Internet it becomes very easy to find the best prices on organic products and not break your budget.

Today, people are very health conscious. They exercise more and tend to go for healthier food. As demand for organic food is high, the cost of it increases too. Organic foods are healthy and finding fruits and vegetables that are organically grown in supermarkets is not easy because not all supermarkets carry them.

Organic foods are more difficult to produce and there are more work in which it is planted and harvested. This means that more manpower is needed and thus the cost of it is more expensive. Also, farmers do not use chemical to protect the food. They use other ways to care for the food and thus making the growth process very tedious. As more money is needed to grow these type of food, they will charge more so as to recoup their cost and time.

Farmers need to buy land in order to grow fresh organic vegetables and fruits. However, the yield of organic food is much lesser than with conventional methods. This means that a land will produce lesser food then it would otherwise produce. So they tend to increase the price of organic food so that they can make a good profit.

As you can see, growing organic food is not cheap. However, many people still wonder why organic foods don't cost less. They think that as they do not need to use chemicals to protect the food, they should be able to save some money and pass on the savings to the consumers. This is simply not the case.

While people always want to eat healthy food, some may not want to buy organic food due to the high cost. If you cannot convince yourself that the 10% - 30% markup is justifiable, organic food is not for you.

Now, it is time for some good news. Today, more farmers are growing organic foods. This means that the technology will improve. Hopefully, there will be new ideas implemented in the near future that will lower the overall cost to produce these food and pass the savings to the consumers so that more people can get to enjoy eating healthier food.

Oct 3, 2009

Organic is best

Spreading and growing naturally--for fruits and vegetables, that's the essence of organic gardening. Improvements can spread and grow naturally on the shop floor, too. Just as organically grown produce has benefits that are unattainable when artificial fertilizers and pesticides are applied, a shop's workforce can benefit more from developing new habits and adopting new techniques without a strong management push. It's better that way.

Many companies that make the move to lean manufacturing experience this phenomenon. The typical story goes something like this: One part of the shop floor is designated as a pilot area for lean implementation. The first step usually involves 5S, a systematic effort to "sort, shine, simplify, standardize and sustain" an organized workspace. Although the initial participants may resist at first, they are won over by the gratifying results of this "lean enabling" experience. The reduction in wasted time, motion and material is apparent--and not only to this group of pioneers, but also to the rest of the shop.

Before long, workers in other areas begin to copy the same principles on their own. Clutter begins to disappear. Tools and fixtures get designated spots. Soon, additional groups are clamoring to be next in line to join the lean transformation.

Promoting this sort of organic, "from within" change ought to be a goal for managers, regardless of whether lean manufacturing is under consideration. As the organic farmer or gardener can attest, taking the natural approach is mostly a matter of awareness and commitment. It does not necessarily mean more time, effort or money. Mulching with compost, for example, is likely to be as effective and economical as putting chemicals into the soil. Likewise, managers should be skeptical of imposing changes by mandate, even if positive gains in the short term seem to validate this tack. Rather, getting a production team involved in decision making leads to better choices and a smoother execution.

Because lean manufacturing is an on-going, systematic effort to eliminate the sources of waste in a production process, it doesn't simply happen on its own. Lean manufacturing is implemented step by step, with each step accompanied by a purposeful, conscious strategy that looks toward specific, measurable results. Lean techniques can grow, spread and be sustained organically within an organization, but this happens only when lean thinking and lean practice are properly cultivated.

Even used figuratively, that word precisely captures what must take place. Managers must tend patiently and consistently to the wants of customers and to the needs of employees on the production line. Managers have to care.

Oct 2, 2009

Troubleshooting Your Organic Vegetables

You have now planted your own organic vegetable garden and have done everything that you can to get it started. Unfortunately the seeds have not started sprouting or your started seeds have not grown much if it all. Before you throw in the towel and give up on organic gardening there are a few things that you should try.

First of all, have you been hand weeding your garden daily? This might sound like a pain and stupid chore but it could make all the difference in the world. Make a point of visiting your vegetable garden each day and carefully checking for weeds. Do not let the children do it and do not rely on a glance from your back window to tell you whether weeds are growing or not.

Many gardeners have done casual checks and later realized that the sprouts they thought were growing in their garden were really weeds. Make a close inspection each day and weed by hand to make sure the job is thoroughly done. Throw these weeds away do NOT put them into your compost pit. In order to get the best results dedicate 20 minutes each day to pulling weeds.

If you have been weeding your garden each day and your plants still seem to be growing slowly start adding rich, aged, compost to the slow growing vegetables. Many plants just need a helping hand and some vegetables, corn, pumpkins, and squash, all need compost to provide richness and nutrients. Spreading some aged compost from your composts pits will help your vegetables grow properly.

