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Dead Sea—A Natural Wonder That's Shrinking

Dead Sea—A Natural Wonder That's Shrinking | reNourishment | Scoop.it

The Dead Sea has long drawn visitors for its uniqueness — its surface is now about nearly 1,400 feet below sea level, making these beaches the lowest dry points on earth. The north part, in territory that Israel conquered in the 1967 Middle East war, is popular with Israelis, Christian pilgrims and tourists from Jerusalem. And in the year since Israel eased travel restrictions in the West Bank, removing some major roadblocks, Palestinians are also able to reach the northern shores.

In another point of convergence, the governments of Israel, Jordan, which lies across the water, and the Palestinian Authority have joined in a bid to promote the Dead Sea in an Internet competition to be voted one of the new seven natural wonders of the world.

The governments of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have joined in a bid to promote the Dead Sea in an Internet competition to be voted one of the new seven natural wonders of the world.
With the water level now dropping by more than three feet a year, many here hope that the competition will focus attention on ways to restore the waters.

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Welcome to re:Nourishment Digest

Welcome to re:Nourishment Digest | reNourishment | Scoop.it

ReNourishment.org: It’s about real food and nourishment of the body, mind and spirit. It’s about nourishment of our relationships with others and our relationship with our environment. It’s about nourishment of the planet we live off of and live on. It’s about renewal and rejuvenation—getting things back to the way they should be.

 

As Life and Health editor for Vision.org, and a writer for the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation (PPNF.org), I am constantly seeking out, reading and researching articles that reflect those ideals. The collection of articles in this digest are related to that search. Some may be somewhat speculative but I hope you find them to be food for thought and nourishment for the mind. 

 

To read a story in its entirety, simply click on the headline. If these topics are of interest to you, click the "Follow" button in the upper right corner. Come back often and see "what's news"—both here and on my blog, reNourishment.org.

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Why You Should Leave the Lime Out of Your Guacamole | Epicurious.com

Why You Should Leave the Lime Out of Your Guacamole | Epicurious.com | reNourishment | Scoop.it
Lime is an integral part of a great guacamole—or so we thought. Turns out, American cooks put the lime in. And now it's time to take it out.
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

A while back, in the midst of mincing garlic and cilantro, my amiga and co-chopper chastised me for even thinking about adding red onion to the dish I was making, saying "My people don't use anything but white onions" (although she doesn't like beans or spicy foods, so that brings up other questions in my mind!). So I started chopping the white onions instead while she told me about the real pico de gallo being made from fruit, and other culinarily interesting facts. 

When I saw the title of this article, I was reminded of my lesson about the white onions, so I had to read on.
 

In the grand scheme of things, this may seem like a trivial topic (well, yes, it really is). But sometimes it's good to take a look at the original intent of something to understand it. (With guacamole, it's all about the avocado.) Then you can get creative with it without losing sight of its origins.
 

Frida Kahlo added chipotles? Mmm, sounds delicious! But she first understood what guacamole was all about, then added her own brand of creativity to take it to the next level. And now that I understand the original, I might be able to slip a little red onion into my pico de gallo with a clean conscience.

You can read the rest of the story and more on my blog at ReNourishment.org. 

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Help Save Culture Club 101! (No, not Boy George! This is Elaina Luther's GoFundMe)

Help Save Culture Club 101! (No, not Boy George! This is Elaina Luther's GoFundMe) | reNourishment | Scoop.it

On July 3rd, 2014, the club, licensed by the Pasadena Public Health Department in 2011, was shut down because it was said not to be in alignment with a reinterpretation of the rules with respect to private clubs. At the same time it was inspected and given permission on the spot to operate as a retail location. The only hitch was that it did not meet the zoning requirements for the area. Only zoning restrictions prevent it from re-opening as a retail location, so it needs to move locations. And that costs money. 

Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

Culture Club 101 was a licensed private culinary club in Pasadena that provided its members with a way to buy real cultured foods (like sauerkraut, healthy cultured sodas, etc.) readymade. The club also held educational classes so that its members could learn how to make their own fermented foods, yogurts, keifers, gluten free foods and healthy treats.  Members had access to a library and information nights with speakers and films. The Club vetted other resources such as pasture raised meats, raw milk and sprouted grains so that without having to do their own research, members could purchase real foods from around the US. Elaina was the tireless impresario behind the Real Food Symposium series that helped so many, and now she needs your help to continue her valuable services. Click through to read more!

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Watchful Guardians

"I watch them care for something outside of themselves, and that purposefulness creates contentment."

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This insightful video may be about Great Pyrennes dogs, but there are lessons here for each of us. 

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These People Turned an Abandoned Stable Into Their Dream Home - Village Green Network

These People Turned an Abandoned Stable Into Their Dream Home - Village Green Network | reNourishment | Scoop.it
Here's an inspiring story about turning an old dilapidated shelter into a gorgeous off-grid home. Full of great ideas!
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Working with the sun, water, gravity and nature, appreciating and building upon the knowledge of the farmer who sited the original structure, these two created what may be the perfect home. The brilliance of the project unfolds as the video progresses.

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Life and Health: Mothers' Milk: More Than Meets the Eye?

Life and Health: Mothers' Milk: More Than Meets the Eye? | reNourishment | Scoop.it
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

I attended a symposium on the safe production of raw milk recently at Chico State University and was fascinated by the presentations of each of the speakers. A common theme relating to health is that raw milk has undeniable health-promoting qualities that we don't yet understand. Dr. Bruce German,  a well-respected, widely-published researcher (one that I've quoted in other articles) and founder of the International Milk Genomics Consortium, detailed ways that raw milk is responsible for all human life on the planet. One of his associates, Dr. Danielle Lemay, was also at this meeting. Some of her words inspired this article about a surprising quality of human milk. Click through to read more!

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“Expired” food is good for you: A supermarket exec’s bold business gamble

“Expired” food is good for you: A supermarket exec’s bold business gamble | reNourishment | Scoop.it
Trader Joe's' former president wants to sell you the food that other stores throw out. Will it work?
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

Last September, a major report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Law School squashed the long-standing myth surrounding “sell by,” “best by” and “use by” dates on food. It revealed how those dates, which are mostly unregulated and surprisingly arbitrary, tell the consumer next to nothing about how long a product will stay fresh. Yet 90 percent of Americans are under the mistaken impression that they do – and that they are inviolable – causing us to needlessly throw away food.

The problem, however, begins even before such food reaches people’s refrigerators: It’s against most supermarkets’ policies (including that of Trader Joe’s) to sell food once it’s aged past these mystical dates. Dana Gunders, who co-authored the NRDC report with Emily Leib, sees Rauch’s project as the logical next step in freeing us from the tyranny of date labels. “Just the fact that he’s doing it, I think is a huge proof point to indicate that what we’re calling ‘expired food’ is in fact still good to eat,” she told Salon.

Rauch isn’t the first to look at the vast storerooms of perfectly good produce, bound for the trash heap, and see an opportunity. Stanley’s organization, Lovin Spoonfuls, also serves the Boston area, and New York’s City Harvest, to take a prominent example, has been “recovering” surplus food from supermarkets and restaurants and redistributing it to food pantries and soup kitchens since 1982. And as Rauch himself pointed out, a number of high-end retailers already repurpose their unsellable produce as hot, prepared food.

But Rauch’s focus differs from that of other nonprofit organizations, which are mainly concerned with fixing the broken link between excess food and empty stomachs. For example: Stanley’s ultimate goal for Lovin Spoonfuls, she said, is to put herself out of business – in other words, to solve hunger. “We must never forget that food’s not only a commodity,” she told Salon; more important is its role as a life force. But like it or not, our culture does treat food as a commodity – as something to be coveted and indulged in. Rauch sees that as an advantage.

Rauch, a capitalist first and foremost, is looking for a market-driven solution to food waste. The store is a nonprofit, but after an initial round of funding gets it started, he intends for it to be self-sustaining. And he expects that supermarkets will work with him, “not just because it’s the right thing, not just because they feel bad about throwing it out. All those are true, but also because it’s an underrealized asset”: There’s a federally enhanced tax deduction on the books for restaurants and grocery stores that donate their surplus, which allows them to recover up to 50 percent of their lost margin.

