Are we safe eating non-gmo foods is an ongoing question.   This is a very well written article by cardiologist, Dr. Joel Kahn.    The science at the present time is simply not readily apparent as to the safety of the produce we eat from gmo plants.   Dr. Kahn lays out his logic and why he chose to not eat GMO plants and produce himself.  

   This past year's Herbfest brought out the first noticeable group of herbanites that specifically requested informaton on whether our plants were genetically modified or not ( they are not ).   Prior to 2013 the mantra we heard the most was whether the herb plants were raised from organic stock and if the plants were grown organically ( they are ).   As we wait for the science to come to a conclusion on safety or not safe you may enjoy the logic of Dr. Kahn.

I was asked this week to speak about the effects of genetically modified foods on the cardiovascular system for a group of health care providers and the public. Was I shocked to learn that eating GMO foods can increase the rate of heart attacks, strokes, and bypass surgeries in multiple medical studies in humans?  
No ... because these studies don't exist.  
In fact, I couldn’t present a clear scientific argument linking foods with GMO to the development of heart disorders. I'm not an alarmist and I believe in the scientific process. However, on a personal level, I've instituted tighter rules in my home about food purchases. The more I learned about GMOs, the more I decided to just say no. 
As it says in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, "Avert the danger that has not yet come." Here's what I learned about GMO foods that moved me to this decision: 
1. GMO foods have less nutrition. 
Just this year, we learned that there is a striking difference in the nutritional content of corn produced with GMO compared to corn produced without GMO. Foods grown with GMO can have half as much sulfur and potassium and significantly less magnesium than non-GMO versions. (Why? Because the inserted genetic material is only on, not off at times, the demand for cell energy may rise and deplete the cells of nutrients.) 
As a cardiologist, I know how essential nutrients such as potassium and magnesium are in controlling blood pressure and arterial health. Sulfur is important in the production of glutathione, the major cellular antioxidant counteracting the stress of using oxygen for energy production. What does it mean to my family to feed them nutritionally deficient vegetables and food items? Again, I am concerned.
2. Rats who were fed GMO diets died sooner than rats who were GMO free. 
In the first-ever GMO feeding study, European researchers fed rats either chow made with 11% GMO products or GMO-free chow for two years. By the 17th month of life, rats fed the GMO chow were 5 to 6 times more likely to have died. Of those rats who'd been fed GMO feed, the females grew giant tumors in their reproductive organs, while the males grew tumors in the liver. Liver and kidney abnormalities were seen frequently in the GMO fed rats. I know we do not have human data, but I'm concerned what this data could mean for my wife and children.
3. GMO foods contain viruses that we don't yet fully understand.  
In order to create GMO foods, new genetic material is inserted into the cell nucleus, often with a virus that "turns on" the new genetic material. One problem is that there is no material that can turn it off and these cells will be working to replicate themselves non-stop. We all have a variety of "natural" viruses in our body and the concern is whether or not the altered viruses inserted into GMO food could infect viruses already inside us and cause them to grow abnormally. Sounds like a science fiction movie.  
Another component of the new material is another gene that makes the GMO plant cells resistant to an antibiotic.  This process is used in over half of the methods of creating foods that contain GMO, and I am alarmed about the possible impact of new viruses on the health of my family. I am concerned whether new diseases from these "super" viruses never before seen in our body could result in new diseases and cancer. 

4. Mice who were fed GMO foods developed damaged red blood cells. 
Brazil is the second largest producer of crops modified with GMO. In March of this year, Brazilian researchers studied the effects of Bt, a microbial control agent used widely on plants with GMO that resist Bt. Among the mice fed the GMO-laced chow, the scientists observed hematoxicity, (blood cell damage), with significant injury particularly to red blood cells. (It's possible, but not yet clear whether or not this could contribute to anemia in animals and humans.) These researchers called for more studies on the effects of GMO altered foods on “non-target” mammals, which would be you and me. 
5. Eating GMO foods led to sterility in rats. 
In 2006,  Russian researchers fed rats chow with added soybeans using GMO or regular chow and looked at fertility. Guess what? Of the rats were fed GMO, fewer reproduced, and those who did had offspring with smaller birth weight. By the third generation Fewer rats were born at a smaller birth weight to the rats fed the altered soybeans and by the third generation of rats the animals were sterile.  The effects of food produced with GMO on sex hormones is an area I am concerned about for my family.
What will we do?
What can you do? 
There is a Chinese phrase that “Pure water has no fish.” It will be very hard to have a completely GMO-free lifestyle. The checklist in my home to make it into the kitchen is already complex (Is it kosher? Vegan? Nut-free? Gluten-free? Non-GMO?), and we will do our best.  
We will read the Environmental Working Group for updates and opt for organic when buying anything from the "Dirty Dozen" produce list. We follow the Non-GMO Project and support movements for mandatory labeling.  I have begun to use an app on my smart phone that assists in shopping GMO-free. 
The rising awareness and concern over this topic has forced Monsanto and other major producers of GMO produce to hire new marketing consultants. (Turns out, being referred to as "Satan" is not good for their brand.) In my home town, we just had a major maker of tortilla chips announce sourcing of corn and cottonseed oil from non-GMO producers, and other manufacturers will follow suit. 
I invite you to get involved in this important area of food safety as we have the power to be heard and improve the acceptability of our food supply.

