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Food Safety Alert: Nationwide Shrimp Product Recall Intensifies

And… it has happened again. As of August 16, 2021, there have been nine reports of salmonella-related illnesses related to shrimp products sold by Avanti Frozen Foods India.  Three of these people have been hospitalized. This multi-state outbreak is currently being investigated by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Illnesses have been reported in four states, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, and Rhode Island. 

On June 25, 2021, Avanti Foods Pvt. issued a recall on frozen shrimp products distributed nationwide from November 2020 to May 2021. However, it is now thought that the products may have been sold in stores more recently, according to the CDC.  After the CDC reopened its investigation, the FDA requested Avanti to expand the prior recall.

The frozen shrimp was sold under multiple brand names including,  365, Ahold, Big River, Censea, Chicken of the Sea, CWNO, First Street, Food Lion, Hannaford, Harbor Banks, Honest Catch, HOS, Meijer, Nature’s Promise, Open Acres, Sandbar, Sea Cove, Waterfront Bistro, Wellsley Farms, and WFNO Brands.

Whole Foods Market lists two products associated with the recall under its 365 store brand, Kroger, Albertsons, Target, and Meijer, and Hannaford are among retailers impacted by this recall. Products included in the recall include various sizes of frozen cooked, peeled, deveined, shrimp (some packaged with cocktail sauce), tempura roles sold at Target stores in California, and rings of frozen shrimp distributed by Chicken of the Sea and sold at Meijer as well as bags of Meijer-branded bags of frozen shrimp.

Avanti is based in Visakhapatnam, India, partially owned by Bangkok-based Thai Union Group, a global seafood company.

Three smaller recalls linked to the nationwide recall

In addition to the nationwide shrimp recall, there are three smaller related recalls.

  • Mai Cuisine Inc., of Allentown – Recalling 67 packs of 12 piece Shrimp Tempura Kabuki Roll purchased at selected California Target Stores
  • Genji Pacific LLC, of Allentown – Recalling 1 490 packs of sushi containing cocktail shrimp purchased in Whole Foods Market in California stores
  • Mai Franchising Inc., of Allentown – Voluntarily recalling 103 packages of sushi containing cocktail shrimp purchased at New Leaf Community Market stores in Northern California

Stores linked to these California recalls can be found on the fda.gov site.

How seafood gets tainted

According to a study published in the Journal of Food Protection, unlike poultry and other warm-blooded animals, seafood such as shrimp do not naturally carry Salmonella bacteria. Study authors state the following.

“Salmonella is not part of the natural flora of the shrimp culture environment, nor is it inherently present in shrimp grow-out ponds. The occurrence of Salmonella bacteria in shrimp from aquaculture operations is related to the concentration of fecal bacteria in the source and grow-out pond water.”

More than 90% of shrimp consumed in the United States is imported from other countries, including Southeast Asia and Central Asia. There are numerous points from growing to harvest, processing, and shipping where shrimp can become contaminated. Each time seafood and meat are frozen, it becomes a better opportunity for bacteria to thrive. Additionally, if these foods are thawed and frozen again – more bacteria can grow.  The shrimp in question were sold frozen, then thawed before being sold.

Know where your seafood comes from 

Like all food you put on your table, knowing where it originated and is handled is essential. If you can’t catch your fresh seafood or don’t live close to the sea, pick a reputable company that sources only the best seafood possible. Here are a couple of great options to consider

 Vital Choice says this about their products.

“We seek ingredients that are certified organic and Fair Trade Certified™ whenever possible. We seek suppliers who uphold good manufacturing practices and who make a positive impact on their employees, communities, and the environment.”

Wild Alaskan Company says this about their products.

“We proudly ship a wide variety of wild-caught species from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, including sockeye salmon, coho salmon, pacific cod, pacific halibut, and wild Alaska pollock.”

Stay safe and stay informed,

-The Backyard Vitality Team

Federal Officials Say STOP: Latest Salmonella Food Outbreak Sending People to the Hospital

Like a broken record playing over and over again, food recalls keep on coming. Federal officials have now identified specific stores where recalled frozen, raw, and breaded chicken products were sold. These products, manufactured by Serenade Foods in Indiana, include almost 60,000 pounds of chicken. So far, eight states have reported salmonella sickness, including New York, Illinois, Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Nevada, where 28 people have become sick, and 11 have been hospitalized. 

According to a CDC news release, The outbreak strain of salmonella was found in unopened packages of raw frozen breaded stuffed chicken that were collected from a sick person’s home.” Of course, consumers are being encouraged to return unopened food items to the store purchased for a full refund.

Specific stores involved in the recall include Walmart, Aldi, Save-A-Lot, and Food 4 Less. More retailers may be added as the case unfolds. Check here to see which stores have been added.

Branded products that have been recalled include:

  • Dutch Farms Chicken with Broccoli & Cheese (lot code BR 1055; best if used by Feb 24, 2023)
  • Milford Valley Chicken with Broccoli & Cheese (lot code BR 1055; best if used by Feb 24, 2023)
  • Milford Valley Chicken Cordon Bleu (lot code BR 1055; best if used by Feb 24, 2023)
  • Kirkwood Raw Stuffed Chicken, Broccoli & Cheese (lot code BR 1055; best if used by Feb 24, 2023)
  • Kirkwood Raw Stuffed Chicken Cordon Bleu (lot code BR 1056; best if used by Feb 25, 2023)

Salmonella sickness can be deadly

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC), there are about 1.35 million cases of salmonellosis each year, resulting in 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths. Contaminated food is the source of the majority of these cases.

Salmonella lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals and is one of the top causes of food poisoning worldwide. It is a general term for about 2,000 closely related bacteria that cause illness by multiplying in the digestive tract. Humans are generally infected by consuming foods that are contaminated with animal feces. Person-person transmission occurs when an infected person’s feces, unwashed from their hands, contaminates food during preparation or comes in direct contact with another person.

While foods contaminated by salmonella are generally animal in origin, including beef, poultry, eggs and dairy, fruits and veggies, and other processed, packaged foods, even spices can become cross-contaminated. 

