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New Year 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR

By Mary Anne 

Welcome to 2016! Our staff at Mariposa Market wishes you health and prosperity for the coming year. As we enter into the New Year, we have the perfect opportunity to choose the lifestyle that will best enhance our chances for a healthier body. Studies have shown that as we age our immune system weakens. Part of this is due to the fact that we produce less lymphocytes, the specialized cells that help destroy invaders. As a result, we become more prone to infections and slower to heal. There is no single remedy that has been proven to actually strengthen our immune systems. But, a healthy lifestyle is purported to be the best line of defense against the barrage of germs and diseases lurking around us. You’ve heard it all before but here are your most reliable options:

1.      Eat smart; diets low in vitamins A, C, D, and many B vitamins as well as iron and selenium set us up for poor health. These nutrients boost our white cell count, the first line of defense against disease. Diets rich in many varieties and colors are best, with a focus on vegetables, fruits, and grains.

2.      Consume alcohol only in moderation. Although a small amount of alcohol can support the immune system, alcohol in too great a volume can turn off genes that help defend us against microbes and turn on genes that make us more vulnerable to illness.

3.      Supplementing Vitamin D has been shown to be valuable against disease prevention, especially because our Vitamin D production slows as we age.

4.      Do not over supplement. Taking some supplements can actually impair our ability to defend against disease and taking large amounts of any supplement are almost always contraindicated. Eating well is a much better way to support and nourish our immune systems.

5.      Get plenty of sleep, at least 7-8 hours. Anything less makes the body more vulnerable.

6.      Exercise, at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days per week. But don’t overdo it. Intense exercise can suppress immunity.

7.      Stop smoking. No more need to be said.

8.      Cultivate “WOW” moments. People who experience “awe” frequently have lower levels of pro-inflammatory proteins.

9.      Indulge in massage. It increases the production of white blood cells.

10.   Nurture friendships.

11.   Ease stress: meditation, yoga, or Tai Chi are all good stress relievers.

12.   Get outside; being outside in nature allows the immune system to rest and recharge.

13.   And wash your hands, one of the very best lines of defense.

Mariposa Market is committed to providing you with the kind of foods you need to support a healthy lifestyle. Our produce department is a natural pharmacy of health. This time of year the citrus crop is really coming on. Mandarins, navel oranges, lemons, and all types of tangerines and tangelos are in season now. Avocados are still coming from Mexico, but it won’t be long before those wonderful little globes of goodness will be arriving from Southern California. By February, the first of the strawberries might arrive. Get ready to give your health a much needed boost.

You may have noticed the price of produce has been high at times. We really are not raising our mark-up. The weather, the drought, and the higher demand for organic produce have all played roles in altering produce prices. Many crops have failed or nearly failed. Many farmers had to fallow their fields, creating a short supply of some foods. Quality of nuts is down due to dry weather. All these factors lead to higher prices at the store. Be prepared for more of the same as global weather changes affect the market. Try to shop from local farmers if you can. And, stay hopeful.

WHY EAT ORGANIC?

BY Mary Anne

As we enter 2016 we are once again presented with a chance to make resolutions about the coming year. What better time than now to resolve to take a more active part in the continuing battle over the food which we put in our bodies. Some loud voices dismiss organic food as nothing more than a trendy lifestyle choice for the neurotic rich. This argument is daily losing its authenticity as more and more citizens become aware of the gross contamination of our food with toxic pesticides and additives that undermine our health. Our bodies were never designed to run well with fuel that is genetically modified, coated with chemical residues, or grown in soil which is depleted of rich organic matter. Nor can we justify eating meat which is polluted with unhealthy bacteria and laced with antibiotics, raised in confined stockyards shoulder to shoulder with other animals, often standing knee-high in feces. Non- organic farmers have at their disposal over 320 pesticides which they routinely use. The Farm Bureau magazine which is distributed to many farmers has ads for pesticides on every page, most of them large and in full color. Regulatory bodies responsible for our public safety and health advise us constantly that we should not be alarmed that our food contains toxic pesticides as they are within “safe limits”. This reassurance looks less comforting by the day as approval is given for such gross poisons as carbendazim, (used on apples, cucumbers, grapes, pre-packed salads, spinach and much more), chlorpyrifos (corn, almonds and fruit trees) and glyphosate, the active ingredient in Round-Up. (Monsanto’s Headliner) All of these pesticides and many more have been found to cause neurodevelopmental impairment in children, attention disorders, and cancers of various kinds.

