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The Fractured Case Against Eggs

Eggs for breakfast? Not anymore, according to a newly released study. A group of researchers has eggs back in the spotlight for seemingly negative health impacts. This time, they are blamed for an increased risk of developing diabetes. But… are there other factors that need to be considered? You bet there are.  Also, eggs have recently been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes. Why the conflict? Let’s unpack and find the truth about this popular breakfast food.

The most recent study criminalizing eggs is out of Australia. Australian researchers studied Chinese adults and found a positive link between higher egg consumption and high blood sugar levels. This new research suggests that consuming just one egg per day increases the risk of developing diabetes by 60%.

According to study author Dr. Ming Li from the University of South Australia,

“Diet is a known and modifiable factor that contributes to the onset of type 2 diabetes, so understanding the range of dietary factors that might impact the growing prevalence of the disease is important.”

Yes, Dr. Li is entirely correct. What we eat and our lifestyle has a tremendous impact on our risk of developing diabetes – but what is interesting is that the study subjects had changed from eating a traditional diet to a more processed diet including meat, snacks, and eggs.  If this is the case, how can the egg be singled out as the villain here? Furthermore, if eggs have always been a part of a traditional Chinese diet – why not look at the things that aren’t in the conventional diet and conduct research on these?

Previous research makes a clear correlation between a heavily processed diet and an increased risk of numerous conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Researchers in Finland just last year found that eating one egg per day lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes. In 2015, it was found that egg consumption lowered blood glucose levels and reduced the risk of diabetes. 

According to the American Diabetes Association, people who have diabetes should be eating eggs. The reason? Eggs contain just half a gram of carbohydrates, which is believed to have little impact on blood sugar.

What we know to be true  about eggs

Before you jump on the anti-egg bandwagon, it is important to remember many great things about eggs. Including the right type of eggs in your diet has been found to promote health and wellbeing in many ways. 

Eggs are good for your heart. Eggs can reduce the risk of heart disease and have a positive impact on cardiovascular function. Eggs from pasture-raised hens contain double the amount of health-promoting Omega-3 as eggs taken from hens raised in battery cages. Not only do Omega-3 fatty acids lower blood triglycerides, but they also help regulate cholesterol. This is excellent news, as having higher blood triglycerides is directly linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease.

Eggs reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that increase the likelihood of different diseases, including stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. The conditions include elevated blood sugar, increased body fat (especially around the waist), and abnormal cholesterol levels. One 2016 study of individuals over 40 included a 3-year review of their egg consumption. It was found that eating more eggs may reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome in adults over 40. Also, eggs had a positive impact on blood glucose and triglycerides, especially in men.

Eggs may reduce the risk of fo chronic illness. Eggs also contain naturally occurring carotenoids.  People who consume a diet high in carotenoids live longer and experience lower mortality from chronic illness. The particular carotenoids in eggs (that give the yolk it’s beautiful yellow color) help the body absorb additional carotenoids from raw veggies when the two are eaten together.  

Eggs are great for your eyes and skin. Carotenoids in eggs are not only paramount to overall good health and prevention of disease, but they also promote eye health. Eggs contain two “oxygenated” carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. Both act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, filtering out dangerous blue spectrums of light and reducing the risk of macular degeneration and glaucoma.

In the same way that lutein and zeaxanthin protect the eyes by filtering out dangerous wavelengths, they also protect the skin, thus slowing down the oxidative damage that light can cause – especially UV rays. Eggs contain a hefty supply of five of the eight best nutrients to help reduce the risk of and fight skin cancer.

Eggs can help you stay trim. You might be familiar with eating eggs while trying to drop weight because of their high protein content. But did you know that they also contain another ingredient that makes them a valuable weight-loss food? As mentioned above, Lutein is well known for its ability to keep eyes and skin healthy; it is also a fantastic weight-loss tool. Studies show that it can positively impact physical activity levels. Eggs are a healthy addition to any weight loss program as they keep you full and reduce the number of calories you may eat for a whole 36 hours after you eat them!

