In Praise of Urban Farming

Agriculture
Agriculture (Photo credit: thegreenpages)

After World War II urban planning separated farming and city living. Cities became food deserts overshadowed by high rises; family farms were replaced by factory farms. As time passed awareness about what we eat, how it’s produced, and concerns about health and environment issues led to a resurgence of backyard gardening, and the emergence of guerrilla gardening, community gardening and urban farming. Continue reading “In Praise of Urban Farming”

Celebrating Strawberries

Fresh, flavorful locally harvested foods are available at the Farmer’s Market in May and June. A variety of crops harvested in fall (squash, apples, endive, garlic, grapes, figs, mushrooms) and winter (kale, radishes, turnips, leeks), complimented by tender spring vegetables and berries grace the stalls and tables.
Continue reading “Celebrating Strawberries”

Creamy Dungeness Crab, Spinach and Pepper Spread

The sun is shining and I’m feeling fabulous. Tonight I’ll be with friends at our Friday finger food night where I’ll share my famous creamy crab spread and rye bread. But now I’m struggling as my monkey mind is generating conflicting ‘clean the house’ and ‘let’s suntan on the deck’ thoughts. Continue reading “Creamy Dungeness Crab, Spinach and Pepper Spread”

Sorbets and Sherbets: Sensational Iced Summer Desserts

sorbetSorbets and Sherbets are two sensational iced summer desserts with a vegetarian difference. Both are made with the same base ingredients ie. puréed fruits, sugar and water, but Sherbets can also contain milk, gelatin, or egg whites. Sorbets do not contain any eggs or dairy products and that makes them vegetarian sweets. Continue reading “Sorbets and Sherbets: Sensational Iced Summer Desserts”

Crops in Posts

geranium2Whose eyes don’t feast on a stunning array of colorful flowers?

Who doesn’t love the fragrance and flavors of the many plants that can be grown on balconies, decks and in other small spaces?

Growing veggies, herbs and flowers in the spaces we live in lifts our spirits. And, I guarantee you will be surprised how much you can grow in containers in very small spaces. Continue reading “Crops in Posts”

Re-energizing After a Lay-Off

energyEveryone is familiar with energy drain. Researchers are studying the links between what we eat, how we work and live and how we feel.  There are different kinds of fatigue and different ways to improve your energy level.  How do you know if your low energy is caused by underlying disease or is the result of lifestyle factors, stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, or normal aging? Continue reading “Re-energizing After a Lay-Off”

7 Energizing Snack Foods for Optimum Health

good foodToday’s nutrition message is ‘dump the junk; eat real food’.  I heard the call to eat healthy and enjoy life and acted on it.  Have you?

Obesity, heart disease and strokes are prevalent. It’s clear that many people aren’t either wise or moderate when it comes to the variety of foods and quantities they consume.  So it’s no surprise the nutrition pendulum has swung back toward eating unaltered food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it. Continue reading “7 Energizing Snack Foods for Optimum Health”

Summer Lingers – Give Thanks

It’s been a long hot summer and though it’s officially fall, summer weather isn’t over yet.  In August and September the Lower Mainland of B.C.  and Vancouver Island  broke a 119 year dry-spell record. We had only 5 mm of precipitation in September and 2.9 mm in August. The woods are tinder dry and we are all on forest fire watch, as we enter this Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend, which promises to hold even more sunshine for us. Continue reading “Summer Lingers – Give Thanks”

A Basket of Kindness

Yesterday, we were the beneficiaries of a random act of kindness. After a long day of renovating and painting, while still running our business, we cleaned up and collapsed on our deck to discuss our plans for supper. I haven’t been feeling well lately and we had just agreed we were both too tired to get into cooking, when we heard a car winding down our long driveway. We both groaned. We were hot, tired and not desirous of company, but we had forgotten to close the gate. Continue reading “A Basket of Kindness”

The Advantages of Buying Locally

veggie basket Although the term “buying locally” can refer to a number of products, produce purchased from farmer’s markets, food co-ops, and local food stands is what usually comes to mind. And though it may be more convenient to have a one-stop-shop for all of your grocery needs, there are some definite benefits to buying your food from a local source, which includes: Continue reading “The Advantages of Buying Locally”

Health and Vegetarian Diets

vegeatblesMy Food Guide by Health Canada allows you to build your own Food Guide with foods that you like. The wide selection of foods from each of the four food groups, including multicultural food choices can help you plan your meals and snacks. By entering personal information, selecting various items from the four food groups and choosing different types of physical activities, you can create a customized personal health tool. Continue reading “Health and Vegetarian Diets”

Food Security: Subversive Plots

veggie basketDid you know that only 10% of the fossil fuels used in the world’s food system actually goes into production? The other 90% goes into packaging, transporting and marketing. In North America the food comprising the average meal travels 2,400 km from place of production to the table. If you are aiming to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on the high cost of food that has travelled thousands of miles to the marketplace then consider starting a vegetable garden. Continue reading “Food Security: Subversive Plots”

Do You Grow Your Greens?

herbs Germaine Greer once said: A garden is the best alternative therapy. A garden is a friend you can visit any time. I heartily agree.  Humans have a deep need to connect with nature. Gardening is a close to nature activity that  many studies have  shown offers health related benefits. The benefits include  improved nutrition, exercise, and a simple and inexpensive way to unwind and relax. Continue reading “Do You Grow Your Greens?”

Blue Camas Love Affair

camas lily Many years ago my friend and I took a new bend in the road on our  weekly woodland walk and happened upon a gorgeous sight — a sea of Blue Camas lilies in full bloom in a Garry Oak meadow.   Enamored by the display before us we exchanged our associations with the color blue.  She snapped numerours pictures which inspired us to include Blue Camas meadows in our  paintings for years to come. She also shared some history about the flowers we were admiring and the ecosystem they grow in. Continue reading “Blue Camas Love Affair”

fruits

Forbidden Foods for Fibromyalgia

fruit salad February was a tumultuous month. March wasn’t much better as end of the year accounting, contract deadlines and tax calculations were on the menu.  I became stressed out, failed to get enough sleep, and didn’t monitor my diet as well as I should have. The result was a fibromyalgia flare-up from which I am now recovering. Continue reading “Forbidden Foods for Fibromyalgia”

Animal Equality

farm animalsAnimal husbandry is the branch of agriculture concerned with breeding and raising of domestic animals such as cattle, hogs, sheep, and poultry  as food or product sources.

