Categories
Local Foodies' Corner

16 Charitable Things To Do In Nowra This Christmas Holiday

It is the season of giving, a time to spread kindness and joy throughout your community. If you’re looking for ways to make a difference this Christmas, consider incorporating charitable activities into your holiday plans. We have compiled a list of ideas that inspire you to share love and generosity this holiday season.

  1. Adopt a Family for a Festive Meal: Get in touch with local charities or community centres in Nowra and offer to adopt a family in need. You can also go the extra mile and provide ingredients and recipes for a festive meal. This personal touch adds warmth and joy to their holiday celebration.
Additional information: Click To View A List of Local Charities In Nowra

Did we omit a local charity you know in Nowra? Add their names in the comment section for us to update this list.

  1. Make a Pay-it-Forward Donation: Consider paying for someone else’s groceries in advance. Some organisations and non-profits in Nowra facilitate pay-it-forward grocery purchases, which can be a great way to get involved with a charity to make a meaningful difference and create a ripple of positivity and kindness in the community.
  1. Send Cards to Seniors: Many seniors may spend the holidays alone. Brighten their days by creating and sending handmade or heartfelt cards. Reach out to local nursing homes or senior centres to distribute the cards.
  1. Bake and Share: Baking and sharing homemade cookies, cakes, or other treats is a great way to show appreciation to friends, neighbours, first responders, or your local service providers.
  1. Forgive someone or Mend Relationship: Forgiveness is a powerful act of kindness that can heal wounds, mend relationships, and bring peace to your heart. This Christmas, consider forgiving someone who has offended you as one of the most charitable things you can do. Letting go of anger and resentment can be challenging, but by forgiving someone who has wronged you, you give them the gift of a second chance and free yourself from negative emotions.
  1. Create Care Packages: Assemble care packages with essential items and festive treats. Distribute them to individuals experiencing homelessness or families facing financial challenges.
  1. Volunteer Virtually: Explore virtual volunteering opportunities. From online tutoring to virtual companionship for seniors, there are various ways to make a difference from the comfort of your home.
  1. Support Local Businesses: Support local food businesses by shopping and referring people to them. This not only supports local entrepreneurs but creates opportunities for a better-knit community.
Here is a list of local food businesses in Nowra that offer online shopping for home delivery.
  • Contadino Olive farm– seasonal fruits, vegetables, Olives, Olive oil and more.
  • Tea Journeys– They produce and package a wide variety of premium assorted teas. They also supply dairy milk alternatives.
  • Bomo Bulk– Talk about fresh and dried organic food products. It’s Bomo Bulk.
  • Staples – Locally sourced fruits, vegetables, and African food ingredients in Nowra.
  • Beresfords Quality Meat– Award-winning traditional sausages, artisanal meat cuts, and more.
  • A Touch of Charm– Free-range eggs and beautiful flowers.
  • Teresa’s Trattoria– Italian meals
  • Yo Mama’s Kitchen– Varieties of home-made jams, scones, and home-cooked meals for families
  • Two Brown Men– Indian meals for families
  • Other businesses-
  1.  Animal Shelter Assistance: Get in touch with local animal shelters to find out how you can help. They may need monetary donations, pet supplies or volunteers to assist with the animals.
  1. Group Decoration: Select a group of friends and take turns creating Christmas decorations for each other’s homes on a scheduled date. This activity can provide an opportunity to bond and unleash your creative side. 
  1. Share the Love: A small act of kindness can make a big difference in someone’s life. Offer to run errands for a neighbour, call to check on a family member or friend you’ve seen in a long time or spend time chatting with those who would love to have some company.
  1. Be a Secret Santa: Surprise someone becoming a Secret Santa. You can anonymously gift something special to a neighbour, coworker, or someone from a local charity.
  1. Virtual Caroling for a Cause: Organise a virtual carolling session with friends, family or community members to spread holiday cheer and create good memories.
  1. Express Gratitude: Take a moment to appreciate the people who have positively impacted your life. Write letters or send messages of gratitude to friends, family, colleagues, and community members.
  1. Create Food Gift Baskets: You can put together a collection of locally sourced goodies, homemade treats, and pantry staples. Afterwards, you can deliver these thoughtful baskets to elderly neighbours or families. It’s a gesture that brings both sustenance and holiday spirit.
  2. Organise a Food Drive with a Twist: Host a food drive in your area and add a creative twist. Encourage participants to donate ingredients for a specific holiday recipe. Collect the items, assemble recipe cards, and distribute complete meal kits to families in need or your favourite local charity. It’s a delightful way to share the joy of cooking during the festive season

Remember, every small act of kindness counts and can create a brighter, more compassionate community. May you have a joyful and meaningful holiday season!”

