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Gardening Provides a Bounty of Benefits to Prisons and Public Schools

Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful!’ and sitting in the shade. 
Rudyard Kipling 

The act of planting a garden – working the soil, tending to the plants and reaping the bounty is a time-honored tradition that has slowly morphed from necessity to hobby. Over the last 100 years, America’s industrialization and urban expansion have eliminated the need for gardens in most households. Unfortunately, some apartment dwellers are packed so close together that growing basil in a pot on the windowsill is the closest they’ll get to a harvest.

Today we’re highlighting two programs that teach gardening skills in the United States. Though the “participants” are very different, they all receive benefits that go far beyond the eventual food a garden yields.

 

Prison gardens

Prison Garden

Last week, the National Public Radio (npr) website ran a story about several minimum security prisons that have developed their own vegetable gardens thanks in part to the Insight Garden Program. Inmates who qualify for the program are allowed to work outside where they tend to a small area of raised beds that grow everything from tomatoes to lettuce. Beth Waitkus, Director of the Insight Garden Program said she created this endeavour after the tragedies of 9/11 to, “restore her faith in humanity.”


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The Dark Side of Juicing: Why Too Much Juice Can Get in the Way of Your Health

I’ll be the first to admit that a glass or bottle of fresh juice is a delicious treat. I’ve been known to order a green juice after yoga class or a beetroot juice before bootcamp. In fact I’ve even followed 1-day juice fasts with both Blueprint Cleanse and Cooler Cleanse.

But I’ve long wondered just how healthy the juicing cleanse trend was. After all, once you strain away the healthy fiber of fruits and veggies you’re left with a lot of nutrients (pro) and also a lot of sugars (con). People claim to feel lighter and “detoxed” after drinking these fresh blends, but regular juicing never sat right with me. After all, nutritionists regularly steer clients away from juice because of its high concentration of sugars and calories, recommending whole foods like salads and pieces of fruit instead. Why would a diet of just juice be good when a glass of juice is often considered bad?

juices

When I read a recent Opinion piece in the New York Times, about how Jennifer Berman’s health habits—including juicing—were having the opposite affect, I wasn’t all that surprised.


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7 Holiday Cooking Staples That Just Might Kill You

Oh, the holidays. A time for fun, family and potential cyanide poisoning. I know that last one isn’t a common item on people’s list of things to think about when preparing for Christmas, but maybe it should. Many of the foods that are commonly used in holiday dishes are surprisingly dangerous.

christmas dinner

We’ve listed the seven most serious offenders so you can be on the lookout at your Christmas dinner.

Cherries
With his nose like a cherry, Santa sounds like he’s as much of a fan of the ruby fruit as we are. We’ll put cherries in pretty much anything, including the summer mainstay cherry limeades. Learning the cherries can also be harmful is the pits. Literally, the pits. Cherry pits are full of cyanide, but thankfully it can only cause harm if you manage to chew through them.

Almonds
I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things about fall and winter is breaking out the nutcracker and mixed nuts, especially almonds. Something about the flavor instantly makes me think of the holidays. That flavor comes from sweet almonds which, unlike their wild cousins, don’t contain cyanide.
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WiFi is a Plant Killer. Should We Quit Nuking Our Veggies?

A Danish high school science experiment is gaining recognition again after going viral earlier this month. Though first reported in May, the experiment has garnered worldwide popularity as a warning against our tech-filled lives. According to the experiment, WiFi could be killing plants. In case you missed it — fruits and vegetables are plants.

plant and wifi experiment

A group of 9th-graders from the Hjallerup Skole in Denmark noticed after sleeping with their cell phones near their heads they had trouble concentrating the next day. Though they didn’t have the resources to test their cell phone theory, they tried to do the next best thing.

Taking garden cress seeds and placing them on wet paper towels, the girls set one plate next to a WiFi router that emitted about the same microwave radiation as mobile phones, and the other in a separate room away from routers. They controlled all other variables — water, sunlight and room temperature — to the best of their abilities to keep the experiment consistent.

When the seeds were checked in 12 days, the seeds from the room without routers had thrived, while the seeds next to routers were brown and shriveled.
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Carnivorous Humans Poised to Shake Up the Food Chain

Traditionally omnivores, humans are shifting towards a more carnivorous lifestyle. This change is especially apparent in countries like India and China where the rapidly changing economies are causing citizens to eat more meat.

meat head

A new study on global food consumption published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looks in detail at what people are eating. It also studied trends for individual countries. The ones that are eating more meat are doing so in such amounts that they effectively “cancel out” any decrease in meat-eating in other countries.


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