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The art of gliding: Stemme S10-VT - FT Wealth - Life & Arts Video - FT.com

The art of gliding: Stemme S10-VT - FT Wealth - Life & Arts Video - FT.com | reNourishment | Scoop.it
Unpowered flight offers a rare opportunity to soar far away from everyday pressures. But flying without an engine carries its own problems.
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

Impressive design, with a range of 750 nautical miles (and even more if you catch some good thermals!). This efficient aircraft opens up a world of possibilities that were just a dream last time I took to the air in unpowered aircraft. (Yes, it's been a few years.) Worth a watch—and a place on my wish list!

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Four Food Additves to Avoid

Four Food Additves to Avoid | reNourishment | Scoop.it
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

Food additives can have a major impact on  our health, and we as consumers are starting to do our own research on what is in the food we eat. A recent blog post I wrote for the Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation may be helpful for those wanting to learn more. Here's a "taste" of what's there . . . click through to read the whole article.  Food additives have been a part of our diets for thousands of years. Ancient peoples used vinegar, salt, spices, herbs, and honey to help preserve foods and add flavor.  These safe, natural additives have been used for centuries by traditional societies around the world.

However, the advent of chemistry as a modern scientific discipline coincided with the industrialization of food production in the 1800s, and artificial food additives were introduced. Mislabeled, adulterated foods and dangerous chemical preservatives (such as formaldehyde) and coloring agents invaded store shelves and home pantries until thePure Food and Drug Act was passed in 1906.

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Infographic: The Healthy Farm | UCSUSA

Infographic: The Healthy Farm | UCSUSA | reNourishment | Scoop.it
A Vision for U.S. Agriculture
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

Explore the sustainable, science-based future of American agriculture with this interactive "healthy farm" graphic.

 

We know that we need to find better ways to grow our food and treat our environment, and repair the damage done through decades of monocrops and CAFO feed lots. It's sometimes hard to visualize anything other than what has become the norm. So here is an interactive graphic to help us understand what can be done through agro-ecological agriculture, which we hope is the wave of the future. But in many ways it looks a lot like the past. Take a look.

From the graphic: Healthy Farm Principles

A healthy farm practices sustainable agriculture, which means it must do three things well:

Productivity. A healthy farm produces food in abundance.Economic viability. A healthy farm is a thriving business that provides a good living and fair working conditions to those who work on it, and contributes to a robust local and regional economy.Environmental stewardship. A healthy farm maintains the fertility of the soil and the health of the surrounding landscape for future generations.

To meet these goals, farmers use an approach to agriculture that focuses on four qualities that characterize the healthy farm:

It is multifunctional, recognizing that productivity, while indispensable, is not the farm's sole objective. As well as providing food, the farm also performs important social, economic and environmental functions.

It is regenerative, using methods that constantly improve the fertility of the soil, foster biodiversity both within and beyond the farm's boundaries, and recycle essential nutrients.

It is biodiverse, incorporating a wide variety of crops, land use choices, and options for raising livestock and poultry.

It is interconnected, seeing the farm as an integral part of the landscape that surrounds it, not an isolated production facility.

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Say Hello to the 100 Trillion Bacteria That Make Up Your Microbiome

Say Hello to the 100 Trillion Bacteria That Make Up Your Microbiome | reNourishment | Scoop.it
Medicine used to be obsessed with eradicating the tiny bugs that live within us. Now we’re beginning to understand all the ways they keep us healthy.
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

Hundreds of bacterial species call each of us "home." In sheer numbers, these microbes and their genes dwarf us. It turns out that we are only 10 percent human: for every human cell that is intrinsic to our body, there are about 10 resident microbes — including commensals (generally harmless freeloaders) and mutualists (favor traders) and, in only a tiny number of cases, pathogens. To the extent that we are bearers of genetic information, more than 99 percent of it is microbial. And it appears increasingly likely that this “second genome,” as it is sometimes called, exerts an influence on our health as great and possibly even greater than the genes we inherit from our parents. But while your inherited genes are more or less fixed, it may be possible to reshape, even cultivate, your second genome.

