fb

MENU

Always Plant This Kind of Fruit in Containers

Growing fruit is easier than it sounds, even in a limited space. There are several types of fruit that can be grown in pots. Container-grown fruit allows you to have a little orchard even if your outdoor space is limited to a patio or balcony. And, you can bring the pot in for the winter if you choose a fruit that is not hardy. Check out the best fruit varieties to grow in containers and some tips on how to get a good harvest.

Read more

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Read more

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

 

 

 

Chili Paste for Achy Muscles (trust me, it works)

In 2015, the FDA increased the warnings associated with the use of over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Taking these painkillers comes with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Many are now questioning the use of painkillers for any reason.

Read more

Keep Your Vagina Healthy and Prevent Leaks by Eating These Foods

Your vagina is a complex and finely tuned environment that has several factors that need to be kept in balance. Your vagina is pretty good at protecting and cleaning itself. Proper vaginal care, such as good hygiene, safe sex, and regular gynecological visits, all play a role in keeping your pH in check. But what about food? What you put in your mouth has an effect down south, and what you eat could make or break the health of your vagina.

Read more

Why Fish Heads are the Secret to Massive Tomatoes (and a few other tested tips)

There is nothing more delicious than a juicy tomato picked from a homegrown tomato vine. I can remember plucking and eating fresh tomatoes, warm from the summer sun, from my grandparents garden. My grandparents ran a little country market in Iowa and grew some of the biggest and tastiest tomatoes ever. How did they do it? Here are a few of their time-tested tips that they happily shared with anyone who visited their market.

Read more

Supercharge Your Water With Delicious Homegrown Produce

Water, we can’t live without it, and consuming it on its own has a myriad of health benefits such as keeping us hydrated, aiding in weight loss, and keeping our skin, hair, and nails looking great. Plus, it can aid in digestion, maintain the balance of body fluids, energize muscles, help kidneys and bowels with regular function, and so much more. But…do you sometimes get tired of water and wish that it actually tasted like something other than, well, water? You are in luck. There are a number of easy-to-grow, delicious and nutritious herbs and fruits that you can add to your water.

Read more

Improve Your Gut Health and Reduce Toxins With Lemon Water and Zest

You’ve probably heard of drinking lemon water for any number of ailments, and though there is limited scientific research to back up many of its purported benefits, there is still plenty of proof that should inspire you to include lemon water in your morning routine. Additionally eating lemons and enjoy lemon zest throughout the day can help boost your health. Unlike many other health fads and fleeting trends, this wellness aid is more than just smoke and mirrors. Read on for our favorite reasons to drink a glass of warm (or cool) lemon water as soon as you step out of bed and enjoy the zest all day long!

Can help keep you hydrated

It is well known that the majority of the population is severely dehydrated. In fact, 75% of Americans fall short of the recommended minimum daily water consumption, which is 10 cups per day. That means that three out of every four people are living in a chronic state of dehydration and forcing their bodies to work overtime to compensate for lack of water. 

Often, the reason that so many people cite for their uninspiring water intake is a dislike for the way water “tastes.” Fortunately, getting into the habit of drinking water with lemon first thing in the morning will give you a great, hydrated start to your day. Even if you don’t like the taste of water, a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice can make it infinitely better. 

Supports healthy digestion

Lemon water encourages the liver to produce bile, which is required for proper digestion, and it can help flush out toxins from the body and prevent buildup. Getting your digestive system on the right track early in the morning is critical for proper bowel function throughout the day. Don’t forget to add some lemon zest in with your daily meals as well to further help your body digest the food you eat all day long!

Boosts your immune system

Millions of people around the country are bracing themselves for the upcoming cold and flu season. As Halloween decorations start to emerge, so do the nasty bugs hanging out on bathroom door handles and public transportation, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike a vulnerable immune system. Now is the time to load up on fresh, whole foods, and do whatever you can to boost your body’s natural germ-fighting capabilities. 

This preparation includes drinking a daily glass of lemon water, as this tart fruit has loads of natural vitamin C that helps your cells produce infection-fighting antibodies.

Can aid in weight loss

This study found that the polyphenols in lemons can reduce and suppress body fat accumulation, while the pectin fiber in lemons can help curb appetite and reduce hunger. These abilities combined could help you in your wellness journey. Remember, weight loss does not happen overnight, and there is no magic drink that will (on its own) make you thinner. Lemon water and lemon zest should be enjoyed in conjunction with a healthy whole foods diet, daily exercise, and reduction in sugar consumption. 

Helps freshen breath

There’s nothing like waking up to nasty morning breath. Unfortunately, no matter how well you brush your teeth, you may be subject to halitosis in the morning. Drink a glass of lemon water to help eliminate that foul odor and encourage saliva production.

How to enjoy lemon water:

All you need is two ingredients…filtered water, and a lemon. It’s that easy. Simply squeeze one half or a whole lemon (depending on how much flavor you want) into a tall glass. Fill the remaining way with filtered water and sip away. The water can be cool in the summertime for a refreshment from the heat or hot in the winter for a warming beverage. Add a squeeze of honey, if desired, for a hint of sweetness to combat the sour lemon. Drink through a straw to help protect your teeth’ enamel from the lemon acid, and always swish your mouth with a sip of plain water after drinking to eliminate residue on your teeth. 

Add any of the following ingredients for an extra health boost:

  • A few sprigs of mint
  • Slice of fresh ginger
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Sprinkle of turmeric

Another great way to get your lemon fix is to add fresh lemon juice and zest to an ice cube tray and freeze. These handy lemon cubes will shorten your morning routine even more and ensure you never miss a day. 

-Susan Patterson, Certified Health Coach, and Master Gardener

Belly Button Bathing with Essential Oils: Does This Ancient Healing Practice Work?

Your belly button, which seems to do little more than collect fluff, was once the spot of a vital connection between you and your mother, the place where your umbilical cord once was. This tube-like structure connected to the placenta carries nutrients and oxygen from the placenta to the baby while exporting waste materials out. Once you entered the world, this cord was cut, leaving behind a scar – AKA, your belly button.

Read more