“Our society is showered with images of happy animals living on farms where the cows graze in lush green fields and the chickens have the run of the barnyard. This vision of free-roaming animals living out their days in sunny fields is very far from the reality. A majority of the animals that are raised for food live miserable lives in intensive confinement in dark, overcrowded facilities, commonly called factory farms.”

Some concede the necessity of animals for food and products but feel that goals in raising stock should always be focused on the humane caring of animals.  Over the past two decades there has been increased advocacy for the “free-range” care of domestic animals in opposition to the meat industry’s abuse of animals and environmental devastation.

Over the past two decades considerable research has been done on the human-animal connection but almost all of it from the human point of view and focused on companion animals.  We now know that stroking a bunny, cat, chinchilla,  or dog or even watching fish can lower blood pressure. We know animals act as social catalysts for the elderly and people with disabilities, and that a pet can help create a more successful recovery for the victim of a heart attack.

I became aware of “Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others” by Mark Bittman through a link in an email sent to me by a friend who receives DawnWatch.

It’s time to take a look at the line between ‘pet’ and ‘animal.’ When the ASPCA sends an agent to the home of a Brooklyn family to arrest one of its members for allegedly killing a hamster, something is wrong.

“That ‘something’ is this: we protect ‘companion animals’ like hamsters while largely ignoring what amounts to the torture of chickens and cows and pigs. In short, if I keep a pig as a pet, I can’t kick it. If I keep a pig I intend to sell for food, I can pretty much torture it. State laws known as ‘Common Farming Exemptions’ allow industry — rather than lawmakers — to make any practice legal as long as it’s common.

It’s a thought-provoking article. At the heart of animal rights is the knowledge that all animals are sentient beings, capable of suffering and feeling pain. As much as our society values companion animals, there are still many issues regarding cat and dog overpopulation, spaying and neutering, animal cruelty, feral cats, and exotic pets that remain unresolved.

Political advocacy, changes in diets clothing, cosmetics and household products we purchase can help animals raised to become food or products. But what would it be like to live in a society where farm animals and companion animals were treated equally?

Eat Healthy and Enjoy Life

vegetablesWe’ve known for many years that certain foods promote good health — especially fruits, vegetables, fiber, plant oils, and whole grains. But the latest nutritional science shows that there is not a single “healthy diet.” Instead, there are many patterns of eating around the world that sustain good health. A healthy eating pattern also includes enough energy (calories) to fuel the body, but not so much as to cause weight gain. Continue reading “Eat Healthy and Enjoy Life”

Coping with Arthritis

arthritis hands pain imageArthritis affects 46 million people in the U.S. That’s nearly one in five people. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, but the most common is osteoarthritis. It affects men and women in equal numbers.  Arthritis is not an inevitable part of aging, most people develop osteoarthritis after 45, but it can occur at any age. And the good news is that there  are now better treatments to relieve pain, stiffness, and discomfort. Continue reading “Coping with Arthritis”

B12: A Myth and A Note of Caution

B12 bacteriaVitamin B12 is water-soluble and  is needed by every cell in the body. B12 is a vitamin required for blood formation and rapidly growing tissues. Many people say that the only foods which contain vitamin B12 are animal-derived foods.  This  is untrue.  No foods naturally contain vitamin B12 – neither animal or plant foods.  Vitamin B12 is a microbe – a bacteria – it is produced by microorganisms. Vitamin B12 is the only vitamin that contains a trace element – cobalt – which gives this vitamin its chemical name – cobalamin – which is at the centre of its molecular structure.  Humans and all vertebrates require cobalt, although it is assimilated only in the form of vitamin B12.

b12 foodsVitamin B12 is produced exclusively by microorganisms, but is also found in animal flesh due to ingestion, or presence of the micro organisms in the gut. However, since grazing “meat animals” tend to accumulate heavy metals from the environment, it might be suggested that animal sources of B12 are not as “good” a source as might be supposed.

B12 deficiency is most common in elderly white men and least common in black and Asian American women. Hyperhomocysteinemia, which is most strongly associated with low cobalamin concentrations, is also most common in elderly whites, whereas that associated with renal insufficiency is more common in blacks and Asian Americans. Ethnic differences in cobalamin deficiency and the homocysteine patterns associated with it or with renal insufficiency warrant consideration in supplementation strategies.

B vitamins-B-6, B-12 and folate-all nourish the brain. But much remains to be discovered about the relation between these essential nutrients and our brainpower. Low levels of folate are associated with symptoms of depression.  More research is needed because many studies of B vitamins and brain function have given inconsistent or conflicting results.

By now, readers of IVU Online News should aware that vegetarians need to pay attention to their B12 levels. As Dr Michael Greger explains in this video (starting about minute 13) from our friends at Vegetarian Society of Hawaii The Latest in Nutrition (see  also the  VSH Lecture Videos website for  talks by other experts), the consequences of low B12 levels are very serious, including death and lifelong incapacitation.

A recent study comparing B12 levels among meat eaters, lacto ovo vegetarians and vegetarians produced findings strongly suggesting that vegetarians on plant based diets may be more susceptible to low B12 levels and their consequences.

Conclusion: Vegans have lower vitamin B12 concentrations, but higher folate concentrations, than vegetarians and omnivores. Half of the vegans were categorized as vitamin B12 deficient and would be expected to have a higher risk of developing clinical symptoms related to vitamin B12 deficiency.

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010 Jul 21 Serum concentrations of vitamin B12 and folate in British male omnivores, vegetarians and vegans: results from a cross-sectional analysis of the EPIC-Oxford cohort study.

