I’m a chaperone on my son’s 3-day, 5th grade outdoor education trip. We’re on a bus heading back from a camp in Santa Cruz. As my head bobs against the cool glass window I’m jarred out of a twilight sleep when the coach lurches and downshifts while descending Route 17. Kids in the front are singing in rounds, boys in the back are being separated for getting too rough. I’m just checking that I haven’t been drooling against the seat when a 5th grade girl in front of me leans around and stares at my flickering eyelids. “Wha-cha-do-in?” she chimes. Before I can answer in more than mumbles she notes: “You have really dark circles under your eyes.” She takes a bite of apple. She’s eaten it from the top – core and all. “I’m part of the hard-core-apple-club” she beams. “Red Tail showed me how.” Red Tail was the nature name for the camp counselor who led the garbology exercise. After each meal the kids scraped leftovers onto a scale and weighed them. Then they talked about how what remained affected the energy cycle. Sure I enjoyed Guinea Pig’s acoustic guitar version of the camp song “FBI: Fungus, Bacteria, Invertebrates” and wiggling with kids while singing the Santa Cruz Banana-Slug song to the tune of “Twist and Shout.” I also really appreciated the cabin rules my student group laid down such as “no using big words” and “absolutely no gambling,” but it was the garbology experiment that really caught my attention.
In three days our group of 60 kids went from producing 9 pounds of leftover food at the end of their meals to 3 pounds. A pretty good change just because they were conscious of it. Taking what you need and not more is a good lesson for kids (and adults). What I really liked about the experiment was that it taught conservation and in my book—whether you’re a business owner looking for efficiencies, a farmer hoping to reduce waste and increase yield, an individual looking to lessen your carbon or energy footprint, or a city looking to reduce waste—conservation is an important lifelong lesson that has only positive implications for everyone. No doubt that good habits start young but we all can create new habits at any age.
If you aren’t yet in the habit of checking out our weekly mixes – give it a try at www.fruitguys.com. Please read about fruits and veggies and find recipes in our growing Almanac section. On the west coast I really recommend picking up a Tahoe Gold mandarin from the box; out of the Midwest check out the last of Lehman’s Orchards farm-direct Empire and Jonagold apples, and on the east coast take a taste of the Macoun apples from New York.
Enjoy and be fruitful!
- Chris Mittelstaedt email@example.com
Get Fresh with OJ
Orange juice has been breaking American fasts since the Jazz Age; it's as American as apple pie. Recently author Alissa Hamilton, a Food and Society Fellow with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, has been punching holes in our orange juice cartons. In her book Squeezed: What You Don't Know about Orange Juice Hamilton reveals that what we think is “fresh” orange juice in the refrigerated section of the grocery store is not so fresh at all.
For years now, not-so-fresh juice has been obfuscated by advertisements of slow motion juice pouring into gleaming glasses montaged over panoramas of shade-speckled groves. If you are buying juice in a carton, be sure to read the labels carefully. Here are some translations:
Juice - is the nectar from the tissues of a fruit or vegetable.
Juice Drink or Cocktail - contents can contain as little as 5% juice.
From Concentrate - juice that is boiled down to remove water for shipping or storage and then reconstituted.
Not from Concentrate - indicates juice has been pasteurized (heated) so it can be stored for up to 60 days.
A container announcing “Squeezed from Fresh Oranges" – (we would hope so) buyer beware of when they were squeezed and what happened to the juice afterwards.
The main problem with container juices is that after pasteurization or concentration, the flavor and nutrients are lost and need to be added back to make it palatable. Orange juice makers do this by creating "flavor packs." According to Hamilton, the North American flavor packs are engineered with high concentrations of ethyl butyrate to provide a fresh orange juice smell. This is done in accordance with federal regulations as these flavors are "natural" and so require no special labeling. But Hamilton's book is a sobering look at a drink we've become comfortable with and hardly think of as a “highly-processed” food.
Juice as a thirst quencher is a new addition to the human diet; mostly we've eaten fruit and drunken water to get what we need. According to The Linus Pauling Institute the daily recommended allowance of Vitamin C for an adult male is 90mg and 75mg for a female. That is easily achieved by eating one medium orange (70mg), one cup of strawberries (85mg), or a few little mandarin oranges (60mg) – plus the fiber is already included.
If you love juice, try making your own from fresh fruit. There are many juicers available, from simple spoon, silent motorized models, and extractors, to sleek retro chrome presses that look cool on the counter. Valencia oranges are the best juice oranges, but all are good. To juice, the fruit should be room temperature; roll it on the counter (good job for a kid) first to soften it a bit. The juice of two oranges makes about one four-ounce glass of the genuine article. And the container is 100% compostable!
- Heidi Lewis
The Skinny on Fatty Acids
Just what are these omega-3s that the news and food product labels are full of? Omega 3s are essential fatty acids, which means our bodies need them but cannot make them so we have to get them from our diet. There are three different omega-3s: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA exists in leafy greens and plant-based oils (especially flaxseed, olive, soy, and canola), as well as walnuts and soybeans. EPA and DHA are found only in microscopic ocean algae and the fish that eat them, particularly fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, anchovies, halibut, herring, striped sea bass, and tuna (albacore).