Categories
Food & Well being Local Foodies' Corner Recipes

No Time to Cook? Try This Microwave Sweet Tuna Curry Recipe!

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

In today’s fast-paced world, where everyone is always in a hurry, cooking can often feel like a daunting task, especially after a long day at work. However, just because you are pressed for time, it does not mean that you must settle for bland, uninspiring meals. Instead, you can whip up a delicious and nutritious meal in no time using simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.

We love this Tuna curry because it is simple, healthy and delicious. Made with pantry staples like tinned tuna and pineapple, it is perfect for nights when you’ve had a long day and haven’t prepared anything for the family.

Microwave Sweet Tuna Curry

Ingredients:

  •         30g butter
  •           2 medium-sized onions peeled and sliced.
  •           1 packet of Dutch curry and rice soup
  •           1 ¾ cups milk
  •           1 can (450g) pineapple pieces, drained
  •         1 can (425g) tuna, drained and flaked.
  •           Cooked rice or pappadums for serving.

Method

  1. Add the sliced onions and microwave on medium-high for 1 minute.
  2.  Stir in the Dutch curry and rice soup mix and milk. Microwave on medium-high for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the drained pineapple pieces and flaked tuna—microwave on medium-high for an additional 5 minutes.
  4.  Allow the curry to stand for 2 minutes before serving with rice or pappadams.

Is tuna or pineapple missing in your pantry at the moment? it doesn’t matter. Substitute with other ingredients you have in the pantry like tinned salmon, vegetables or other pantry items that work and come out with another quick and delicious meal. You can adjust the amount of curry powder and milk to make it spicy or creamy. Also, you can add other ingredients like herbs to give it a different flavour profile.

Cooking at home can help you avoid the high prices and unhealthy ingredients often found in fast food and takeout meals. 

Do you have a go-to family favourite meal? Let us know in the comments.

Categories
Family fun games Local Foodies' Corner

16 Food Activities Families Can Do in Nowra on a Rainy Day.

Isn’t it lovely to be out with our kids on the beach, in the park or somewhere fun on a nice sunny day? I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for new, family fun activities to do with my kids when it’s raining here in Nowra. Something different, something fun that will both entertain and teach them new skills. A Rainy or windy day can provide the perfect opportunity for indoor food adventures filled with creativity, laughter and joy.

On a rainy day, you and your family can engage in any of these 16 enjoyable food-based activities.

  1. Homemade Pizza Challenge
  2. Build Your Own Tacos
  3. Local online shopping
  4. Baking Cookies
  5. DIY Ice Cream Sundaes
  6. Cupcake Decorating
  7. Pasta Making
  8. Smoothie Creations
  9. Fruit Fondue
  10. Fruit punch Mixing
  11. International Food Adventure
  12. Homemade Pretzels
  13. Chocolate-Making Workshop:
  14. Indoor Picnic:
  15. Recipe Swap Challenge
  16. Food Art
  1. Homemade Pizza Challenge

Set up a pizza-making station with pre-made dough, a variety of sauces, cheeses, olives,  toppings and more. Let each family member create their personalised pizzas. Which family member has made the funniest-looking or tastiest pizza?

2. Build Your Own Tacos

I don’t know about your kids, but mine love it when they get to make their own. Lay out various taco fillings like seasoned meats, beans, cheeses, veggies, and sauces for everyone to make theirs.

3. Local online shopping

You can explore Nowra’s local online food market and shop for artisanal food products or ingredients with small businesses who are passionate about the quality of their product.

  1. DIY Ice Cream Sundaes

Create an ice cream sundae bar with various flavours, toppings, sauces, and whipped cream. Let everyone build their dream sundaes. For the little ones, have the ice cream already in bowls and let them add toppings.

5. Cupcake Decorating

Bake a batch of cupcakes and have a decorating contest with colourful frosting, sprinkles, edible glitter, and other fun toppings.