Gilsing AM, Crowe FL, Lloyd-Wright Z, Sanders TA, Appleby PN, Allen NE, Key TJ. Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

vegetarian food pyramidThe B12  dietary sources are animal products meat: fish, poultry, eggs and milk; and nutritional yeast.  Vegans, who consume no animal foods, must take a B12 supplement or eat plant foods fortified with the vitamin. There are many vegan foods fortified with B12. They include non-dairy milks, meat substitutes, breakfast cereals, and one type of nutritional yeast.

The requirement for vitamin B12 is very low. Non-animal sources include Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula or T-6635+ nutritional yeast (a little less than 1 Tablespoon supplies the adult RDA), and vitamin B12 fortified soymilk. It is especially important for pregnant and lactating women, infants, and children to have reliable sources of vitamin B12 in their diets. Excerpted from the book Simply Vegan: Quick Vegetarian Meals by Debra Wasserman.

What Every Vegan Should Know About Vitamin B12

Related articles:

Meat Eaters: The Caveman Argument
The Best Overall Anti-Cancer Diet
Fruits and Vegetables: Reducing Pesticide Exposure
The Raw and Living Food Vegan Diet

Meat Eaters: The Caveman Argument

caveman spearAlthough we can please our taste buds, promote our health, protect the environment, and show kindness towards animals, many are militant about continuing to eat meat.  Ben Ralston, a Yoga Instructor in the in the Sivananda tradition provides three reasons  for becoming a vegetarian in his article THE 3 reasons to be Vegetarian and also addresses ‘what are the reasons for eating meat?’

If we’re really truthful with ourselves, we see that in no way can a meat-based diet be justified; in the light of the environmental, economic, ethical, and health crises that we are living through today, giving up meat is quite simply one of the smartest, and best choices you can make.

Ben’s posting of a Shameless  Blog Promotion thread in the blogcatalog forum produced the same old arguments that many previous forum threads there bear witness to.

urban cavemanThe Caveman Argument

Despite the obesity statistics and the fact that many Americans do not eat a sufficient amount of vegetables and fruits to obtain optimal health, some are resistant to decreasing meats and increasing the vegetable, grains, nuts and fruits component in their diets today, let alone being resistant to the notion of becoming vegetarians. They rely  on a revisionist view of history proclaiming from caveman days onwards  humans have always eaten a  meat based diet. Although a return to the Paleolithic hunter-gatherer lifestyle is not sustainable, it is still what some who argue against vegetarianism  advocate. Photo credit:  Lord Jim Flickr

You really think our “caveman” ancestors and society would have evolved if they had continued foraging for berries and eating roots? The adoption of meat into the human diet provided protein and other nutrients necessary for our evolution. — BiggJ

The archeological facts don’t necessarily support this. Our meat-eating triggered a number of adaptations over countless generations. When humans switched to meat-eating, they triggered  genetic changes that enabled better processing of fats and improved our ability to process cholesterol.

If true, though, the new find reveals unsuspected behavior and dietary habits of the Lucy species, Australopithecus afarensis. Though no hominid fossils were found near the butchered bones, A. afarensis is thought to be the only species living in this region at the time. Their large teeth with thick enamel indicated they subsisted mainly on tubers and other vegetation. – Lucy’s Kin Carved Up a Meaty Meal, Scientists Say

The so-called ‘urban cavemen’ — also known as ‘hunter-gatherers’ and ‘paleos’ — are doing their part of go back to basics with their eating. But pre-historic eating in a post-modern time is challenging — you’re not supposed to consume anything developed after the invention of farming. So, things like bread and sweets are out. What’s in? Meat — and lots of it. Vegetables and fruits are allowed, too. —  Urban Cavemen: Eating Like Our Ancestors Did

Our jaws have become smaller —our teeth are too big for our downsized jaws and most of us need dental work.  Our wisdom teeth don’t have room to fit in the jaw and sometimes don’t form at all, and the propensity to develop gum disease is on the increase.  — Evolving to Eat Mush: How Meat Changed Our Bodies

evolution imagesWere Our Ancestors Meat Eaters?

Despite the image of the noble hunter, the experts believe early hominids probably derived a substantial portion of their meat,  (a minimal component of their diet) by scavenging ie. by driving predators off the carcasses of the animals they had killed.

In his blog entry a vegan palaeontology student reflects on whether our early ancestors were vegetarian and whether that is relevant to whether we should be vegetarian today.

The jury is still out. This touches on the issue of how vegans should handle the caveman argument. Many of us are tempted to strain credulity and torture the evidence to “prove” humans are “naturally” vegan. This is a trap, and one into which carnists (especially paleo-dieters) would love us to fall; the evidence isn’t on our side. There’s no doubt that hominids ate meat. But, it should be remembered that this fact doesn’t tell us very much about an “ideal” human diet, either. Read Were Our Ancestors Meat Eaters?

In a recent article from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, ‘Latitude, local ecology, and hunter-gatherer dietary acid load: implications from evolutionary ecology’, the researchers report that the diet of Homo sapiens’ East African ancestors appears to have been predominantly plant-based.

Stephen Walsh of the Vegan Society helps us understand the concept of ‘acid load’ which is utilized in the article above. In terms of hunter gatherers, animal foods (meat and fish) are acid and plant foods (leaves, fruits, tubers, flowers and many nuts) are alkaline. However, milk is essentially neutral and grains are mostly acid.  See page 63 of Stephen’s Plant Based Nutrition and Health

3 cavemenThe Brain Size Argument

The relatively large human brain and correspondingly high intelligence is  apparent. The object of current research and debate, however, is the examination of what evolutionary factors have driven the development of increased human brain size.

Without the adoption of meat into the human diet, it is doubtful that your brain would have evolved to the point where you could even comprehend and debate these topics. The adoption of meat into our diet fueled growth and development that got us where we are. While I don’t think consuming large amounts of meat is good, it definitely has its benefits. — BiggJ relying on information  from Mark Sisson, author of the site Mark’s Daily Apple and the book The Primal Blueprint.

Research provides insight into our evolutionary diet, and also reveals why any comparative proof that ignores intelligence and the significant impact of brain size on metabolic requirements is logically dubious.