Eggs are good for the brain and liver. Our bodies produce a minimal amount of the macronutrient choline. For the most part, we need to get this macronutrient from the food we eat. Eggs are a great choice as they are choline-rich. Eating eggs promotes healthy liver function and brain development. Choline has successfully treated persons with neurological conditions such as depression and can improve memory and cognitive function.  Persons diagnosed with fatty liver disease often have a choline deficiency, which is also linked to some forms of cancer.

Why you should keep backyard chickens

Not only are backyard chickens a great source of entertainment, but they are also a great source of healthy eggs.  Backyard chickens eat a regular and nutrient-rich diet and are often given room to move about – this means greater nutritional benefits. 

The conditions in which hens are raised impact the quality of eggs tremendously. Sadly, hens in cages can’t stand up, groom themselves or flap their wings. Their living conditions are deplorable, and their health suffers.

Eggs from pastured hens are the only kind you should eat. When compared to eggs from caged hens, they have:

  • ⅓ less  cholesterol
  • ⅔ more vitamin A
  • ¼ less saturated fat
  • 2 times more omega-3
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene

Eggs from pastured hens superior in nutrition, but they are also 98 percent less likely to carry salmonella. That is a peace of mind we can all use.

Backyard chickens are a sustainable addition to any backyard garden. They provide natural pest control and are happy to devour your plant-based kitchen scraps that would otherwise end up in the trash.

I don’t know about you but, I am not giving up on backyard chickens or eating eggs anytime soon!

Susan Patterson

 

 

 

 

 

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New Lettuce Recall Involves Potentially Fatal Strain of E.coli

Haven’t we all had enough stress for one year? An out of control virus that just won’t go away, civil and political unrest, and now….. An increasing number of food recalls continue to threaten our health and wellbeing. Do you buy produce at Walmart? If you have shopped over the weekend at Walmart and purchased single head romaine lettuce – don’t eat it! 

The most recent fresh produce recall applies to Tanimura & Antle bagged single head lettuce. E.coli was found during a test in Michigan that was traced back to a Walmart in Comstock. The worst part of all is that the strain of E.coli found (0157:H7) is one of the most likely strains of bacteria to cause hemolytic uremic syndrome ( HUS), which is a type of kidney failure that can be fatal.

The Center’s for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us that up to 10 percent of people with this scary strain of E.col develop HUS. Signs of this condition include:

  • Decreased urination
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Loss of color in cheeks and lower eyelids

Young children and the elderly are most likely to develop HUS with long=term effects that can cause severe kidney damage and even death. The FDA urges anyone who is experiencing any of these telltale symptoms to contact a physician immediately.

Walmart has posted a list of all stores that may be infected by this most recent food recall, including 19 states and Puerto Rico. It is believed that the recall impacts  3,396 bags of lettuce that were packaged on October 15 or 16th. If you or someone you know has a suspicious bag of lettuce, throw it out or return it to the store for a full refund.

Food recalls continuing to pile up

There has been a long list of food recalls piling up over the past three months or so, including:

  • Trader Joe’s gluten-free battered halibut – recalled because it contained undeclared wheat and milk allergens.
  • Spice Hunter spice blends – recalled due to potential Salmonella contamination.
  • Sunshine Mills dog food – recalled due to potential Salmonella contamination.
  • Thomson International onions – recalled due to potential Salmonella contamination.
  • Natural Grocers organic whole elderberries – recalled due to potential Salmonella contamination.
  • J&O mixed veggie cup with dip – recalled due to undeclared egg product
  • Kader Exports frozen shrimp – recalled due to potential Salmonella contamination.
  • Wegman’s store lemons oranges, in-store produced seafood –  recalled due to potential Listeria contamination.
  • Prima Wawona peaches – recalled due to reported Salmonella infections.
  • Progresso chicken soup – recalled due to undeclared allergens. 
  • Giant Food Stores House brand squash noodle medley – recalled due to found Listeria

What you can do to stay safe

Besides paying attention to any news of food recalls and throwing out any affected products, be sure to wash fresh produce thoroughly before eating. Doing this won’t kill bacteria if the lettuce is contaminated but will help remove any lingering pesticide residue. And though buying organic is a great way to avoid this, organic lettuce is just as susceptible to E. coli as non-organic lettuce.