Until the 1950’s, just about all of our food was grown organically. Organic food should be called “normal”, not the upstart, factory-farmed, agrochemical stuff that has increasingly been on our grocery shelves.  46% of conventional non-organic foods contain pesticide residues, up 21% since 2003. Although consumers are reassured that farmers and growers take the health concerns of Americans seriously, the National Farmers Union and all the chemical companies militantly defend their large pesticide armory in the face of any government attempt to restrict it. Pesticide residues are hardly ever found in organic food and usually only from accidental contamination with non-organic agriculture. This is because organic farmers aim for zero pesticide use.

Avoiding dodgy, controversial food additives is another persuasive health reason for eating organic. Only additives derived from natural sources, such as lecithin from organic soy and citric acid are permitted in organic food.  Research has indicated that additives, sometimes even in tiny doses, can have significant negative impact on our health, much more so than was previously thought. This is especially true of endocrine disrupting chemicals and additives.

When you choose organic you also get the guarantee that your food is free of genetically modified organisms. The GMO issue is one that is rearing its ugly head in our Congress at this time. The House of Representatives has already approved the DARK ACT, so called because it is designed to leave consumers in the dark about what is in their food, specifically genetically modified organisms. The bill is being debated in the Senate at this time. It specifically forbids states from passing laws mandating the labeling of foods that contain GMO’s. This law, if passed, is a slap in the face to American consumers and a pat on the back to Monsanto who is pushing to get this law through Congress by any means possible. Every concerned citizen should write, call, or email their senator and plead with them to vote against this travesty. Meanwhile, evidence is emerging to suggest that GM crops increase the use of pesticides, produce super-weeds and super-pests, and compromise animal, and possibly human health. New genetically modified introductions include apples which do not bruise, pink pineapple, and recently, salmon which grows twice as fast in a farmed situation. None of these seems able to impact global hunger which is claimed by Monsanto and other parties to be the humanitarian reason for GM foods.

Organic farming methods also beat out conventional farming when it comes to encouraging and protecting wildlife. The tons of pesticides that are sprayed on our crops seep into the waterways, impoverish soil fertility and harm bees and other pollinators. We have a moral obligation to become conscious of the destruction which conventional agri-business does to our planet and speak out against it with our pocketbooks. Make 2016 the year you become pro-active, for your own health and the health of the planet.

Local Medicine

By Alecia

“CBD MENDO” is line of cannabinol extracts we are now carrying here at Mariposa.  Made in Willits, this highly concentrated, award winning extract uses 100% organic ingredients.  The cannabis is grown biodynamically, and has a 23:1 ratio of CBD-THC.  Each batch of medicine is tested for accurate potency to ensure patients are receiving pure quality medicine.  The tinctures are available in 4 flavors: original, cinnamon (Ceylon), peppermint, and lemon.  The laboratory used to test the constituents is SC labs, based in Santa Cruz Ca. and founded in 2010. Their goal is to “promote cannabis safety through education, testing and, certification.”  As the medical marijuana industry continues to strive for validation scientifically and politically, SC labs is committed to providing quality control.  They have partnered with organizations like the Mendocino Farmers Collective and W.A.M.M. (Wo/Men’s alliance for medical marijuana).

 I have a personal story to share about W.A.M.M.  In 1993, W.A.M.M. was founded, and is today the oldest and continuously operating medical cannabis collective.  In 2000, I was living in Santa Cruz Ca., my husband was working with a young boy, Nathan, who was seizure prone and needed 24hr care. Nathan was having numerous grand mal seizures daily, having loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions, which could happen at any given time.  To make a long story short, the drugs he was being given were not working, and believe me they were copious, they tried everything!  After visiting UCSF several times the recommendation was to give Nathan split brain surgery.  Luckily, Nathan’s mother was friends with the founder of W.A.M.M. and they decided to try making their own medicine. Using just the leaf from cannabis, cooked slowly in a crock pot with milk, “Mother’s milk” as it was called, became the medicine that stopped his seizures instantly!  He got his life back!  Eventually he was able to be weaned from many of the drugs he was previously using that just seemed to make him lethargic and numb, and instead was laughing and participating, it was fantastic!

Today, there are many examples of cannabises anti-convulsive properties.  And because of proper testing and research, we are going to continue to open doors to the healing aspects of this beautiful medicine!