Traditionally, when scientists spared a thought for our hunting and gathering forebears, they focused on the hunters and the meat they brought in. But it may be that it was our ancestors’ less glamorous ability to gather, eat and digest roots, bulbs and tubers — the wild versions of what became carrots, onions and potatoes — that increased the size of our brains and made the hunt and the territorial expansion that came with it possible. — Starch Made Us Human

B12 bacteriaThe B12 Argument

B12 is water-soluble vitamin is needed by every cell in the body. Like all other vitamins, it is not directly derived from either plant or animal sources.  B12 is  derived from bacteria.  The only dietary sources are animal products and bacteria: meat, fish, poultry, eggs and milk, and nutritional yeast.  Consequently, vegans, who consume no foods derived from animal sources, must take a B12 supplement or eat plant foods fortified with the vitamin.

A common misconception in vegan circles is that fermented foods and spirulina contain B-12. This claim may, at times, be supported by lab tests for B-12 based on the USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) assay methods. Unfortunately, as explained in Herbert et al. [1984] and Herbert [1988], the USP assay method for B-12 is unreliable.

Spirulina and tempeh contain mostly analogues of B12.  Herbert [1988] reports that tests on tempeh, a fermented soy product, and spirulina revealed they contained almost no true B-12,  and the presence of analogues, rather than true B-12, in fermented foods makes them unreliable sources for B-12. — Key Nutrients vis-a-vis Ominovorous Adaptation and Vegetarianism.

The two reasons modern vegetarian and vegan diets  can lead to a  B12 deficiency are: (1)  people are not aware of all of the sources of B12 and the need for supplementation, and (2) they are not aware that our modern food production techniques that have led to living a more sterilized world,  most particularly in developed countries, has led to less B12 in their diets.

On one hand, B12 can be readily found in the soil that your vegetables grow in, assuming they haven’t been sterilized for the market. By pressure washing our produce, we are stripping B12 from them in exchange for cleanliness. On the other,  overcooking meat to avoid ecoli or salmonella poisoning, means meat eaters are  eliminating vitamin B12, and Americans who  eat meat may also suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency.  Read more in my upcoming article  B12: A Myth and A Note of Caution.

Related posts:

The Best Overall Anti-Cancer Diet
Fruits and Vegetables: Reducing Pesticide Exposure
The Raw and Living Food Vegan Diet

Acai Berry Scammers on FTC Radar

After my blog was repeatedly spammed by acia berry scammers I asked around and found that I knew some folks who had been sucked in by the scammers.  They signed up for a supposed  ‘risk free’ trial and then their credit cards were  illegally billed over and over.  Yes, açaí berry pills are offered through a ponzi style scheme called “negative option” advertising. I became annoyed and did some reaseach that led to me publishing  Fraud Alert! Acai Berry Scam

Well, today I have just read some very good news:

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said today, a U.S. district court has ordered the marketers of acai berry supplements and other products to stop an Internet sales scheme that allegedly scammed people out of $30 million or more in 2009 through deceptive advertising and unfair billing practices.  — Read FTC Goes After Acai Berry Internet Marketers

Read also:
Court Orders Internet Marketers of Acai Berry Weight-Loss Pills and “Colon Cleansers” to Stop Deceptive Advertising and Unfair Billing Practices - Ads Feature Phony Endorsements Attributed to Oprah Winfrey, Rachael Ray

I Love Container Gardening

deck plants I’m a container gardener and I grow vegetables, herbs, berries, and flowers in a wide array of containers on my deck for both culinary use and medicinal use as well. Even if you are an apartment dweller with a small patio or balcony you can join me in producing the vegetables and herbs you need fresh on hand or dehydrated and on the shelf.

All my friends and family members love hanging out on my deck, and so do the butterflies, birds and bees, especially, the humming birds and songbirds as I have feeders for the latter. Almost all of our salad greens, vegetables, and herbs come fresh from my deck to the table. They are bursting with flavor and I dry the herbs we don’t use during the summer for winter use.

deck plants There’s no feeling that satisfies me more than stepping out onto my deck and selecting fresh greens for a meal not only in summer but in most months of the year. While it’s true that I live on an acreage one doesn’t need acres of land to grow salad greens, vegetables, herbs and some fruits as well. After years of in ground gardening I was saddened to find that my body, most particulalry my hands were no longer able to cope and I became a container gardener at the urging of friends who brought me crops in pots.

tomatoes I discovered I could grow abundant crops and companion plant them with flowers in window boxes, hanging baskets, and recycled containers of all shapes and sizes. What’s more about container gardening is I can move and rearrange my container plants at will, snuggling the the smaller ones into awkward spots and providing them with the conditions they need to prosper exactly when they need them. As our deck is covered and the larger containers are on platforms with wheels I can rotate their positioning so my plants don’t suffer from leaf burn. I also rotate the positioning of the hanging baskets too. What’s less about container gardening is insects, diseases and wildife helping themselves to a meal.

For centuries, herbs were the curative of choice across cultures. While the use of herbs and herb remedies has produced excellent results for many people, do note that they are drugs. Their health benefits may be limited when they are used in isolation. Side effects may result from using them in the wrong combination and or in the wrong amounts. When combined with some basic dietary and lifestyle good health habits, the impact on one’s health will be magnified. But I avoid self mediating without consulting my medical doctors and my naturopath first.

