Winter is perfect for growing lettuce!

Winter brings a little disappointment due to the lack of local fresh greens and herbs.  But, maybe not.  You can have a little indoor garden and include the kids in the fun without a lot digging and weeding.
You can easily grow herbs, celery and lettuce on a window sill or glass doors with a southern exposure.  Here’s how:
img_0456Herbs – Start with those packages from the grocery store in plastic bags or pots.  The most easily found is basil.  Stand up the basil, while in the bag, and add some water and a tablespoon of potting soil.  Let sit over night.  Fill a planter with 2 inches of soil.  Have a helper hold the basil in the planter, with the roots straightened and touching the soil.  Fill the planter around the root and up the basil stalks 2-3 inches.  You can do basically the same technique for any other herb.  Heavily water the plant.  It has been used to a LOT of water.  You may want to feed the plant with an organic plant food.  If the plant looks sad after 1 day, put in a dark closet for 2 days, water every day.  Then, bring out and slowly move toward more sunlight over another 2 days.  If the herb has been in a pot with other herbs, simply re-pot in a larger planter and put some room between the plants to they can grow.
Lettuce and celery – Cut and use the leaves and stalks, but leave a 2 inch stalk for the img_0459lettuce and a 1 inch base for the celery.  Put these in a small, flat bottomed dish with water up to the middle of the stalk or celery base.  Keep half the stalk submerged for a few days.  With hydroponic lettuce make sure the roots are covered.  After day 3-4 add a few spoonfuls of potting soil.  Check for tiny sprouting action.  Depending on how much light and heat you have, small roots will sprout.

img_0458Keep in water, but continue to add potting soil.  With a hydroponic lettuce stalk, you can move to a planter within a week.  If you are starting from a flat bottomed stalk, let roots grow for a few weeks, then re-plant.  
img_0457
The photos show the lettuce ready for a planter, but the celery will need another week or so.  
This celery is growing the roots.  Add dirt a little at a time to get the roots ready for full dirt.
It can be great fun and a good learning experience for kids see roots growing and sprouts img_0455turning into something they use on their sandwiches or in a dinner salad.  Especially after an afternoon of sledding.
FYI – these photos are from northeastern Pennsylvania.
Advertisements

The Military dishes up School Lunch

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Basic Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 – Republished article.

Undernutrition and malnutrition are very different animals, except when it comes to the convergence of soldiers and school lunch.

The school lunch program was started during the Great Depression in 1935.  It was a fantastic solution to two national problems.

  1. Farmers had surplus produce that many people could not afford leading to a drop in price.
  2. Children were going hungry because of the 25% unemployment rate – 75% in minority communities.

The Secretary of Agriculture was given funding to purchase surplus foods for a school lunch program via the Congress.[i] School children across the nation began to have at least school lunch as a daily meal.  During World War II, the surplus food supply dwindled as the nation had to feed a military stationed around the globe.  By the end of the war the congress was thinking of ending the program.  However, the military spoke up.

The Surgeon General of the Armed Forces testified in 1946 that, “70 percent of the boys who had poor nutrition 10-12 years ago were rejected by the draft.”  That meant boys between the ages of 8-14 during 1934-36 with limited food sources became a “threat to national security” due to the fact that the US could have had difficulty assembling a military force due to the stunted growth from undernutrition.  This testimony was the linchpin to continuing funding.[ii] 

 Skip ahead to 2010.  Thirty percent of teens are overweight or obese.  This comes from “malnutrition”.  They have food to eat, but the food is extremely high in fat and sodium and lacking fiber and many vitamins and minerals.  Until now, the military has been pretty silent about school lunch, school breakfast or any other federal nutrition program, even though many of their employees have wages and salaries low enough to qualify for a number of public welfare programs.

However, on April 20, 2010 retired Navy Rear Adm. James Barnett Jr. with a group of officers called, Mission: Readiness, spoke to Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack.  Adm. Barnett said that, “When over a quarter of young adults are too fat to fight, we need to take notice.”  Again, the military speaks up because lousy nutrition leads to lack of national security.