The State of Our Soil

Part 1: The Problems

By Todd Hall

According to Organic Consumers Association, this country’s toxic, fossil-fuel based, heavily subsidized (with taxpayer money) degenerative agriculture system is a primary driver of global warming. These degenerative farming practices include tilling, deforestation, wetlands destruction, and the use of mass amounts of synthetic and toxic fertilizers and pesticides. These practices have stripped 136 billion tons of carbon from the soil and sent it into the atmosphere. (The dark color of fertile soil comes from the presence of organic carbon compounds) Scientists estimate the world’s soils have lost 50-70 percent of their carbon stocks and fertility. Modern chemical-intensive, factory farm, GMO based industrial agriculture is largely responsible for that loss. Unless this trend is reversed, degeneration of our soils will present serious consequences.

Generating 3 centimeters of top soil takes about 1000 years. If this current rate of degradation continues, all of the world’s top soil could be gone within 60 years. Maria-Helena Semedo, the Deputy Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), estimates that about a third of the world’s soil has already been degraded. Semedo estimates that 95 percent of our food comes from the soil. Since these soils are the basis of life, this present rate of degradation should more than get our attention. According to the FAO, the available and productive farmland per person in the year 2050 will be only a quarter of the level which existed in 1960. In a forty year span (1975-2015) the U.S. has lost approximately 40 percent of its arable land per capita. This is not good news, in the face of rising populations and global warming. These accelerated rates of degradation coincide with the implementation of these degenerative farming practices previously mentioned.

Soils play a key role in absorbing carbon and filtering water. This destruction creates a vicious cycle. Less carbon is stored; the world grows hotter, resulting in further soil degradation. Volkert Engelsman of the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements stated, “We are losing 30 soccer fields of soil every minute, mostly due to intensive farming. Organic farming may not be the only solution, but it’s the single best option I can think of.” Even organic farming, spoken of by Engelsman, depletes about 3-5 pounds of soil for each pound of food eaten. 50-84 percent of the compost and nutrients in organic fertilizer form are imported from other soils, and depletes them in the process. This is not to suggest that chemical-intensive farming is a solution to this problem. Far from it. We need to go beyond organics and grow our food as much as possible on a “closed system” basis. (More on this in our next article)

Organic Consumers Association suggests doing away with the word “sustainable” altogether in reference to farming practices. Instead they suggest the terms “regenerative” and “degenerative” be used to define farming methods, as they relate to the soil. The term “sustainability” has been overused, misused, and shamelessly co-opted by corporations for the purpose of “greenwashing.” “Sustainability” is about maintaining systems without degrading them, which also means keeping things the same without progressing. Corporations love to label their products as “sustainable”. Their hope is that consumers will view these products as superior to “conventional” products, and even equate the word “sustainable’ with “organic”. As consumers, we should realize that when a widely discredited and despised company like Monsanto co-opts the word “sustainable”, it loses all meaning. If we don’t pay attention and do a bit of homework, we leave ourselves vulnerable to these schemes. For consumers, it would be far less confusing if they had the option to choose products produced by regenerative farming practices, or those that are not.

For our generation, and the ones to follow, it is clear that we need to take immediate action to rebuild our soils. As consumers and activists, how can we accomplish this? In our next article, we will take a look at Ecology Action’s Grow Biointensive farming methods, as well as other practices from our own local organic farmers. We will also look at the Paris Climate Conference, and what was discussed and proposed there.

References provided from:

Ecology Action/John Jeavons (growbiointensive.org)

Organicconsumers.org

Chris Arsenault. Reuters article, Dec. 5, 2014

Fermentation: Symbiosis Between Humans, Food, and Microbial Life Part I

By Aaron Bellomo 

Fermentation has been an active practice in human culture since the early days of history, possibly since the beginning of history. Bacteria and fungi are actually part of humanity. Some geneticists argue that human DNA evolved from the interaction of various single celled organisms over eons of time. The cells in our body that contain human DNA are outnumbered by as much as 10 to 1 by the cells of beneficial microbes that coexist within and on our bodies. 

Yeasts, molds, and bacteria are abundant in the landscape and air all around us, as they have always been. While some can cause illness and environmental conditions that can lead to illness, most are serving a beneficial function in the symphony of nature, working to maintain balanced ecosystems by synergistically decomposing matter into forms that are more useable by other organisms.