Consider starting your very own garden to grow fresh food – you can even grow many edible plants successfully in very little space or even indoors if you don’t have outdoor space. This way, you know exactly where your food is coming from and can avoid human transmitted E. coli and other contamination. 

Shop locally whenever you can. Support farmers in your area and eat produce that doesn’t have to travel thousands of miles to reach your table. This limits the number of people who come into contact with the product, decreasing the risk of contamination. As long as the farmers practice safe growing, you are better off purchasing locally sourced leafy greens. 

Susan Patterson – Master Gardener

 

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Avoid Salmonella Sickness: Grow Your Own Herbs

Consumers need to be on their toes now more than ever as the bacteria outbreaks and food recalls show no sign of slowing down. If you have recently purchased parsley or Herbes de Provence from World Market, Walmart, or any other grocer in the United States, it may be part of the latest food recall. A customer tested as ample of High Quality Organics’ parsley, and salmonella was possibly discovered.

On October 12, Sauer Brands Inc. announced a voluntary recall due to the possible salmonella contamination. This announcement came after the herb supplier had certified that the raw materials it provided Sauer had tested negative for salmonella.

Once the company became aware of the potential contamination, they recalled any parsley products made with questionable raw material. Other Spice Hunter products that were manufacturers on the same two days that the salmonella-tainted parsley was produced. The company’s press release stated that  this was done “ out of an abundance of caution regarding potential cross-contamination.”

Recalled products

The 29 recalled products include particular lots of organic parsley, Saigon cinnamon, ground cloves, sesame seeds, Herbes De Provence, pumpkin pie spice blend, seafood seasoning blend, coriander, garlic, green hatch chile, Mexican seasoning, black pepper (ground and whole peppercorns), paprika, Szechwan seasoning, Chinese ginger, white pepper, garlic, everything bagel seasoning, chives, Italian seasoning, cilantro, whole fennel seeds, dill, arrowroot, and red cayenne pepper.

The products were manufactured for sale online (at spicehunter.com) and in retail. They were distributed for sale across 31 states: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. 

The recalled product names have specific item numbers and UPC codes. They include:

  • Cost Plus World Market Herbes De Provence in a 0.6-ounce package with the item number of 533310-06 and the UPC 2533 3107.
  • Cost Plus World Market Organic Parsley in a 0.3-ounce package with the item number of 533325-06 and the UPC 2533 3251.
  • Great Value Herbes De Provence Organic in a 0.6-ounce package with the item number of GV5451-24 and the UPC 0 78742 15451 0.
  • Great Value Organic Parsley Flakes in a 0.3-ounce package with the item number of GV5460-24 and the UPC 0 78742 15460 2.
  • O Organics Herbes De Provence Organic in a 0.65-ounce package with the item number of 14200102-24 and the UPC 0 79893 41131 6.
  • O Organics Parsley Organic in a 0.3-ounce package with the item number of 14200099-05 and the UPC 0 79893 41109 5.
  • Full Circle Parsley Organic in a 0.3-ounce package with the item number of 32831-06 and the UPC 0 36800 32813 0.

Don’t mess with salmonella

Although there have been no reports of illness connected to this latest recall, it is essential to be cautious as salmonella infections can become quite serious.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC), salmonella infections cause symptoms such as diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and headache. Symptoms begin anywhere from six hours to six days after infection and can last up to seven days. Severe cases may even require antibiotics or hospitalization. Most people recover just fine without treatment and with proper rest and plenty of hydration. If you have a high fever, persistent diarrhea, bloody stools, persistent vomiting, you need to call your doctor.

Stay safe, grow your spices

One of the best ways to stay safe from tainted food, including herbs and spices, is to grow your own. Growing herbs for spices is much easier than you might think, even if you don’t have much space. You can even grow your favorite herbs in a sunny kitchen window.

