Fall is my favorite season. I just love it when the weather finally cools down, those fall breezes start beckoning you to leave your windows open, and the baking bug that died down a bit in the heat of the summer returns with a vengeance. And for some reason I am in the mood to do crafts during the fall. I have spent quite a bit of time finding new and exciting crafts to do and finding a few new and exciting craft blogs as well, like an Irish Craftworker.
I also love the colors of fall. I have already spent way too much money on fall decor in those beautiful earthy browns and oranges. I am growing some pumpkins and squash in my backyard but I know I will also be picking up a ton of pumpkins to decorate with very soon. I just LOVE having lots of pumpkins around the house this time of year. And they are super yummy too. Time to dig out the recipe for Organic Pumpkin Soup.
I also have a guilty confession to make though. Fall is just not the same in Arizona as it is back east in Ohio, so I have been feeling a little down about Fall this year. So….my non eco-friendly weakness (travel) rears its ugly head. I will be taking the kiddos to Ohio for a week in mid October so that we can enjoy a real fall for a few days. I have already planned to take them apple picking at a nearby orchard, where they can pick their own apples, get homemade Amish pies, take hayrides, and ride horseback. And of course my biggest thrill will be to just sit on my porch in Ohio again, enjoying the cool breeze, and the changing of the leaves. Ahhh…I can hardly wait because this girl is all about Fall.
Since E-coli is being talked about so much in the press lately I thought I would share an article that my friend Susanne of Healthy Menu Mailer wrote about the topic of E-coli and keeping yourself safe.
Vegetables Health Food Or Killers
With the recent outbreak of e-coli traced back to bagged spinach of all things, the FDA now suggests consumers thoroughly wash all bagged produce (including salad) before consuming it to avoid the extreme diarrhea e-coli bacterial can cause. The e-coli bacteria can be found in any raw or undercooked foods. Most often outbreaks are linked to undercooked meat, or unsafe handling of raw meat, particularly ground beef. What was up until now less well known is that e-coli can also be found on fresh produce like fruits and vegetables.
E-coli bacteria cause severe diarrhea often with bloody stool and can cause kidney failure and possible death. The old and the young are particularly prone to extreme cases of the infection. If you suspect you have been infected with e-coli, contact your physician right away.
E-coli naturally occurs in the intestines of animals like cows and chickens. As these animals are slaughtered and processed, traces of the bacteria can come into contact with the meat. Ground beef seems to be especially prone to getting contaminated. To kill any e-coli (or other bacteria for that matter) that may have “snuck in”, cook all meat to an internal temperature of at least 160 F.
So, how does this same bacteria get into our salad, veggies and fruit?
Manure is often used as a natural fertilizer and gets stuck on the outside of the vegetables and fruits as they grow and are harvested.
Produce is cleaned off before its bagged and shipped to you, but that doesnt necessarily mean all the bacteria are gone.
In particular vegetables including salad that are bagged provide a perfect growing environment for the e-coli bacteria. The bag ensures that there is always some moisture around the produce that allows the e-coli to multiply.
The recent outbreak of e-coli in bagged spinach along with previous outbreaks in bagged salad mixes and even containers of strawberries makes you wonder if we should just avoid all prepackaged and bagged produce.
Fortunately we dont have to go that far, but we should get in the habit of properly preparing those foods.
Salad and vegetables mixes in bags are often pre-washed and sold as “ready to serve”. Take a few minutes and rinse them with warm water, followed by a splash of cold water to avoid cooking the spinach or salad. Use plenty of warm water on hardier vegetables such as tomatoes or carrots and dont forget to wash fruit with plenty of water as well, especially strawberries. Strawberries grow very low to the ground and are often fertilized with manure or are grown on soil that was previously fertilized that way. Since the berries grow practically directly on top of the soil, it is easy for the e-coli to catch a ride on the fruit directly into your home.
Washing raw fruit and vegetables with plenty of warm water should get rid of most of the bacteria, making it safe to eat. Make it a habit to wash your produce whether the packaging indicates its pre-washed or not. It will only take a few minutes and could prevent you from getting sick in the long run.
Susanne Myers is the co-publisher of the Healthy Menu Mailer.
I ran across a beautiful product recently that I wanted to share with my readers. Let me say first that I am not generally a fan of jewelry. In fact the only necklace I wear with any frequency is a very hippy Rune necklace that has the symbol for balance on it. But recently I have fallen in love with the simplicity and beauty of the nature inspired necklaces from Monsoon Artisans. They take .999 fine silver (finer then sterling silver) and then carefully sculpt it into the shape of an Arizona Ash leaf, and then burnish and engrave, all by hand. As you can see on their inspiration page, they give you a couple ideas for engraving, such as like rain in the desert and the mesquite seed must break open to grow. Not only are these necklaces lovely but they are the essence of simplicity. I like shiny baubles just like the next girl but I just dont wear them. These necklaces I would wear. I am already thinking about my loved ones who would like one of these necklaces for Christmas.
If you were thinking along the same lines you are in luck. Monsoon Artisans is holding a family tree contest and they are giving away 5 custom necklaces. To enter just submit a statement of 200 words or less about family. What does family mean to you? Who do you consider family? Be sure to include in your submission the inscription you would choose for your necklace (up to 10 words) and five lucky winners will get a free necklace, a $100 dollar value. Enter by October 15th!
Check out these talented Artisans and their lovely nature inspired creations
HERBS FOR WELLNESS
Some herbs are beneficial to almost everyone when taken regularly. They include the following:
1. GARLIC FOR CHOLESTEROL CONTROL AND CANCER PREVENTION.
2. GINKGO FOR MENTAL SHARPNESS
3. CRANBERRY FOR URINARY TRACT INFECTION
4. ECHINACEA FOR COLDS
5. GINGER FOR MOTION SICKNESS AND MORNING SICKNESS
6. MILK THISTLE FOR LIVER DISEASE
7. ST. JOHN’S WORT FOR DEPRESSION
8. VALERIAN FOR INSOMNIA
For more information about medicinal herbs see “10 Essential Herbs” in the April/May 2006 issue of Mother Earth News.
When I read the Omnivore’s Dilemma (which ROCKS by the way) I learned allot about the industrialization of organic food. One area I particularly found interesting was the part about processed foods. An organic TV dinner must be better then a regular TV dinner right? There are no synthetic food additives in an organic TV dinner right? I mean, organic and synthetic don’t belong in the same sentence right? Wrong! In 1997 organic standards were weakened by big organic companies that wanted to make processed organic foods but found doing so without synthetics impossible. They felt that if some people wanted an organic Twinkie then they should get one by golly! In the end big organic won and the organic standards were weakened to allow for processed organics and a list of permissible synthetic additives from absorbic acid to xanthan gum were allowed in organic foods.
This was a something new for me to learn because I am not generally a buyer of processed foods. I much prefer whole foods and cooking from scratch. I guess I should have guessed when I started seeing so many organic processed foods in the store that they contained synthetic additives. But not being a big buyer of these foods I never really looked at their ingredient listings. I am going to have read those lists much more carefully now. The word “organic” is slowly losing its meaning. We need a new word to replace the ideals of the original organic movement which have now been watered down by big business. We need to raise the bar once again.