After adding compost to your vegetables every few days leads to no results consider investing in some manure from your local garden supplier. They will often have organic manure on hand for your gardening needs and this will act as a stronger fertilizer than your compost. If you are afraid to try manure you can invest in some aged compost purchased from a nursery first. In many cases your compost pits will only be a few weeks old when you are trying to use them to encourage growth some older compost might just do the trick.

Do not be afraid to increase the amount of water that you are giving your garden. You should be careful not to over water your plants but you want to make sure that your plants are getting enough water to survive and thrive. When you water your plants in the morning always check to see if the soil appears dry. If the soil seems dry one day after watering you might want to consider increasing the amount of water you are giving them. The soil should always be a little damp around your plants.

Lastly, do not be afraid to spray your homemade pesticide or even a bit of diluted soapy water on your plants to get ride of insects. If you notice a lot of pests are attracted to your vegetable garden consider spraying once every ten days or once every two weeks. Also, spray diluted soapy water directly onto vegetables that have insects on them all the time.

Oct 1, 2009

Salad bars and fruit and vegetable consumption

Fruit and vegetable consumption has been linked to the prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, some cancers, heart disease, and obesity. Many health organizations strongly advise people of all ages to eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day. However, American children only eat an average of three and a half servings daily. School environment interventions combined with classroom curricula have shown the greatest promise for changing behaviors.

Because most children eat at least one meal at school per day, the school cafeteria remains an important setting for exploring connections between the environment and student's dietary habits. Salad bars have become a recommended method to increase fruit and vegetable consumption without strong evidence of their effectiveness. Therefore, a recent study in JADA used plate waste weighing to determine if elementary school students with self-service salad bars consume more fruits and vegetables compared with students served proportioned amounts determined by cafeteria staff.

Two-hundred ninety-four students in first grade through fifth grade were randomly selected from two schools with salad bars and two with proportioned servings. Fruits and vegetables were measured to the nearest gram after students selected their fruit and vegetable items but before the entree items. Consumption was calculated by subtracting the fruit and vegetable postconsumption weight from preconsumption weight.

Students who attended schools with salad bars present took 112 70 g fruits and vegetables compared with 104 86 g taken by students at nonsalad bar schools. These differences were not statistically significant. Fruit and vegetable consumption was positively related to the number of fruit and vegetable items offered at salad bars. The number of items offered varied by the schools with the two salad bars schools offering four and seven items each and the preportioned schools offering five items each.

The results do not support the hypothesis that salad bars increase fruit and vegetable consumption among elementary school students. Since fruit and vegetable variety of salad bars was associated with greater consumption, the findings provide some suggestions about the mechanisms by which variety could increase consumption. Some limitations of this study include the small number of schools studied and that each school was sampled on one day only. Further studies should include other potential environmental mediators of salad bar effectiveness, such as location, presentation, and interaction with entrees.

Sep 30, 2009

Tips of Building Your Own Greenhouse


It's a great idea to have your own greenhouse, but finding where you can purchase cheap greenhouses is not so easy. Now you can build your own greenhouse for a fraction of the price with great online diy greenhouse plans. Before you get started though, you might want to read these handy tips for building your own greenhouse.

Tip #1. Before you get started, you will want to research a few different types of greenhouse designs to see which might be the right design for you. Depending on the amount of space you have available and the kind of food you want to grow, you will have a few different designs that will best suit your needs.

For those with limited space, consider a flat greenhouse or hot bed. These are excellent for growing vegetables as well as low running fruit and berries such as strawberries. They are designed so that you can get into them and work them easily. If you want to grow plants that need to climb such as tomatoes then you will want to build yourself a tall greenhouse. These are great for balconies too as they take up very little ground space, but can produce a decent amount of fruit and vegetables.

Tip #2. For larger greenhouses, there are a variety of different designs from hoop to lean to as well as Victorian. Each has its own benefits and limitations, but each has ample room for you to move around in. Hoop greenhouses can be built very cheaply because they can be made entirely from PCV piping, but they take up a fair amount of space and are not as durable as some of the other designs. Getting a greenhouse guide that will show you each of the designs and explain to you how best they can be used is an excellent investment.

Tip #3. Ventilation in your greenhouses is very important and knowing how to moderate the climate inside your greenhouse, no matter what the temperature outside is vital. When deciding what kind of greenhouse to build, it's worth the investment of finding a greenhouse plan guide that includes information on how keep your greenhouse temperate when the weather outside is not ideal.

A good greenhouse diy guide will also tell you how to keep your soil healthy, how to keep your greenhouse from fungus and mould and also how to keep unwanted bugs at bay.

Sep 29, 2009

Growing Runner Beans

The ideal plant for the beginner gardener. If the soil is prepared well with lots of compost, runner beans are very forgiving vegetables. The foliage is attractive, and the red or white flowers making this a beautiful garden feature.