For instance, the massive cucumber Salmonella outbreak of 2015 spread like wildfire through the country, leaving over 900 people sick, 204  hospitalized,  and six dead. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks recall in 2018 that sickened over 70 people in 31 states, sending 24 to the hospital.

The tricky part is that contaminated foods don’t generally look or smell any different than non-contaminated foods. This means we don’t hear about a contamination outbreak until someone becomes ill and the illness is investigated.

Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Dehydration

Symptoms typically start six hours to six days after infection and can last anywhere between four to seven days. Some symptoms may be so severe that hospitalization is required.

Here’s what to do during a recall

  1. Visit foodsafety.gov for recent recalls.  
  2. Check your freezer, refrigerator, and cupboards for the product.
  3. If you have the recalled product in your home, read the food label and compare it to the manufacturer’s lot codes on the recall notice. If it’s a match, do not eat it or feed it to your pets.
  4. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer or grocery store regarding returning or disposing of the product.

Who is touching your food?

None of us go to the grocery store seeking out contaminated food. We all want a safe, diverse, affordable, and abundant food supply all year long. Because of the demand, America imports about 15 percent of its overall food supply. Today, more than 200 countries or territories and about 125,000 food facilities and farms provide about 32 percent of fresh veggies, 55 percent of fresh fruit, and 94 percent of seafood that Americans eat each year. This, in and of itself, creates challenges when it comes to food safety.

Congress passed the FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act ( FSMA) in 2011. This act shifted the focus of federal regulators into more of a prevention mode regarding food contamination. There have been new standards applicable to foreign and domestic food growers, manufacturers, processors, packers, and holders, but there is much work still to be done in food safety.

One of the best ways to keep safe is to know where your food is coming from and grow as much as you can on your own. Eliminating the many hands that touch your food is a great first step in reducing your risk of food poisoning. Eat local, eat fresh, and eat in season are excellent rules to follow.

An excellent place to start is your community farmers’ market. You can meet local farmers who often specialize in just a few things, whether meat, poultry, vegetables, or fruit. This allows you to know where your food is grown. Many local farmers will allow you to visit their farms to check out the source of your sustenance. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon! 

More ways to prevent food poisoning 

Additionally, here are some things you can practice at home to further decrease the risk of contamination:

  • Wash your hands before handling any food and in between handling different foods
  • Wash hands after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, or touching animals
  • Wash counters, knives, and utensils before preparing food – hot water and soap work great!
  • Keep your kitchen towels and dishcloths clean – don’t leave them damp – this is the perfect place for germs to spread.
  • Use separate cutting boards for raw food and fish.
  • Keep meat away from any ready-to-eat foods such as fruit, bread, and salad. Store raw meat on the bottom shelf in the fridge where it is less likely to touch other food.
  • Cook all meat thoroughly.
  • Keep your refrigerator set to below 41 degrees F and avoid overfilling. 
  • Cool cooked food that you are not going to eat within 90- minutes and store in the fridge or freezer. 
  • Use leftovers within two days and never reheat the same food more than two times.
  • Don’t ever consume food that is past its use-by date.

Stay safe and eat well,

-The Backyard Vitality Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eat Beef or Plants – Which is Better?

Fats, carbohydrates, and protein are the three macronutrients that are essential for human life. Protein is necessary for building and repairing tissue and is also needed to create hormones, enzymes, and other vital ingredients for health and wellbeing. 

You may think of meat when you think of protein, but there are plenty of alternatives, including plant protein, that are growing in popularity. But which is better, protein from meat – specifically grass-fed beef – or plants? Let’s take a look.

About 20% of the human body is made up of protein, but we must get it from our diet because the body does not store it. While some suggest that it does not matter where your protein comes from – say, plants vs. animals, others suggest that one trumps the other as far as quality is concerned. But what is the truth?

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein

We use about 20 amino acids to build protein in the body. These amino acids are considered essential and non-essential. We can produce non-essential amino acids but no essential ones, which must come from the diet. It is crucial to have all of the essential amino acids in the proper ratios for excellent health.

Animal sources for protein, such as beef, poultry, eggs, fish, and dairy, are similar to the protein in the human body and are considered complete. They contain all of the essential amino acids that the human body needs to function at its best. Plant sources of protein from sources including, but not limited to, beans, seeds, and nuts, are considered incomplete as they lack one or more of the essential amino acids that meat sources contain. 

Note: Some say that soy is a complete protein; however, two essential amino acids exist in only minimal amounts, so it is not comparable to animal protein as far as quality is concerned.

If you eat meat, grass-fed is the ONLY option

 Is grass-fed beef a healthy option?

If there is any truth in the saying, “you are what you eat,” then choosing to eat grass-fed meats and milk products is the obvious choice. Most animals commercially raised for meat and dairy products in the United States come from Confined Animal Feeding Operations, also known as CAFOs. Animals raised in CAFOs often have no space to move around. The stress and abuse of these conditions are truly horrifying, and many meat-eating Americans choose not to think about it, which only perpetuates the cycle of mistreatment.

CAFOs contribute significantly to industrial waste and pollution. Studies have shown that people who live near factory farms may suffer nausea, depression, skin infections, respiratory problems, and sometimes death from the toxicity of their environment.

Commercially-raised animals are fed multiple antibiotics and growth hormones, which end up in the meat and milk. The overuse of antibiotics in the meat industry leads to the growth of drug-resistant bacteria strains, which make individuals more susceptible to previously treatable diseases.

According to the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences, the United States spends about 30 billion dollars per year treating antibiotic-resistant infections.

Animals raised in CAFOs are fed diets mainly consisting of GMO grain and soy, far from their natural diets. What’s worse is that the feed often contains ‘byproduct feedstuff,’ which can include chicken feathers, candy, and even municipal garbage.

All of this eventually ends up in consumers’ bodies. The bodies of you and your family every time you enjoy a commercially-raised steak, burger, or glass of milk.

Conversely, grass-fed animals are fed nothing but natural, pesticide-free grasses and are given room to roam and graze. No antibiotics, growth hormones, or garbage are added to their diets. As a result, these animals are not confined and subjected to stress, grow at a natural pace, and are naturally healthy and free of food-borne diseases.