6. Pasta Making

If you have a pasta maker, try making fresh pasta together. Alternatively, create your pasta shapes using cookie cutters and have a pasta-cooking and sauce-making competition.

7. Smoothie Creations

If you have a variety of fruit at home, let each person choose their combination. Blend up each person’s choice. Compare flavours by holding a blind taste test. Make it fun and have a good laugh together.

  1. Fruit Fondue

Prepare a variety of fruits and melt chocolate or caramel for dipping. Enjoy a fondue-style dessert as you dip and enjoy the sweet treats. (Just make sure your toppings aren’t too warm!)

  1. Fruit Punch Mixes

Create fruit punch using different fruit juices, sodas, and garnishes. Have a taste-testing competition to see who can create the best concoction. Using fruit and herbs frozen in ice cubes can add an extra special touch.

10. International Food Adventure

Choose a country or culture and explore its cuisine. Cook dishes together that represent that culture, learn about its food traditions, and watch a movie set in that country. For example, Ratatouille – France.

11. Homemade Pretzels

Make soft pretzels from scratch and experiment with different toppings like cheese, cinnamon sugar, and various dips.

12. Chocolate-Making Workshop

Melt chocolate and pour it into moulds to create your own homemade chocolates. You can add nuts, dried fruits, or other flavourings.

13. Indoor Picnic 

Spread out a blanket on the living room floor and prepare a picnic-style spread with sandwiches, snacks, and finger foods.

14. Recipe Swap Challenge

Have each family member find a recipe online or from a cookbook, then take turns making each other’s chosen recipes.

  1. Food Art 

Use various ingredients to create edible art. Think fruit kebab sculptures, vegetable animals, or even arranging snacks to create a larger image. There are some great ideas online!

16. Baking Biscuits 

Whip up a batch of biscuit dough and have a baking competition to see who can create the most creative and delicious cookies. If your kids are too young to bake, you can let them explore their creativity by working out age-appropriate things for them to do with the cookies.

Hey, at the end of the day, it is about having fun together. Let us know in the comments below if you have some great ideas we haven’t thought of.

Categories
Food & Well being Local Foodies' Corner Uncategorized

Winter Warmers: How to Stay Healthy While Enjoying Your Favourite Comfort Foods

As the chilly weather sets in, there’s nothing like indulging in comforting foods that warm the body and soul. Grab a coffee or tea, and let’s explore the science behind comfort foods and easy tips for staying healthy in winter.

The Science Behind Comfort Food

Have you ever wondered why certain foods can uplift our spirits and make us feel better? It turns out there’s a scientific explanation behind it.

Comfort foods, often associated with nostalgic and sentimental value, can trigger the release of feel-good chemicals in our brains. They provide a sense of familiarity, security and emotional satisfaction. It may be a special soup or casserole your mum made whenever you were feeling under the weather as a child or a grandparent’s home cooking.

comfort food

Indulging in comfort foods doesn’t have to mean compromising your health. With a few mindful choices and creative tweaks, you can enjoy your favourite comfort foods while nourishing your body through the cooler months.

Why Do I Eat More in Winter?

You’re not alone if you find yourself eating more during colder months. During winter, many of us experience an increased appetite and find ourselves craving heartier, calorie-rich foods. There are several reasons why this occurs:

  1. Reduced sunlight exposure during winter affects our circadian rhythms and can lead to hormonal changes. The decrease in daylight hours can disrupt the balance of hormones that regulate appetite, such as leptin and ghrelin. As a result, we may feel hungrier and have a stronger urge to consume more food.
  2. Some people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs during winter. SAD can lead to increased cravings for carbohydrates and sugary foods, as these can temporarily boost serotonin levels and improve mood.
  3. Cold weather and shorter days can limit outdoor activities and reduce our overall physical activity levels. With less movement and exercise, our calorie expenditure decreases, leading to a potential imbalance between calorie intake and energy expenditure.

Understanding the reasons behind your increased winter appetite can help you make informed choices and maintain a healthy balance.