Runner beans prefer a position in full sun, although they tolerate part shade very well. Because of their height, they should not be grown in areas exposed to winds, they will easily be blown over.

Remember also that their foliage is very thick and this results in them casting deep shade over a wide area. Useful for some vegetables but not so good for others.

Part of the 'legume' family of vegetables, runner beans are able to extract nitrogen from the air and fix it in little nodules on its roots. For this reason, the soil should not be rich in nitrogen, which would only result in lots of leafy growth and few beans. The ideal soil is deeply dug with lots of well-rotted organic matter (peat or peat substitute is ideal) incorporated. This will ensure that the soil is capable of holding lots of water, a key need of runner beans.

If unprotected, Runner Beans are in almost all cases damaged by any degree of frost. Where the seedlings have appeared above the soil surface and a late unexpected frost strikes, it is best to remove them and plant more seeds in their place. The best time to plant Runner Beans outside is a week before the last frost.

Cloches or supported plastic will protect them if a late frost is predicted, as will plastic bottles with the bottom cut off placed over the seedlings. The other alternative is to sow the seeds in peat pots and initially grow them on the windowsill until all danger of frost has passed and then plant them, peat pots and all, directly into the ground. Remember to soak the peat pots in water prior to planting so that they will quickly break down in the soil.

A good tip for extending the cropping season of runner beans is to sow half the seeds indoors or in a greenhouse. When you come to sowing time, sow the seeds as normal on one side of the row and plant the indoor reared plants on the other (see picture on right). The indoor grown plants will crop first, followed by those sown directly in the ground a couple of weeks later.

Runner Beans can be given a head start (about four weeks) by sowing them inside and / or under cloches. Simply place the poly-tunnel in position two weeks before sowing (to warm up the soil), then sow the seed three or four weeks earlier than normal.

Supporting Runner Beans

Runner beans grow to about 1.8m (6 foot) high and they definitely need support. The idea is to provide a structure which their tendrils can grow round and pull the plant up.

picture of runner bean wigwamThe most attractive form of support is a wigwam - four or five bamboo canes tied together at the top will be sufficient. The growth at the top will be a bit crowded, but this structure will still produce a good crop of beans.
It is a good idea to twist some gardening twine round the bamboo canes, this will give the growing plants more to grab hold of.

Where space is really short, this type of structure can be used for container growing runner beans. In this case, insert one cane centrally in the container, tie six or so lengths of garden twine to the top of the cane and secure the other ends of the twine to the edge of the container. Plant three or four seeds, which will then grow up the twine. The plants will need their tips pinching out when they reach the top of the twine.

Other methods are to erect a criss-cross of canes, each pair tied together at the top, or simply a line of canes connected together with mesh netting. Both are illustrated in the diagrams below. Finally, don't forget that runner beans can be be grown up an existing fence which has been covered with mesh netting.


Two poles tied at the top - erect a row like this with each pair joined to the next with nylon twine.
row of runner beans
A single row of canes with plastic mesh

Wigwam support
Runner beans cane supports
Row of canes support

Caring For Your Runner Beans
The requirements of runner beans are simple - water and weeding, possibly some feeding. All three can be accomplished by a mulch of organic material spread round the plants - this will help retain moisture, keep the weeds down and gently feed the plants. If the soil has been prepared as described previously the only other attention is hand watering in very dry conditions, especially as the flower buds begin to develop. Finally, pinch out the growing tips when the plants reach the top of the supports.

Sep 28, 2009

How to control garden aphids organically

Bugged by bugs? Afraid of using toxic chemicals in your yard? There are many ways to control garden pests the natural way. Aphids are a very common garden pest which can be easily controlled without dangerous chemicals.
  1. Step 1

    The first, and most important step, is to identify the insect in question. Many bugs are in fact GOOD for your garden! This is why it is a bad idea to spray with poisonous chemicals - they kill everything, not only the "bad" bugs. If in doubt, there are many internet databases which will help you identify insects. Your county extension may also be useful.
    To be sure you have aphids - if leaves look puckered or wrinkly, look on underside of leaves. Aphids are very small (1/16-1/4 inch), pear-shaped, soft-bodied insects. They can be many colors, but are typically green or grayish. They can also be found on the stems of plants. They do not chew holes in leaves, but rather suck the sap of plants.

  2. Step 2

    One method of control for aphids is to encourage natural predators. Ladybugs, hoverflies, lacewings, and certain small wasps will usually control the aphids for you. If you do not spray your yard with pesticides, these predators should already be present. Plant a wide variety of flowers to keep attracting these good bugs to your garden.