These are the culinary and medicinal herbs currently growing on my deck:
Basil (sedative and calming qualities)
Borage (anxiety, stress and depression)
Calendulaa/Pot Marigold (reduces inflammation)
Chives (stimulate appetite & promote digestion)
Dill (leaves are stimulant – stomach soothing – increases secretion & discharge of urine)
Echinacea (common cold preventive to boost the immune system and the production of white blood cells)
German Chamomile (reduces anxiety & aggression, encourages sleep)
Lavender (headaches & tension)
Lemon Balm (antiviral)
Lemon Verbena (fever, congestion, asthma, insomnia, intestinal problems, stress & depression)
Oregano (Historically, oil of oregano superseded anti-inflammatory drugs in reversing pain and inflammation and is nearly as powerful as morphine as a painkiller. Oil from leaves acts as an analgesic in teeth, fungicide, temporary relief from bee stings and venomous bites)
Parsley (anemia, digestion, hormone balancing and acts as a diruetic)
Peppermint (upset stomach or gas)
Rose (rose hips – vitamin C, iron, antioxidant)
Rosemary (headaches)
Sage (antibacterial and antiseptic)
Thyme (disinfectant)

These are the edible flowers I use for companion planting:
Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus – aka Dianthus)
Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum coronarium)
Cilantro/Coriander (Coriander sativum)
Clover (Trifolium species)
Cornflower
Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis)
Day Lilies (Hemerocallis species)
English Daisy (Bellis perennis)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
Jasmine (jasmine officinale)
Johnny-Jump-Ups (Viola tricolor)
Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia T. signata)
Minature Sunflowers
Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus)
Pansy (Viola X wittrockiana)
Scented Geraniums
Violets (Viola species)

My blogging friend Sandra Lee shared this in — Gardening for health, joy, & awareness

My garden has become a medium for improving my health, increasing positivity and happiness, and learning lessons in self-awareness. Gardening helps me to evolve on all levels—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Eva Shaw, PhD, author of Shovel It: Nature’s Health Plan, gardening reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and helps fight depression. She reminds us that gardening helps ground us, re-establishing contact with our beginnings, and shows us a few of the treasures that we can expect from the humble task of digging in the dirt.

According to a study done by Kaiser Permanente the brainwave activity of a gardener mirrored that of someone praying or meditating.

“Hospitalized patients’ wounds heal faster and they require fewer pain killers and antidepressants when they are merely looking at a painting of a garden,” says Shaw. “Imagine the effect a real garden can have.”

If you haven’t started container gardening yet, there’s no time like the present to dig in.

Celebrate Earth Day with better food choices

 earthday Picture It is important that humans begin supporting organic or small farms, local production and sustainable techniques while harvesting increased yields and protecting the topsoil.

The time for action is now, before the world’s rich farmland washes into the sea, and before chemical pesticides and fertilizers cause any more harm to our drinking water and our oceans. Continue reading “Celebrate Earth Day with better food choices”

Top Antioxidant Foods

Liz Weiss, MS, RD is a dietitian and co-author of THE MOMS’ GUIDE TO MEAL MAKEOVERS. In this segment, she serves up the latest information on the top-20 antioxidant foods everyone should eat! Her Meal Makeover advice & cooking segments feature everything from practical tips for getting picky eaters to try their vegetables to healthy makeovers for chicken nuggets, fish sticks, fruit smoothies and other kid favorites. Continue reading “Top Antioxidant Foods”

Which Vitamins Are Antioxidants?

good foodAntioxidants are a group of compounds that help to protect the body from the formation and elimination of free-radicals. Free-radicals are formed from exposure to sunlight and pollution and also as a byproduct of cell metabolism. Alcohol, cigarette smoke, stress and even diet also affect the level of free-radical development in the body. Continue reading “Which Vitamins Are Antioxidants?”

Fibromyalgia: Cranberry for Cystitis

cranberry juice

Research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association reveals  the beneficial effect that cranberry juice may have on preventing cystitis and urinary infections.  The good news is that cranberry juice helps prevent urinary tract infections, and where unavailable, cranberry concentrate capsules (1,000 mg) can be substituted.

People with any autoimmune disease are more susceptible to interstitial cystitis.  Interstitial cystitis (IC) is an inflammation of the bladder which can occur by itself or in conjunction with other autoimmune diseases, such as fibromyalgia, scleroderma, lupus, or Sjögren’s Syndrome.

Fibromyalgia (formerly known as fibrositis) is a chronic condition causing pain, stiffness, and tenderness of the muscles, tendons, and joints. Fibromyalgia is also characterized by restless sleep, awakening feeling tired, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and disturbances in bowel function, and interstitial cystitis.

Many internists, rheumatologists, and even many urologists, are unaware of or do not “believe” in interstitial cystitis. Unfortunately, this is a disease where the patient must often take the initiative to research and document their symptoms, request referrals to a specialist in interstitial cystitis, and often ask for specific procedures to be done to garner the proper diagnosis and treatment.

Cranberry fights infection

Cranberry is a powerful infection fighter,  helping the body attack bacteria and viruses.   Cranberry  contains amounts of a compound called “hippuric acid”,  which has some natural antibiotic activity. The natural agents in cranberry include an anti-adherence activity that keeps the bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall. This keeps the bacteria suspended allowing them to be flushed out harmlessly in the urine. Unlike antibiotics, cranberry juice does not kill of the body’s natural lactic bacteria that are viral to health.

Cranberry and cystitis research

Women get more urinary infections because the length of their urethra is shorter than men’s therefore more accessible to bacteria.  In a recent study,  153 elderly women drank 300 ml of cranberry juice per day to see the effect that cranberry juice had on the urinary tract.  Some of the women were given 100% real cranberry juice, while the others were given a placebo drink, which only looked and tasted the same as real cranberry juice. At the conclusion of  six months, women drinking the real cranberry juice had 58% less urinary infections, than the women drinking the placebo drink.

Researchers have also had positive results when treating patients by using cranberry concentrate capsules (1,000 mg), to  prevent re-occurring urinary tract infections and cystitis problems. The concentrate form is easier to manage, and it contains no sweeteners or added sugars.

Cranberries are very high in vitamin C and fiber. Commercial cranberry drinks usually contain a lot of sugar, so look for pure cranberry juice. How much do you take?  Recent information says that 400-700ml (about 2-3 cups) daily seems to be the “dose”.

Urinary Tract Infection

How Cranberry Juice Prevents Urinary Tract Infections

References:
Fibromyalgia (FMS) – SCLERO.ORG – International Scleroderma Network
Cranberry juice research
Regular Consumption of Cranberry Juice May Suppress H. pylori Infection
Cranberry recipes

Farmers Market

The Farmers’ Market has become a major event right through the summer, attracting both locals and visitors to the island.  Dozens of local farmers sell fresh produce and many local artists, craftspeople and artisans display their work for sale. If you want to buy local produce or crafts, you won’t have to go far to find what you are looking for on  Saturday morning.