Growing herbs in a sunny windowsill is gaining popularity

Small space kitchen gardening or countertop gardening is a popular movement right now, with more and more people stuck at home and living in apartments, condos, and the like.  The good news is that many herbs are quite happy to grow in small containers, and they will reward you with a bountiful harvest with just a minimal amount of attention. Not only that, but you can’t beat the way beautiful greenery looks in your window on a cold winter day. Rest assured that whether you lack space, direct sunlight, or live in a frigid and unforgiving climate, you can still grow plenty of fresh food, including herbs.

Tips for growing herbs in containers

Here are a few tips for growing healthy and delicious herbs.

  • Select heirloom varieties of your favorite herbs. Choose herbs that you love to use and cook with frequently. When possible, use heirloom varieties that taste better than hybrid types.
  • Choose a container with good drainage. Most herbs are very unhappy with “wet feet.” Because of this, it is critical to pot your herb plants in a container that has excellent drainage. 
  • Choose a sunny location. Light is key to success when you grow any plant—position herb pots directly beneath a sunny window to maximize sunlight’s effectiveness. One of the great things about growing in containers is that you can move pots around as the seasons and light conditions change. Keep pots rotated so that plants don’t become leggy. If you don’t have any sunny windows, consider a grow light bulb. These are inexpensive and will help your herbs grow strong and healthy without sunlight.
  • Water and feed accordingly. Knowing what your plants require for food and water is essential to their health. Keep in mind that most plants die because of excessive attention, not a lack of attention. 
  • Harvest correctly. Wait patiently for your plants to mature before you harvest for the first time. Never harvest more than one-third of the plant at one time and wait for that third to grow back before harvesting. Remove any flowers that appear as they will get in the way of the flavor.
  • Prune. Picking herbs is like pruning, but your particular herb may require more. Do a little research and assess the best way to keep your herb plant shapely. Always use clean and sharp pruning scissors – never rip or tear your plant to keep it pruned.

The best way to turn your garden herbs into spices is to place fresh herbs on a cookie sheet and dry them in the oven for 2-4 hours at 180 degrees F or less. Check them regularly to see if they crumble easily. Use a grinder to make a fine powder and store them in an airtight container. Mix and match your favorite dried herbs to create unique culinary blends.

Happy growing!

Susan Patterson, Master Gardener, and Author

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16 Ways to Use Lavender in the Garden, Kitchen, and Bedroom

What if I told you that you could grow your very own 100% natural sleep and anxiety aide in your garden? Lavender, a well respected culinary and landscaping herb, is also recognized as an insomnia remedy and a tension and stress buster.  Its versatility makes it a must in any garden.

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Plant This Medicinal Crop Now

Many people hesitate to grow garlic because it requires a different strategy from most plants in your vegetable garden. Once you know how to do it, though, growing garlic is easy and well worth it. Fresh garlic from the garden tastes much better than store-bought garlic, which has been in storage for ages. An added benefit? Garlic is a potent superfood that boosts health in several ways.

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Packaged Fruit Recall Has Walmart and Other Retailers Scrambling

The pre-cut fruit slices sold at Walmart and other grocers are handy – they are washed and cut, ready to eat. This must mean that they are safe right? Wrong. Like any other “fresh” produce found in the grocery store, they are susceptible to contamination by dangerous organisms like Listeria monocytogenes. 

That is exactly what has happened… once again grocers are scrambling to ditch inventory after a red flag warning went out after listeria monocytogenes was detected on equipment used to package the products. Country Fresh fruit packaged in plastic clamshell containers with the best-if-used by dates between October 3 and October 11, 2020, are at the center of this most recent fresh food recall.

Country Fresh packages pre-cut apples, grapes, mangos, pineapples, and cantaloupes and distributes them to various retailers, including Walmart. According to officials at Country Fresh,

“The recall is a precautionary measure due to a possible health risk from Listeria monocytogenes detected on equipment used in an area near where these products are packed. The FDA discovered these findings during a recent inspection.”

The potentially contaminated fruit was shipped to Walmart distribution stores and sent to stores in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Lousiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. More information on the recalled items and UPC numbers can be found here.  As usual, the FDA warned that consumers who have the recalled items should not eat them and discard of them immediately.