Choosing to eat grass-fed meats and dairy products means significantly more nutrition and eliminates the risks associated with antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides, GMOs, and random feed additives. This choice also benefits the environment and community farmers and ranchers who are working hard to create sustainable and humane agricultural conditions.

The resulting meat from grass-fed animals is significantly higher in nutrients. Grass-fed beef has been shown to contain more vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene than its commercially-raised counterpart. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a potent anti-carcinogen. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant essential for the proper function of many organs in the body and helps cells live longer. Vitamin A is necessary for both eye and skin health.

A couple of key nutrients are found in meat but not in plants, including:

  • Vitamin B12: Many people who avoid meat/seafood products are deficient in vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 has a number of vital roles in the human body, including supporting normal nerve function, the formation of red blood cells, and DNA synthesis. Getting plenty of B12 helps boost energy, keep your mind clear, and helps to keep heart disease at bay.
  • Zinc: Zinc is found mainly in animal protein sources like beef and pork. It is easily absorbed and used when consumed from animal sources. Zinc is essential for a robust immune system and metabolism. It is also essential for wound healing and a sense of taste and smell.

Grass-fed beef is loaded with glutathione 

Glutathione (GT) is a powerhouse protein in foods that can eliminate free radicals within the cell. Grass-fed beef is supremely high in GT and can protect cells from oxidized lipids or proteins, thus preventing DNA damage.  Additionally, grass-fed beef is high in superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT), which work together as superpower antioxidants.

Healthy fat is healthy, and grass-fed beef has plenty of it

Studies done over the last several decades clearly show that neither saturated fat, including fat in meat, nor dietary cholesterol causes harm in humans. The old theory that told us to avoid meat, eggs, coconuts, and dairy stated that saturated fats raise bad cholesterol in the blood, and “bad”  cholesterol gets stuck in our arteries which causes hardening and eventually heart disease.

In reality, saturated fats help to elevate good cholesterol and improve the ratio of triglycerides to HDL. They also help change small and dense LDL cholesterol particles that can clog arteries to large, harmless particles.

A study done at Harvard University concluded that “greater saturated fat intake is associated with less progression of atherosclerosis.” In countries where the highest amount of saturated fat is consumed, there is the least heart disease. Saturated fat does not contribute to heart disease.

The documentary Statin Nation: The Great Cholesterol Cover-Up, presented by Rethink Productions, provides strong evidence disproving the widely believed ideology that high cholesterol leads to heart disease.

It details how the scientific groundwork that this belief is based upon was heavily manipulated from the start and presents large-scale studies that clearly show the lack of connection between cholesterol levels and heart disease.

In short, mounting evidence shows that our focus on lowering cholesterol, and our growing reliance on statins, a class of cholesterol-lowering pharmaceuticals, is both drawing research focus away from investigating the actual causes of heart disease and killing us.

Statin Nation interviews medical experts from various fields, who each present a wide array of large-scale studies showing that there is no evidence-based relationship between high cholesterol and heart disease.

Studies have found that LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol is LOWER in heart disease patients than in the general population and that low cholesterol levels are associated with earlier death.

Takeaway

Here is a quick snapshot summary of the top reasons why everyone should include at least some meat in their diet. Yes, plants are important too because they contain nutrients not found in beef but consuming BOTH provides a fantastic basis for amazing health.

  • The protein found in beef is complete – it doesn’t get any better than this!
  • Beef contains heme iron which the body readily absorbs and helps to prevent anemia.
  • High-quality beef may help to prevent muscle loss which accompanies aging.
  • Consuming a high protein diet including beef may help to balance blood sugar.
  • Beef is the #1 dietary source of zinc which is necessary for optimal immune system function and wound healing.
  • Just one serving of beef provides half of the daily recommended value of selenium which helps to prevent cell damage, promotes proper thyroid production, and may even help prevent cancer.
  • Eating a diet that includes protein found in beef has been found to promote long-term weight loss better than other diets.
  • Animal products including beef contain the only natural source of B-12 which is important for healthy brain and nervous system function. 
  • People who don’t eat meat such as beef have lower levels of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-23, and omega-3 fatty acids which are vital for bone health.

 

Who’s ready for some delicious and nutritious grass-fed beef?

-The Backyard Vitality Team

 

 

Additional sources

  • Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2000.
  • Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 1998.
  • Effect of an energy-restricted, high-protein, low-fat diet relative to a conventional high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet on weight loss, body composition, nutritional status, and markers of cardiovascular health in obese women, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2005
  • Vegetarian diets and bone status, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014

9 Backyard Makeover Tips That Won’t Break the Bank

Are you tired of your outdoor living space? Are you ready for something new but don’t have a massive budget to blow? No worries, there are many easy and inexpensive ways that you can breathe new life into your landscape. Transformation is just a few dollars away. With these ideas, you can create a brand new, inviting outdoor oasis!

Lay down a rug

Rugs are not just for indoor living; they add immediate color, warmth, and personality to any outdoor space. Cover up your cracking patio or your sun-worn deck with an outdoor rug that will create a whole new vibe. Add complimenting pillows to your furniture to tie it all together.

Add some water

Nothing says, “come and relax” better than a water feature. Contrary to what you might think, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a store-bought water feature when you can create your very own fountain in a matter of hours. You can even get adventurous and add a water garden made from half of a whiskey barrel. These water features allow you to incorporate beautiful water plants and moving water all in one!

Mulch is your friend

Adding a fresh new layer of mulch to garden beds is an easy and effective way to breathe new life into your landscape. Choose a new and exciting type or color of mulch to change it up. 

Grow upwards

Utilizing vertical space, whether it be on your patio, fence, wall, or another surface, helps create interesting focal points in your outdoor living space. Hanging pots, patio rail boxes, and wall gardens are just a few ways that you can vertically display your favorite plants.

Light it up

A little outdoor lighting helps soften your outdoor space and brings romance and coziness to any space. Hang lights, light up pathways, or use outdoor battery-operated candles to set the mood!

Fun borders

If spicing up your garden borders is something you have always wanted to do, here are a few great suggestions that don’t cost a fortune. 