While it’s natural to crave more food during this time, it’s important to prioritise nutrient-dense meals and incorporate a variety of local fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins into your diet. By listening to your body, being mindful of portion sizes and engaging in regular physical activity, you can enjoy the comforts of winter while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Tips for Staying Healthy in Winter

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during winter is essential for overall well-being. Here are some practical tips to help you stay on track:

  1. Prioritise nutrient-rich foods: Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins into your meals. These foods provide essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support your immune system and energise you.
  1. Stay hydrated: It’s easy to forget about drinking enough water during colder months. However, staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining optimal bodily functions. Warm herbal teas, soups and broths are excellent alternatives to ensure you stay hydrated while enjoying comforting beverages.
  1. Stay active: Don’t let the winter chill discourage you from staying active. Keep moving with indoor exercises, try a new workout routine or embrace the cold with a brisk walk in the fresh air. Regular physical activity helps boost your mood and keeps your body strong.
  1. Get adequate rest: Winter is the perfect time to prioritise rest and rejuvenation. Ensure you sleep well each night; quality rest is vital for your immune system and overall well-being.

Winter Wellness: Embrace the Power of Superfoods for a Healthy Season

Incorporating nutrient-dense superfoods into your diet during winter is a great way to support your overall health and well-being. These powerhouse foods are packed with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help strengthen the immune system, fight off winter illnesses and boost energy levels.

Some of the best superfoods to consider during this time include dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, which are rich in vitamins A, C and K. Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits provide a hefty dose of vitamin C, known for its immune-boosting properties. By incorporating these winter superfoods into your diet, you can support your body’s natural defence system and maintain optimal health throughout the season. Read more about what superfoods are and why you need them.

Best Australian Winter Comfort Foods

If you’re ready for some inspiration for the kitchen, these are the best comfort foods guaranteed to warm you up this winter:

Soup: Not only is soup a cost-effective meal that will feed the whole family, but it’s also a healthy choice, with many soups packed with vegetables and a hearty broth. While chicken and vegetable soup is a classic, why not try Thai spiced pumpkin soup for a chilli kick or a creamy cauliflower soup for something different?

2. Casseroles and bakes: Try a comfort food staple that offers a delightful combination of tender meat and hearty vegetables, like a smokey tomato chicken bake or a beef stroganoff, that will warm you from the inside out.

3. Curries: Nothing warms you up faster than a spicy Thai red chicken curry or an Indian vegetable curry with chickpeas. Curry is a perfect choice for winter as its generous use of warming spices like ginger, turmeric and chilli not only adds depth of flavour but also helps to keep you warm.

4. Something sweet: Don’t forget to enjoy a special dessert now and then to warm up, like a delicious sticky date pudding or chocolate fondant.

If you’re looking for a convenient way to enjoy these winter comfort foods without compromising taste and nutrition, ready-made meal services like Gourmet Dinner Service have you covered. With their expertise in slow-cooked stews and casseroles, spicy curries and nourishing soups, you can experience the best comfort food without the hassle of cooking from scratch.

Author Bio

Johanna O’Sullivan is a Marketing and Communications Manager at Gourmet Dinner Service. With a background in economics, a passion for food, and expertise in nutrition, she helps customers achieve their wellness goals. Johanna is an experienced writer and contributor to online publications specialising in health. She loves cooking from scratch with healthy ingredients & values fresh, ready-to-eat meals for their convenience.

Categories
Food & Well being Local Foodies' Corner

Soil Microbes and Mental Health: Decoding the Hidden Connections

The human gut microbiome relies on microbes to function optimally, and the same is true for soil. Josie, the co-founder of Food2Soil and a dietitian has always been fascinated by the role of microbes in human health and the similarities between our digestive system and soil. Microbes play a crucial role in increasing immunity, building resilience to pests, allergies, and diseases, and promoting health and vitality in both soil and the gut. Moreover, certain bacteria found in soil are a primary source of antibiotics and other medicines.

Research has shown that microbial diversity below ground equals abundant and healthy life above ground. When there is thriving life in the soil, plants and crops are less likely to be affected by pests above ground. Microbes support the area around the plant’s roots, called the rhizosphere, by breaking down essential nutrients that plants need to grow and thrive, and plants emit substances that feed the microbes. Therefore, we eat the produce, and the cycle continues.

In areas where regenerative agriculture farming methods are practised, foods not only taste better but also have a wider range of microbial life in and around them, which directly benefits the human gut.