I work at our local Farmers’ Market every Saturday and I really enjoy the opportunity to socialize with friends and to buy high quality, locally grown organic produce and herbs.

Do you shop at your local Farmers’ market?

Why Shop at the Farmers’ Market?

The food is at its freshest because it doesn’t have to travel hundreds of miles to get to you. Local producers can select their produce varieties for taste, rather than their ability to travel.

You can help ensure that local farmland will stay in production. You can talk to the people who grow or make your food and they can and will respond to your needs, tastes, and questions.

More than a marketplace, it’s a social gathering where friends and families meet.

May/June

Asparagus, Artichokes, Cauliflower, Cherries, English Peas, Fava Beans, Fresh Herbs, Green Onions, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, New Potatoes, Radishes, Rhubarb, Salad Greens, Spinach, Strawberries, Turnips

July

Apricots, Beets, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cherries, Cucumbers, Garlic, Green Beans, Green Onions, Herbs, Leeks, Lettuce, Nectarines, Peaches, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes, Radishes, Raspberries, Salad Greens, Spinach, Strawberries, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips

August Apples, Apricots, Artichokes, Beets, Blackberries, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery Corn, Cucumbers, Currants, Garlic, Herbs, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Melons, Nectarines, Plums, Potatoes, Raspberries, Salad Greens, Shallots, String Beans, Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes

September

Apples, Basil, Beets, Blackberries, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Chives, Cilantro, Corn, Garlic, Grapes, Hazelnuts, Kale, Kiwi, Leeks, Melons, Red & Yellow Onions, Parsnip, Pears, Fall Peas, Peppers, Potatoes, Radish, Swiss – Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips, Walnuts, Winter Squash

October: Apples, Beets, Blackberries, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Corn, Garlic, Grapes, Hazelnuts, Herbs, Kale, Leeks, Melons, Onions, Parsnips, Pears, Peppers, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radishes, Winter Squash, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips, Walnuts

Creamy Spinach, Tomato Tortellini and a Food Safety Quiz

Feasting is a part of visiting with friends that we all enjoy. My girlfriend and I both love pasta and we both prefer preparing quick and easy meals. We decided to make Creamy Spinach and Tomato Tortellini (page jump to recipe) and while we were enjoying it our dinner conversation turned towards food safety. Continue reading “Creamy Spinach, Tomato Tortellini and a Food Safety Quiz”

In Defense of Real Food

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. These seven simple words of dietary advice are at the heart of journalist Michael Pollan’s new book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. Having covered the ecological repercussions of our food choices in his bestselling The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollan turns now to consequences for our personal health.

He doesn’t preach abstinence and he doesn’t think that the only way to live a healthy life is to sell your possessions and move to the land. I would imagine that it’s because he lives in the real world, just like the rest of us. He questions why decades of nutritional advice have left U.S. eaters fatter and less healthy than ever. His conclusion is not surprising. It’s sad.

In place of real food, Americans today are eating “edible food-like substances” that come largely from factories instead of farms. But we can, in Pollan’s words, “reclaim our health and happiness as eaters.” Readan excerpt from the book. Also, read Pollan’s recent article in the New York Times Magazine about what’s wrong with our food system.

Related blog posts:
Green Cuisine: Recipes Online
Have a Green Thanksgiving
The Best Overall Cancer Diet
Green Cuisine
Going Vegetarian
Diet For Small Planet May be Most Efficient if it Includes Dairy and a Little Meat
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Going Organic

According to researchers from the University of Michigan, who analyzed data from nearly 300 studies comparing organic yields with non-organic yields in both developing and developed countries, organic farms can produce enough food to support the world’s population.

The researchers concluded that organic farming methods could support the world’s current population, and potentially an even larger population, without converting any additional land to crop production. Moreover, intensified organic agriculture would reduce the harmful impacts of conventional farming and intensive livestock production such as soil erosion, water pollution, release of global warming pollution, and loss of biodiversity. An important finding as 17% of the greenhouse gas emissions today are coming from livestock production.

References:
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
Livestock’s Long Shadow

Related blog posts:
Green Cuisine: Recipes Online
Have a Green Thanksgiving
The Best Overall Cancer Diet
Green Cuisine
Going Vegetarian
Diet For Small Planet May be Most Efficient if it Includes Dairy and a Little Meat

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Green Cuisine: Recipes Online

In the second installment of the new online Green Cuisine series, UCS talks with chefs David Crooker and Daran Poulin at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Their delicious, healthy, earth-friendly food is earning rave reviews on campus as well as national recognition. We also visit Arnold Luce, the farmer and meat processor who supplies Crooker and Poulin with local beef that is raised without antibiotics. Raising animals without antibiotics avoids contributing to a rise in drug-resistant bacteria that can make illnesses in humans more difficult to treat. Check out our interactive slideshow and get a free fall recipe from the Bowdoin kitchens. Continue reading “Green Cuisine: Recipes Online”

The Best Overall Anti-Cancer Diet

When it comes to being healthy it’s important to take charge of what you eat. What’s best when it comes to taking an anticancer and pro-health stance is to eat simply and eat well. And for most of us this specifically means a change.

The Best Overall Anti-cancer Diet

  1. Eat a diet that is primarily but not exclusively vegetarian (very low in red meats), centering on legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  2. Eat fish once or twice a week.
  3. Eat five to nine servings a day of fruits and vegetables.
  4. Include citrus fruits or other foods rich in vitamin C, dark leafy greens, high-fiber produce and cruciferous vegetables.
  5. Limit fat intake to mostly monounsaturated and omega-3 fats (from olive oil, canola oil, nuts, and seeds).
  6. Choose whole grains (whole wheat, oatmeal, brown rice) over refined grains. Include a source of calcium (from diet or supplement).
  7. Include soy and flaxseed in your diet.
  8. Relax with a few cups of (black or green) tea a day.