  • Large stone or rocks – Rock edging is fantastic for those with easy access to rocks. They add interest to any landscape.
  • Bricks – Brick edging adds inviting formality to garden beds. For a shabby chic look, paint bricks white.
  • Bottles – Do you love wine? Do your friends love wine? Using wine bottles for edging is a fantastic way to repurpose bottles. Clean bottles, strip off the labels and insert them into the ground around garden beds or use as pathway edging.
  • Logs – For a perfect complement to a rustic landscape, use cut log pieces as edging. Cut all pieces the same size or mix them up for additional visual interest.
  • Dinner plates – If you are after an eclectic vintage look, a dinner plate border is a perfect option. Use plates from your own collection or visit your local thrift store for some great finds. Dig a shallow trench, place plates in the soil, and backfill to hold them in place.

Door dining table

A trip to your local thrift store or a community yard sale may give you exactly what you need to create an uplifting dining table without spending a fortune. Look for a solid wood door that you can transform. Remove the hardware, sand the door down and paint a bright white or your favorite color. Cut a hole in the middle for an umbrella, set the door on two painted workhorses, and add benches or chairs for a fun and practical dining space.

Washing machine drum fire pit

Creating a fire pit from a washing machine drum is a fantastic upcycling project that will wow your friends. Stainless steel holds up well against heat, and the slotted design allows oxygen to freely flow, keeping the fire burning bright. Head out to your local used appliance store, where you can usually snag a washing machine drum for under $10.  You will need an angle grinder and grinder attachments along with a cup wire brush, cut-off wheel, and flap wheel sanding disc to transform the washing machine drum to a fire pit. Don’t forget your protective gear. The first step is to remove the plastic ring and base. Use a grinder to cut off the wheel and take out the center spindle – making room for firewood. Grind down the metal pipe and smooth rough edges. Use a wire brush to clean away all soap scum. Finish the drum with a coat of black high-heat spray paint and weld some legs at the base.

Add some outdoor games

Nothing transforms an outdoor space from boring to fun faster than the addition of a few outdoor games. If you have room, set up cornhole boards, croquet, horseshoes, badminton, or even lawn bowling. If turf is an issue, consider installing a small section of fake grass for a game area.

Of course, these are just some of the many ways that you can make your outdoor living space pop without breaking the bank. Think outside of the box about upcycling and repurposing things you already have or can find for cheap at thrift stores, flea markets, or garage sales. Put your own creative spin on your space, and you will be amazed at how great it can look!

Happy growing,

Susan Patterson, CBHC and Master Gardener

11 Amazing Benefits of Sweet Basil

Fresh sweet basil is floral, pungent, and readily available in the U.S. You’re probably well aware of the flavor it contributes to dishes, like pasta and salads. But what you may not be aware of are the powerful healing compounds associated with the essential oil. In fact, sweet basil oil can help the digestive, immune and nervous systems. If you haven’t tried it yet, here are some natural fixes that can really boost your health.=

Sweet basil’s essentials

Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum), is a plant with thick foliage and small white flowers. Fresh basil projects a fresh and floral aroma, while the dried basil has a spicy and earthy scent. Like most herbs, sweet basil is loaded with health benefits. In fact, it’s a rich source of vitamin K, beta carotene, and iron. In addition, this herb has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.

But the majority of basil’s benefits are attributed to its volatile oil and flavonoids. The preferred method for obtaining the oil is through steam distilling the flowers or the whole basil plant. These powerful, plant-based antioxidants reduce inflammation and help fight aging. Whether you take it internally or use it topically, here are some basil oil benefits you may want to consider.

1. Antibacterial and antifungal

Basil oil for cleaning

Basil oil has antimicrobial activity that fights a wide range of foodborne bacteria, yeasts, and even mold. A study published in Food Microbiology found that basil oil can stop the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Researchers looking for natural, toxin-free food preservatives, discovered that washing produce in a basil oil solution decreased shigella.

Shigella, a bacterium closely related to salmonella, produces abdominal pain, tenesmus, watery diarrhea, and dysentery. Other symptoms may include abdominal tenderness, fever, vomiting, dehydration, and convulsions. Interestingly, a solution made from one percent basil oil decreased contamination below levels at which it could be detected. Scientists suggest including basil in your salad to provide similar safeguards.

In another earlier study from Australia, researchers looked at the effects of basil oil against bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and molds. All five essential oils of basil showed antimicrobial activity against most of the organisms. That means you can use a solution of basil oil to remove bacteria and prevent contamination from kitchens and bathrooms. Simply combine basil oil with water in a spray bottle and wipe down surfaces.

2. Indigestion and cramping

Basil oil can help increase urine production, which in turn, can reduce water retention, uncomfortable bloating, and digestive issues. It’s also an effective antispasmodic and can reduce food and illness-associated cramping. Add one to two drops of sweet basil oil to warm water or tea. You can also inhale it or massage it directly into painful areas, such as the abdomen and lower back.

3. Constipation relief

Sweet basil oil can also provide natural constipation relief. Add one to two drops of sweet basil oil to warm water or tea. You’ll be feeling better in no time.

4. Flatulence and upset stomach

Basil oil for gas and upset stomach

Basil essential oil is also useful as a digestive tonic. Since basil oil has carminative properties, it prevents or relieves flatulence. In fact, it can provide immediate relief from gas. It also has colic qualities and is therefore used to alleviate bowel pain. Alternately, sweet basil oil can expel gas from the stomach and intestine, helping calm an upset stomach, suggests the University of Michigan Health System.

5. Prevents infections

Due to basil’s antibacterial properties, it may also treat several infections, including cuts, wounds and bladder infections. It’s also great for avoiding viral infections that attack and enter the body through other wounds.

6. Pain relief

Often used for arthritic pain, wounds, sprains, and headaches, basil oil is an analgesic and provides effective relief from pain. According to a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, basil oil was found to reduce hyperalgesia in mice. Research suggests that sweet basil oil may also be a natural alternative for treating chronic painful conditions, such as fibromyalgia.

7. Anti-inflammatory

Basil’s powerful essential oils contain eugenol, citronellol, and linalool. These enzyme-inhibiting oils help lower inflammation — the root cause of most diseases. In a 2007 study, researchers found that sweet basil oil significantly reduced an induced inflammation response in rats. Researchers found that sweet basil showed important anti-inflammatory effects.

