Monday, June 18, 2012

Sticky labels on fruit

Have you ever wondered what those sticky labels are all about on your fruit?  While they may be primarily for the sellers, there is useful information on them for buyers too, so don't just dismiss them as something you have to remove - take a closer look!

The numbers on the labels (PLU - Product Look-Up number) consist of either four or five numbers and they are used to classify fruit in three different ways: conventionally grown, organic, and genetically modified.

All four-digit coded fruit is conventionally raised, so could well be contaminated with pesticides and fertilizers.  In the photo above, the 4030 number is the number used for kiwi fruits. So all kiwis will have 4030 in their PLU.  Other fruits have their distinctive number, for example a Granny Smith apple is 4017, Comice pears are 4414, etc.  Some fruits have a different number depending if it is large or small., e.g. a small Granny Smith is 4139, instead of 4017.

Five-digit codes either begin with the number 8 or the number 9.

If the first number of 5 digit code is an 8, then it means the fruit has been genetically modified, and grown conventionally.

If the first number of a 5 digit code is a 9, then it means the fruit has been grown to the standard defined by the National Organic Board and is certified Organic.

So in the photo above, the 3435 indicates that this is a PiƱata Apple and the 9 in front indicates that it was grown organically.

You may also be interested to note that the adhesive used on the labels is safe to eat (!), but the label is not!!

So get out there and look for those 5 digit numbers beginning with a 9! But don't eat the label :-D
Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cold Hands - More exercise

A recent study from Stanford University's School of Medicine looked at exercise and heat stress in obese women.  Fat is a great insulator and for people who are obese, when they exercise, they often get too hot. This can put them off exercising, and lead them to abandon the exercise program due to overheating, fatigue and feeling uncomfortable.

Photo by dfinnecy
The study looked at 24 healthy women, aged between 30 and 45 who had not exercised long-term in the past.  They were obese with a BMI of between 30 and 35.  The women were assigned to one of two groups: one group (the test group) held a cooling device in their palms during exercise which had cold water in it and the other group (the control group) held a "dummy" cooling device with body temperature water in it.

Both groups participated in 3 exercise sessions of 35-55 minutes a week for 12 weeks holding the device. On the first and last day, all women did a timed 1.5 mile walk on a treadmill.

The group holding the cooling device with cold water in reduced their 1.5 mile treadmill test time by more than 5 minutes, averaging 31.6 minutes on day 1 and 24.6 minutes at the end of the study.  This group also lost more than 2 inches off their waist by the end of the study and their blood pressure was reduced from 139/84 to 124/70.

In contrast the  control group who had a dummy cooling device with body temperature water in it, didn't show any substantial differences in any of their measurements.  In fact, the controls tended to drop out early and skipped a lot of sessions.

By reducing heat stress, fatigue, sweating and discomfort were all reduced, which are frequently barriers that make want people want to stop exercising.

An easy way to utilize this effect is to carry a bottle of frozen water with you as you walk or exercise.  As the water melts, you can drink the water, but at the same time, it keeps your palms cool and can improve the comfort feeling of exercise, and make you keep with the program longer.  Further studies are needed to explore this effect further - including how this impacts people in colder weather...but it seems like a good place to start to make your workout more comfortable and help you stick with the program.

So as the weather is getting hotter, don't let that put you off your exercise program - just grab a bottle of iced water and see how it keeps you going.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Everything is tickety-boo

Here is this week's list of things that made me feel like everything is tickety-boo:

  • celebrating Lexi's 30th birthday with a treasure hunt and dinner in the vineyard
  • sharing lots of "firsts" with baby Max - like first trip to the seaside, first bounce on a trampoline, first outdoor bath and shower....
  • watching the great blue heron catching frogs in the water lilies on the pond
  • meeting a new client and enjoy her company
  • making yummy ice cream and raspberry pavlova
  • watching the butterflies flutter by
  • my daily walks punctuated by friendly neighbors
  • the full moon illuminating the garden and house
  • seeing all the little fawns bouncing in the fields
  • having shoe envy for little Max's cute shoes
It's been a fabulous week.  Hope yours has too.  Take some time to think about the things that you are grateful for this week.


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