Tag Archives: vegetables

Flowers in space?

Astronauts on the International Space Station have been trying to cultivate edible plants in microgravity for around two years.

After various unsuccessful attempts at growth, you’d think these astronauts would be weary after these failed growth cycles. However, their perseverance has proven to be worthwhile, because they now have their first ever zinnia flowers blooming in space.

Zinnia is a genus of plants of the sunflower tribe within the daisy family. They are cultivated for their vibrant flowers, but they are also edible.

 

Scott Kelly, U.S. astronaut, posted a picture of one of the zinnia flowers on Twitter.

 

According to a recent NASA blog, after mold started growing on some of the leaves because of high humidity, Kelly was able to bring the flowers back to life.

This isn’t the first time plants have sprouted in space, however. The International Space Station team brought their Veggie plant system to life halfway through the year 2014. The team have also grown red romaine lettuce.

The “Outredgeous” lettuce was grown aeroponically — in an air or mist environment without soil. Plants grown in these environments require much less water and fertilizer without a need for pesticide. These plants also are less prone to disease, and grow up to three times faster than plants grown in soil, NASA has stated.

NASA, in a blog post, wrote that this was the “first time a flowering crop experiment will be grown on the orbiting laboratory”.

Some have argued that a sunflower was actually the first flower to grow in space, although NASA has not yet commented.

Don Pettit, astronaut, grew a zucchini, sunflower and broccoli out of zip-lock bags on the International Space Station as a personal science experiment, documented in a NASA blog called “Diary of Space Zucchini”, in 2012.

Alexandra Whitmire from NASA’s Human Research Program said that NASA’s Veggie project could also provide crucial information for various other missions. For example, understanding watering schedules in microgravity, and knowing what to do if there is mold growth or other challenges in these extreme conditions on Mars.

“In future missions, the importance of plants will likely increase, given the crews’ limited connection to Earth,” Whitmire wrote in a NASA blog.

NASA hopes the veggie project will become a regular facility for International Space Station astronauts to grow fresh food in space.

 

When did junk food become healthy?

You’ve probably gone into the grocery store and seen all the health labels posted on prepackaged food. There’s yogurt that improves immunity and digestion, heart healthy cereal and even pomegranate juice that claims to do everything from lowering cholesterol to alleviating erectile dysfunction. Could we see a decline in health problems with all this apparently healthy food on the market? The problem is that most of these food labels are misleading or downright false. Continue reading When did junk food become healthy?

Eat your vegetables

Photo from Creative Commons.

People may choose to abstain from eating meat for a variety of reasons. But whether it be for a statement against animal cruelty, a religious choice or for the sake of health, the risks and benefits are the same. There is a misconception that vegetarians are nutrient deficient and unhealthy, but that isn’t always the case. By careful selection of the food they eat, vegetarianism can work well for many individuals.

Animal products tend to be rich in important nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, iron and B12. A deficiency in any of these can lead to serious health complications — particularly in children. Our bodies need certain nutrients for daily function, but these four are essential in producing strong, resistant and mentally alert individuals. Therefore, it’s important for vegetarians and especially vegans to make sure their diets are as diverse as possible. Supplements and multivitamins are also available to fill in any gaps in normal intake. But everyone, even traditional omnivores, need to be attuned to subtle changes in their health and be on the lookout for any deficiencies.

Vitamin B12 is important to keep in your diet. Photo from Creative Commons.

Despite the potential risks, there are a variety of benefits associated with meat-free or meat-limited diets. Many vegetarians take advantage of the prevalence of lean-protein foods. Eating legumes, nuts, seeds or eggs while adding a variety of vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products can provide ample amounts of nutrients and energy. Modern vegans can enjoy the growing availability of soy products on the shelves. Some individuals with these diets may find themselves with a smaller waistline, lower blood pressure and decreased cholesterol. Vegetarianism and veganism, when pursued correctly, can provide well-balanced, eco-friendly lifestyles for many people.

Like any big change, it may be best to start small. Go to the doctor and ask if a change could be right for you. See what other foods you like. If you’re too picky, becoming a vegan may not be your best option. Stay well hydrated and exercise. Don’t let other components of wellness slip up. Personal research is the best tool to making the right decision for yourself, however, changing your diet can improve your health and extend your life.

Grow fresh veggies, no backyard needed

Advertisers and numerous sources tell consumers to purchase fresh and locally grown food. There are farmer’s markets and specialty stores located throughout Virginia that serve this exact purpose. It’s considered to be a better value and supports the community. In an age where sustainability has moved from a serious idea to a point of action, it’s time to think outside-the-box. Consumers can take the idea of purchasing locally grown food a step further by growing their own plants, herbs, fruits and vegetables.

Grow herbs in your window. Photo by Creative Commons.

Many students live in apartments or residence halls, and don’t have a backyard and the tools to grow a garden. In today’s technological world, that’s no longer a problem. Growing produce in a small space inside has become a fairly simple task. Farmer’s markets sell packets of a variety of seeds for those who want to stick with the local theme. Seeds and window kits are also available at stores like Lowes and Wal-Mart. The difficulty depends on the plant.

Brittni Hammond, a senior at Radford University majoring in Interior Design, feels that growing fresh herbs is the easiest feat to accomplish.

“Even if you don’t use them for cooking, the smell that fills your room will be worth your efforts,” Hammond said.

Lavender and rosemary are examples of herbs to try. Hammond has grown flowers, herbs, green peppers, cherry tomatoes and strawberries inside her dorm room and townhouse. Her best advice is to follow the directions on the packet.

“The seeds are not difficult to grow, but you have to be willing to keep up with it. It is definitely possible to do,” Hammond said.

She also doesn’t think it’s time consuming because she just has to prune and water the plants on a regular basis. She compared it to a chore like taking out the trash.

To start an inside garden, it’s best to begin with something simple like an inside plant or fresh herbs and work up to something more challenging like peppers or strawberries. With winter on its way, plants need enough sunlight and plenty of water. Most produce also has a peak season in which they normally grow. Information about growing indoor plants is available in books, magazines or online. Some plants need bigger pots, so look into what particular plants will prefer. Cheaper decorative pots can be purchased at discount stores such as Ross and T.J. Maxx. The soil and seeds can also be purchased for a low price and are easy to find.