There are conditions under which “harmful” bacteria and molds thrive, such as E. coli and toxic black mold, but there are also many, many conditions in which microbes directly beneficial to human and animal health are able to thrive. The observation and manipulation of these conditions is the historical basis of our interaction with the seemingly infinite variety of microbial life that results in edible fermented foods. Microbes natural to our environment, not just cultured under sterile laboratory conditions, have the capacity to transmute original food materials into states that can be more digestible and more delicious than begun with.

In today’s modern societies, there seems to be widespread fear of microbes and their potential ill effects on human health. This is not completely without good reason; certain microbes have the power to be detrimental to human, animal and plant life. This is a power that must be respected with care and caution. However, it seems to my understanding that much fear is not necessary once we become aware of some key concepts regarding fermented foods. At the risk of being redundant, let’s reiterate:

·        Abundant microorganisms function in symbiotic harmony with the human body, and they are already all around us. There is much less to be afraid of than we may have been conditioned to believe.

·        Attentive observation along with intuition have enabled humans throughout history to reap many, many benefits of nutrition, longer safe storage time, and other effects of the relationship between foods and microbiological life.

The next installment in this series, we will explore some types of fermentation and how food is affected by the process.

The Benefits of Seeds: Sacha Inchi Super Seeds

By Haley

Sachi Inchi is a plant that grows in the Amazon rain forests of Peru. They are new to North America, and have shown to be excellent for our well being in both the mental and physical states. The fruit that these super seeds grow in is inedible, but once the seeds are roasted they become vital for our health. Sacha Inchi seeds are especially good for vegans and vegetarians due to their high levels of Omega 3’s. Some professionals are even calling them the “delicious alternative to fish oil supplements.” Sacha Inchi has numerous health benefits for our bodies, and although they are still new and being researched, they are very promising in many areas.

Sacha Inchi seeds promote our overall well being and weight loss. Sacha Inchi seeds have tryptophan in them, which is a precursor for serotonin, (a feel-good hormone). Tryptophan helps us feel calm and happy, and reduce stress levels in the body. Reduced stress and higher serotonin levels can contribute to weight loss. Serotonin also helps regulate our appetite, so we feel fuller longer.

Some other benefits of Sacha Inchi seeds are heart, brain, and joint health. Sacha Inchi seeds improve blood circulation which leads to lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation. All of these things combined make for a happy cardiovascular system! Being that Sacha Inchi seeds help control inflammation tremendously, they are also very good for our brain. A majority of the brain is fat so we need the essential fatty acids to resupply our cells to keep them continuously fighting inflammation in the brain. Our joint health also really benefits from the anti-inflammatory nature in Sacha Inchi seeds. Because they lower inflammation they reduce joint pain, and help improve rheumatoid arthritis.

Omega 3’s and vitamins are part of what makes Sacha Inchi seeds so great as well. The Omega 3’s in these seeds help lower glucose levels, insulin levels, and triglyceride levels. All of the things I just mentioned link our health to one thing, diabetes! The Omega 3 fatty acids not only help with diabetes, but they also help our bodies regulate oil production, which improves our skin and hair by locking in hydration, protecting against sun damage, as well as repairing damage that has already occurred. There are many vitamins in the Sacha Inchi seed, but two in particular are vitamin A and vitamin E. Vitamin A and E help improve and maintain eye health and vision. Like our brains, our eyes rely on a good amount of fat to protect them from inflammation. This is important, especially as we age. Here is a facial serum recipe for you to make at home and make your hair and skin glow with healthy, natural beauty. Mariposa Market is now carrying Sacha Inchi powder in the raw food section. Be sure to check it out!

                
Makes about 1 ounce

Ingredients

·        1/2 ounce Organic Sacha Inchi Oil

·        1/2 ounce Organic Rose Hip Seed Oil

·        4 drops Rhatany Root CO2 Extract

·        3 drops Helichrysum Essential Oil

·        3 drops Roman Chamomile Essential Oil

·        2 drops Geranium Essential Oil

Directions

Combine the Sacha Inchi and Rose Hip Seed Oils in a small beaker or cup. 

Add the CO2 Extract and Essential Oils, then mix well to combine.

 Carefully transfer the serum to a bottle. 

Usage & Packaging

Facial serums do nicely in Glass Dropper Bottles. We used a Flint Dropper Bottle for this recipe, but you can protect the serum from light exposure by packaging it in a Cobalt or Amber Dropper Bottle instead.

