Are you dreaming of bigger, tastier tomatoes? I often find myself thinking about ways to have a massive harvest of gorgeous and juicy fruit. Because of this, I have spent the better part of the last ten years studying how to have the best tomatoes ever. Much of what I have learned has come from trial and error. From this, I have a newfound understanding and appreciation of just what tomatoes need to thrive. If you ready for the best tomatoes ever, read on.
They may be tiny, but they are also insanely damaging. Aphids are among the most destructive insect pests on garden plants in temperate growing zones. They cling to plants and suck sap, which weakens the plant and makes it susceptible to a host of viruses. They also leave ugly honeydew deposits (a sugary, rich liquid) on leaves, closely followed by sooty mold growth.
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
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.
A trip to the grocery store is a chore for some, but for fruit and veggie lovers, the produce section is like a candy store. Markets today stock a greater variety of produce than ever before, including out-of-season and exotic items from the other side of the world.
Many people begin gardening to support a healthier diet. When you grow your own food, you’re more likely to make healthy meals and snacks. A vegetable garden is a solid foundation for healthy living, and there are no wrong answers when it comes to what to grow. But, if eye health is particularly important to you and your family, some vegetables have more of an impact than others.
A salad bar is the ultimate freedom in eating out. You get to choose just what you want on your healthy lunch or dinner. And the options are better than ever; your choice of lettuces and greens, shiny cherry tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, peppers, cheeses, seeds, nuts, and the list goes on.
If you’re noticing mushrooms popping up on your lawn, you shouldn’t be surprised or concerned. It simply means that autumn is on the way, which is the prime time for fungal growth. Fungi live in your soil at all times – they are a vital part of the ecosystem and help keep plants healthy. At the right time of year and when the weather conditions are perfect, they pop up these little fruiting bodies to spread spores and reproduce. You may have noticed that fungi proliferate in wet weather that occurs right after a dry spell, or when you’ve just laid new turf. The disturbed soil releases fungal spores that were previously dormant, so you get lots of toadstools popping up on that nice new lawn.
It’s that time of the year again, when the summer heat has been working its magic, and the tomato plants are absolutely overflowing with bright, colorful fruit. Whether you’ve got your hands full of tiny grape tomatoes, some ripe Romas, or big old beefsteaks, you might be wondering what to do with those buckets and buckets of tasty fruit.
If you only grow one thing in your home garden, it should be greens. There are several delicious and nutritious greens that are easy to grow and provide a valuable resource throughout the garden season and even beyond…More on that to come. Leafy greens are also known as salad greens, pot herbs, vegetable greens, or just greens. These plant leaves are eaten as a vegetable and contain important vitamins and nutrients. Likely, you don’t eat enough greens, and those that you do eat are not nearly as healthy as they could be.
Being in my late 20s, it is hard to imagine going through something as frightening and traumatic as a cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, I already know two girls my age who developed breast cancer — one is no longer with us. The uncertainty of cancer is unnerving, which has so many of us wonder how to actively prevent the ugly “c-word” from forming. Considering around one in eight American women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime, prevention is more important than ever.
This year alone, more than 266,100 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in the United States. If you are scared that you will one day be included in these stats, know that there are ways to actively reduce your risk.
What causes breast cancer?
Like so many aspects of human health, researchers are still not exactly sure why one woman develops breast cancer while another woman doesn’t. Although those diagnosed will most likely never be able to pinpoint an exact cause, one thing is certain — DNA damage is the culprit.
Once the DNA in a healthy cell becomes damaged, that cell can then mutate. Being a complex disease, there are both non-modifiable risk factors and modifiable risk factors.
- Non-modifiable: These factors are based on your genetics. There are two known genes that help protect us against breast and ovarian cancer, including BRCA1 and BRCA2. When these genes undergo a harmful mutation, damaged DNA does not repair as it should. These mutations can be inherited, increasing a woman’s average risk.
- Modifiable: These are based on environmental and lifestyle factors. For example, your diet, level of physical activity, exposure to chemicals, and the amount of alcohol you drink may all play a role. That is why you should actively address the variables you can change while being mindful of those you cannot.
These six ingredients have been shown to combat breast cancer cells
For centuries, plants and herbs have been used to combat a wide range of ailments, including cancer. Today, we’re aware that certain foods offer anti-tumor and immune-stimulating properties. This has led to a movement where the public is interested in possible herbal remedies over synthetic medicines.
The following six ingredients have been shown to actively protect against cancer, specifically breast cancer.
Ah, my favorite. I am known to eat raw garlic on the regular. This potent bulb has long been used to combat illness based on its complex metabolite profile. One key compound known as ajoene is believed to delay cancer production. There are also a number of compounds that yield antioxidant effects.
The available research has shown that garlic increases the number of suppressor T cells, converting lymphocytes into a form that is toxic to cancerous cells. Not only has garlic been shown to useful against breast cancer, but also colon, bladder, lung, and stomach cancer.
This aromatic plant is known to be an immune stimulant. When I used to get sick, my mom gave me an Echinacea tea — something that I still drink to this day. While studying mice, it has also been found that one of the three Echinacea species (Echinacea purpurea) may act as a potential anti-cancer therapy by increasing the number of natural killer cells.
This vibrant powder is no stranger to the health community. The active ingredient in this herb is curcumin, which is known to yield anticancer activity. Researchers have reported that the propagation of skin, stomach, breast, and lung cancer may be limited by turmeric.
Burdock root has therapeutic uses, offering potent herbal remedies. In the past, it was often used to help treat conditions such as measles and arthritis. However, it is now being explored based on its antitumor properties. When treating a breast tumor, ovary, bladder, and pancreatic cells, burdock may lessen the associated pain and tumor size.
Mainly grown in Japan, China, Russia, and Korea, the root of the ginseng plant is dried and then used for many therapeutic purposes, including cancer treatment. Ginseng has been shown to restart natural killer cells which are impaired during chemotherapy while enhancing the effect of macrophages and antibodies. Ginseng extract and its dried powder are believed to be the most beneficial.
6. Green tea
Offering the body polyphenolic compounds, green tea is high in EGCG. This polyphenol helps protect against DNA damage based on its antioxidant activity. In one review, it was stated that both in vivo (taking place in a living organism) and in vitro (taking place in a test tube or culture dish) studies have shown green tea’s anti-cancer effects.
The key to preventing breast or any other form of cancer is to practice a clean, active lifestyle. Although there are variables that are not within your control, there are ways to potentially intervene. That is why you should always change what you can and better manage what you can’t.
Actively care for your body today, and it will take care of you tomorrow (and beyond).
-The Backyard Vitality Team