Food History: Peanut Butter

Did you know that Canada has a peanut butter claim to fame? Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Montreal was the first person to patent modern peanut butter for peanut candy. Issued in 1884 by the United States government, Edson patented the finished product in the process of milling roasted peanuts. His patent is based on the preparation of a peanut paste as an intermediate to the production of the modern product we know as peanut butter.

Since peanut butter made its debut hundreds of years ago, it has proven to be a popular snack item. In fact, recent research shows that peanut consumption in Canada continues to ride high, indicating that peanut products are a staple in Canadian homes.

Source: Peanut Bureau of Canada

Vegetarian Sandwich with Sun-dried Tomato Spread


1 round loaf (16 ounces) Tuscan-style bread, halved, creating 2 rounds


16 sun-dried tomato halves
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons dried basil leaves
1/3 cup capers, drained
4 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar


6 thin slices (4-1/2 ounces total) reduced-fat Swiss cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2-1/4 cup thinly sliced green bell pepper
4 cups (2 ounces) loosely packed spring greens


  1. Place tomatoes in a small bowl, cover with boiling water, and let stand 5 minutes to soften.
  2. Place tomatoes, 1/2 cup tomato water, and remaining spread ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth.
  3. Spread half of tomato mixture evenly over bottom half of bread loaf and top with filling ingredients in the order listed, starting with cheese.
  4. Spread remaining tomato mixture on top half of bread loaf and place, spread side down, on top of greens.
  5. Press down firmly and cut into 8 wedges.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: The Heart-smart Diabetes Kitchen

In Pictures: Home-cooked Breakfasts for a Family of Three

Organic Farming Has A Plastic Problem. One Solution Is Controversial

Lisa Elaine Held wrote . . . . . . . . .

Drew and Joan Norman have been producing organic vegetables on 60 acres just north of Baltimore since 1983. On a recent spring day, signs of another new season at One Straw Farm were everywhere: seedlings in the greenhouse waiting to be transplanted, asparagus ready to be picked, tiny leaves of red- and green-leaf lettuce sprouting out of the ground — and rows and rows of plastic covering the ground on each field.

Plastic is under attack these days for the environmental problems it causes. But sustainability-minded shoppers might not be aware that many organic farmers — like their conventional farming neighbors — also rely on plastic. It’s spread over the ground as a form of mulch to suppress weeds, conserve water and aid plant growth.

At One Straw, the plastic film used on just 30 productive acres in one year would stretch 36 miles in a straight line. Bigger organic operations like Lady Moon Farms, with farms in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Florida, spread it over thousands of acres. And when the season is over, it ends up in landfills.

Many organic farmers would love to find an alternative to plastic, but they say there isn’t one at the moment. One conceivable solution, biodegradable plastic, isn’t allowed under organic rules in its current form, though some think those rules should be changed. Others worry about the long-term effects of biodegradable plastic on soil health and the environment.

“We’re looking at it in a bigger way than just, ‘Is it biodegrading?’ We need to make sure that what we’re putting into the soil will have a positive and not a negative effect,” said Harriet Behar, chairwoman of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture on organic regulations.

Why plastic is popular

Spread over fields with giant rollers and held down with soil, the flat plastic blocks sunlight from hitting the ground and stimulating weed growth. That way, plants like tomatoes, set within a hole punched in the plastic, can grow unimpeded. Although conventional farmers use the material, organic produce farmers rely on it even more since they must avoid chemical weed killers, which are banned in organic farming.

“The hardest part about organic [farming] is weed control,” said Larry Tse, farm manager at Dig Inn farm in the Hudson Valley region of New York, where weeds grow quickly thanks to fertile black dirt. Tse uses plastic mulch on all of his produce beds and helps neighboring farms lay plastic on their fields.

In addition to weed control, plastic works well with drip irrigation, a system that conserves water by delivering it directly to plant roots through a network of thin plastic tubes snaking beneath the mulch. “The water savings, in gallons per acre, is like 60 percent compared to using sprinklers,” said Drew Norman of One Straw Farm.

The plastic also moderates soil temperature in ways that increase yields and season length for farmers. “We use plastic mulch on all our acreage,” said Tom Beddard of Lady Moon Farms, a massive organic grower of supermarket vegetables. “It’s for weed control and soil warmth, and heat-loving crops — like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants — will mature weeks earlier on plastic versus bare ground.”

Yet there is the nagging issue of waste. Both Tse and Beddard said they had found companies to recycle their agricultural plastic for short periods of time in the past, but the operations had never lasted long. Instead, at the end of the season, the vast majority of the plastic is lifted from the ground and loaded into dumpsters, where it is taken to landfills, amounting to a major cost and labor challenge for farmers. Plus, Drew Norman said that work can interfere with other tasks, such as sowing grain and legume “cover crops” in the fall, which protect and enhance the soil through the dormant winter months.

That’s why so many farmers want an alternative. Although natural mulches like straw and paper that break down in the soil do exist, they are too costly or labor-intensive for many farmers. But if a plastic mulch could slowly degrade over the course of the season, disappearing into the field and eliminating waste, it would amount to a dream solution.

Issues: the breakdown

Right now, however, no such solution exists for organic farms, because the biodegradable plastic mulches on the market all contain petroleum-based materials. In 2014, the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), which implements and oversees organic regulations, specified that any biodegradable mulch could only be used if it was 100 percent “bio-based” — that is, made entirely from plant materials.

