Category Archives: health

health

A Brief History of GMOs

GMO history

Most of you probably think genetic engineering is a byproduct of the modern era, as an attempt for mankind to conquer nature. On the contrary, they have been around for thousands of years. However, it is not until recently that GMOs have proliferated and became an integral part of modern agriculture. 

Recent History and Proliferation

corn fieldSince the discovery of the DNA, scientists have conducted extensive studies and attempts at genetic modifications of living organism. The first patent was issued to General Electric some 35 years ago in 1980 for a modified bacterium that transformed spill cleanup efforts by gobbling up crude oil. Pretty neat stuff right? A couple years later, Genentech successfully produced human insulin by inserting human genome into E.Coli. It was considered a monumental breakthrough at the time.

Tomatoes were the first crops to be tested commercially. In 1994, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the first ever grown genetically modified crop to the market: Calgene’s Flavr Savr tomatoes. Designed to ripen slower and remain firm for longer periods than it’s competition, it became an overnight sensation. By 1995, a staggering 67% of cheese produced in the U.S. was being made from cows treated with some form of growth hormones.

Experts say that 60-70% of all produce in your local grocery store contains some form of genetic modification. “In 2014, GMO crops made up 94 percent of US soybean acreage, 93 percent of all corn planted, and 96 percent of all cotton.” The FDA stands firm on its decision allowing GMO products to remain unlabeled while the European Union imposed a complete ban for such products.

Now What?

vegetablesFor the average consumer, there are few resources that provide unbiased opinions on the subject matter. Long-term effects of GMOs are still unknown to the human body. With little to no regulation, it is nearly impossible for consumers to differentiate natural and modified products. For those who have space, a growing number of people opted to grow and harvest their own food as a method of monitoring exactly what goes into their body. Luckily, there is now a market for indoor gardens, like Droponic, that allows anyone to grow their own indoor garden and be confident about what they’re consuming.

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Herb Spotlight: Mint

 Mint is an herb that has been used for hundreds of years because of its remarkable medicinal properties. In modern times, science has discovered that mint has one of the highest antioxidant capacities of any food, but this herb is still most well-known through its applications as a mouth and breath freshener. We look deeper to find that mint has far more to offer than meets the eye.Mint-leaves-2007Health Benefits

Originally used as a medicinal herb to treat stomach aches, we now know that mint is an extremely versatile and antioxidant-packed herb when it comes to its health benefits. Along with its ability to sooth cases of indigestion or inflammation, the refreshing aroma of mint is a quick and effective remedy for nausea. As a natural stimulant, the strong smell from mint has the ability to encourage increase in brain function. Moreover, research has shown that extracts from mint leaves function as natural anti-histamines when seasonal allergies and hay fever come into play. There are a myriad of other health benefits to using mint and more can be found here.

Growing and Cultivation

Mint is an herb that makes few demands and can tolerate a wide range of conditions. This perennial herb thrives in partial shade, but can also be grown in full sun. As a fast-growing herb that only requires a small space to grow, even only one plant will provide more than enough mint for home use. According to Medical News Today,

When preparing mint, use a sharp knife and cut gently. Using a dull knife or over-chopping will bruise the herb and much of the flavor will be misplaced onto the cutting board surface.

Although mint can be frozen in batches for use at a later time, fresh mint is usually preferred over dried mint for the highest nutrient factor and the freshest taste.

Let’s Eat More Mint

mintAdding mint is a great way to add flavor to a dish or beverage without adding extra calories, fat or sodium. Mint leaves are tender and have gentle stems, so it is best to add them raw or near the end of cooking in order to maintain their delicate flavor and texture.

Chop fresh mint leaves and scatter them over a tossed green or grilled chicken salad. Incorporate mint into a fresh fruit salsa with chopped apples, pear, lemon or lime juice, jalapeno and honey. In these mixtures, the mint leaves will add trace amounts of nutrients as well as a bold flavor. Add chopped or muddled mint leaves to brewed iced tea or lemonade for a refreshing treat.

Check out our Facebook page for more ways to incorporate mint into your diet!

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GMOs: Are They Really Good For Us?

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, seems so be all the rage these days. But what exactly are they? Are they bad or good for our health? As we dig deeper into this topic, it turns out that everything is not as black and white as we perceive. GMO

What are they?