School lunch never hits the front page and yet it affects every child in public school, approximately 45-50  million Americans.[iii]  Music and art programs are being slashed and the military had approximately 23% of the 2009 US Federal spending.  One budget of theirs isn’t even allowed to be public.  There are weapons systems, which have been denounced by top military brass, being built at the cost of millions.  But we hear little to nothing about school lunch and school breakfast programs which have not had an increase in reimbursement since 1973.  So,  now they want to help out the poor little lunch ladies. 

The military also wants to help out the phys ed department because so much money is being spent to train new recruits when seasoned soldiers are too heavy and are discharged.  Military recruiters want to work with schools to help recruits lose weight before they try and sign on the dotted line. One recruiter was quoted as saying, “This is the future of our Army we are looking at when we talk about these 17- to 24-year-olds. The sad thing is a lot of them want to join but can’t.”.[iv] It’s great the military is motivated to preventative measures.  

 Well, that’s one way to look at it.  Another way is that the military industrial complex may not have the fodder it needs to continue its various “security” operations around the world.  If we don’t have an abundant supply of healthy young people we may not be able to continue as the world’s police department.   What would we have done if we didn’t have recruits to go to Afganistan and search for vaporous weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

 The former president of the American Medical Association, Ron Davis, MD, stated he had spent all of his time in office, 2007-2008, trying to get one word changed in defining Medicare and Medicaid.  He lobbied that the word, preventative, be added to the type of care covered by these two programs.  On a phone conversation he said that if preventative medicine were available to people who qualified for these programs costs would decrease because the high expense of treating diabetes, progressive cancers and health problems related to obesity could be addressed early on.  It still has not happened. 

 But with Haliburton on board all things are possible.

[i] Food Research and Action Center. 2008. Commodity Foods and the Nutrition Quality of the National School Lunch Program: Historical Role, Current, operations, and Future Potential.  Executive Summary. FRAC. Retrieved from :http://www.frac.org/pdf/commodities08_execsummary.pdf on May 12, 2010.

[ii] Boyle M. 2003. Historical Background of Food Assistance Programs. Community Nutrition in Action: An Entrepreneurial Approach, pg. 124-125.  Wadsworth, Belmont California.

[iii] Institute of Education Sciences. [nd] Fast Facts. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=65 on May 18, 2010.

[iv] Jalonick MC, [2010] Are school lunches a national security threat?, Military Discusstion. com, April 20. Retrieved from http://www.military-discussion.com/forum/index.php?topic=2545.0 on May 18, 2010

4 Tips on Spotting BAD Research

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 1.03.09 PM

When is a study NOT worth reading?

Darlings,

LaDiva here – Totally annoyed!

Here is an article about NEW Fascinating research important about kids with cow milk allergies having bone problems.  The original article is from Pediatrics magazine, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Please open it and read along.

  1. Scary Headlines – Here’s the articles headline: Cow’s Milk Allergy in Childhood May Lead to Weaker Bones: Study

    What you may miss is the subtitle:
    But one expert contends that difference in bone density wasn’t enough, on average, to worry about fractures

    So, what is the point to this article?  Or what does one person’s opinion mean?  What should I look for in this article?  You should look for the supporting evidence that clearly states that my kid, or kids I know, that have cow milk allergies will have weaker bones or may have weaker bones later in life.

    Scary titles are a red flag for me.  This usually means I will have to read between the lines to figure out what is really being said.  A prime example is “Butter – Great Again!”  This was completely flawed meta-analysis research.  Please contact me if you want the skinny on it.