  3. Step 3

    If you do find that you have an intolerable amount of aphids, the next step is physical control. Since they are small, soft, and slow, you can just rub them off your plants with your fingers. They can also be hosed off the plants with a strong spray of plain water.

  4. Step 4

    When beneficial insects and physical controls are not sufficient, you can use insecticidal soap. This is commercially available - be sure to follow directions. It is considered organic as it does not harm beneficial insects and does not persist in the environment. You must spray the aphids directly.

  5. Step 5

    A good strategy for preventing aphid attacks is companion planting. Marigolds planted around vegetables and roses will keep aphids (and other pests) away. Many people also swear by garlic plants or other heavily scented herbs.

Tips & Warnings
  • Attracting beneficial insects and other predators to your garden is always the best way of controlling pests organically. Let nature do your work for you!
  • Chemical pesticides kill good bugs along with your pests. The pests will return, but the good ones may not.

Start an Organic Garden Pest Control

Starting an organic garden pest control program is a smart way to help the environment. Avoiding the use of harmful chemicals is also safer for you and your family to eat. An organic vegetable garden requires some hard work and a pest management program that is different than traditional methods. Here are some steps to take that will help you start an organic garden pest control program.
  1. Step 1

    Avoid the use of any man made chemical pesticides including insecticides and herbicides whenever possible. An organic garden pest control program replaces the use of harmful chemicals to the environment. While pesticides typically do their job - they can also harm helpful insects like butterflies and bees from doing their job.

  2. Step 2

    Promote a healthy environment for helpful insects as part of your organic garden pest control program. Include plants in your organic garden that attracts butterflies, bees, and birds. Birds and a few insects are actually natural forms of pest control as many other bad insects will avoid them.

  3. Step 3

    Include plants and herbs that naturally fend of harmful insects and other pests. For example, plants like garlic and tansy will distract harmful insects like mosquitoes from coming into your garden. Other plants and herbs you may want to consider using as part of your organic garden pest control program - onions, mint, hyssop, horseradish, geranium, lavender, rue, and thyme.

  4. Step 4

    Use manual pest control methods that include weeding and pruning instead of using a herbicide to kill weeds. Another method is to hand pick worms and other insects off your plant as a form of pest control that does not use harmful chemicals. You should also try and use compost and several inches of rich topsoil to promote healthy roots.

  5. Step 5

    Educate yourself on what works best as part of your organic garden pest control program. The key to success is to use multiple methods of pest control including the ones listed earlier. Take notes on what works best so you can improve your control.

Sep 26, 2009

Bitter Gourd or Bitter Melon - Gardening



Scientific Name : Momordica Charantia L.
Family : Cucurbitacea
Colour : Light Green
Common names : Bitter gourd, Bitter melon, Bitter cucumber, Karela (Hindi), Balsam pear, Balsam apple
Best Season : Throughout the year

Nutritional Value : 44 kcal, 5.6 g protein, 290 mg calcium, 5 mg iron, 5.1 mg vitamin A, 170 mg vitamin C per 100 g serving.

Bitter gourd is a fast growing warm seasonal climbing annual, native to South Asia. Considered one of the most nutritious gourds, the plant has medicinal properties. A compound known as 'charantin' present in the bitter gourd is used in the treatment of diabetes to lower blood sugar levels. The plant also has a rich amount of Vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, phosphorus and carbohydrates. There are several varieties available, having fruits 3-4 inches to even 12inches in length.

This vine has a slender hairy stem with numerous branches and dense foliage. The plant grows up to 6 feet tall and develops small, yellow flowers both male and female, on the same plant. The fruits are green usually oblong, has an irregular surface with warts and 8-10 vertical ridges. When ripe, the fruits turn yellowish orange in colour.

Propagation and Planting :
Mainly a warm season plant, bitter gourd thrives in hot and humid climates. Propagation is through direct seeding and transplanting. The best medium for the seeds is a fertile, well drained soil with a pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.7, enriched with organic matter, such as compost or dried manure. But it will tolerate any soil that provide a good drainage system. The soil must be prepared well by adding organic matter before planting.

Two or three seeds can be sown together in a pit 1/2 inch deep. Water lightly. For better results soak the seeds in water 24 hours before sowing. The seeds will germinate in 2-3 days. The germinated seeds can be replanted on raised beds 18-20 inches apart. Transplants should be done in such a way as to avoid disturbance to the root system.

As the plants grow, place poles 2m.high and give wire or twine supports in rows across the poles.

Regular watering with plenty of water is essential for its growth. Flowers will start appearing in 5-6 weeks and fruition will occur between two to four months. Mature fruits are ready to be picked within3 months from planting and they will be light green and juicy with white flesh but bitter. Pick the fruits every 2-3 days when they are still at the tender stage. Regular picking is important as fruits will become more bitter as they mature and it can also hamper the growth of new fruits.