Since then, the USDA has received “considerable feedback” from organic farmers and mulch manufacturers on the topic, a USDA spokesperson said in response to emailed questions. According to the spokesperson, two researchers presented on the topic at the last NOSB meeting in April 2019 and farmers have expressed ongoing interest.

BASF, the agrochemical giant, has been sending representatives to NOSB meetings to argue for the use of its product, Ecovio, a popular biodegradable plastic mulch used by farmers around the world, in certified organic farming. It said a study published in 2018 shows that the product fully biodegrades.

While that study was supported by BASF, additional independent research points to similar conclusions, says Jennifer DeBruyn, an associate professor in Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture. “Our main conclusion is we’re not seeing strong effects of these mulches on soil health parameters, soil health indicators, or soil microbial communities,” she said, referring to a study recently published by her team as part of a biodegradable plastic mulch research project.

But the group has analyzed only two-year field trials so far. “A lot of times, soil parameters can take years and years to change and shift, and so I think there are still a lot of questions on what the long-term effect is going to be,” DeBruyn says.

For now, that hesitancy around unknown long-term effects is shared by members of the NOSB, Behar said, although the topic is on the board’s work agenda for 2019. She is also hopeful that a company would bring a synthetic bio-based mulch to market — one that acts like plastic but doesn’t contain any petroleum-based materials and so would be approved for use in organic farming. She believes that scenario is close at hand, based on public comments at NOSB meetings.

Meanwhile, this season’s tomato plants are getting taller, and the Normans, for one, would rather not wait another season for permission to use available biodegradable mulches, even if they contain petroleum. “We have no doubt that at some point it will be 100 percent bio-based and are looking forward to that,” Joan Norman said. “But until that point … it is certainly a better choice than putting dumpsters of plastic in a landfill. It’s a lot of plastic.”

Source: npr

Anti-hypertensive Drug Was Associated with a Decreased Dementia Risk

Various clinical trials indicate what effects can be expected from standardized intervention programs on the basis of existing evidence. Little is known about the way in which such programs can be implemented in actual care practice. However, it may be possible to use data from clinical practice to estimate the potential of drug prescriptions to delay or reduce the development of dementia.

The goal of the present study, which will be published in the next issue of Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, was to investigate the relationship between antihypertensive drug use and dementia in elderly persons followed in general practices in Germany.

“After another setback for the anti-amyloid strategy, dementia prevention is increasingly becoming an area of interest,” explains Dr. Jens Bohlken, MD, PhD, from the Institute of Social Medicine, Occupational Health and Public Health (ISAP) from the Medical Faculty of the University of Leipzig. “In view of this, our most important task is to find existing therapies that are associated with a reduction in dementia risk or at least an extension of the time to dementia onset.”

This study was based on data from the Disease Analyzer database (IQVIA), which compiles drug prescriptions, diagnoses, and basic medical and demographic data obtained directly and in anonymous format from computer systems used in the practices of general practitioners and specialists. This study included patients with documented blood pressure values and an initial diagnosis of all-cause dementia in 739 general practices in Germany between January 2013 and December 2017 (index date). Inclusion criteria were as follows: age 60 years at the index date, observation time of at least 12 months prior to the index date, and hypertension diagnosis prior to the index date. After applying similar inclusion criteria, dementia cases were matched to non-dementia controls using propensity scores based on age, sex, index year, and co-diagnoses (i.e. diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, stroke including transient ischemic attack, coronary heart disease, depression, intracranial injury, Parkinson’s disease, osteoporosis, and epilepsy). For the controls, the index date was that of a randomly selected visit between January 2013 and December 2017.

The main outcome of the study was the incidence of dementia as a function of the use of antihypertensive drugs (i.e. diuretics, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme [ACE] inhibitors, and angiotensin II receptor blockers).

Three logistic regression models were conducted to study the association between the use of antihypertensive drugs and dementia incidence after adjusting for blood pressure (first model: ever versus never use; second model: 3 versus less than 3 years of therapy; third model: 5 versus less than 5 years of therapy).

The present study included 12,405 patients with dementia and 12,405 patients without dementia (mean age: 80.6 years; 61.3% women). The use of angiotensin II receptor blockers (odds ratios [ORs] ranging from 0.74 to 0.79), ACE inhibitors (ORs ranging from 0.85 to 0.88), calcium channel blockers (ORs ranging from 0.82 to 0.89), and beta blockers (OR=0.88) was associated with a decrease in dementia incidence. In patients treated with calcium channel blockers, increasing the duration of treatment decreased the incidence of dementia.

"Antihypertensive therapy alone cannot guarantee that dementia will never occur," noted corresponding author Prof. Karel Kostev, PhD, from the Epidemiology Department of IQVIA (Germany), "However, these findings highlight the importance of the prescription of antihypertensive drugs in the context of preventing hypertension-associated cognitive decline."

The authors of the study also note that: "further studies are needed to gain a better understanding of the medications associated with a decreased risk of dementia. We plan to investigate the role of lipid-lowering drugs, antidepressants, and further medications in the future."

The study is subject to some limitations, as the patients in the study were 60 or older, and this inclusion criterion was necessary for identifying dementia. However, previous research has shown that it is important for a life course-related prevention strategy to initiate hypertension treatment at a younger age. Moreover, data on patients' lifestyle factors, including smoking and physical activity, education, and job, were also lacking. The strengths of this study are the number of patients available for analysis, which allowed the use of a case-control design, and the use of real-world data, with different diagnoses and medications available for analysis.

Source: Science Daily

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