 

Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford, suggests that we would do well to begin regarding the human body as “an elaborate vessel optimized for the growth and spread of our microbial inhabitants.” This humbling new way of thinking about the self has large implications for human and microbial health, which turn out to be inextricably linked. Disorders in our internal ecosystem — a loss of diversity, say, or a proliferation of the “wrong” kind of microbes — may predispose us to obesity and a whole range of chronic diseases, as well as some infections.

 

“Fecal transplants,” which involve installing a healthy person’s microbiota into a sick person’s gut, have been shown to effectively treat anantibiotic-resistant intestinal pathogen named C. difficile, which kills 14,000 Americans each year. (Researchers use the word “microbiota” to refer to all the microbes in a community and “microbiome” to refer to their collective genes.) We’ve known for a few years that obese mice transplanted with the intestinal community of lean mice lose weight and vice versa. (We don’t know why.) A similar experiment was performed recently on humans by researchers in the Netherlands: when the contents of a lean donor’s microbiota were transferred to the guts of male patients with metabolic syndrome, the researchers found striking improvements in the recipients’ sensitivity to insulin, an important marker for metabolic health. Somehow, the gut microbes were influencing the patients’ metabolisms.

 

Our resident microbes also appear to play a critical role in training and modulating our immune system, helping it to accurately distinguish between friend and foe and not go nuts on, well, nuts and all sorts of other potential allergens. Some researchers believe that the alarming increase in autoimmune diseases in the West may owe to a disruption in the ancient relationship between our bodies and their “old friends” — the microbial symbionts found within.

 

These claims sound extravagant, and in fact many microbiome researchers are careful not to make the mistake that scientists working on the human genome did a decade or so ago, when they promised they were on the trail of cures to many diseases. We’re still waiting. Yet whether any cures emerge from the exploration of the second genome, the implications of what has already been learned — for our sense of self, for our definition of health and for our attitude toward bacteria in general — are difficult to overstate. Human health should now “be thought of as a collective property of the human-associated microbiota,” as one group of researchers recently concluded in a landmark review articleon microbial ecology — that is, as a function of the community, not the individual.

 

Such a paradigm shift comes not a moment too soon, because as a civilization, we’ve just spent the better part of a century doing our unwitting best to wreck the human-associated microbiota with a multifronted war on bacteria and a diet notably detrimental to its well-being. Researchers now speak of an impoverished “Westernized microbiome” and ask whether the time has come to embark on a project of “restoration ecology” — not in the rain forest or on the prairie but right here at home, in the human gut.

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Architecture, Recycled: Beautiful Homes Rising From Scrap Heap

Architecture, Recycled: Beautiful Homes Rising From Scrap Heap | reNourishment | Scoop.it
Architecture, Recycled: Beautiful Homes Rising From Scrap Heap @Worldcrunch Worldcrunch - Great stories from the world's best news sources
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

Recycling used materials can take a more traditional aspect, for economic reasons for instance. When she returned to Switzerland after working for ten years in Africa, architect Barbara Buser from Basel architectural firm In Situ, rebelled against the huge amounts of perfectly good construction materials thatwere being wasted.

 

“It’s possible to build entire houses using recycled materials, their used aspect even adds charm to the structure.” Buser knows that in Switzerland this is still a niche market, tied to economic aspects more than innovation.

Only a few architects use this second-hand exchange or use recyclable objects. This is not because of legislation, because the same fire safety and security rules apply to new and used material, explains Thomas Muller from the Swiss Association of Engineers and Architects. On the contrary, recycling is encouraged in Switzerland through specific construction standards.

 

According to Muller, the reluctance of architects to work with reclaimed objects is the main reason why they are not used more widely. For architects, recycled materials causes artistic limitations, especially in the case of visible elements. And even though clients want to be alternative and innovative, are often hesitant of taking the actual step of building their homes with old materials.