To use, simply apply a few drops to your skin after cleansing, and gently massage onto your face in a slow, circular motion.

RICE, BUT NOT THE KIND YOU EAT

BY Mary Anne

 Anyone who has ever sprained an ankle, knee, wrist, or finger is familiar with the usual advice that been given by the acronym RICE.  It stood for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. New advice has come out that dismisses two of these ideas. Gabe Mirkin M.D., who authored “The Sport’s Medicine Book” where the acronym RICE first appeared, has now adjusted his recommendations. Unless the pain is, severe, Mirkin advises skipping the ice. If used, it should only be applied immediately after the injury for a short period of time, about 15 minutes, with an hour in between before re-applying. Studies have shown that applying ice actually can damage tissue and slow the healing process by cutting off blood flow to the affected area. He also recommends gentle activity at about 48 hours, such as “drawing” with the foot in the case of a sprained ankle. By contracting and relaxing the injured joint, blood flow is increased and healing is improved. A better option for reducing pain and inflammation is to take Ibuprophen™ or Naproxin™, but only within the first 24-48 hours, as they too can slow the healing. Mild sprains or strains can still be wrapped with an ACE Bandage™. But, as soon as the swelling subsides, the joint should be unwrapped to prevent osteoarthritis. Elevating the limb throughout the day and night can minimize the swelling and is still considered effective. 

From our Customer Suggestion box:

Amy’s Cheese Pizza “Bites”:  We have the Bean & Cheese Bites… when space becomes available, we’ll look into carrying this.

Daiya Vegan, Gluten-Free Pizza:  We will look into this. J

Vegenaise Low-Fat, 32oz:  We do carry this in 16oz. Right now we do not have the space for the 32oz.

Claravale Farm Raw Goat Milk:  Unfortunately, there are no distributors in our area that carry this.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for getting Organic Chicken Sausage:  You’re welcome!!

Indian type flat bread that was tortilla like, (whole wheat chapattis):  We will see if we can find this. The closest thing we have right now is Naan bread.

Fra’ Mani Pancetta, it’s the real thing! Please bring it back! :  Unfortunately this was discontinued by out distributor. We are looking for another distributor that carries it.

Brown Cow Yogurt, Non-Fat, small size:  For some reason, the non-fat yogurt just doesn’t sell and we were throwing out too many that had expired. L

Synergy Raw Kombucha Third Eye Chai:  We are looking forward to carrying that product again!

Bhakti Chai Original, Boulder, Co.:  We will check it out.    

Please stock a plain/regular corn chip in a smaller bag:  Sounds like a good idea, we’ll look into it!

Bulk Dulse, whole, not flaked:  We will look into adding it to our Bulk Herb & Spice section.

WEDO Banana Flour, gluten free and Fairtrade, great for baking:  We will definitely look into this!

Pickled Okra, not sure about the brand:  We are unable to get a “clean” brand (organic or non-GMO).

Black Lemonade, brand unknown:  We have no plans to carry this item, but you can place a special order for a case and receive a nice discounted price.

Yellow split peas, supposedly more nutritious:  The nutritional value of green and yellow are very similar. We may consider adding the yellow.

Bulk Green Tea:  We currently carry 1 pound bags of Sencha in the tea aisle and Green Yerba Mate in the bulk herb section.

Diva Cup:  We normally stock both sizes in the paper product aisle. Occasionally the manufacturer is out of stock.

Meyer’s All Purpose Cleaner, Geranium:  Unfortunately, this was not a good seller for us. It can be special ordered.

Newman’s Popcorn, unsalted:  We have organic popping corn in our bulk aisle. It’s very good!

Organic masa farina for making tortillas:  We carry Bob’s Red Mill Masa Farina. Our distributor does not currently have an organic option, however we will continue to search for organic.

Free trade spicy hot chocolate:  This is currently not offered by our distributors, but we will keep an eye out for it!

One pot of veggie soup and one pot of meat soup, please:  We try to have at least 2 pots of soup, whether veggie, vegan or with meat on a daily basis. If you watch our Facebook page you’ll find that the veggie and meat soups are equally divided during a 2 week period. Unfortunately, our kitchen is such that we cannot make 2 kinds of soup on a daily basis given the other tasks to be done, as well as the stovetop situation, which does not allow for multiple tasks.