8. Insect repellent

Similar to citronella and thyme oil, the volatile oils found in basil make a good, natural mosquito repellent to prevent bug bites. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association investigated sweet basil oil as an irritant and repellent against mosquitoes. Pure essential oil was used in combination with absolute ethanol. Researchers found that sweet basil oil is a moderate mosquito irritant and repellent. However, they found that another variety of basil, hairy basil, was a much more effective mosquito repellent.

Make your own homemade bug lotion by diluting several drops of basil essential oil in a carrier oil. Massage into the skin as needed.

9. Anxiety relief

A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology reported that basil oil relaxed mice experiencing stress. The study found that the protective properties of basil (particularly holy basil) on the brain tissue protected mice against the detrimental effect of noise stress.

10. Cold and flu Relief

Basil oil for cold relief

If you feel a cold or flu coming on, basil oil may help diminish symptoms. This essential oil helps detoxify the body of bacteria and viruses. It also fights inflammation, pain, and fatigue. Simply add one to two drops to a steam bath. Alternately, make your own homemade vapor rub with eucalyptus oil and basil oil. Rub it into your chest to open nasal passages.

11. Air freshener

Sweet basil oil is ideal for eliminating odor-causing bacteria and mold in your home, car, and furniture. Combine basil oil with baking soda to remove stains and bacteria from pots or pans. You can even spray it inside your toilet, shower, and garbage cans.

Now that you know everything sweet basil can do, are you ready to give it a try? Here are all the ways that you can get it into your system.

Inhalation

Inhale the oil directly from the bottle or rub several drops into your palms. Hold your hands over, but not touching, your face to inhale.

Topically

Always dilute basil oil with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or almond oil. Use a 1:1 ratio before applying to the skin. Because it is potent, it’s best to start slowly. Basil oil may cause reactions in people with sensitive skin. Test before applying to the skin and avoid the face, neck, and chest prior to testing.

Internally

The FDA recognizes pure basil oil as safe for consumption, but only when using 100 percent therapeutic-grade, high-quality oil. Look for Ocimum basilicum and add a drop in water. Or, take it as a dietary supplement by mixing it with raw honey.

You won’t have any trouble finding sweet basil oil because it’s produced in the U.S. and harvested from February to September. So the next time you have a cold, or simply want to freshen your home naturally, give it a try. Your nose will thank you.

– The Backyard Vitality Team

8 Mental Health Benefits Of Community Gardening

The vacant lot that we would ultimately turn into a vibrant community garden was overgrown with grass grass that was taller than we were. We had to use machetes to cut it down, then we let the grass fertilize the ground and we began an extensive cleanup and leveling process.

But many hands make light work, and that garden is now a key source of vegetables and herbs for people in the nearby area. The benefits it brings, however, go well beyond the vegetables themselves. Children from the local school work the garden side-by-side with retirees fostering a sense of community.

Community gardens bring people together.

The mental and physical health benefits of community gardens are well documented. They include:

1. Developing social support and social skills

People who contribute to community gardens be it street and urban gardens, or gardens set up for a school, prison, hospital, restaurant or other places almost always make friends there, surveys have found. Gardens can be a great place to meet people you wouldn’t normally come across people outside your family and workplaces as well as a space to learn from others. In turn, people with these stronger social networks have an increased life expectancy and greater resilience to stress.

2. Sense of achievement

It’s a wonderful thing, to look after life and plants provide an achievable way to do this. In a community garden, you’ll often find yourself taking home vegetables and herbs, or giving them to your neighbors and being able to hold the literal fruits of your labor in your hands is rewarding and fulfilling.

Connect with others who share a passion for gardening.

3. A great use of leisure time

Sometimes work and caring duties can be so exhausting that the only leisure time we squeeze in involves a television. But, TV and Netflix aren’t great for mental health they promote lazy thought and the consumption of unhealthy food, encourage unrealistic expectations of life, and promote a sedentary lifestyle. Urban and community gardening, on the other hand, can be really relaxing, while also getting you moving in a chilled-out way. Respondents to a survey on community gardening said that it made them “happy…when things grow back in spring,” and, “I feel alive. I’d die if I stayed in my apartment.”

4. Decreased stress and pain

A garden is a great and convenient getaway from the stress of everyday life, and studies have found that gardens can lower pain levels and speed up the healing process, decrease stress and release tension. Community gardens can be especially beneficial to people in highly urbanized areas who don’t have a garden of their own or access to plants on a daily basis. In fact, researchers have found that gardening is more efficient at reducing stress than reading indoors or indoor exercise.

Community gardening gets you out of the house.

5. Better diet and lifestyle

People working in community gardens often feel inspired to eat better and are more motivated to exercise. Learning how vegetables grow and everything that goes into that process helps people to appreciate their food in a different way.

6. A greater sense of security

By getting to know one’s neighbors, people start to trust them and their alienation made all one’s neighbors’ strangers starts to break down. This leads to an increased feeling of safety and security.

7. Happiness

Research shows that nature evokes positive emotions, as well as facilitates cognitive functioning, and promoting recovery from mental exhaustion. People spending time in nature also have better concentration and attention levels.

8. Enhanced self-esteem

In-depth studies consistently find that gardening is great for self-esteem and just one session can be beneficial. The main reason is that a reduction in anger, confusion, tension, and depression is conducive to improving a person’s sense of self-worth.

Community gardening tips

Not everyone has a vacant block of land waiting around to be rescued. But there are lots of alternatives; a park in disrepair, the unused but accessible roof of a block of flats, the back porch of the local pub, a corner of a local primary school and even your own small patio or window sills can be used for seedlings or a shared worm composter.

Indulge your gardening hobby where you can.

If you don’t have access to green space and have to grow food on a rooftop, paved area, or patio, the following foods do really well in pots: oregano, tomatoes, basil, potatoes, beets, turnips, radish, rosemary, cucumber, lettuce, parsley, carrots, chilis, strawberries, cantaloupe, eggplant, peppermint, peppers, peas, onions, beans, kale, chard and medicinal plants like aloe vera work well as well.