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Free Water | Andrew Brown - FOCUS FORWARD on Vimeo

Free Water | Andrew Brown - FOCUS FORWARD on Vimeo | reNourishment | Scoop.it
FREE WATER is a Semifinalist in the $200,000 FOCUS FORWARD Filmmaker Competition. View more Semifinalist films at vimeo.com/focusforwardfilms/semifinalists.
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

The city of Tucson receives more rainfall than it uses annually, yet the city still imports the great majority of their municipal water via the Colorado River. Where does all that rainfall go? This short video touches upon ideas for harvesting rainwater in the city instead of sending it to the sewers.

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In Hono(u)r of Canada Day

In Hono(u)r of Canada Day | reNourishment | Scoop.it
It's Canada Day! We're celebrating with a lot more than maple syrup (but there's maple syrup on this list, too).
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

For those of us who grew up in Canada but live elsewhere, this day brings on a bit of nostalgia. Memories of the food of one's childhood can be a big part of that, and this article (and its accompanying recipes) made me pause (and drool just a little). Much of what's on this list does not fall within any category of healthful, but even reading about the butter tarts, Nanaimo bars and poutine (without imbibing!) brings warm memories. I might just go cure some salmon, though—that one sounds particularly good right now!

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Bought: An Education

Bought: An Education | reNourishment | Scoop.it
It's no secret that as a society we have some serious health issues, and try as we might to fix them, we don't seem to have the answers. Opposing theories abound, with rabid activists on both sides...
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

This intriguing documentary addresses many of the challenges to our health that we face in the 21st century. It may answer some nagging questions for you, and it will certainly make you think. Free viewing through March 6—just click through to begin.

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Real Food Culture Kitchen Project

Real Food Culture Kitchen Project | reNourishment | Scoop.it
http://bit.ly/realfoodculturekitchen  ;
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

Our good friend and mentor Elaina formed Culture Club 101, which was unique in its offerings of living, traditionally-prepared, health-promoting Real Food to those near Pasadena. She then went on to organize the Real Food Symposium series, which shared valuable information with the public on various topics like "The Skinny on Fat" ( the importance of good fats in the diet, cheesemaking, raw milk, brewing, fermentation, the GAPS diet, organic gardening, beekeeping, and the importance of pasture-raised animal products.

 

Elaina has now paired up with Real Food Devotee with a goal of reaching and helping even more people. Plans to license and build the Real Food Culture Kitchen are now underway.  This will be a resource for traditional, nutrient-dense Real Food:

a commercial kitchen for traditional Real Food preparationa store where you can find all your Real Food pantry essentials, supplies and equipment-advice and troubleshooting includeda training, mentoring, and learning centera cafe and tasting room for pop-up dinnersexpanded product offerings and home deliveries

 

Yes, this is a lofty goal, and they need our help. 

 

With that in mind, they have launched a Kickstarter Campaign that runs through the month of November. ( http://bit.ly/realfoodculturekitchen ;) If you, like us, feel strongly about the importance of Real Foods, please join us in helping this cause. There are valuable rewards offered for different levels of pledges, and I would highly recommend the Real Food Symposium DVD sets as rewards. As each symposium helped me put the puzzle together, they would also help you on your journey to optimal health. (http://renourishment.org//?s=real+food+symposium&search=Go)


If the Kickstarter goal is not reached, they get nothing. So if this is something you believe in, make sure to pledge your help in the next few weeks and become part of the Real Food Revolution.  

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Agafia's Taiga Life | VICE United States

Agafia's Taiga Life | VICE United States | reNourishment | Scoop.it
In 1936, a family of Russian Old Believers journeyed deep into Siberia’s vast taiga to escape persecution and protect their way of life. The Lykovs eventually settled in the Sayan Mountains, 160 miles…
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

This video tells the tale of a remarkable woman who is truly living "off the grid" under conditions most of us can barely imagine. Everyone who dreams of homesteading needs to watch this. Seeing her tenacity and fortitude, along with a glimpse into the harsh reality of her everyday life, has given me much to think about since I first viewed this a few days ago. Who among us could survive as she has?

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Never Thought A Billboard Could Be Used This Way!

Never Thought A Billboard Could Be Used This Way! | reNourishment | Scoop.it

An innovative way to supply potable water in an area where there is only .51 inches of rainfall annually.

Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

Lack of clean, potable water is the cause of disease and death worldwide, and some engineers at U-Tec in Peru have been working on ways to help. This U-Tec project may look like an ordinary billboard, but it is actually an innovative way to supply potable water to villagers in a desert area with almost no annual rainfall. Of course, it would only work where the humidity level is high enough, but perhaps this could be duplicated in similar areas and save untold lives. 

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Indigenous diets can help fight modern illnesses, say health experts

Indigenous diets can help fight modern illnesses, say health experts | reNourishment | Scoop.it
Traditional food consumed by rural communities contain nutrients that are lacking in high- and middle-income countries
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

Indigenous food systems – gathering and preparing food to maximize the nutrients an environment can provide – range from nomadic hunter-gatherers such as the Aché in eastern Paraguay, the Massai pastoralists in northern Kenya, and herding and fishing groups including the Inuit in northern Canada, to the Saami of Scandinavia and the millet-farming Kondh agriculturalists in eastern India.

But the trait these groups share is a keen knowledge of how to eat nutritiously without damaging the ecosystem. "Indigenous peoples' food systems contain treasures of knowledge from long-evolved cultures and patterns of living in local ecosystems," says an FAO-supported study on indigenous food systems, nutrition, and health co-authored by Kuhnlein in 2009.

In recent years, grains such as quinoa, fonio and millet – long harvested by indigenous and rural communities in developing countries but increasingly overlooked by a younger, richer generation that prefers imported foods – have instead grown in popularity in developed countries.

Research, marketing and donor-funded financing have helped raise awareness of the ability of these high-protein grains to reduce cholesterol, provide micronutrients and lower the risk of diabetes. "Because of the many health benefits of these forgotten, or until [recently] unknown foods, valuing the wisdom of indigenous cultures [and] earlier generations is vital for reducing disease and inflammation." 

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Vitamin C: What it Does, Where to Get It, How to Supplement It

Vitamin C: What it Does, Where to Get It, How to Supplement It | reNourishment | Scoop.it
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

The harsh winter of 1534 was challenging for explorer Jacques Cartier and his crew. Their ship was immobilized in Canadian ice, and nearly all 110 men were deathly ill. There was little to eat except what scarce provisions remained, and no chance of fresh fruit or vegetables. Twenty-five men died, 50 more were on the verge of perishing, and the rest were weak and worsening. From the indigenous people, Cartier learned of a traditional remedy. They ground, then boiled the bark and leaves of a specific tree, drank the resulting tea, and used the dregs as a poultice.

 

Luckily, there are easier ways to obtain Vitamin C than making tree bark tea!

 

Every crew member who drank the concoction recovered so quickly that Cartier declared it a miracle.

Today we understand that Cartier’s crew was suffering from scurvy, caused by a lack of vitamin C in the diet. The tree’s green leaves (or needles) were rich in the vitamin C that the crew so desperately needed, and the bark’s flavonoids enhanced the vitamin’s healing effects.

 

Two centuries after Cartier’s voyages, in 1742, British naval doctor James Lind laid the groundwork for the discovery of vitamins when, as part of a study, he prescribed doses of vitamin C–laden citrus to scurvy patients, and observed that they recovered rapidly. When the British navy later included lemon juice as rations for sailors, their incidence of scurvy on the high seas nearly disappeared.

 

Click through to read more about VItamin C!

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Water Storage key to climate change adaptation

Water Storage key to climate change adaptation | reNourishment | Scoop.it
Communities across the globe can build resilience to climate change by re-inventing old water storage strategies and investing in new ones, according to a new book by the International Water Management Institute.
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

Combining water storage and savings options often is the most effective way to tackle increasing weather variability, the researchers say. But communities need to weigh trade-offs and be wary of unintended consequences.

.

“Water is a scarce resource, but the reality in many river basins across the world is that it also is an inefficiently under-used resource that can be better utilized to offset climate change and ensure food security,” says Jeremy Bird, IWMI’s director-general. “But the challenge is complex and solutions must be tailored to local situations.”

