Power Up Your Diet with Veggies

 Power Up Your Diet with Veggies

Power Up Your Diet with Veggies

Start FREE Course: How would you like to lower your risk of coronary artery disease by 20%, your risk of lung cancer by 21%, your risk of myocardial infarction by 38%, double the power of your disease-fighting cells, lose fat, and gain energy? The catch, according to a Nurses’ Health study, a Health Professional’s Health study, and a German Cancer Research Center study, is eating nine to ten servings of plant source foods daily.

Though the benefits are enormous, only 1 in 11 people report eating the minimum recommended “5 A Day” servings of fruits and vegetables.

A diet rich in plant source foods will be naturally high in vitamins, minerals, roughage, and phytonutrients, and low in calories, fat, and hormones. It is agreed among health and nutrition experts that adding more plant source foods to your diet can decrease your risk for obesity, hypertension, stroke, cancer, diabetes, blindness, arthritis, osteoporosis, asthma, and a host of other debilitating diseases.

According to a five-year study of over 47,000 men, those who ate the most cooked tomato products had the lowest incidences of prostate cancer. Another five-year study of Dutch men found that those who ate the most fruits and veggies were half as likely to die from heart attacks as those who ate the least. A study of over 1000 women, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, reported that women who ate at least 10 grams of vegetable fiber daily lowered their risk of ovarian cancer by almost 40%.

Harvard researchers have concluded from a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association that people who ate the most dark green, leafy vegetables were 43% less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration which accounts for up to one-third of American cases of blindness. More research at Harvard involving over 800 people revealed that an increase of three servings per day of fruits and veggies was associated with a decrease of 20% in stroke risk. According to Victor Parachin’s book, 365 Reasons to be a Vegetarian, the average bone loss for female meat-eaters at age 65 is 35% as compared to only 18% for female vegetarians of the same age.

John Potter MD,PhD, head of the Cancer Prevention Research Program at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, claims that eating more vegetables is second only to quitting smoking in its importance as a protective measure.

If the health benefits of eating more plant source foods are not reason enough to make you sit up and take notice, there are others. Fiber-filled, nutrient dense plant foods can be more filling and satisfying, thereby naturally controlling obesity.

As suggested by Eric Tyson’s book, Personal Finance for Dummies, a vegetarian diet can be a way to save money. Rice, beans, potatoes, carrots and apples are a thriftier buy than meats and highly processed foods, and they afford the advantages of simpler, cleaner cooking.

The North American Vegetarian Society calculates that it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce just one pound of meat. Depending on climate, terrain, and other production factors, 16 pounds of grain require much less time and space to grow than 16 pounds of meat. A diet constituted of more plant source foods can contribute to world hunger relief as well as natural resource conservation.

And don’t forget that, in America, over 14 million animals, daily, are brutally butchered at the end of a short, miserable life as a ‘product’ on a factory farm. By eating more plant source foods, you can do your part to decrease animal suffering.

Just a few, easy changes in your diet can equate to substantial benefits for your health and overall well-being, for the environment and for animals and mankind. With only 1 in 11 people eating the recommended amounts of plant source foods, chances are that you stand to benefit from this course.

(graphic courtesy of J’s Magic Galleries)

Certified Organic Food: What is it? Who Grows it?


Certified Organic Food

Start FREE Course: In front of me, as I write, is a can of organic soda. It’s a hot day. The can’s empty. It was a good drink. Besides the big “Organic” on the can’s label are three bold claims: “Grower Certified, Facility Certified, Product Certified”. Those are easy for a consumer to spot. But what, exactly does “certified” mean? If you are a careful student of labels you’ll find the smallish logo of Quality Assurance International (QAI) in the lower, less visible, regions of the can. Just above the QAI logo is the claim, “Certified Organic by Quality Assurance International”. And finally, just above “Product certified”, you’ll find a lot number imprinted on the can.

The label on this delicious organic drink is confusing, not particularly informative to the average consumer, and hard to figure out. What exactly is Grower, Facility, and Product certified? Did QAI certify all of them? Who is QAI? And what does certification really mean to me from a personal health stand point? Does certification have an environmental impact or an impact on the farmers and workers who grew, harvested, and processed the food for me? My own research as a journalist has shown that this company, along with numerous others, are interested in selling you all the hype associated with organic products but they are not particularly interested in helping you become a better informed consumer.

Yet, at the heart of organic certification, is a decades old attempt to connect well informed consumers to ethical food processors and farmers. Unfortunately, as the organic food industry has grown by leaps and bounds, the gap among consumer, processor, and farmer has been widening. This course will close that gap for organic consumers who are interested in learning how food on the shelves at their grocers obtains the prestigious “certified organic” label. They will find out the “certified organic” label is more than a clever marketing ploy but that it’s their job to hold farmers, processors, and grocers accountable to the claim “certified organic”. After all, you are more than likely to pay more for organic foods than you do non-organic foods. And you no doubt believe the extra cost is justified.

“Food is one of the three largest consumer related causes of environmental damage, along with cars and home energy use,” write Warren Leon, Caroline Smith Dewaal, Michael F. Jacobson in Is Our Food Safe?: A Consumer’s Guide to Protecting Your Health and the Environment . . . When compared with nine other big consumer-spending categories (in The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices) such as health care and housing, food scored stunningly high. It was responsible for more water pollution, water use, and land related impacts than any of the other categories.” “The most important actions individuals could take (to reduce these impacts) would be to eat less meat, choose organic foods, and promote sustainable fishing,” the authors continue.

When my wife and I started eating certified organic food in 1971 we knew about the positive environmental impact of eating organic that the authors of Is Our Food Safe write about. And since we’d discovered some of J.I. Rodale’s work we knew eating organic was also likely good for us. So we saw buying organic as a way to be good to ourselves and to the environment at the same time. After all, we thought, we are part of the environment.

Then, in 1985, when we began to grow a lot of our own fruits and vegetables we went through the same thought process. There were some added layers to the conceptual onion, however. Growing fruits and vegetables without chemical fertilizers and pesticides was good for the environment on our farm, good for us as farmers, good for us as eaters, and good for our customers. There was one other consideration: since we didn’t have to buy chemicals, we kept some money in our pocket that other farmers give to the chemical companies.

But! We never became certified organic. Another vegetable farmer, Greg Reynolds, feels exactly the same way we do. However, he became certified organic and we didn’t. In this course you’ll get to tour Greg’s farm and learn why he is certified. I’ll tell you why we’re not, also. Along the way we’ll discuss how organic milk and cotton is produced, who certifies it, and who is ultimately responsible for the integrity of organic food. In the process you’ll meet some other farmers, including goat farmers who make their own organic goat cheese and an organic farmer who gives his junk mail to his pigs.

Greg, the organic cheese maker, the pig farmer, and my family have known for years that organic farming was a win-win for everybody except for those who insist on trying to sell farm chemicals to farmers. Before there were studies some of us just figured it was common sense. But what do the studies say?

Simply put, studies have confirmed our common sense feelings. Studies have found that food grown organically is more nutritious and actually tastes better. That makes sense because organic agriculture acknowledges that the soil is alive with biological activity that nurtures plant health and growth. Industrial agriculture, the Rodales asserted thirty years ago, has generally treated soil as merely a prop for plants that utilize the synthetic chemicals applied to the soils.

Since that assertion was made, in Organic Gardening and Farming magazine in the early 1970s, industrial agriculture has adopted some of the methodology of organic farmers, such as green manures, but the basic assertion remains true. Industrial agriculture still relies on synthetic, chemical, and now genetic engineering, whereas organic agriculture relies on biological processes. In this course we’ll look more closely at the studies that show food produced with organic methods are more nutritious and tasty.

By the time students have completed this class they will have learned the ins and outs of certification of farms and processing plants and they’ll meet some organic farmers. They’ll also study some of the details of actual certification rules and get a good idea how the new United States Department of Agriculture Program works. And they’ll find out how organic farmers produce food organically so that it’s more nutritious and tasty than conventionally produced food.

When you’ve completed the course you’ll be a smarter, and more informed, organic shopper. I encourage you to take the next step and register for either the quick course or the next interactive instructed course. If you do take that step I look forward to continuing the discussion with you.

By Kenneth Joergensen Articles in this Topic Discussions in this Topic
Botanical gardens are public places were plants are grown both for display and for scientific study and where educational programs are often arranged for both adults and children. An arboretum, for example, is a type of botanical garden which is devoted primarily to the growing of woody plants such as shrubs and trees. The plants in botanical gardens are often diverse and arranged in habitat groups, such as rock gardens, aquatic gardens, desert gardens, tropical gardens, and rose gardens.

Mixed borderSome of my favorite day-trips are visits to local botanical gardens several times during the year. Repeat visits can be very interesting as the plant material varies from flower bulbs, forsythia and rhododendron in the spring, annuals, roses, and lilies in summer, and tree foliage and chrysanthemum in the fall. Besides the plant experience, most botanical gardens also have enough green grass areas to allow playtime for a family for a whole day.

About one hours drive from where I live, you find the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens which is the subject of this visit report. Some of the key features are the Cranford Rose Garden, The Japanese Water Garden, and the Scent Gardens. It also have an area exclusively for kids where they grow plants in their own plots. If you visit in spring, you do not want to miss the areas dedicated to rhododendron, daffodils, and lilacs (Syringa). I visited in mid summer just as the roses, lilies, and summer annuals were blooming.