For some non-edible plants that will lift your mood lavender smells wonderful and has been shown to lower stress on its own. Roses promote relaxation (and if they are organic, are edible as well) and the bright colors of sunflowers make most people feel happy.

Use a worm composter to reduce waste and generate fertilizer I made mine out of two bucket-like plastic containers in about ten minutes and throw your coffee grounds and eggshells straight into the pots.

-The Backyard Vitality Team

 

12 Tips to Keep Your Garden Harvest Fresh for Longer

Have you ever been so blessed by a massive harvest that you become overwhelmed? I know the feeling! Sometimes you just have so many fresh veggies that you become worried about using them all before they go bad. Believe me, this is a problem. However, you can turn your problem around if you follow these tips on preserving and keeping your harvest fresh for longer.

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35 Ways to Use Raw Honey for Great Health

Winnie the Pooh said it best when he said, “Eating honey is a very good thing to do.” This liquid gold has been a staple in my home for many, many years, and for good reason. The benefits of honey are seemingly endless. Everywhere I have lived, I have sought out raw local sources of honey for use in my kitchen, as well as for other medicinal purposes. I am also beginning to do my own research on keeping bees — partially because I use so much honey and partially because I find it absolutely amazing that bees provide us with this wonderful gift that I want to watch them work up close and personal.

I am not alone in my awe of honey. Ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Chinese, Romans, and Greeks used honey for treating wounds and to heal conditions of the gut. Hippocrates himself used honey and vinegar for pain, honey and water for thirst, and honey mixed with water and other substances for fever.

Medicinal properties of honey

Honey is truly a healing gift from nature, and is rich in medicinal properties:

  • Hygroscopic property

In its natural state, honey has very low water content, but it absorbs moisture when exposed to air. This hygroscopic property makes honey highly beneficial to dry skin by allowing it to better retain moisture. It also helps to speed up wound healing time.

  • Antibacterial property

One especially vital component in honey, glucose oxidase, is an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide. Research indicates that this is one of the main reasons why honey seems to have such powerful antibacterial and wound-healing capabilities. The production of hydrogen peroxide is just one of the remarkable ways that honey helps to kill bacteria and heal wounds.

  • Antioxidant property

Although darker honey generally contains more antioxidant power than light-colored, both are still a rich source of valuable antioxidants. Antioxidants go to work against free radicals and encourage new tissue growth. This, in turn, helps expedite the healing of damaged tissue and also helps skin appear younger and more radiant.

  • Honey is a nutritional powerhouse

Honey is also a nutritional powerhouse, containing glucose, fructose, and numerous minerals including calcium, iron, copper, phosphate, sodium chlorine, magnesium, manganese, and potassium. Vitamins in honey include B6, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and a number of amino acids. It is also quite acidic, with a pH of 3.2. and 4.5. This helps prevent the growth of bacteria. It is also loaded with protective antioxidants.

Ways to use honey

There are literally hundreds of ways to use honey — here are 35 of my favorite. I hope you give some of these a try. You will be amazed at what you find.

1. Wound cleaner

Dab honey onto a minor burn or cut, lightly covering the wound like an antibiotic ointment. Research published in The FASEB Journal shows how honey kills off bacteria and helps speed healing time.

2. Diaper rash and nipple cream

Honey is a gentle way to soothe diaper rash.
Honey is a gentle way to soothe diaper rash (and nipples)

A New Zealand study investigated using topical pharmaceutical-grade manuka honey in place of traditional barrier cream for the treatment of redness, itching, and inflammation. Researchers found that symptoms improved in a similar fashion to using a traditional barrier cream. To help prevent diaper rash, try adding equal parts of honey to your usual diaper cream and use it daily. In the same manner that honey provides relief and healing for diaper rash, it is also a fantastic remedy for sore and inflamed nipples!

3. Hair conditioner

Honey makes for a great natural conditioner. Mix together 1/2 cup honey with 1/4 cup olive oil and warm slightly on the stove. Apply to your hair and then allow it to soak in by wrapping your hair in a towel. Once it is soaked in, rinse out your hair, preferably with cool water.

4. Natural hair remover

Mix one tablespoon of honey with one tablespoon of lemon juice and three tablespoons of brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl. Warm slightly in the microwave and allow the mixture to cool, then apply to facial hair using a popsicle stick. Place a small piece of muslin cloth over the area and rub slightly. Apply a small amount of tea tree oil to the area where you removed the hair.

5. Burn treatment

The Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery published a paper based on an analysis comparing the use of medicated dressings (silver sulfadiazine) with honey dressings over a five-year period. When burn healing time was compared, those patients with the honey dressings healed in an average of 18.16 days, while those with the medicated bandages healed in 32.68 days.

Researchers concluded that the honey dressings made wounds sterile in a shorter time period and also improved healing time. Note: Only try this home treatment for minor burns. In the case of a serious burn, call the emergency room.

6. Makeup remover

Mix baking soda and honey together to make a paste and add a few drops of tea tree oil. Apply using a warm washcloth in a circular motion. Rinse with warm water.

7. Bad breath

If you suffer from bad breath, try a mixture of 1/4 cup water, one teaspoon raw honey, and one teaspoon of lemon juice. Gargle for three minutes and spit out for fresh breath all day long.

8. Face mask

A honey face mask can help improve skin conditions.
A honey face mask can help improve skin conditions.

Honey can effectively treat conditions like acne, rosacea, and eczema, while coconut oil is great for relieving dry or irritated skin, as well as for reducing wrinkles. Combining them leads to super-soft, clear, hydrated skin! Mix one tablespoon coconut oil and one tablespoon raw honey in a small bowl with a spoon until it’s well combined.

Apply the mixture to your face and neck with your fingertips — gently — as sometimes honey can crystalize and be rough on your skin. Let it sink in for up to 20 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Simple, easy, and effective!

9. Strengthen nails

If you have weak, brittle nails, try mixing one tablespoon of honey with a 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar in a shallow dish. Soak your nails for 10 minutes and rinse. Repeat weekly for strong and healthy cuticles and nails.

10. Relieve acid reflux

Raw honey coats the lining of the esophagus and provides relief to the burning caused by acid reflux. In a report posted in the British Medical Journal, Professor Mahantayya V. Math found relief from reflux when he ingested five milliliters of honey.