Organic Valley or Columbia Gorge for the smoothies in the deli:  We are now carrying Uncle Matt’s organic orange juice, however if does cost nearly twice as much so prices will have to go up a little.

Breakfast burritos and sandwiches need to be out by 9:00AM:  The kitchen day starts at 6:30, and breakfast items are the first things made, and go out by 9:00AM. Sandwiches are dependent on when the fresh bread arrives. Sandwiches and salads are out by 11:00AM, as well as the soup.  Our crew works hard to keep to these time lines.

Kemmy’s Pies, sweet and savory, please bring back! :  We have a wonderful, local, organic, and gluten free baker who make fabulous pastries. We had trouble selling the Kemmy’s pies when we carried them in the past.

Please carry Coconut Secret Almond Bars (mint flavor):  We currently carry the Ecuadorian Crunch and Peruvian Crunch. You may special order a box of your favorite flavor and save about 15%!

Just want to say what a delight the deli is, always so well taken care of… Thank you so much! : Thank you very much; we appreciate your business and your feedback!

So Coffee Mocha with Coconut Milk:  This item is available as a special order.

Thank you for carrying New Age Cleanser again:  You are very welcome!

Raw Kit Fuel:  We like that these are a local product. We will look into these.  

Guacamole, the one we used to carry:  Unfortunately it was discontinued by the distributor, sorry.   

Cojita Mexican Cheese:  This was not a great seller in the past, but we could try it again.

Three Bakers Gluten Free Bread:  We currently have a variety of GF bread. We may look at this in the future, but no shelf space at this time. You can always special order a case. 

Please bring back the bittersweet dark chocolate chips in bulk:  Unfortunately, they were discontinued by our distributor. We are looking for another source. 

Mariposa Made Traditional Potato Salad, bring it back! ;  We still make the Mariposa Made Potato Salad several times a week. Sometimes it sells out very quickly. You can always call to see if we’re putting any out that day and we’ll set some aside for you. 

Sue’s Scones – please make more than once a week:  We are very happy you are enjoying the scones!  We are limited as to how many baked goods we can make, however we will try for twice a week. 

WHAT ARE “ORAC” VALUES

By Kevin

If you read much about nutrition, no doubt you have come across the phrase, “ORAC value”, as in, "wild blueberries have an ORAC value of 9,621, while regular blueberries only have an ORAC of 4,669!" What on earth are these people talking about? 

ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. It's a lab test that attempts to quantify the "total antioxidant capacity" (TAC) of a food by placing a sample of the food in a test tube, along with certain molecules that generate free radical activity (free radicals, also known simply as radicals, are organic molecules responsible for aging, tissue damage, and possibly some diseases. These molecules are very unstable, therefore they look to bond with other molecules, destroying their health and further continuing the damaging process. Antioxidants, present in many foods, are molecules that prevent free radicals from harming healthy tissue and certain other molecules that are vulnerable to oxidation). After a while, they measure how well the sample protected the vulnerable molecules from oxidation by the free radicals. The less free radical damage there is, the higher the antioxidant capacity of the test substance. There are actually a handful of different tests designed to measure total antioxidant capacity in this way, but the ORAC is probably the best known and most popular.

The nice thing about this method is that it measures the antioxidant activity of a food rather than the levels of specific nutrients, such as vitamin C or E. After all, there are thousands of unique antioxidant compounds in plants, most of which we haven’t even discovered yet. There’s no way we could measure them all individually. This approach would also capture any synergistic effects between the various nutrients—ways in which nutrients are more effective in combination than they are individually.

Where to Find ORAC Values

The lab that developed one of these tests has measured the ORAC values in hundreds of foods and spices and published those values in a database, which you can find online. Some of the results might surprise you. For example, who would have thought that whole grain bread has a higher antioxidant capacity than bean sprouts? Or that kidney beans pack four times the antioxidant punch of broccoli?

Some of the results are a bit misleading. For example, you’ll find spices like cinnamon and cloves with 6-digit ORAC values. However, all of the ORAC scores refer to 100-gram servings. Once you convert these into the amounts you’d typically consume in a meal, cinnamon and cloves are comparable to the antioxidant activity of small apple or pear.

Once this database was published, it was inevitable that people (as well as marketers) would start competing to see who could rack up the highest score. 