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Slugs are "electrified" when placed on copper destroying them plus more organically healthy tips to keep slugs off your hostas, lettuces and out of your garden. 

How to Prevent Slugs in the Garden


      If you’ve got lettuce or hostas planted in your soil, you’ve probably got slugs. Their diet isn’t just those two things; they’ll get into everything that’s worth eating in your garden. These little trouble-makers begin to pop-up once the temperature rises about 40-degrees Fahrenheit. They love damp garden spaces. And when they lay eggs, it’s in the range of about 100.

  How can you keep the slugs at bay?  

  1. If you’ve got lettuce or hostas you’ve probably got slugs. They begin to pop-up once the temperature rises about 40-degrees Fahrenheit.

    • Hair - It doesn’t matter if it’s human or dog. What matters is that it causes the slugs to hang themselves on the delicate strands. When the hair breaks-down, it provides the soil with extra nitrogen.


    • Coffee - Caffeine makes slugs nervous. Take your used grounds and surround those plants that are being attacked.


    • Beer - Don’t use stale beer. Give them a drink of the good, cheap stuff. Line-up a bunch of disposable tubs near where the slugs are. Wait until twilight, then top them off with brew.


    • Epson Salts - This is not just plant food for roses, if you broadcast some around the soil of your garden it will chase away the slugs. It also will solve any Magnesium issues with your plants.


    • Iron phosphate - Iron wreaks havoc on the digestive tract of a slug. Sprinkling these pellets gives your soil an iron boost and wipes out the slimy creatures.


    • Vinegar - You don’t want to spray this on plants like salvia because it is a herbicide, but spritzing some plain white vinegar around your garden will actually dissolve any mollusks.


    • Rove beetles - They may look nasty, but they won’t chew up your plants. They do feast on slug eggs and slugs.

    • Lightning bugs - Glowworms have an appetite for slugs. Adult lightning bugs create glowworms. Make mom and pop happy by giving a small portion of your garden a damp, weedy place and don’t turn on the lights in your yard at night.

    • Boards - Between your garden beds, place some old planks. Slugs hate the sun, so they’ll slither underneath the wood. First thing in the morning, armed with a disposable aluminum tray, simply scrape them off and into the tray.


    • Toads - If you take this solution, stay away from using pesticides as you don’t want to kill the toads. You’ll want to create a little toad-haven near your garden, though. They’ll need a shady, damp area and a small pool of water to survive during the day. But then at night, these small hoppers love to dine on slugs.


    • Citrus - Use the rinds of things like oranges, lemons and grapefruit to make slug traps. Slice a little hole in the side of the skin so the slugs can get inside, then turn the rind upside-down. They love citrus and will tend to leave your plants alone. Check the progress and when you have captured enough of the beasts, toss the whole deal into your compost heap.


    • Copper - When a slug encounters a penny, it actually gets a jolt of electricity. Go to your local gardening shop and purchase some copper plant guards. Want to amaze the kids? Catch a couple of live slugs and stick one on a penny. Zzzzzzt!


Sunchoke Plants In Full Bloom

This came from

Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)

   Sunchokes, of the sunflower family, are native to North America where the natives called them "sun roots" before European settlers arrived. Samuel Champlain, a French explorer found them in Cape Cod in 1605 and pronounced them similar in taste to artichokes. But why "Jerusalem artichokes"? They don't come from Jerusalem nor do they look like artichokes. There are a few theories: when first discovered people started calling them "girasole" (or flower that turns looking for the sun) which eventually became "Jerusalem". Another possibility is that as sunchokes became the staple food of the first European pilgrims in North American soil they named it as food for the "new Jerusalem".