Research has linked microbes to improved emotional and mental health. Modern lifestyles and industrial agricultural practices have reduced our connection with soils, contributing to the depletion of soils and adversely affecting the gut microbiome.

In 1908, Nobel prize winner Elie Metchnikoff first observed that those living in a region of Bulgaria consuming large amounts of fermented food in their diet tended to live longer. This gave rise to the popularity of probiotic foods with health benefits and further studies into what we eat – and the relationship between food, health and well-being.

Researchers are still discovering how microbes, such as the common bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae found in soil, can act as an antidepressant, boosting levels of happy hormones and serotonin while reducing the stress hormone cortisol. In recent years, scientists have also found beneficial bacteria, namely Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium, significantly reduce psychological distress in the form of anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Microbes are responsible for half of the chemical composition of petrichor, the aroma soils emit after rainfall on Earth. Microbial life in the soil produces a chemical called geosmin, combined with broken-down long-chain fatty acids from plant leaves. This uplifting scent can positively impact a farmer’s or gardener’s mood, particularly in Australia, indicating moisture landing on dry soils.

Spending time in nature, whether it be gardening, walking, or simply sitting in a green space, provides a multitude of benefits, including reduced stress, anxiety, and negative thoughts, and doctors are now prescribing these activities to combat various different conditions, as well as factors linked to ill health such as loneliness and isolation.

By caring for, touching, and tending to soils and eating produce directly from the garden, we are unknowingly consuming trace amounts of microbes and receiving the life-enhancing benefits they provide. By eating food from healthy soils, we can feel better and create a more sustainable future. Food2Soil’s core mission is to nourish and return life back to the soil, and you can join the movement by clicking here.

Sources: https://doi.org/10.1002/tre.857https://doi/10.1177/0706743719874168

Categories
Home gardening Local Foodies' Corner

The Importance of Microbes to Soil and human health.

For a long time, the soil was thought of as something we walked on, built on, buried things in, dug up, and something we grew plants in. But recently, the vital role soil plays in human and planetary health is being recognised. A lot of this “vital role” comes down to the diverse microbial ecosystem in soil, or as we like to call it ‘subterranean workforce’.

Though we cannot see, hear, or feel microbes, they are essential for all life on earth due to their huge diversity in form and function. Nowhere is this truer than in soil, where they are essential in preventing soil erosion, conserving water, promoting plant resilience and growth and breaking down environmental pollutants. They also help fight climate change by capturing and storing atmospheric carbon.

These factors alone are reason enough to sing the praises of microbes; however, research is also showing how the soil microbiome can positively impact human health by boosting our immunity and the nutritional density and flavour of the food we eat.

Historically, soil was associated with its negative impact on humans such as through pathogenic organisms (viruses or parasites), toxins (such as lead or arsenic) or problems in soil causing nutrient deficiency in crops (such as low iodine and iron).  However, in the process of finding solutions to these problems, scientists looked to soil microbes to protect us.  One good example is the majority of antibiotics actually originate from soil microbes.

Evidence suggests that children raised on farms have lower rates of allergy and asthma than urban children, with the main difference being the rich microbe environments of farms and animals. These conditions help regulate the immune response and play a key role in determining the nutrient content of food.

There are many interactions that take place between soil microbes and plant roots. Plants secrete compounds to feed nearby microbes, in return, microbes enable plants to capture essential nutrients they need from soil (such as nitrogen, and phosphorous) and produce a series of chemicals called phytonutrients or, commonly known as antioxidants.

It’s these chemicals that protect plants from pests or other stress factors, and give food its unique flavour, smell and colour. Research shows these chemicals also benefit humans by regulating hormones, stimulating our immune system and slowing the growth of cancer cells.  It’s been said ‘healthy soil equals healthy people’.

It is now widely accepted by soil scientists all over the world that soil with a diverse microbial community promotes plant growth, compared to soil with a limited microbial makeup which suppresses growth. It is also understood microbes communicate and operate in communities and work together in unison with their environments. They can even prewarn a plant that drought conditions are coming! (Soil, M.Evans 2021)

Unfortunately, modern agricultural practices (such as tillage, chemical-based fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides) have been destroying microbial populations in soil, to a point where the nutrients in the food we eat today is said to be 30% lower in nutrients than in our grandparent’s time.