Leave some fruits to reach full maturity if they have to be reserved for subsequent crops. When fully mature, the fruits will break open on its own and release brown or white seeds which can be collected.

Problems and Care :
Vines should be pruned at the tips when female flowers start developing to encourage branching and fast bearing. Regular fertilizing is essential for its growth. Water immediately after applying fertilizers.

Bitter gourd is susceptible to many diseases and insect pests. It is susceptible to watermelon mosaic virus, other cucurbit viruses and powdery mildew, which can be controlled by sulfur dust. Rust disease is controlled by spraying foliage with oxycarboxin. The fruits are subject to attack by various fruit flies and fruit rots. Pests attack on fruits can be prevented by wrapping fruits with newspapers, when they are about a few centimetres long.

Sep 25, 2009

Fruit and vegetable - types

Types of fruit
Fruit is the sweet, fleshy, edible portion of a plant. It generally contains seeds. Fruits are usually eaten raw, although some varieties can be cooked. They come in a wide variety of colours, shapes and flavours. Common types of fruits that are readily available include:
  • Pome – apples and pears
  • Citrus – oranges, grapefruits, mandarins and limes
  • Stonefruit – nectarines, apricots, peaches and plums
  • Tropical and exotic – bananas and mangoes
  • Berries – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwifruit and passionfruit
  • Melons – watermelons, rock melons and honey dew melons
  • Tomatoes and avocados.
Types of vegetables
Vegetables are often cooked, although some kinds (salad vegetables) are eaten raw. Vegetables are available in many varieties and can be classified into biological groups or ‘families’, including:
  • Leafy green – lettuce, spinach and silverbeet
  • Crucifer – cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and broccoli
  • Cucurbits – pumpkin, cucumber and zucchini
  • Root – potato, sweet potato and yam
  • Edible plant stem – celery and asparagus
  • Allium – onion, garlic and shallot.
Legumes
Legumes or pulses contain nutrients that are especially valuable. Legumes need to be cooked before they are eaten; this improves their nutritional quality, aids digestion and eliminates any harmful toxins. Legumes come in many forms including:
  • Soy products – tofu (bean curd) and soybeans
  • Legume flours – chickpea flour (besan), lentil flour and soy flour
  • Dried beans and peas – haricot beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils
  • Fresh beans and peas – green peas, green beans, butter beans, broad beans and snow peas.
Colour is the key to healthy food
Maximum health and protection against disease comes from eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines recommend that adults eat at least five kinds of vegetable and two kinds of fruit every day.

Foods of similar colours generally contain similar protective compounds so try to eat a rainbow of colourful fruits and vegetables every day to get the full range of health benefits. For example:
  • Red foods – like tomatoes and watermelon contain lycopene, which is thought to be important for fighting prostate cancer and heart disease.
  • Green vegetables – like spinach and kale contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help protect against age-related eye disease.
  • Blue and purple foods – like blueberries and eggplant contain anthocyanins, which may help protect the body from cancer.
  • White foods – like cauliflower contain sulforaphane, which may also help protect against cancer.
Things to remember
  • Fruits and vegetables contain important vitamins, minerals and ‘plant chemicals’.
  • There are many varieties of fruit and vegetables available.
  • Eat five kinds of vegetable and two kinds of fruit every day for good health.
  • A diet high in fruit and vegetables can help protect against cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Fruit and vegetables - choosing and preparing

Fruit and vegetables are an important part of your daily diet. They are naturally good and contain vitamins and minerals that can help keep you healthy. Research shows that other compounds, phytochemicals or antioxidants, can also help protect against some diseases.

There are many varieties of fruit and vegetables available and they can be prepared, cooked and served in a variety of ways. Eat five kinds of vegetable and two kinds of fruit every day for good health.

Select for freshness, variety and appeal
When buying and serving fruit and vegetables, go with variety for maximum nutrients and appeal. Select a mix of seasonal fruits and vegetables from the different groups and choose for freshness and quality.