Here’s a list identifying cancer protectors (Source: Environmental Nutrition/vol.22/no.10)

  1. Fruits and Vegetables, especially those dark in color, aim for 5-9 servings/day
  2. Fiber, especially for colon cancer, aim for 25-35 grams per day
  3. Antioxidants, such as carotenes and vitamins C & E (get carotenes through your diet, not a pill )
  4. Selenium, especially for prostate cancer, do not take more than 800 mcg/day as a supplement
  5. Calcium, aim for 1200-1500 mg per day
  6. Omega-3 fatty acids (from fish oil), try to include fish in your diet at least 1 to 2 times per week
  7. Soy, aim for 1 to 2 servings of soy products per day
  8. Tea (black or green), aim for 3 to 5 servings per day
  9. Exercise, aim for 30 minutes most days of the week

Here’s a list identifying cancer promoters:

  1. Overweight, limit weight gain in adulthood to 10 pounds or less
  2. Dietary fat, try to use canola and olive oil in cooking
  3. Red meat, especially colon cancer, limit to 1-2 times per week – 3 oz. serving size
  4. Burned food, avoid charred foods when possible
  5. Nitrates and nitrites, avoid cured meats when possible
  6. Alcohol, MEN: Limit alcohol to 2 drinks or less/day, WOMEN: Limit to 1 drink or less/day

Provided by Laura S. Garrett, RD, LD, Fitness Trainer, & Owner of http://www.NutrActive.comNutrition & Active Lifestyle Center *Weight Loss, Fitness, and Diabetes Programs

Here’s the link to a related blog post that lists fruits and vegetables that tend to have the highest levels of pesticides Fruits and Vegetables: Reducing Pesticide Exposure

Reference: Environmental Working Group’s Report

Americans Tipping the Scales

According to a new study from Washington University in St. Louis entitled “A Silver Lining? The Connection between Gas Prices and Obesity,” an additional $1 per gallon in real gasoline prices could reduce U.S. obesity by 15 percent after five years.

Obesity, defined as having a body mass index greater than 30, has been considered to factor in as many as 112,000 deaths annually. And Charles Courtemanche who wrote the report for his doctoral dissertation in health economics said gasoline prices can reduce obesity by leading people to walk or cycle instead of drive and eat leaner at home instead of rich food at restaurants.

Continue reading “Americans Tipping the Scales”

Going Vegetarian

There are very few choices in our day-to-day lives that make a significant impact on the world around us, but what we choose to eat does. Eating meat supports global poverty and worker abuse, harms the environment, supports cruelty to animals, and is bad for our health. Vegetarianism is the self-empowerment diet; at every meal, you have the opportunity to live your values—to cast your vote against cruelty to animals, environmental degradation, and global poverty—and you do that all while eating a diet that is better for you than one that includes meat.

Continue reading “Going Vegetarian”

Green Cuisine

The Union of Concerned Scientists is excited to bring you a brand new seasonal web feature—Green Cuisine: Earth-friendly, healthy recipes from top chefs and local farmers.

Green Cuisine will profile local chef-farmer partnerships and the creative, healthy, sustainable dishes that result from these collaborations.

For summer, the spotlight is on delicious and juicy farm-fresh tomatoes, as prepared by visionary chef Nora Pouillon of the celebrated (and certified organic) Restaurant Nora in Washington, DC. Check out our interactive photo slideshow, and get a FREE summer recipe from Nora.

Nora’s Shopping Tips
Buy organic – With an organic restaurant standard to maintain, this is Nora’s first priority. “Organic food is better for the environment and for people’s health,” she maintains. That’s because certified organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. It is grown without conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or sewage sludge, and genetic engineering. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals raised without antibiotics or growth hormones. Growers who want to label and sell foods as organic must have their farms inspected by government-approved certifiers, and their methods must meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s organic standards.

Buy locally – If you have access to organic foods that are also grown locally, so much the better. Most supermarket foods travel more than 1,500 miles to get to your dinner plate, so buying from local farmers at farmers markets or through a community-supported agriculture program (CSA) can help shrink your “carbon footprint.” Fresh foods grown close to home often require less fuel to ship, and many small-scale, local farmers also use fewer energy-intensive pesticides and fertilizers. Local produce is also fresher and better tasting because it’s picked ripe and usually sold within hours. Even Nora sometimes buys from local farmers who are not certified organic, but only if she knows them and trusts that their methods approach or exceed organic standards. “I like to meet and talk with the farmers at the farmers market,” she says. “When you know the farmers and their practices, you can buy confidently.”

Buy in season (and save!) – The freshest, tastiest foods—even organic foods—don’t have to be more expensive. In a recent survey in Tulsa, Oklahoma, prices of locally grown fruits and vegetables compared favorably with supermarket prices for the same items. Nora recommends buying locally-grown items at the height of their season, when they are most abundant and prices are lowest. Save even more by getting together with friends and neighbors to buy in large quantities. “Make and freeze an extra-large batch of fresh tomato sauce in late summer when local tomatoes are a bargain,” Nora says. “You’ll enjoy a taste of summer all winter long.”

Organic beats no-till in building quality soil
A new study by the federal Agricultural Research Service has demonstrated that organic farming builds soil organic matter better than conventional no-till farming, challenging the belief that no-till is the best farming option for soil health and carbon sequestration. Organic farming traditionally employs minimal tillage to control weeds and incorporate manure, while conventional no-till farming avoids tillage altogether and often relies upon applications of herbicides to control weeds.

Tilling a field, or stirring up the ground to kill weeds and facilitate planting, can destroy soil organic matter important for growing crops. However, the new study demonstrates that the use of manure and cover crops in organic farming more than offsets the soil losses from tillage. In addition, the organic soil in the studied fields contained more carbon and nitrogen than the no-till soil. After nine years of organic production, the organic soil supported an 18 percent increase in corn yield over the no-till soil. Read more from the Agricultural Research Service.

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Peaches: The Most Erotic Fruit

“No fruit is more laden with erotic metaphor” according to Alan Davidson, author of The Oxford Companion to Food.  Included is an easy, simple recipe for peach salsa that can be assembled in minutes, is non-fat and full of vitamins, and utilizes this most marvelous of summer fruits. This is great over any grilled fish, chicken, or pork tenderloin.  But here’s a recipe for a highly recommended mouth watering dessert.