The Validity of ORAC

As helpful as the ORAC scale may be in comparing one food or spice to another, there are questions about the relevance of the ORAC values to human health. For one thing, this test is performed in a test tube. We don’t know how—or even whether—these foods interact with free radicals in the body once they’ve been consumed. Foods like chocolate and olive oil, for example, are chockful of antioxidants called polyphenols. Put these foods in a test tube and they mop up free radicals like crazy. Surprisingly, however, they do not have much direct antioxidant activity in the body. 

Similarly, there’s no evidence that super high-ORAC foods or diets are super-beneficial—because the body can only use so many antioxidants at a time. Dr. Ronald Prior, an antioxidant researcher who worked on ORAC reports for the USDA, estimates that anything above about 5,000 ORAC units a day is probably overkill.  There’s even research to suggest that excessive amounts of antioxidants—especially from extracts or supplements—may actually be disruptive to optimal function. 

Although the USDA once hosted a table of ORAC values on its website, they have since taken this database table down, citing unanswered questions about the biological relevance of the ORAC values, combined with the potential for misunderstandings by consumers and misuse by marketers. You’ll still find health bloggers and food and supplement marketers boasting about high ORAC values, but you don’t hear a whole lot about them from serious nutrition scientists anymore.

Antioxidants Are Just One Aspect of Nutrition

Keep in mind that, while antioxidants are certainly beneficial, they are only one of many aspects of good nutrition that deserve our attention. Perhaps you will find the ORAC scores useful in diet planning, but be careful about defining the quality of your diet solely by its ORAC score.  If you’re eating a balanced and varied diet, including plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and other whole foods, your ORAC score will take care of itself.

 

Excerpted from: Scientific American presents Nutrition Diva by Quick & Dirty Tips. Scientific American and Quick & Dirty Tips are both Macmillan companies.

- See more at: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/health-fitness/trends-fads/what-are-orac-values#sthash.vOfNxE1p.dpuf

Brews & Trends of 2016

By Debbie Mac 

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is already upon us. Sometimes it seems that things change faster than we can keep up with, especially if we are of an older generation, who are slightly technologically impaired. I only speak for myself of course. The beverage industry is no exception, and that includes beer, and to some extent wine. The micro-breweries have changed how we think of beer. It is no longer dominated by a few big companies. New brewpubs and breweries are popping up all across America, and as distribution increases, more restaurants have growing crafts beer lists. Local breweries have become very popular tourist attractions with tours and tastings available. The signature beer for American craft beer has been the hop heavy IPA. This big, bold, and bitter brew has been very popular, especially in California and the Midwest. As craft beer drinkers become a more varied demographic, the beers from small breweries are expected to take on new characteristics. Lagers are the most commonly consumed beer in America, and 2015 was the year of the craft lager. The resurgence of the lager follows a traditional European lager style such as the German Kolschs or the Czech Pilsners, with the added twist expected from a craft brewery. Look for a continued rise in craft lager options in 2016, as well as a continued broader European influence. As brewers make more options with toned downed hops, more mild styles will appear. Session beers that contain less alcohol, typically no more than 5%, are also popular. Even though the alcohol content is less, they don’t skimp on taste. Sierra Nevada’s Nooner Pilsner and Lagunitas Daytime are two examples. Beer is also going culinary. Craft beer is being used in more kitchens as an ingredient for reductions, glazes, or in broths. Brewers are also taking ideas from the kitchen to add new flavors to well-known styles. Vegetables, herbs, spices, and nuts are all being used to add new shades of depth to traditional styles. From chocolate to black pepper, or fresh ginger, in 2016 look for beers made with ingredients you would expect to find on a grocery list. Look for more coffee infused beer, along with all types of spirit barrels finding their way into breweries. This can add lingering notes of bourbon that can turn a good stout into a great one.  Check out the Anderson Valley Bourbon Stout that we currently carry. We also started carrying a “hard” root beer called Not Your Father’s.

 A few things to look for in the wine market are an increase in wine in the international market from places that may surprise you, such as wine from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. You will also find choices from the old world regions, such as Portugal, who are known for their blended wines that pair wonderfully with food. Local wineries in places such as the “Finger Lakes” are becoming popular in places like New York. This region’s cool climate makes it ideal for a number of varietals, particularly Riesling.

Another difference in 2016 is that the traditional Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabs, that have been the hallmark of California production for many years, are seeing competition from many new varietals. Many of these varietals have been around, but not as promoted, nor as popular, as the main three. As consumers are starting to venture out and try something new varietals, wines such as Pinot Grigio, Tempranillo, and Petite Syrah are starting to gain momentum.   