   Around the 1960's they were renamed "sunchokes" by someone in the produce marketing department who took the separation of church and steak too seriously. Sunchokes can grow up to 10ft, and if left to their own devises will live forever in the same spot, but quality of tubers will deteriorate if not frequently divided and replanted in fertile soil. They grow best in the sunniest spot, just like their cousins the sunflowers, with an optimum temperature of 65-80- F and 125 frost-free days. But the tubers will be at their prime when harvested after the first or second frost.

And speaking of the tubers, these look like small, knobbly potatoes but crunchier, sweeter and do have a slight taste of artichoke. They practically contain no starch, but plenty of inulin (not insulin), which becomes fructose when spuds are stored in the ground or refrigerated. The humble sunchoke is considered gourmet fare by many. Raw, it's an excellent substitute for water chestnuts in hot and spicy stir fries, or cooked in cream soups, broiled with sweet potatoes, or simply scrubbed and baked.


Why Would One Pinch An Herb?

Q: When I am told to pinch back an herb, exactly what does this mean? How many inches of stem should I take as I pinch? Do I pinch off all the tips, or just one or two?

A: When you pinch back herbs, you are orchestrating two fundamental forces of plant life: the need to reproduce and the need to stay alive long enough to reproduce.

Herbs, like other plants, want nothing more than to reproduce. Most herbs want to make flowers and seeds, so they channel their energy toward stems that will grow fast and bloom quickly. With annual herbs such as basil and marjoram, bud production begins within weeks after plants are set out in the garden. Perennial herbs prepare to bloom in spring soon after days become long and warm.

Whether annual or perennial, herbs’ fast-growing tips send chemical signals down the stem telling secondary buds not to grow. In nature, sprinting to maturity is smart. What we see is a lean, upright plant with few lateral branches. It is totally intent on blooming.

Not what we had in mind! We decide that a bushier plant would be better, plus we want fresh herbs to use for making dinner. We pinch off a few growing tips, taking enough to flavor up the dish we want to make, and in the process we remove the chemical factories that have been inhibiting the growth of the little leaf buds farther down the stems. Within days, new stems pop out just below where we pinched, each one determined to produce flowers as quickly as it can.

It seems like the plant expected this to happen, which is probably true. Deer and other animals often browse on growing tips, and tender stem tips are a favorite site for aphids and other insects. Whether the growing tips are removed by deer, grasshoppers or gardeners, herbs respond to decapitation by growing into bigger, stronger plants that produce many more flowers and seeds than they would had they been left intact. For plants, our pinching is more a blessing than a tragedy.

There is no precise measurement for how long a pinched off stem tip should be. If the plant is badly in need of bulking up, I might take a few longish tips, say 4 inches long, as well as some smaller 2-inch tips. When pinching, following the plants’ natural shapes is always a wise strategy as opposed to giving them flat-tops. If a plant is holding blossoms, be sure to pinch off every last one. This will eliminate possible hormonal confusion as to where the plant stands on its reproductive mission.

Pinching is a kind thing to do to plants. Most basils are vastly improved by pinching early and often, and the same goes for scented geraniums. Thyme, mints and oreganos can be pinched more casually, by gathering stem tips as you need them in the kitchen. With rosemary and other slow-growing semi-woody herbs, pinch out stems here and there to sculpt plants.

If you plan to dry herbs, save your pinching and do it in waves, so you harvest handfuls of thyme, marjoram, oregano, or whatever in one fell swoop. This makes the drying process easy to manage, whether you dry the herbs in bunches hung in a warm, airy room, lay them out on screens or dry them in a slow oven. Depending on your climate, these herbs may produce two or more good cuttings in the course of a season. Herbs handled this way are not as pretty as those tended by hand, in pinches, but they are very productive.

Often times you literally can pinch herbs with your fingers, but this time of year I slip a small pair of scissors into my back pocket whenever I visit my herbs. Snipping off stem tips makes clean cuts, which are less traumatic to stems than twisting and pulling.

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Original publication in the Herb Companion by By Barbara Pleasant June/July 2004

  Janice Cox, of the Herb Companion, wrote an interesting article on the ancient use of herbs in the Mediterranean region for spa treatments to increase vitality, improve health and make one's skin more beautiful.   

    There is a group of herbs that are generally referred to as the "Mediterranean Herbs" which have shown over time multiple uses for living.   Many people forget that historically herbs are defined as "beneficial weeds" and it is not a plant that is discovered that matters but more one finds beneficial uses of plants for cooking, health, cosmetics, crafting that brings the plant into the world of herbs.   Most cultures have developed a method of using live plants for living.   Generally the Mediterranean herbs are bay, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, parsley and basil. 

   Below are some excerpts from Janice's article about how certain Mediterranean herbs have been used historically.