  • Eat with the seasons – this is nature’s way of making sure our bodies get a healthy mix of nutrients and plant chemicals.
  • Try something new – try out a new recipe each week and buy a new fruit or vegetable as part of your weekly shopping.
  • Let colours guide you – different colours generally indicate different combinations of nutrients. So, put a rainbow of colours (green, white, yellow/orange, blue/purple, red) on your plate.
Serving suggestions for your family’s health
Vegetables and fruit are a handy snack food and are easily carried to work or school. Include them in everyone’s meals and most snacks for a healthy well-balanced diet. Some suggestions include:
  • Keep snack-size fruit and vegetable portions easily accessible in your fridge.
  • Keep fresh fruit on the bench or table.
  • Add fruit and vegetables to your favourite family recipes or as additions to your usual menus.
  • Use the colour and texture of a variety of fruit and vegetables to spice up your meals.
  • Think up new ways to serve fruits and vegetables, including:
  • Fruit and vegetable salads
  • Vegetable stir-fries
  • Raw fruit and vegetables
  • Vegetable soups
  • Snack-pack, stewed or canned fruits or dried fruits.
  • Limit fruit juice, as it does not contain the same amount of nutrients as fresh fruit and contains a lot of sugars, even though they may be ‘natural’. Choose water and a serve of fruit.
Preparation and cooking
Cooking and processing can damage some nutrients and phytochemicals in plant foods. It is important to prepare and cook your fruit and vegetables to retain maximum vitamin and mineral content. Some suggestions to get the best out of your fruit and vegetables include:
  • Many vegetables and fruits can be eaten raw or pureed into
  • smoothies.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut fresh fruits to avoid bruising.
  • Cut off only the ‘inedible’ parts of vegetables – sometimes the best nutrients are found in the skin, just below the skin or in the leaves.
  • Use stir-fry, grill, microwave, bake or steam methods with non-stick cookware and mono-unsaturated oils.
  • Avoid overcooking to reduce nutrient loss.
  • Serve with pestos, salsas, chutneys and vinegars in place of sour creams, butter and creamy sauces.
  • Nutrients such as carotenoids may actually be increased if food is cooked. For example, tomato has more carotenoids when cooked – a good reason to choose a variety of ways to prepare fruits and vegetables.
Once you’ve prepared and cooked your vegetables and fruit, spend some time on presentation. You are more likely to enjoy a meal if it’s full of variety and visually appealing as well as tasty. Sit at the table to eat and enjoy your food without distractions like television.

Things to remember
  • A diet high in fruit and vegetables can help protect against cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
  • There are many varieties of fruit and vegetables available and many ways to prepare, cook and serve them.
  • When buying and serving fruit and vegetables, go with variety for maximum nutrients and appeal.
  • Cooking and processing can damage some nutrients and phytochemicals in plant foods, while other phytochemicals are more available when food is cooked. Serve a variety of raw and cooked vegetables and fruit.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale, contain compounds that may help prevent cancer. These compounds appear to stop enzymes from activating cancer-causing agents in the body, and they increase the activity of enzymes that disable and eliminate carcinogens.
Epidemiological studies have long suggested a connection between these vegetables and resistance to cancer. However, only in the past decade have we begun to understand how these compounds work.
Sulfur-Containing Phytonutrients Promote Liver Detoxification
We now know that cruciferous vegetables contain both glucosinolates and thiocyanates (including sulforaphane and isothiocyanate). These compounds increase the liver's ability to neutralize potentially toxic substances.
If potentially toxic molecules are not properly and rapidly detoxified in the liver, they can damage cell membranes and molecules such as DNA within the cell nucleus. Such damage can start a chain reaction that may eventually lead to carcinogenesis-cell deregulation and uncontrolled growth.
Many enzymes found in cauliflower also help with the detoxifying process. These enzymes include glutathione transferase, glucuronosyl transferase, and quinone reductase.
Both animal and human studies show increased detoxification enzyme levels from high-glucosinolate diets. Researchers suggest that this helps explain the epidemiological association between a high intake of cruciferous vegetables and a decreased risk of certain cancers.
New Research Expands our Understanding of How Cruciferous Vegetables Help Prevent Cancer
New research has greatly advanced scientists' understanding of just how cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts help prevent cancer. When these vegetables are cut, chewed or digested, a sulfur-containing compound called sinigrin is brought into contact with the enzyme myrosinase, resulting in the release of glucose and breakdown products, including highly reactive compounds called isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates are not only potent inducers of the liver's Phase II enzymes, which detoxify carcinogens, but research recently conducted at the Institute for Food Research in the U.K. shows one of these compounds, allyl isothicyanate, also inhibits mitosis (cell division) and stimulates apoptosis (programmed cell death) in human tumor cells.
Sulforaphane, a compound formed when cruciferous vegetables are chopped or chewed, is already known to trigger the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify cancer-causing chemicals, inhibit chemically-induced breast cancers in animal studies, and induce colon cancer cells to commit suicide.
An in vitro study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that sulforaphane can also help stop the proliferation of breast cancer cells, even in the later stages of their growth.
Sulforaphane may also offer special protection to those with colon cancer-susceptible genes, suggests a study conducted at Rutgers University and published online on May 4, 2006, in the journal Carcinogenesis.
In this study, researchers sought to learn whether sulforaphane could inhibit cancers arising from one's genetic makeup. Rutgers researchers Ernest Mario, Ah-Ng Tony Kong and colleagues used mice bred with a genetic mutation that switches off the tumor suppressor gene known as APC, the same gene that is inactivated in the majority of human colon cancers. Animals with this mutation spontaneously develop intestinal polyps, the precursors to colon cancer. The study found that animals who were fed sulforaphane had tumors that were smaller, grew more slowly and had higher apoptotic (cell suicide) indices. Additionally, those fed a higher dose of sulforaphane had less risk of developing polyps than those fed a lower dose.
The researchers found that sulforaphane suppressed certain kinase enzymes. These cell signaling enzymes are expressed not only in laboratory animals, but also in humans, and the ones supppressed by sulforaphane are involved in activities that promote colon cancer.
According to lead researcher, Dr. Kong, "Our study corroborates the notion that sulforaphane has chemopreventive activity…Our research has substantiated the connection between diet and cancer prevention, and it is now clear that the expression of cancer-related genes can be influenced by chemopreventive compounds in the things we eat."
Human population as well as animal studies consistently show that diets high in cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, are associated with lower incidence of certain cancers, including lung, colon, breast and ovarian cancer. Now, research published in the International Journal of Cancer (Zhao H, Lin J) suggests that bladder cancer can join the list.
University of Texas researchers analyzed the diets of 697 newly diagnosed bladder cancer cases and 708 healthy controls matched by age, gender and ethnicity. Average daily intake of cruciferous vegetables was significantly lower in those with bladder cancer than in healthy controls.
Those eating the most cruciferous vegetables were found to have a 29% lower risk of bladder cancer compared to participants eating the least of this family of vegetables.
Crucifers' protective benefits were even more pronounced in three groups typically at higher risk for bladder cancer: men, smokers, and older individuals (aged at least 64).
Diagnosed in about 336,000 people every year worldwide, bladder cancer is three times more likely to affect men than women, according to the European School of Oncology.
Crucifers' well known cancer-fighting properties are thought to result from their high levels of active phytochemicals called glucosinolates, which our bodies metabolize into powerful anti-carcinogens called isothiocyanates.
Isothiocyanates offer the bladder, in particular, significant protection, most likely because the majority of compounds produced by isothiocyanate metabolism travel through the bladder en route to excretion in the urine, suggested the researchers.