Continue reading “Peaches: The Most Erotic Fruit”

Americans not eating enough fruits and vegetables

The effect that advertising has on our lives changes our lives and not necessarily for the better. Everywhere we go and everything we focus on or pick up to read is plastered with advertisements for food. Well, maybe I should say “pseudo-food” because most advertising is aimed at marketing processed stuff and junk foods.

This is unfortunate when it comes to gaining an understanding nutritional requirements and developing an appetite for what our bodies need, as opposed to what we fill them with. It’s even more unfortunate when we appreciate that kids eat what their parents eat and that many parents are filling themselves and their kids up with hollow calories that lead to obesity and health problems.

Continue reading “Americans not eating enough fruits and vegetables”

The Raw and Living Food Vegan Diet

When it comes to doing something about (1) climate change that is more effective than purchasing a hybrid car, and (2) reducing obesity in children and in adults, then switching to a meat free diet is at the top of the list.

Overview – Vegan Diets are Healthier for the Planet and for People
The WHO (World Health Organization) says humans need about 5% of their daily calories to come from protein to be healthy. The USDA puts this figure at 6.5%. On average, fruits have about 5% of their calories from protein. Vegetables have from 20-50% of their calories from protein. Sprouted seeds, beans, and grains contain from 10-25% of their calories from protein. So if you are eating any variety of living plant foods, you are getting more than adequate protein.

Numerous scientific studies have shown the daily need for protein to be about 25-35 grams per day. So if you ate 2,000 calories per day, and ate raw plant foods that had an average of 10% of their calories from protein, you would get 200 calories worth of protein, or 50 grams. This is more than adequate to support optimal well-being.

Other studies have shown that heat treating a protein (such as with cooking) makes about half of it unusable to the human body. So some believe raw plant food protein is even a better source than cooked plant foods or animal foods.

Dispelling Myths
There is still a huge, foolish, misguided idea that plant protein is not “complete” and meat is required. This is based on studies done on rats in the 1940’s. This false conclusion was drawn before we discovered the body’s protein recycling mechanism and its ability to “complete” any amino acid mix from our bodies amino acid pool, no matter what the amino acid composition of a meal consumed. This false idea is still perpetuated by the meat and dairy industries, in an attempt to influence people to continue consuming their products.

The truth plant proteins are incomplete proteins, but when you combine them, you will get all of the amino acids you need.

The Raw-Vegan Diet
The Raw-Vegan Diet which consists of fruits, vegetables, sprouted grains, sprouted legumes, seeds and nuts, is moving from the fringe to the mainstream attracting the attention of top chefs around the world. Raw-vegan food is considered healthy because of its living enzymes. The enzymes in food aid in digestion and are destroyed at 118 degrees of heat. Heating also depletes food of vitamins and minerals which is why cooked food is thought to lead to excessive food consumption in the body’s attempt to gain adequate nutrition.

Here’s a list of books compiled by the American Dietetic Association:

* “The Raw Life: Becoming Natural in an Unnatural World,” by Paul Nison
Nison is a raw-foodist and chef who has authored many books on spirituality and health. According to his Web site, this 352-page book is a “must have” for anyone new to the raw food diet.

* “Raw: The Uncook Book,” by Juliano Brotman and Erika Lenkert
Co-author Brotman owns a raw-food restaurant and catering service in Santa Monica, Calif. According to HarperCollins, the book’s publisher, “Raw” does not focus on “100 variations of salads” but instead offers recipes for foods such as sun-baked pizza, vegan sushi and burritos.

* “Conscious Eating,” by Dr. Gabriel Cousens

 

Fruits and Vegetables: Reducing Pesticide Exposure

Updated October 24th, 2014. Supporters of locally produced food also point out that food transported long distances is often preserved with waxes, irradiation, gases and synthetic chemicals, such as fungicides and sprout inhibitors, which reduce the nutritional value of foods and has uncertain effects on health.

CanadaGreater Vancouver produce shoppers are increasingly buying local — both to help local farmers and to help the environment. A consumer study released last week found that 70 per cent of local shoppers not only prefer to buy B.C. fruits and vegetables, but have increased the amount they buy.

According to the study’s survey, which was conducted by the Mustel Group, in the past two years, seven in 10 adults reported that they have increased the amount of B.C.-grown produce they buy and two-thirds are willing to pay more for it.

U.S.A. - While organic foods are certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as free of pesticides and hormones, the “certified organic retailers” designation says the retailer will comply with handling standards nearly as meticulous as those for kosher or vegan foods.

At its simplest: Organic broccoli cannot be stacked atop conventional broccoli and, organic apples cannot be washed with regular apples for fear that chemicals will be transferred.

The certification is the best way for regular supermarkets to get a leg up in the organic food industry, where sales in the United States went from $6 billion in 2000 to $14 billion in 2005.

Best Practices
The Environmental Working Group published its latest list of fruits and vegetables most and least likely to have pesticide residues in November. Most of the pesticides it shows most commonly appearing as residue are not on the CDC’s list of chemicals it looks for in the bodies of Americans.

The best way to reduce pesticide exposure is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. Thorough washing of all fruits and vegetables will help, although not all pesticide residues can be removed by washing. If possible, also remove the outer layer of leaves or peel vegetables.

Buy organic produce selectively, as certain foods tend to have higher or lower amounts of pesticides.

The following foods tend to have the highest levels of pesticides (from Environmental Working Group’s Report ):

Fruit

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Nectarines
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Red Raspberries
  • Imported Grapes

Vegetables

  • Spinach
  • Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Potatoes
  • Hot Peppers

These foods tend to be lower in pesticide levels:

Fruits

  • Pineapples
  • Plantains
  • Mangoes
  • Bananas
  • Watermelon
  • Plums
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Blueberries
  • Papaya
  • Grapefruit
  • Avocado

Vegetables

  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Radishes
  • Broccoli
  • Onions
  • Okra
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant