FruitGuy Noir in “Like a Fish Needs a Motorcycle”
I was already on my second cup of hot water with lemon when the phone rang. “FruitGuy, are you experienced with Vegans?” The voice on the other end didn’t sound alien but I wasn’t taking chances. Creatures from the Vega star were known natural mimics and sadistic practical jokers. I still wake up with night sweats thinking about the abduction – the weeks with electrodes on my head while they made me watch rows of goldfish exercise on tiny treadmills.
I tried to play it cool. “Sure kid,” I said. I’ve been around the galaxy. “What-cha need?” Twenty minutes later I was walking in the back door to studio #3. Up against the wall was a gal in a fish suit sitting on a motorcycle. “Thanks for coming?” She burbled. “We’re making this film – sort of like a musical-vegan-horror-protest movie – think ‘Tommy’ and ‘Easy Rider,’ but we’re all fish.” There was a shrill cry. The director was on the ground in a brown fish suit, wriggling in agony. “Why’s he floundering?” I asked. “He’s a Snapper,” she corrected. “And someone stole his favorite pear from The FruitGuys crate. We can’t go on until he’s fruitified.” He was puckering fast now and waving his hands at his neck like gills in distress. The band in the back was just watching the scene like fish at a traffic accident; the Bass on the drums stared blankly, the manager, a salty old Cod, just “humphed” and the Groupers stood there waiting for autographs. It was mayhem. I pushed past a school of Tetras all playing Tetris on my way to the kitchenette.
Thinking fast I opened The FruitGuys crate on the counter and grabbed a blood orange. Blood oranges look like an orange but have a purple and red blush to their peel. When cut open they have a dark, nearly blood-red juice. The juice has a wonderful citrus and slightly raspberry flavor. I peeled it and ran back to the director. I knew this would get him swimming again. I held his head up and dripped juice into his mouth. He pucked. “Who took the pear?” I said. He looked around and pointed. “That fish,” he whispered. I should have known – Koi. “Well kid,” I said walking over to the fish. “It’s now or never. You’re just gonna have to Carp to it.”
Ah the surreal inspiration of the blood orange. Must be the antioxidants coursing through my system. If you’ve never tried a blood orange, give it a go. It’s a great and healthy treat. Learn more about what fruit is in your crate by clicking the ladybug icon at fruitguys.com.
Enjoy and be fruitful!
- Chris Mittelstaedt firstname.lastname@example.org
Vitamin D – What’s All the Fuss?
Vitamin D has been getting a lot of attention lately for several reasons. It appears that vitamin D deficiency may affect many more people than previously thought who reside at mid-northern latitudes, including most of the United States. This is true even at the current recommended daily intake of 400 International Units (IU). The National Institutes of Health will likely recommend an increase to 800 – 1000 IU per day in May 2010, when they release their review of the vitamin D guidelines. At the same time a flood of new research is showing links between adequate vitamin D levels in the body and decreased rates of colon, breast, and prostate cancers; diabetes; hypertension; and a healthy immune system. Adequate vitamin D intake also improves mood and wellbeing, and is effective against Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Mortality rates among those 65 and above are 2.5 times lower for those with optimal blood levels of vitamin D.
The obvious response to all this information is to increase your vitamin D intake, at least in the winter. But that isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. Our skin naturally manufactures adequate vitamin D for us, so long as the sunlight is sufficiently strong and we bare some skin. But in winter the sun is too weak north of latitude 34°, roughly a line between Los Angeles and South Carolina. For up to six months a year most of us cannot manufacture our own D because we spend most outdoor time covered up, in sunlight too weak to produce the vitamin.
Unfortunately there are very few food sources of vitamin D, and the only good natural source is fatty fish. A serving of salmon (about 800 IU) or mackerel (about 400 IU) are good sources. Milk began to be fortified in the 1930s with vitamin D to prevent rickets. Today a glass of fortified milk (115 IU) provides about 25% of the daily-recommended amount, but most other dairy products are not similarly fortified. Many cereals are, but are they fortified with the right D? The vitamin in the form D3 is three times more absorbable than D2, the common synthetic form. This is beginning to change, but look on labels to be sure you’re getting the right one.
Cod liver oil is naturally high in vitamin D, and was given to children before milk began to be fortified. Today cod liver oil comes in gel supplements or is lemon-flavored, making it much more palatable than during our grandparents’ childhoods. It is taken religiously in Norway and other Scandinavian countries in months with an “r”, when sunlight is weak and days are shorter. Cod liver oil is also high in omega-3s, compounds found to have extensive health benefits. The downside is that many fish oils sold in the US have very high levels of fat-soluble vitamin A, which can be toxic in high doses, unlike the vitamin A our bodies produce from
vegetable-produced beta-carotene. Unpurified cod liver oil can have high levels of PCBs and heavy metals. Norwegian-produced oil generally has reduced A and is purified.
So where does this all leave us? Most of us need more vitamin D, especially in November, December, January and February. Getting enough Vitamin D can have a big impact on your health, but getting it from the wrong sources can lead to problems. Natural sources are recommended over synthetic sources, so look for supplements and fortified foods containing vitamin D3. Cod liver oil can be a good choice, but make sure vitamin A levels are below the daily recommended dosage and that the oil has been purified to remove toxins.
Discuss diet changes and supplements with your healthcare practitioner.
- Rebecca Taggart
Profile: Chaffin Family Orchards
Oroville, CA - Oroville is a gold rush town in Butte County, CA. Oro means gold in Spanish, and during the Gold Rush prospectors stampeded over the area in a greedy frenzy. When Del Chaffin came to the area, he was looking for riches of a different kind—a valley where he could grow crops year-round. Del bought land from a group of professors at UC Berkeley, his alma mater, where researchers had a grove of Mission Olive trees. Five generations later, the Chaffin family still tends the olive grove and has expanded into a diversified farm using an impressive mix of organic and sustainable farming methods.
“The ranch contains about a 600-acre microclimate. Its horseshoe shape creates a natural weather bay that faces west, which sunset fills with warm air. At the back of the horseshoe is Table Mountain, comprised of dense volcanic rock that retains heat, says Chaffin Family Orchards sales manager Chris Kerston. At the top of the mountain Del Chaffin built a large reservoir for irrigating crops that populates springtime vernal pools with 60 species of wildflowers. Table Mountain is famous for its multitude of native spring wildflowers, vernal pools, and waterfalls.
What really makes this 2,000-acre farm outstanding is how it's run. Many farms in this area of California generally focus on one crop, say, nuts or apples. Chaffin Orchards grows over 40 varieties of different types of orchard fruit, raises 4 kinds of livestock, harvests eggs and wool, and makes olive oil and jam. A handful of family members and three life-long employees are able to be in production year-round by enlisting animals into the operation. “We run the livestock through the orchard to do the land management. Sheep and cows are the lawn mowers. The goats prune invasive weeds to clear out riparian areas and cut fire breaks,” says Chris. Animal power has replaced 85 percent of the diesel fuel they previously used for tractors. And they don't need nitrogen fertilizer or pesticides because their chickens rid the orchards of pests.
The animals are rotated through the orchards to munch on the fresh grass between the trees, and are corralled by solar-powered electric fences. A regiment of guard dogs protects the livestock from native predators like bear, bobcat, mountain lion, and coyote that reside on the ranch. Chaffin Orchards is certified predator-friendly, meaning the wildlife gets to keep their jobs and the ecological system stays in balance. This symbiotic approach to farming is hardly new, as most farming before World War II utilized a mixture of livestock and crops. It has taken environmentally minded, enterprising people like the Chaffin family in the West and Joel Salatin at Virginia’s Polyface Farms in the East to bring these methods back into practice. Writers such as Michael Pollan have focused the public’s attention on the importance of such efforts.
The idyllic location and environmentally friendly management make for some very fine fruit. Many of the trees were planted 50 years ago. The thick-trunked, well-established trees produce tasty heirloom fruits like Blenheim Apricots, Fay Elberta Peaches, and the rare Sun Crest Peach made famous by the book Epitaph For a Peach by David Mas Masumoto. Chaffin Family Orchards also offer an array of stone fruits and citrus, from avocados, cherries, figs, and lemons, to mandarins and persimmons—a rainbow of colorful fruit available the whole year long. And beneath that rainbow lies a farm worth more than gold.
- Heidi Lewis
Photos by Chris Kerston and Dan Lemley
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Highlight from the January Wellness Letter
On the Half Shell
If you’re looking for seafood that’s good for both you (with some safety caveats, see below) and the environment, you may be surprised to know that oysters are a good choice. These bivalve mollusks, in the family Ostreidae, have been eaten raw (meaning alive) or cooked (steamed, baked, broiled, stewed, fried) for centuries as both a poor person’s food and a luxury item, as well as for their supposed—though never proven—aphrodisiac powers. Here’s the nutrition lowdown, the environmental angle, and the safety issues of oysters.
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