11. Balance blood sugar

Although honey is sweet, it has a fairly low glycemic index. The natural sugars in honey have a “slow-release” effect, which means it does not cause the sharp peak in blood sugar that other sweet substances (like refined sugar) do. The sugars in honey are therefore more slowly absorbed and metabolized. Despite its sweetness, honey will not cause blood sugar levels to spike as high or as fast as other high-sugar foods.

12. Natural cough syrup

You can make a very effective, tasty, natural cough syrup using the following ingredients: one cup of filtered water, 1/4 cup fresh ginger root, 1/4 cup marshmallow root, one tablespoon cinnamon, 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, and one cup honey. Pour the water into a saucepan and add the dried herbs.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the volume is reduced by about half. Pour through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer to remove herbs. While the liquid is still warm, but not boiling, mix in the lemon juice and honey. Stir well and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

13. Dark circle remover

Mix one teaspoon of honey with one teaspoon of sweet almond oil and spread the mixture under the eyes. After about 20 minutes, wash the mixture off and follow up with a light layer of organic coconut oil. Repeat this treatment a few times a week to keep your skin looking great.

14. Lip moisturizer

A very easy way to heal and prevent chapped lips can be made with honey. Mix one part of warm, recently-melted beeswax to three parts olive oil. Then add one to two tablespoons of honey to the mixture. Once the mixture has been set, it’s ready to use.

15. Healthy sports drink

Commercial sports drinks are loaded with sugar and other not-so-healthy ingredients. However, it is very easy to make your own homemade sports drink using honey. Simply combine the following ingredients in a Vitamix and blend until the honey dissolves: 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, two cups water, 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt, and two tablespoons of raw honey. Take some of this mixture in a water bottle when going out on a long hike and you’ll feel hydrated and energized.

16. Improves healthy gut bacteria

Bees have a very diverse population of beneficial acid bacteria. A unique characteristic of raw honey is its ability to feed good gut bacteria and fight off bad bacteria. Good bacteria are essential for overall health and wellness. It forms the main defense against outside threats.

17. Relieve morning sickness

Honey can help to naturally alleviate morning sickness.
Honey can help to naturally alleviate morning sickness.

Organic honey works to relieve morning sickness for pregnant mothers. A warm tea made with honey and ginger is highly effective at calming a pregnant mother’s tummy.

18. Fruit-preserver

Preserving your fruits with raw honey makes them so much healthier. Simply use one part honey to ten parts water and cover your berries in the mixture. Much better than sugar!

19. Weight-loss aid

Hands down, honey is a better and far healthier sweetener than sugar. The body knows just what to do with this natural gift from the bees, and our cells can use it for energy. If you are looking to drop a few pounds, replace your sugar with honey. It will boost your metabolism and give you energy.

Just remember, all in moderation. You must eat a healthy diet and exercise for any permanent weight loss to occur. For an added boost, mix half a teaspoon of organic ground cinnamon in a cup of boiling water, then let it steep for 10 minutes. Add one teaspoon of raw honey and enjoy!

20. Infections in the mouth

Bacteria and viruses can cause oral infections that impact the teeth, gums, palate, tongue, lips, and the inside of the cheeks. Oral infections are very common. In fact, infections that cause tooth decay are the second most common infectious condition after the common cold.

Researchers in India have found that manuka honey worked just as well as commercial mouthwash, and better than chewing gum with xylitol, for reducing plaque levels. This they attribute to its outstanding antibacterial qualities. Manuka honey, taken orally, can help reduce gingivitis and keep the mouth healthy and free from harmful bacteria.

21. Treat insect bites

Mixing some lemon juice with honey makes a natural antiseptic solution; the natural sugar in honey kills the microorganisms, while the lemon partners with it to prevent bacteria from taking over. The combination will also reduce the swelling associated with insect bites, and decrease itchiness.

For best results, squeeze the juice of one lemon into two tablespoons of raw honey and spread on the infected area. Allow the mixture to remain on the skin until the swelling goes down. You’ll also notice a decrease in itchiness.

22. Fix fertility issues

Raw honey is also an effective natural remedy for fertility issues. It can be combined with raw goat milk to increase sperm counts in men. In women, it can increase the chances of successful fertilization.

23. Reduce the appearance of scars

Over time, a mixture of honey and baking soda can reduce the appearance of scars. Mix one tablespoon of honey with one tablespoon of baking soda. Apply the paste to a scar and let sit for about 30 minutes. Rinse with cool water and pat dry. Do this daily until the scar begins to fade.

24. Treat yeast infections

Honey can help fight off a yeast infection.
Honey can help fight off a yeast infection.

There is evidence that applying raw honey in and around the vagina can help get rid of yeast infections. Apply the honey, let it sit for 30 minutes, then wash it off in the bath or shower.

25. Stockpile for emergency

Are you building up an emergency food supply for the apocalypse? Honey should be in it! This food never spoils — collections of it have actually been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. It also provides the perfect balance of glucose and fructose for energy, along with a ton of healthy vitamins and enzymes.

26. Soften skin

The same qualities that make honey good for your hair also make it good for your skin. It’s a great way to keep your skin naturally soft and clean. Just add two tablespoons of honey to a cup of hot water and let it dissolve. Add two to three drops of lavender essential oil, then pour the mixture into your bath.

27. Whip up healthy peanut butter

I love peanut butter but hate sugar. This is quite simply the most delicious peanut butter I have ever tasted, with natural sweetness from a healthy dose of honey.

28. Combat parasites

If you have parasites, try using a mixture of raw honey and apple cider vinegar. Simply add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon of honey to a glass of water and drink it down!

29. Relieve a hangover

Because of its antioxidant properties, honey is said to neutralize the toxins created by consuming alcohol. The fructose in honey is thought to be the essential compound that helps the body break down alcohol into harmless byproducts.

30. Treat antibiotic-resistant superbugs

Antibiotic resistance is, according to the CDC, a leading world health problem. Doctors first began to notice resistance problems almost a decade ago, when kids with middle-ear infections stopped responding to the drugs they were being given.