Sep 23, 2009

Tips to help you eat vegetables

Vegetables

CarrotsIn general:

  • Buy fresh vegetables in season.They cost less and are likely to be at their peak flavor.
  • Stock up on frozen vegetables for quick and easy cooking in the microwave.
  • Buy vegetables that are easy to prepare. Pick up pre-washed bags of salad greens and add baby carrots or grape tomatoes for a salad in minutes. Buy packages of veggies such as baby carrots or celery sticks for quick snacks.
  • Use a microwave to quickly “zap” vegetables. White or sweet potatoes can be baked quickly this way.
  • Vary your veggie choices to keep meals interesting.
  • Try crunchy vegetables, raw or lightly steamed.
For the best nutritional value:
  • Select vegetables with more potassium often, such as sweetpotatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products (paste, sauce, and juice), beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, winter squash, spinach, lentils, kidney beans, and split peas.
  • Less sodiumSauces or seasonings can add calories, fat, and sodium to vegetables. Use the Nutrition Facts label to compare the calories and % Daily Value for fat and sodium in plain and seasoned vegetables.
  • Prepare more foods from fresh ingredients to lower sodium intake. Most sodium in the food supply comes from packaged or processed foods.
  • Buy canned vegetables labeled “no salt added.” If you want to add a little salt it will likely be less than the amount in the regular canned product.
Stir fryAt meals:
  • Plan some meals around a vegetable main dish, such as a vegetable stir-fry or soup. Then add other foods to complement it.
  • Try a main dish salad for lunch. Go light on the salad dressing.
  • Include a green salad with your dinner every night.
  • Shred carrots or zucchini into meatloaf, casseroles, quick breads, and muffins.
  • Include chopped vegetables in pasta sauce or lasagna.
  • Vegetarian pizzaOrder a veggie pizza with toppings like mushrooms, green peppers, and onions, and ask for extra veggies.
  • Use pureed, cooked vegetables such as potatoes to thicken stews, soups and gravies. These add flavor, nutrients, and texture.
  • Grill vegetable kabobs as part of a barbecue meal. Try tomatoes, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions.
Make vegetables more appealing:
  • Many vegetables taste great with a dip or dressing. Try a low-fat salad dressing with raw broccoli, red and green peppers, celery sticks or cauliflower.
  • Add color to saladAdd color to salads by adding baby carrots, shredded red cabbage, or spinach leaves. Include in-season vegetables for variety through the year.
  • Include cooked dry beans or peas in flavorful mixed dishes, such as chili or minestrone soup.
  • Decorate plates or serving dishes with vegetable slices.
  • Keep a bowl of cut-up vegetables in a see-through container in the refrigerator. Carrot and celery sticks are traditional, but consider broccoli florettes, cucumber slices, or red or green pepper strips.
Vegetables as snacksVegetable tips for children:
  • Set a good example for children by eating vegetables with meals and as snacks.
  • Let children decide on the dinner vegetables or what goes into salads.
  • Depending on their age, children can help shop for, clean, peel, or cut up vegetables.
  • Allow children to pick a new vegetable to try while shopping.
  • Use cut-up vegetables as part of afternoon snacks.
  • Children often prefer foods served separately. So, rather than mixed vegetables try serving two vegetables separately.
Clean vegetablesKeep it safe:
  • Wash vegetables before preparing or eating them. Under clean, running water, rub vegetables briskly with your hands to remove dirt and surface microorganisms. Dry after washing.
  • Keep vegetables separate from raw meat, poultry and seafood while shopping, preparing, or storing.