Consumers with questions about the recalls can call Country Fresh at 1-877-251-8300 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST.

Contaminated food may look perfectly normal

Fruit contaminated with  Listeria monocytogenes may look and smell perfectly normal but still cause severe and sometimes fatal infections. It is crucial for anyone who has eaten food possibly contaminated to monitor themselves for any sickness signs. Note that it can take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria to develop infection listeriosis symptoms. 

According to  Jennifer Hunter, MPH, DrPH, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC), 

“Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.” 

Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Severe headache
  • Stick Neck 

About 1,600 people are diagnosed with listeriosis each year, and about 16 %  die because of the infection.  Some people are more vulnerable, including persons with a weakened immune system, older adults, and pregnant women. Pregnant women are ten times more likely to develop an infection. The infection can also cause miscarriages, stillbirths, and preterm labor, along with serious illness and even death in newborns.

Remembering an unfortunate outbreak

The seriousness of listeriosis should never be overlooked. Brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen, Colorado’s Jensen Farms owners, were charged in federal court with the negligence that led to a 2011 listeria outbreak, caused by their Sweet Rocky Ford cantaloupes.

The 2011 outbreak killed 33 people and caused illness in 147 more across the United States. It has also been linked to one miscarriage. Six shipments of cantaloupe from Jensen Farms were responsible for the poisonings, which occurred in at least 24 states. The cantaloupe was recalled on September 14, 2011.

The listeria’s origin was traced back to a packing shed that the Jensens used to process their cantaloupe. Investigators found that the machine used in the processing was designed for cleaning potatoes. One of the processing steps was an antibacterial chlorine spray, which was never used on the cantaloupe before it was packaged and shipped.

A press release by John Walsh, U.S. Attorney of the District of Colorado, states that the Jensen’s cantaloupes were “prepared, packed and held under conditions which rendered it injurious to health.” Jensen Farms filed for bankruptcy in the months following the outbreak.

The #1 best way to protect yourself and your family

Not all farming operations are as careless as Jensen Farms was with their cantaloupe. However, this and other outbreaks serve as a wake-up call for us to be extremely careful about where our food is coming from.  Food recalls are part of our flawed food system. As long as you purchase fresh food at the grocery store, you are susceptible to infection. 

The absolute best way to stay safe is to grow your food. Maybe that sounds overwhelming to you, and perhaps you don’t have a big space to grow food or have little time to commit to such a pursuit. The good news is that it can be simple; growing a few fresh items at home not only protects your family from sickness but also saves you money. There is no need to have a massive amount of green space to grow food; you simply need the desire. 

It is possible to grow an edible garden even in a limited space. Through creative gardening techniques, people are growing enough food in a small vegetable garden to sustain their families, producing high yields in small areas. Some even have enough left over to sell and generate an income. All that’s required is some patience and smart tactics to get the most out of the space that you do have.

Are you ready to experience the joy of growing your food?  Let me show you how you can protect yourself and your family from dangerous outbreaks while successfully growing food in a tiny space.

– Susan Patterson, Master Gardener, and Author

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Death by Soil: Is Gardening a High Risk Activity?

Gardening is a wonderful pursuit, full of tremendous benefits. Millions of people are hopping on board, planting gardens everywhere, growing delicious food and beautiful flowers. But maybe you have heard about contaminated soil issues, which has made you hesitant to start growing. You might be wondering if gardening is a high-risk activity, something that could cause you harm. Let’s unpack the truth.

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Solve These Common Garden Problems with Cinnamon

While TV advertisements and mainstream gardening advice would have you believe that all sorts of chemicals are required to manage issues in your garden, we think otherwise. A holistic approach often works best – preventing any toxic side effects and also saving you money. Here is how you can enjoy the superpower of cinnamon in your garden.

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So, You Want to Be a Goat Owner…Things You Should Know

Getting a goat isn’t as simple as bringing one home and leaving it to roam your backyard. Even if you’ve been a lifelong pet owner, it’s essential to keep in mind that goats have different and unique needs from other common pets.

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