GMOs are living organisms whose genetic material has been modified through various means of genetic engineering. Genes are artificially manipulated and selected to ensure that only specific and desirable traits are carried on. Currently, there are no federal laws in the US that require food manufacturers to label GM foods.

The Good News

GMO2Even with all the bad press, there are beneficial side effects to growing GM foods. These foods are usually modified to be resistant against weeds and pests so reduces the need for herbicides and pesticides. This means that there are less chemicals and non-natural substances that are being consumed by eating GM foods. The modifications usually associated with GM foods often calls for higher yields and therefore increases food production. GM foods require less tillage and plowing, thus reducing carbon emissions and greenhouse gases. There are multiple cases where GM foods can produce more food in less space, and can therefore more adequately feed a rapidly growing population. The modified foods can also have an increase in desirable components such as nutrients.

Not So Good News

Although GMOs are manipulated to only produce desirable traits, its effect on the human body is still largely unknown, controversial, and debated. GMOs are created with the mindset of increasing food production and profit margins. Compared to its natural counterparts, GMOs usually grow exponentially faster and requires less maintenance. However, it is neagmo-veggiesrly impossible for the average consumer to choose whether a product contains GMO as there are no laws requiring such labels on foods in the US. Whatever your feelings towards GMOs are, the only sure fire way to know is to grow your own food. With Droponic, starting and maintaining your very own indoor garden is a breeze. Be in charge of your food today!

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What is a healthy meal?

In 2011 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) updated the food pyramid and introduced what is dubbed MyPlate. MyPlate is a plate-like food circle that divides the different food groups by the amount of each that is recommended to be on your plate for each meal. This is an intuitive stepping stone from the food pyramid diagram introduced in 1992 since it visually illustrates the amount of each food that should occupy a plate during each meal.

choosemyplate

MyPlate is the most current nutrition guide from the USDA and divides the plate into four sections of approximately 30% grains, 40% vegetables, 10% fruits, and 20% protein. These approximations are accompanied by additional recommendations when thinking about holistic, well-crafted, and healthy meals. These recommendations aim to provide a broader understanding of health and nutrition and include statements such as “switch to 1% or skim milk” and “vary your protein food choices”. When MyPlate was unveiled in 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama remarked:

“Parents don’t have the time to measure out exactly three ounces of chicken or to look up how much rice or broccoli is in a serving. … But we do have time to take a look at our kids’ plates. … And as long as they’re eating proper portions, as long as half of their meal is fruits and vegetables alongside their lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, then we’re good. It’s as simple as that.”

Be sure to consult MyPlate to eat healthy meals today and everyday! Everyone can find more information about MyPlate on the USDA website

Learn how to fill your plate with greens grown from Droponic today.

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Herb Spotlight: Basil

basil-leafBasil, often referred to as the “King of Herbs” is known for its strong, pungent, and sweet-smelling aromatic fragrance. Native to India, it has been cultivated some 5,000 years ago. Traditionally used in Southeastern Asian cuisine, basil is also prominently featured in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

 

 

Health Benefits

The health benefits of basil is numerous. Rich in antioxidants, it also contains one of the highest concentration of Vitamin K, as well as copious amounts of Vitamin A and C. In addition, basil is an anti-inflammatory and swelling agent. Studies have found that  “extracts of O. tenuiflorm (Holy basil) were shown to reduce swelling by up to 73%, 24 hours after treatment”. Other health benefits of this amazing plant include anti-aging properties, stress reducer, and anti-anxiety reliever. The list goes on.

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Growing and Cultivation

Basil is an herb that makes few demands. It does best in warmer climates, but can be grown almost anywhere indoors. Provide the plant 6-8 hours of sun, and keep the soil from drying out (easily prevented if growing in a hydroponic system).

Harvest basil by pinching leaves off the main stem when it reaches a height of 6 inches or more. Beware not to damage the main stem as it will not grow back.

Although you can dry the herb, we recommend freezing basil to preserve the herb’s nutrients and flavor. Of course, the best option is to harvest basil 5-10 minutes before cooking time. Just a pinch of freshly picked basil is guaranteed to spice up your favorite dishes!

Check out the main Droponic website to grow your own basil today!

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