Thankfully there is a growing popularity in land regeneration practices that protect topsoil, producing food with more antioxidants and building diversity and density of soil microbes (biostimulants such as Food2Soil, fall into this category).

Rotating crops and grazing animals, resting pasture, and using cover crops (plants grown to keep soil covered in the offseason) are also valuable ways to reduce topsoil erosion.

The UN reports that if we were to take 2 million of the 5 million acres of degraded land and practice regenerative agriculture, we could pause climate change and give ourselves another 20 years to come up with climate solutions. When I first read this, it was a WOW moment.

So, we know we need to stop practices that are bad for soil and start doing things that we know preserve and protect topsoil and our unseen, underground heroes ‘microbes’.  But how do we get change to happen sooner rather than later?

At Food2Soil we are on a mission to educate people on the connection between soil and health and to change the public perception of soil.  We want to ensure soil is seen not just as dirt but as a wonderous, alive ecosystem essential for human health and all life on the planet.

About the authors

Food2Soil Co-founder Josie Grenfell

Josie’s background is in public health nutrition and dietetics, with particular interest in gastrointestinal complications and the human gut microbiome. She established Little Waste Co sustainable waste consultancy in 2017 and has a long-time passion for gardening and soil health. She spends her spare time with her family, in the garden, active in nature and cooking.

Food2Soil Co-Founder Annabel Schweiger –  Annabel has a cert 4 in commercial cookery, experience working in award-winning restaurants and running a successful market garden. Working as a waste and recycling consultant, establishing Biota Sustainability in 2018. Annabel is a regenerative landholder and a permaculture expert and spends her spare time with her family and animals, gardening, reading and playing basketball.

Categories
Food & Well being Local Foodies' Corner

Superfoods: What They Are and Why You Need Them?

The term “superfoods” has become a buzzword in the world of health and nutrition. These foods are highly nutritious and provide various health benefits. In this article, we will explore what superfoods are, why they are necessary, and provide examples of natural superfoods that people can incorporate into their diet. We will also mention some readily available Australian-made alternatives for natural superfoods.

What are superfoods?

Superfoods are foods that are high in nutritional value and offer a range of health benefits. They are typically rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that can help support the body’s immune system, improve digestion, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

While no official definition of a superfood exists, many experts agree that these foods should meet certain criteria. For example, they should be nutrient-dense, meaning they contain a high concentration of vitamins and minerals relative to their caloric value. They should also offer a range of health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, improving digestion, and supporting heart health.

Why do people need superfoods?

In today’s fast-paced world, people are often busy and may not always have time to prepare nutrient-rich meals. Additionally, many modern diets are lacking in essential vitamins and minerals due to the consumption of processed foods. Superfoods provide an easy and convenient way to get the nutrients you need to support optimal health.

Research has shown that consuming a diet rich in superfoods can have a range of health benefits. For example, a study published in the journal Nutrients found that consuming a diet rich in superfoods can help improve cognitive function, reduce inflammation, and support heart health.

Examples of natural superfoods

Here are some examples of natural superfoods that you can easily incorporate into your diet.

Blueberries

 These small fruits are packed with antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and protect against disease. They are also a good source of fibre, which can help improve digestion.

Kale

 Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables, containing high amounts of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium and iron. It is also a good source of antioxidants, which can help protect against disease.

Quinoa

Quinoa is a complete protein that contains all of the essential amino acids the body needs. It is also a good source of fibre, iron, and magnesium.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and support heart health. They are also a good source of fibre, protein, and calcium.

Avocado

Avocado is a rich source of healthy fats, which can help support heart health. It is also high in vitamins C, K, and E and potassium.

Alternatives to natural superfoods.

Alternatives to natural superfoods offer a range of superfood products designed to provide a convenient and easy way to get the nutrients you need to support optimal health.

Conclusion

Superfoods are foods that are packed with nutrients and offer a range of health benefits. Incorporating superfoods into your diet can help support optimal health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Natural superfoods, such as blueberries, kale, and quinoa, are easy to incorporate into your diet and can easily be ordered from a local online market. Also, specially formulated alternative products offer a convenient and easy way to get the nutrients you need to support optimal health. Whether you choose to incorporate natural superfoods or alternative foods into your diet, the benefits of these nutrient-rich foods are clear.