  2. Be clear on what is actually being studied or compared.
    Here’s the first paragraph:
    Children who are allergic to cow’s milk may have weaker bones than kids with other food allergies, a small study suggests

    Ok, in the first paragraph the writer totally backpedals.  The kids may have a bone problem, but only when compared to kids with other food allergies, not most kids.  So, what does that mean to the kids I know?  I have no idea.
  3. How many people?
    Then, the article continues with “small study suggests”.  Again, this is a suggestion, not an actual truth for the average kid.  So, for how many kids?  This is a small study, but how small?  52 kids.  Yep, that’s it.  So, 56 kids studied have this problem.  Oops, I’m wrong.  Only 6% of 52 kids.  That’s 3-4 kids.  THREE or FOUR KIDS?  Why is this even making news?  This data would not even qualify you for a graduate term paper much less a published article in an internationally recognized journal.
    Alright, I’m just jealous.  Anyone know the submission protocols for Pediatrics magazine?  I need some cash and am going to publish my own study.  I work with kids in a residential treatment facility.  There are at least 10 out of a 100 kids where I work that are allergic to tomato sauce.  This is a bigger population than the milk study and would be classified as a more “Robust” study.  Tomato sauce contains lycopene.  Lycopene decreases risk for heart attack and different cancers. If I tested for inflammation [there is a biomarker we test for to show whether there is inflammation in the body] in these kids, I would probably find it increased.  Increased inflammation is one risk factor for heart disease.   If I published this as a study the headlines would be:
    Tomato Allergy in children may lead to increase heart disease: Study
    But, what about what else is going on in their diets and lives?
    Absurdity on wheels.  But I will cash the check and do the book tour.
  4. Does the methodology of the study make sense?
    How long did they study these kids?  For 5 years?  10 years?  Did this condition persist?  That would possibly mean something.  Nope. Testing was done once.  Now, the kids did have lower bone mineral density, but bones need 17 nutrients to be built.  This just talks about calcium intake.  What about the other 16?  The study mentions that Vitamin D levels were taken, but we have no idea what they were.  The article only states that the intake [which we don’t know if that was from 1 day or 4 weeks] was lower than recommendations.
    Here’s another statement from the article:
    Long-standing cow’s milk allergy in adults has been linked to reduced bone density.
    Um, many studies of Asian and African women, prior to urbanization, who have many children and have no cow milk source have great bones.  Where is evidence to support the article’s statement?
  5. Are the outcomes repeatable?  This means that you should be able to find other studies doing, basically, the same thing showing the same result.  Okay, “study suggests” is part of the original article language.  So, we are not to take this as established fact. On the other hand, what can we take away from 3-4 kids?  FYI, Kathy Doheny [writer of this], repeats the idea of low calcium intake is equated with negative bone health.  I have two thoughts on this:
    1. Where the most amount of calcium from cow milk is drunk or eaten is also where there are the highest incidents of hip fractures.  Part of my evidence is this little study from Harvard where they looked at milk consumption in the teen years for 96,000 people for 22 years.  In fact, an article from the British Medical Journal including many, many participants showed that the galactose [sugar found in cow milk (“gala” is Greek for “milk”)] led to increases of all causes of mortality in women and men, especially those drinking 3 glasses a day.
    2. The study researchers state that these 3-4 kids had low bone mineral density, however, they DID NOT have low bone density.  There is a profound difference.  The kids bones appeared just fine.  And there is a mountain of evidence, including my cited studies, that cow milk or calcium supplements do not support older bone health.  The World Health Organization recommends around 350 mg of calcium daily for kids, not the over 900 mg stated in the article.  Kids can absorb that amount of calcium from legumes, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits.

Not everything in this article is terrible.  Luckily, it’s short.  I’m glad Ms. Doheny cites someone saying this doesn’t amount to much.  It’s great that she gives some alternative sources for calcium. However, she doesn’t mention that tofu, collard greens and bok choy all have more absorbable calcium than cow milk without the galactose complications. She does mention that cow’s milk is fortified [has added in] with Vitamin D because cow milk does not come with Vitamin D.  Other milks are also fortified.  Any milk that has Vitamin D will equally supply the kids.

Now, Darlings, I know that Ms. Doheny is NOT a researcher, but if she is going to take on the role as science expert she should know how to report on what really counts.