Cranford Rose Garden

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Interesting Facts About Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi

Population: 275,000, County: Nueces In 1519, on the Roman Catholic Feast Day of Corpus Christi, Spanish explorer Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda discovered a lush semi-tropical bay on what is now the southern coast of Texas. The bay, and the city that later sprung up there, took the name of the feast day celebrating the “Body of Christ.” The spot Pineda discovered is now home to the largest city on the Texas Coast and is the sixth largest port in the nation. Key industries include petrochemical, tourism, health care, retail, education, shipping, agriculture and the military. Since its incorporation in 1852, Corpus Christi has grown into a regional hub for marketing, processing, packaging and distributing agricultural commodities for a 12-county trade area. Corpus Christi began as a frontier trading post, founded in 1838-39 by Colonel Henry Lawrence Kinney, an adventurer, impresario and colonizer.

The small settlement was called Kinney’s Trading Post, or Kinney’s Ranch. It remained an obscure settlement until July 1845, when U.S. troops under General Zachary Taylor set up camp here in preparation for war with Mexico. The Army remained until March 1846, when it marched southward to the Rio Grande to enforce it as the southern border of the United States. About a year later, the city took the name Corpus Christi because a “more definite postmark for letters was needed.” It incorporated on Sept. 9, 1852. Residents elected a city council and a mayor, Benjamin F. Neal, who served from 1852 to 1855. The city charter – a document establishing a city’s principles, functions and organization of its government – was adopted in 1876. The city’s first ordinance, adopted Jan. 15, 1879, made it against the law to let hogs and goats run loose. Corpus Christi has a home-rule government with a mayor, eight council members and a city manager. The city manager functions as the chief executive officer, carrying out policy and handling operations as directed by the city council. In 1983, the city adopted single-member districts, which allowed voters in a particular area to elect someone from their district to represent them on the city council. Single-member districts provide equal representation among communities or groups with different interests.

Five city council members are elected through single-member districts, while three others and the mayor are elected at-large. The city also has over 40 boards and commissions providing a direct link between citizens and the city council and staff. The city of Corpus Christi provides a variety of facilities and services to the community, including police, fire and emergency medical services, health, parks and recreation, which include youth and senior programs, a natural history museum, libraries, an airport and a marina. Other services include water, wastewater, gas, garbage and brush collection, recycling, street maintenance, traffic signs and signal maintenance. The water department alone oversees more than 1,600 miles of water transmission/distribution mains and has a combined storage capacity of more than 16 million gallons. The wastewater department operates six treatment plants with a combined treatment capacity of 42.7 million gallons per day. The city strives to be progressive in updating its infrastructure and planning for future resources, annually updating a comprehensive capital improvement program. The drought of 1996 brought statewide attention to water problems. The city, through an extremely effective regional partnership with the Nueces River Authority and the Port of Corpus Christi Authority, completed construction of the 101-mile Mary Rhodes Pipeline, which transports water from Lake Texana to the city’s O.N.

Stevens Water Treatment Plant. In addition, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission approved the Garwood transbasin diversion as another water source proving that, through planning and cooperation, water can be secured for the region in record time. While the city places strong emphasis on infrastructure and basic services, the organization also has a commitment to provide a variety of recreation and cultural amenities. Part of that commitment includes substantial funding for local arts organizations. Citizens and visitors can easily access any one of five libraries, or spend a fun and educational day at the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History. Another beautiful and popular attraction has always been the bayfront marina, located a stone’s throw from downtown Corpus Christi. To ensure the continuity of quality services, the city follows sound financial policies and practices. The city’s fiscal year begins August 1 and ends July 31, and the budget is made up of six major funds. The General Fund pays for the administration of city government and traditional public services such as police, fire, streets, park and recreation and solid waste services. The Enterprise Fund accounts for services provided to the general public on a fee basis, including funds for aviation, ambulance, golf, marina and utilities. The Internal Service Fund provides goods and services for other departments on a cost-reimbursement basis, including health insurance, maintenance services and information systems. Other funds account for debt service, special revenues and trusts.

To enhance economic development efforts, the city provides funding and support to the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation. Maintaining a safe community is a major priority for the city. The Police and Fire Departments have established state-of-the-art communications systems and work closely with the county, the Local Emergency Planning Committee and industries to be on top of any emergency situation. The Corpus Christi Crime Control and Prevention District, which uses sales tax revenues to fight crime, has in recent years enabled the city to increase its police force, equipment and support personnel, especially targeting youth and neighborhood initiatives. In addition, the city’s emergency medical services are ranked number one in the state, excelling in response time and patient survival rates. The city of Corpus Christi constantly strives to continuously improve the programs and services it provides for local residents and visitors, with a special importance placed on responsive customer service. In fact, the city’s organizational goal is to be a national leader of excellence in public service.