 

For example, in Rajasthan, India – dubbed the Great Indian Desert – the state government is responding to an inefficient canal system by subsidizing farmers to make farm ponds. The ponds are filled from the Indira Gandhi canal system once a month.

 

Farmers can then draw water as needed. The storage strategy can be combined with water-saving technologies such as micro-irrigation. “Combining water storage and savings options is one of the most practical, immediate and cost-effective ways to respond to climate-induced water scarcity,” says Vladimir Smakhtin, IWMI’s theme leader on water availability and access.

 

The research was supported by Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and Water Land and Ecosystems (WLE) research programs of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)

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Grandma's Experiences Leave Epigenetic Mark on Your Genes

Grandma's Experiences Leave Epigenetic Mark on Your Genes | reNourishment | Scoop.it
Your ancestors' lousy childhoods or excellent adventures might change your personality, bequeathing anxiety or resilience by altering the epigenetic expressions of genes in the brain.
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

Epigenetics can explain so much—why some of us are predisposed to one trait or another. And now we know that what our grandparents did or experienced can affect us in ways we are only beginning to understand.

 

"Originally these epigenetic changes were believed to occur only during fetal development. But pioneering studies showed that molecular bric-a-brac could be added to DNA in adulthood, setting off a cascade of cellular changes resulting in cancer. Sometimes methyl groups attached to DNA thanks to changes in diet; other times, exposure to certain chemicals appeared to be the cause. Szyf showed that correcting epigenetic changes with drugs could cure certain cancers in animals. 

 

"Geneticists were especially surprised to find that epigenetic change could be passed down from parent to child, one generation after the next. A study from Randy Jirtle of Duke University showed that when female mice are fed a diet rich in methyl groups, the fur pigment of subsequent offspring is permanently altered. Without any change to DNA at all, methyl groups could be added or subtracted, and the changes were inherited much like a mutation in a gene. . . .

 

"According to the new insights of behavioral epigenetics, traumatic experiences in our past, or in our recent ancestors’ past, leave molecular scars adhering to our DNA. Jews whose great-grandparents were chased from their Russian shtetls; Chinese whose grandparents lived through the ravages of the Cultural Revolution; young immigrants from Africa whose parents survived massacres; adults of every ethnicity who grew up with alcoholic or abusive parents — all carry with them more than just memories.

 

"Like silt deposited on the cogs of a finely tuned machine after the seawater of a tsunami recedes, our experiences, and those of our forebears, are never gone, even if they have been forgotten. They become a part of us, a molecular residue holding fast to our genetic scaffolding. The DNA remains the same, but psychological and behavioral tendencies are inherited. You might have inherited not just your grandmother’s knobby knees, but also her predisposition toward depression caused by the neglect she suffered as a newborn." 

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Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food

Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food | reNourishment | Scoop.it
Much of our produce is relatively low in phytonutrients — compounds that may reduce the risk of many diseases.
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

"If we want to get maximum health benefits from fruits and vegetables, we must choose the right varieties. Studies published within the past 15 years show that much of our produce is relatively low in phytonutrients, which are the compounds with the potential to reduce the risk of four of our modern scourges: cancer, cardiovascular disease,diabetes and dementia. The loss of these beneficial nutrients did not begin 50 or 100 years ago, as many assume. Unwittingly, we have been stripping phytonutrients from our diet since we stopped foraging for wild plants some 10,000 years ago and became farmers.

These insights have been made possible by new technology that has allowed researchers to compare the phytonutrient content of wild plants with the produce in our supermarkets. The results are startling.

Wild dandelions, once a springtime treat for Native Americans, have seven times more phytonutrients than spinach, which we consider a 'superfood.' A purple potato native to Peru has 28 times more cancer-fighting anthocyanins than common russet potatoes. One species of apple has a staggering 100 times more phytonutrients than the Golden Delicious displayed in our supermarkets.

Were the people who foraged for these wild foods healthier than we are today? They did not live nearly as long as we do, but growing evidence suggests that they were much less likely to die from degenerative diseases, even the minority who lived 70 years and more. The primary cause of death for most adults, according to anthropologists, was injury and infections."

