Move Over Meat - Vegetables are taking center stage on your plate
(NU) - Historically, American dinner plates have featured meat as its mainstay/star, with vegetables as tepid, secondary supporting players. Now, the balance of power on the plate is shifting as fresh, homegrown vegetables take center stage. Recent “food trend” studies show that more people are making vegetables the main course of their meals. Although the interest in healthy eating extends to all age groups, millennials seem to be driving this healthful food trend. Data from the NPD Group suggests that people younger than 40 are eating 52 percent more fresh vegetables compared with young adults 10 years ago, and that preference is likely to continue as they age. In support of this trend, professional chefs, bloggers, restaurants and home cooks are embracing the flavors of a vast variety of vegetables, from common to exotic. Episodes of the popular “Iron Chef” television show feature vegetable-centric meals and a recent article in New York magazine noted, “Simply put, the once meat obsessed populace is realizing that vegetables actually taste good. Especially when fresh, in season, and carefully prepared.” You’ll see that many restaurants now offer vegetable based entrees that have inspired home cooks to explore the healthy and delicious potential of making fresh vegetables a main course. Some reasons driving the shift in popularity of vegetables over meat include: Vine-Ripened, great taste. Homegrown vegetables have a home field advantage when it comes to flavor because they stay on the vine to fully ripen and are harvested just before eating. Store bought veggies are often harvested before they’re fully ripe, so they don’t spoil on the journey to the store. Once picked from the vine, sugars begin to turn to starch and that homegrown sweetness dissipates. Good health. Everyone knows that vegetables are good for you, but research backs it up. In a study of over 130,000, in the Journal of American Medical Association Internal Medicine, consumption of plant protein is associated with longer life compared with animal protein consumption. Good stewardship. Eating more vegetables and less meat can have a positive effect on the environment. Data from the University of Oxford, England, suggests that eating more vegetables could have a greater impact on reducing one’s carbon footprint than giving up a car! As vegetables grow in popularity and push meat from the center of the plate, more people are interested not only in eating more vegetables, but eating locally grown vegetables hey, what’s more local than growing your own veggies at home? Growing vegetables at home is convenient, satisfying, a money-saver in the produce aisle, and they’ll taste better, too! Fortunately for the home gardener, professional growers make it easy to grow nutritious and delicious vegetables at home.Bonnie Plants, for example, is a green- house grower offering more than 250 varieties of vegetable, herb, and fruit plants, ranging from traditional favorites to new and different choices. Some easy-to-grow options for your veggie main course include hearty tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and zucchini. Bonnie Plants operates more than 70 greenhouse facilities in 48 states and trucks fresh plants from greenhouses to retailers near you, so they’re ready for planting upon purchase, and you’ll harvest six weeks sooner than if you grow from seed. Plus, the plants are grown a truck-ride away from the retailers that sell them. Don’t worry if you have little outdoor space, patio-ready caged varieties and combo pots are available as great options for small spaces. Curious home gardeners interested in healthy eating can enjoy experimenting with vegetables to replace meat. For a new take on burgers, try substituting squash. Veggie burgers, like their meat based counterparts, can be made in advance, frozen in patties, and pulled out for easy reheating as a healthy burger choice on a busy night. Try putting a new spin on salad,substituting Swiss chard for a fresh, peppy taste in lieu of such standbys as lettuce, spinach, and arugula. Time to season your homegrown veggies?Bonnie Plants also offers herb plants,so fresh seasoning is only a snip away with a quick trip to your garden plot or pot. Visit bonnieplants.com for more information on varieties along with planting tips, tending, troubleshooting, harvesting, and a plethora of delicious recipes to try!
Liquid Assets: Water Testing for Household Well Owners A Snap
Testing one’s drinking water can be intimidating to a household well owner, but it can be easy if you know a few basic steps, says the National Ground Water Association (NGWA).
If you are concerned about your well water, these three steps can help get owners the appropriate tests for contaminants that might present a health risk — or create taste, odor, or appearance problems:
1. Determine what you should test for in your water.
2. Obtain a reliable water test.
3. Get an interpretation of your test results so you can take any appropriate action.
An excellent place to start learning more about these three steps is the NGWA website,
What to test
NGWA recommends that well owners test annually for bacteria, nitrate, and anything of local concern: for instance, naturally occurring hazards, such as arsenic, or man-made, such as chemical or heavy metals from industrial or waste sites.
Most county health departments do some water testing, and many well owners are within a reasonable distance of a drinking water testing lab. Both are good places to start in finding out whether there might be a local issue.
Getting a water test
Knowing where to start in getting a water test isn’t difficult. Go to www.WellOwner.org, and “click” on the “Water Testing” tab near the top of the page.
Next, use these buttons:
• Click for county health department contact info” — This takes you to a web page where you can access contact information for local health departments nationwide. Ask your health department if it tests water, and if so, for what and how much it costs.
• “Find a certified testing lab” — This takes you to a map where you can navigate to your state agency web page to obtain information about certified drinking water testing labs.
Interpretation of your water test results
For an interpretation of test results, start with the agency or lab that did the test. If you need additional help, www.WellOwner.org links to an online water test interpretation tool located under the “Water Testing” tab. Type the values from your water test results into the appropriate fields in the online tool and it will provide an explanation of the results — usually including the risks to health, any warranted actions, and appropriate water treatment technologies.
Visit www.WellOwner.org to learn more about water testing, well maintenance, water treatment, and groundwater protection.