Sep 22, 2009

The Least Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables

There's lots of reasons to buy organic. First, it's better for the environment. No pesticides means healthier soil, water, and wildlife. Buying organic supports small farmers. Organic farmers can earn a fairer price for organic produce compared to factory farming. Organic farming is good for biodiversity. Organic farmers are growing a wide variety of non-genetically modified (non-GMO) fruits and vegetables. Where factory farming has shrinked our choices in the supermarket to one or two types of any produce variety, organic farmers are resurrecting many heirloom varieties.

Finally, organic foods are healthier for you. The research on whether consuming organic food is healthier for people remains inconclusive. However, the USDA's own tests show that most non-organic produce contain residual pesticides even after washing. The long term effects of consuming these pesticides has not been sufficiently studied, but they can't be good for you.
In a perfect world, we would buy all of our groceries organic. Unfortunately, organic food is still more expensive (although the price is continually dropping) or even unavailable. To make wiser consumer choices here is a list of produce with the highest level of pesticide contamination. The following list is based on information and studies by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Consumer Reports, and the Environmental Working Group.

  1. Nectarines – 97.3% of nectarines sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  2. Celery – 94.5% of celery sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  3. Pears – 94.4% of pears sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  4. Peaches – 93.7% of peaches sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  5. Apples – 91% of apples sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  6. Cherries – 91% of cherries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  7. Strawberries – 90% of strawberries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  8. Imported Grapes – 86% of imported grapes (i.e. Chile) sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  9. Spinach – 83.4% of spinach sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  10. Potatoes – 79.3% of potatoes sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  11. Bell Peppers – 68% of bell peppers sampled were found to contain pesticides.
  12. Red Raspberries – 59% of red raspberries sampled were found to contain pesticides.
Here is a list of fruits and vegetables found to contain the least amount of pesticides. Notice that many of these have thick, inedible skins which protect the fruit.

  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn (However, almost all corn is genetically modified)
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes
  • Onions
  • Papaya
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet Peas


Sep 20, 2009

How to Plant in Clay Soil

Clay soil can be discouraging to the home gardener both for the difficulty in digging and the potential death grip it can put on plants and flowers. But for all its drawbacks, clay soil does not have to keep you from having a beautiful landscape if you use a little hard work and careful planting.

Plant Effectively in Clay Soil

Step 1

Choosing the right plant is essential. Some plants that grow well in clay include: blue star flowers, swamp sunflowers, daylilies, Autumn Joy sedum, goldenrods and ornamental grasses such as switchgrass and Indian grass. The local nursery will help you with this as well. Look for hearty varieties that do not require good drainage or plants that grow well in pots.

Step 2
Using the pick ax, chop up the soil in the area you wish to plant. Chop up the ground in a circle roughly twice as big as the root-ball or pot of your plant.

Step 3
Using the shovel, dig a hole about six inches deeper than the root-ball or pot of your plant. You may have to alternate between the axe and the shovel depending on how hard the ground is. If it's excessively dry, soak the area you chopped up with the axe with water overnight to loosen the soil.

Step 4
Place a four-inch base of soil mixed with the compost mulch in the bottom of the hole. Then add roughly two inches of mulch and sprinkle plant fertilizer over the top of the mulch. Water until moist but avoid standing water.

Step 5
Carefully remove the plant from its pot or loosen the ties on a canvas root-ball. If it has canvas, leave the canvas on the bottom third of the ball as you lower into the hole. Remove the twine, but the canvas can stay to hold the ball together. Backfill around the plant with a mixture of soil and mulch. Slope mulch up and around the plant to an inch away from the base.

Step 6
Water until moist but not flooded. Water carefully the first week and fertilize to add nutrients to the tough terrain.