Phenols found in manuka honey inhibit bacterial growth and promote healing. These antioxidants are not like synthetic antibiotics that promote the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Clearly raw honey is an impressive antimicrobial agent against a broad spectrum of bacteria and other infectious organisms.

31. Create a simple energy boost

If you start to feel a little lethargic towards the end of your day, a tablespoon of raw honey is just what you need. According to the American College of Nutrition, honey (unlike sugar) provides a nutritious carbohydrate that the body can use for immediate energy. When you are feeling low, take a teaspoon in a cup of warm water mixed with lemon or a scoop right from the jar!

32. Make salad dressing

Ditch commercial salad dressing and try this delicious and healthy option instead. Combine equal parts raw honey, balsamic vinegar and olive oil into a jar and shake lightly. Add herbs, pepper and sea salt to taste.

33. Treat allergies

Local honey can help to combat allergies.
Local honey can help to combat allergies.

Research contends that locally produced honey helps greatly with seasonal allergies. Try adding a tablespoon of local honey (produced during the season you have your allergy problem) to a tea made with nettle leaf for extra allergy relief benefits.

34. Topical antibiotic

Raw organic honey has been used as an antibiotic and topical treatment for abrasions and cuts for hundreds of years. For people with diabetic ulcers, it can be an effective treatment when many other topical treatments are unsuccessful.

35. Homemade dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is a delicious and healthy treat, in moderation. Make your own using honey (much better than sugar). Visit this site for an amazingly good recipe for some delicious little treats.

How to choose the best honey

Raw honey is honey in its purest state. According to the National Honey Board, there is no exact definition for raw honey. A honey label that says “untreated” or “unpasteurized” may be an indication, but not a guarantee that the honey is raw. Obviously, any honey labeled pasteurized is not raw. Don’t be fooled by words like “natural” or “pure” — they mean nothing in regards to honey processing.

To be sure that the honey you are purchasing is raw, it is best to get it from a local beekeeper who will tell you how the honey was obtained. The very best raw honey will also be organic — beekeepers must adhere to very strict regulations in order to be certified organic. Now go out and get some honey!

-Susan Patterson, Certified Health Coach and Master Gardener

Yes, You Should Eat the WHOLE Avocado – Even the Pit

There aren’t many people out there who don’t like avocados. They’re creamy, delicious, brilliantly versatile, and undeniably one of the greatest superfoods available on supermarket shelves. Most people are aware of the wide-ranging health benefits that avocado flesh provides, but few know that the seed they throw away each time they eat an avocado can provide an impressive array of health-promoting properties. While the flesh of an avocado is packed with nutrients and healthy fats, you may be surprised to learn that over 70 percent of the total antioxidant concentration in avocados is contained in the seed. Here are five compelling reasons to stop you from throwing that next avocado seed away.

Reduce inflammation: The same powerful concoction of antioxidants in avocado seeds is responsible for their potent inflammation-fighting properties. Avocado seeds contain high concentrations of catechins and procyanidins, antioxidants that reduce inflammation associated with pain, swelling, stiffness, and impaired joint function. This heroic pair of antioxidants also promotes heart health and proper blood circulation.

Fight cancer: A 2013 study from the University of Antioquia demonstrated that extracts from avocado seeds had a pro-apoptotic influence on leukemia cells, meaning that the extract caused leukemia cells to die and left the normal cells healthy and stable. For this reason, avocado seeds could be an important way to fight or reduce your cancer risk.

Improve digestion: Avocado seeds have long been used in their native homeland of Mexico and Central America to treat a range of digestive issues, including dysentery and gastric ulcers. Today, avocado seeds can be used to promote healthy digestive function, with their potent concentrations of antioxidants and fiber helping to support your gastrointestinal tract by promoting the growth and maintenance of healthy gut bacteria.

Encourage weight loss: The same fiber found in avocado seeds that helps support healthy digestion can also help you maintain a healthy weight. Their high fiber content provides feelings of fullness and satiation, meaning you don’t get the same urge to eat as often. They can also help control your blood sugar levels, with stable blood sugar meaning you’re less likely to give in to food cravings throughout the day.

Support your skin: The powerful cocktail of antioxidants contained in avocado seeds can be just what your skin needs to become supple and clear. These antioxidants can help to rebuild collagen, promote the repair of cells damaged by free radical activity and generally just make your skin look and feel healthy.

How to eat avocado seeds 

Now that you’ve learned about the many benefits that avocado seeds can provide for your health, you’re probably wondering how the heck to eat them. They’re hard, heavy, and seemingly close to indestructible. 

The first step is to remove the seed from the surrounding flesh by cutting the avocado in half with a large sharp knife then whacking the knife down hard on the seed to stick it onto the blade. Use the edge of a cutting board to dislodge the seed from the knife blade, then cut it into quarters with a sharp knife, being careful of your fingers. The seed is actually surprisingly easy to cut with a suitably sharp knife.

Now throw the quarters into a powerful blender and process until you make a fine powder. Divide the resulting powder into two piles— one pile is enough for a single serving, so put the other pile in a storage container in the fridge. Now you can throw the powder into a smoothie mix, but be sure the other ingredients are relatively strong, as the seed powder can be quite bitter due to its tannins.

Nevertheless, don’t forget that the avocado seed is highly valuable and should not be forgotten! 

 

Susan Patterson, Certified Health Coach, and Master Gardener

 

 

 

11 Rules for the Best Lawn in Your Neighborhood

It happens in neighborhoods all over the country, and perhaps in yours. With the first tiny sign that spring is around the corner, people get busy cleaning up their lawnmower blades, shopping for weed and feed, and chomping at the bit to win the “best lawn” award for their community. If having a lush and healthy lawn is important to you – and perhaps winning the best lawn award is something you aspire to do – the following rules for a great lawn might just propel you to the top of the class.

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Strange Gardening Techniques to Save Plants from Hot and Dry Conditions

As the summer season heats up, gardeners sometimes struggle to keep plants healthy and producing. To make matters worse, water restrictions often follow periods of drought and heat, causing gardens to suffer further. If you happen to live in an area, like me, that is particularly hot and dry all summer long; these water-saving gardening techniques are for you.

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