Champagne is usually thought of as fancy and expensive, and not necessarily to be paired with food. That is all changing with the advent of grower champagne, which is a bubbly grown and bottled from small grape growers. Instead of standardized flavor that is specific to each big brand, grower champagne reflects more of the terroir and greater variety.  Look also for the comeback of Rosé and Proseco. Rosés are no longer the sweet non flavorful wines of the past. They are instead refreshing, pair well with food, and are appropriate for almost any occasion. Proseco is an Italian sparkling wine with a little less bubble and a lower price point than champagne.  

Welcome to 2016 and have fun with all the new tastes of the year.

Warm Spiced Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad

with Pomegranate Seeds

by Nigella Lawson

Keiko Oikawa

This is one of my favorite suppers, although there’s nothing that says you can’t serve this as a vegetable side as part of a more conventional meal. And you could also bolster it further by crumbling in some feta. But for me, it is perfect just as it is: the tomatoes almost ooze into a dressing in the oven, and the cauliflower softens, but not soggily. For choice, I’d always use home-cooked chickpeas (I cook batches in my slow cooker and freeze them in 1 1/2-cup portions for everyday use), but otherwise I like the pre-cooked Spanish chickpeas in jars. Yes, they are more expensive than the canned variety, but the cheapest option is always to buy dried. Don’t feel bad about using chickpeas out of a can, though – I have been known to, myself. One can’t always be so organized to have the freezer stashed with cooked chickpeas, and so I am always well stocked with canned chickpeas. They do work here, it’s just that they won’t be as soft; but then, you don’t necessarily need them to be. The cauliflower and juicy tomatoes can stand some nubbliness.

The parsley is not a garnish – ugh, that word – but used, here, as a salad leaf. And this is also very, very good cold, so if you have some left over, it makes a fabulous box lunch, or provides instant gratification on those days you have to eat fridge-side, with your coat still on, you’re so hungry.

  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons regular olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas, home-cooked or drained from a can or jar
  • 1–2 tablespoons harissa, to taste (and depending on the heat of the harissa)
  • 4 smallish ripe vine tomatoes (approx. 6 ounces total)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes or kosher salt, or to taste
  • 3-4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
  • 2 1/2 cups Italian parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Trim the cauliflower and divide into small florets. Pour the oil into a large bowl, add the cinnamon and cumin seeds, and stir or whisk to help the spices disperse. Tip in the prepared cauliflower and toss to coat. Pour the contents of the bowl into a small oven pan (I mostly use a disposable foil baking pan measuring 12 x 8 inches) and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Don’t wash out the bowl you’ve been using just yet.

Add the chickpeas to this bowl, and add the harissa, tasting it first to see if you want both tablespoonfuls, and, at the risk of being repetitive, toss to coat. Quarter the tomatoes and add them to the bowl, and shake or stir to mix. When the cauliflower has had its 15 minutes, remove the pan, quickly tip the chickpeas and tomatoes over the cauliflower, and toss to combine before returning to the oven for a further 15 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.

When it’s ready, remove from the oven and sprinkle the salt over the vegetables, then (and this isn’t the last time) toss to combine with half of the pomegranate seeds before dividing between 2 bowls. Divide the parsley leaves – without chopping them – between the 2 bowls and toss to mix. Scatter with the remaining pomegranate seeds.

Store Note: Cool leftovers, then cover and refrigerate within 2 hours of making. Will keep in refrigerator for up to 2 days. Serve cold.

Simply Nigella by Nigella Lawson (Flatiron Books).

Cook time: 

30 minutes

Yield: 

Serves 2 heartily, or 1 with leftovers

Nigella Lawson is a television personality, journalist and author. She is the host of "Nigella Kitchen" and the author of eight books. Lawson previously served as the deputy literary editor of The Sunday Times, and her writing has appeared in The Sunday Times, the Evening Standard, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the Observer, Times Magazine, British Vogue, The Spectator, The New York Times, Gourmet and Bon Appétit. She has received numerous awards, including Author of the Year in 2001 from the British Book Awards and Tastemaker of the Year in 2002 from Bon Appetit.

Borrowed from The Splendid Table website http://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/warm-spiced-cauliflower-and-chickpea-salad-with-pomegranate-seeds


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