What can we do about this? Here are some tips on what to look for in the grocery stores and farmer's markets.

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No Benefit Seen in Sharp Limits on Salt in Diet

No Benefit Seen in Sharp Limits on Salt in Diet | reNourishment | Scoop.it
Health experts for the government say there is no good reason for many Americans to keep sodium consumption below 2,300 milligrams a day, as national dietary guidelines advise.
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

Until about 2006, almost all studies on salt and health outcomes relied on the well-known fact that blood pressure can drop slightly when people eat less salt. From that, and from other studies linking blood pressure to risks of heart attacks and strokes, researchers created models showing how many lives could be saved if people ate less salt.

The United States dietary guidelines, based on the 2005 Institute of Medicine report, recommend that the general population aim for sodium levels of 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams a day because those levels will not raise blood pressure. The average sodium consumption in the United States, and around the world, is about 3,400 milligrams a day, according to the Institute of Medicine — an amount that has not changed in decades.

But more recently, researchers began looking at the actual consequences of various levels of salt consumption, as found in rates of heart attacks, strokes and death, not just blood pressure readings. Some of what they found was troubling.

 

One 2008 study the committee examined, for example, randomly assigned 232 Italian patients with aggressively treated moderate to severe congestive heart failure to consume either 2,760 or 1,840 milligrams of sodium a day, but otherwise to consume the same diet. Those consuming the lower level of sodium had more than three times the number of hospital readmissions — 30 as compared with 9 in the higher-salt group — and more than twice as many deaths — 15 as compared with 6 in the higher-salt group.

 

Another study, published in 2011, followed 28,800 subjects with high blood pressure ages 55 and older for 4.7 years and analyzed their sodium consumption by urinalysis. The researchers reported that the risks of heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure and death from heart disease increased significantly for those consuming more than 7,000 milligrams of sodium a day and for those consuming fewer than 3,000 milligrams of sodium a day.

 

There are physiological consequences of consuming little sodium, said Dr. Michael H. Alderman, a dietary sodium expert at Albert Einstein College of Medicine who was not a member of the committee. As sodium levels plunge, triglyceride levels increase, insulin resistance increases, and the activity of the sympathetic nervous system increases. Each of these factors can increase the risk of heart disease.

 

“Those are all bad things,” Dr. Alderman said. “A health effect can’t be predicted by looking at one physiological consequence. There has to be a net effect.”

 

Medical and public health experts responded to the new assessment of the evidence with elation or concern, depending on where they stand in the salt debates.

 

“What they have done is earth-shattering,” Dr. Alderman said. “They have changed the paradigm of this issue. Until now it was all about blood pressure. Now they say it is more complicated.” The report, he predicted, “will have a big impact.”

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Free Water | Video by Andrew Brown

Free Water | Video by Andrew Brown | reNourishment | Scoop.it

FREE WATER is a three-minute video showing a practical way to capture rainwater for irrigation in the cities.

Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

The city of Tucson receives more rainfall than it uses annually, yet the city still imports the great majority of their municipal water via the Colorado River. Where does all that rainfall go? This short video touches upon ideas for harvesting rainwater in the city instead of sending it to the sewers.

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The Women Who Feed the World | Slow Food International - Good, Clean and Fair Food

The Women Who Feed the World | Slow Food International - Good, Clean and Fair Food | reNourishment | Scoop.it
Slow Food is a non-profit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization that was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people‚ where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food...
Alice Ruxton Abler's insight:

In many parts of the world, women traditionally have an important role in providing food for the community and for their families. They cultivate the soil, look after the seeds of traditional plants, and safeguard recipes of the local cuisine. Yet the situation of women farmers is too often a story of a denial of the fundamental and inalienable right to feed themselves. 

We tend to forget that the future of many developing countries is in the hands of women. According to FAO, if women farmers had access to the same opportunities and resources as their male counterparts, their productivity would rise significantly and the food security of millions of people would be improved. Our job is to support them, put their demands for rights at the center of debates on development, campaigns and actions of political pressure from civil society.

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