Categories
Food & Well being Home gardening Local Foodies' Corner Uncategorized

Microbes: Key Players in Soil Health and Human Well-being.

For a long time, the soil was thought of as something we walked on, built on, buried things in, dug up, and something we grew plants in. But recently, the vital role soil plays in human and planetary health is being recognised. A lot of this “vital role” comes down to the diverse microbial ecosystem in soil, or as we like to call it ‘subterranean workforce’.

Though we cannot see, hear, or feel microbes, they are essential for all life on earth due to their huge diversity in form and function. Nowhere is this truer than in soil, where they are essential in preventing soil erosion, conserving water, promoting plant resilience and growth and breaking down environmental pollutants. They also help fight climate change by capturing and storing atmospheric carbon.

These factors alone are reason enough to sing the praises of microbes; however, research is also showing how the soil microbiome can positively impact human health by boosting our immunity and the nutritional density and flavour of the food we eat.

Historically, soil was associated with its negative impact on humans such as through pathogenic organisms (viruses or parasites), toxins (such as lead or arsenic) or problems in soil causing nutrient deficiency in crops (such as low iodine and iron).  However, in the process of finding solutions to these problems, scientists looked to soil microbes to protect us.  One good example is the majority of antibiotics actually originate from soil microbes.

Evidence suggests that children raised on farms have lower rates of allergy and asthma than urban children, with the main difference being the rich microbe environments of farms and animals. These conditions help regulate the immune response and play a key role in determining the nutrient content of food.

There are many interactions that take place between soil microbes and plant roots. Plants secrete compounds to feed nearby microbes, in return, microbes enable plants to capture essential nutrients they need from soil (such as nitrogen, and phosphorous) and produce a series of chemicals called phytonutrients or, commonly known as antioxidants.

It’s these chemicals that protect plants from pests or other stress factors, and give food its unique flavour, smell and colour. Research shows these chemicals also benefit humans by regulating hormones, stimulating our immune system and slowing the growth of cancer cells.  It’s been said ‘healthy soil equals healthy people’.

It is now widely accepted by soil scientists all over the world that soil with a diverse microbial community promotes plant growth, compared to soil with a limited microbial makeup which suppresses growth. It is also understood microbes communicate and operate in communities and work together in unison with their environments. They can even prewarn a plant that drought conditions are coming! (Soil, M.Evans 2021)

Unfortunately, modern agricultural practices (such as tillage, chemical-based fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides) have been destroying microbial populations in soil, to a point where the nutrients in the food we eat today is said to be 30% lower in nutrients than in our grandparent’s time.

Thankfully there is a growing popularity in land regeneration practices that protect topsoil, producing food with more antioxidants and building diversity and density of soil microbes (biostimulants such as Food2Soil, fall into this category).

Rotating crops and grazing animals, resting pasture, and using cover crops (plants grown to keep soil covered in the offseason) are also valuable ways to reduce topsoil erosion.

The UN reports that if we were to take 2 million of the 5 million acres of degraded land and practice regenerative agriculture, we could pause climate change and give ourselves another 20 years to come up with climate solutions. When I first read this, it was a WOW moment.

So, we know we need to stop practices that are bad for soil and start doing things that we know preserve and protect topsoil and our unseen, underground heroes ‘microbes’.  But how do we get change to happen sooner rather than later?

At Food2Soil we are on a mission to educate people on the connection between soil and health and to change the public perception of soil.  We want to ensure soil is seen not just as dirt but as a wonderous, alive ecosystem essential for human health and all life on the planet.

About the authors

Food2Soil Co-founder Josie Grenfell

Josie’s background is in public health nutrition and dietetics, with particular interest in gastrointestinal complications and the human gut microbiome. She established Little Waste Co sustainable waste consultancy in 2017 and has a long-time passion for gardening and soil health. She spends her spare time with her family, in the garden, active in nature and cooking.

Food2Soil Co-Founder Annabel Schweiger –  Annabel has a cert 4 in commercial cookery, experience working in award-winning restaurants and running a successful market garden. Working as a waste and recycling consultant, establishing Biota Sustainability in 2018. Annabel is a regenerative landholder and a permaculture expert and spends her spare time with her family and animals, gardening, reading and playing basketball.