If we only receive ALA from plant sources, our body can manufacture EPA and DHA from the ALA, but the process is not efficient, and can be further disrupted by the intake of another group of essential fatty acids called omega-6s, which are often present in large amounts in plant-based oils. In Western diets, people consume roughly 10 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. This is in part why the American Heart Association has recommended specific doses of EPA and DHA.
Extensive research has shown that the intake of EPA and DHA has profound health benefits. The most conclusive scientific evidence shows that DHA and EPA in the form of dietary fish or fish oil supplements lowers triglycerides, reduces the risk of death, heart attack, dangerous abnormal heart rhythms, and strokes in people with known cardiovascular disease, slows the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques ("hardening of the arteries"), and lowers blood pressure slightly.
Multiple studies show arthritis patients see improvements in morning stiffness and joint tenderness with the regular intake of fish oil supplements. Several large studies report that dietary omega-3 fatty acids or fish oil may reduce the risk of developing breast, colon, or prostate cancer. Preliminary studies indicate taking fish oil may reduce the growth of colon cancer cells. There is some evidence supporting the use of omega-3 fatty acids in treating depression, including childhood depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disease. Many other benefits appear linked to EPA and DHA, and are being investigated.
So what are the drawbacks? In very large doses omega-3s may cause increased bleeding, but this is at levels high above the 3 grams/day considered safe. Some worry about eating fish itself or fish oil supplements because of the risk of contamination. The National Institute of Health (NIH) suggests oil supplements are usually safe because heavy metals selectively bind with protein in the fish flesh rather than accumulate in the oil. An independent test in 2006 of 44 fish oils on the US market found that all of the products passed safety standards for potential contaminants. For healthy individuals, NIH and the American Heart Association consider two servings of fatty fish a week safe and desirable.
So along with your fruits and veggies, consider increasing your omega-3 intake, and particularly EPA and DHA. Consult your doctor before taking omega-3s to treat any disease. And look for more on ratios of omega-3s to omega-6s in a future issue.
- Rebecca Taggart
Rebecca Taggart is a San Francisco yoga instructor.
Recipe: Asparagus & Chard Risotto
1 1/2 cups aborio rice
3/4 cups white wine
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion, diced
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 bunch rainbow chard, tough stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
1 bunch asparagus, base removed, cut into bite sized pieces, and steamed briefly, then cooled
1/2 can diced roasted tomatoes
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
Warm the broth in a covered pan,and maintain temperature at a bare simmer throughout the cooking process.
Heat the butter on medium heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add the garlic and onion, sauté for 30 seconds. Add the dried basil and sauté for an additional minute. Add rice and stir frequently until rice is coated with oil (~2 minutes). Pour in the white wine, and stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Continue cooking and stirring, adding broth in 1 cup intervals until the liquid is absorbed. After 20 minutes of stirring, add the fresh chard, and stir into the risotto. Season with salt and pepper as the risotto cooks. Continue adding broth until risotto is nearly done (it will have a porridge-like appearance) (~ 8 more minutes). Add in the steamed asparagus and stir. Cook 2 more minutes, or until the rice is fully cooked. Stir in the roasted tomatoes and serve with fresh parmesan cheese grated on top.
See more recipes here. Try The FruitGuys TakeHome case and you’ll receive fresh fruits and veggies to prepare dishes like this delicious risotto. Delivery at your office to take home or to your home. Veggies available in Bay Area only at this time, coming soon nationwide.
Help your college student fly through midterms by fueling them with healthy fruit delivered right to their campus!!
just wanted to write to tell you how much my daughter has enjoyed her delivery of fruit. Not only has she told me numerous times that it was the best fruit ever but so have all of her dorm mates that she shared with. I guess we will be sending another delivery...
Thanks again for a great product and excellent quality.
Find out more about The FruitGuys DormSnack program at www.dormsnack.com.
GoodWorks in Action
Join us for our first Farm Steward Project of 2010 on the west coast at E&M Farm, growers of sweet and delicious nectarines and peaches, in beautiful Vernalis, CA. Come help us install six owl boxes while you learn about the owls in the area and the important role they play in rodent control.
If you can join us or have questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mar 21st, 2010
12 noon - 3pm
As part of your FruitGuys subscription, we provide you
and your employees online access to UC Berkeley's Wellness Letter, the
newsletter of nutrition, fitness and self-care. It translates leading-edge
research into practical advice for daily living - at home, at work,
while exercising, shopping, or cooking.
Highlight from the March Wellness Letter
Wellness Tips: Outsourcing Pharmaceuticals
You are used to seeing “made in China” (or India, Romania, or wherever) stickers on items you buy. Yet, though there are no labels on medicines, even the most casual reader of the news must know that U.S. pharmaceutical companies are buying increasing amounts of drugs and ingredients for drugs from other countries—billions of dollars worth. It’s estimated that 80% of active ingredients and 40% of all finished drugs are now imported. If you have a right to know where your socks and TV set were manufactured, and where your fish comes from, surely you have a right to know where your medicines were made.
The archive is available online at www.wellnessletter.com. The password for March is granola.
Wild Weekends - Looking at Animals
Mar 13 & 14
Environmental Film Festival
NY Academy of Sciences - Shark Lady
New York, NY
Family Farmed Expo
St. Paddy's Day 5K Run & Leprechaun (Kid's) Leap
Alder Planetarium DJ & Performance
World Water Day - LA
Los Angeles, CA
Frog Hollow Farm Blossom Festival
Fort Bragg Whale Festival
Mar 20 & 21
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