Monday, June 13, 2011

500th POST! - June 13, 2011

Wow, I can't believe it.  I didn't believe it when my Google dashboard said I'd published 499 posts. I know I've been posting for a few years now, and I used to post every day, but yikes, what a milestone!  I know I should bake a cake or something like the TV industry does for a show's 100th episode or something, but somehow that just doesn't seem appropriate for the topic of this post. 

Now I'd asked (rather poorly I may add), for topic ideas and batted around a few of my own in my mind over the last few days, but it wasn't until this morning that I stumbled upon something I'm very interested in.  It even has more to do with my garden as it sits now than I would have ever dreamed when I first read about it in Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food after taking my son to the bus this morning.

No clues, well, I didn't have one either.  In short it's Omega 3s. That's right, something everyone knows a very little about, but if you're like me, most are misinformed at best.  Now I'm not going to get into tons of detail here because there is a bunch of great reading material out on the net and in various books, but I will share what I've learned in a few hours and how it's given me a new respect for my crappy spring garden.

First off, a very brief background of what I've learned from years of "hearing" of Omega 3s and a morning of reading my book and a few web sites.  By now everyone knows that Omega 3s are good for you and that eating ocean fish is a great way to get those 3s.  Most also know that if you CAN'T get access to fresh fish, then flax seed is an alternative.  Lastly, what I knew about them is that freshly laid chicken eggs are higher in 3s than store bought ones, and that food scientists are trying like mad to throw Omega 3s into anything they can because it's the new buzz word in nutrition.

So when I read in Michael Pollan's book today about the Western Diet's ratio of Omega 6s to Omega 3s running between 10 to 20:1 and that Omega 6s lead to bad things in the body like heart disease, diabetes and strokes, I became more curious.  So curious that I was upset that Mr. Pollan didn't simply have a list of what I should eat to get more Omega 3s in my diet. 

As some of you know by now, I don't like fish much, despite growing up on the PNW coast my entire life, which means we've got more fish than beef here.  You can imagine my delight when I read in Mr. Pollan's book that fish aren't that great for Omega 3s anyway.  Fish only get Omega 3s from THEIR diet of algae. If I think about it, it makes me mad that I didn't know this already.  It's like fish had a monopoly on Omega 3s when they were just smart enough to eat stuff that's good for them. Why can't we go straight to the source also?

So, impassioned by this new found shred of knowledge and frustrated by Michael Pollan's total lack of compassion for my zeal as to provide a detailed list for me, I put down the book and went to the Internet.  A quick search that literally went like this... "which organic vegetables contain the highest levels of omega 3s compared to omega 6s?" I quickly found a decent reiteration of Pollan's argument, siting the same sources, specifically Susan Allport's Queen of Fats.  While this article lacked the list of foods to eat other than fish, it did have a few sentences that Mr. Pollan left out (probably because it is the topic of his book).  It was those sentences that made me write this post. "Fortunately, omega-3 is widely available in all greens, especially in spinach, romaine, and arugula."  The one downside of Omega 3s are that they become rancid very quickly (yes, Omega 3s are a fat, despite that fatty acid label).  In fact, removing Omega 3s from standard oils is what kept them from going bad and thus increasing shelf life.  Joy, oh joy! Omega 3s can even go rancid in your digestive tract, leading to the development of bad free radicals.  It's suggested "to combat this problem, make sure to include a large variety of fresh fruit and vegetables in your meals that are rich in antioxidants, such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, oranges, grapes cherries, beets, red cabbage, colored bell peppers, kale, and others." 

Reading that made me think of the times when we've secretly added spinach to our smoothies.  No, not the "green" smoothies such as are promoted on that site I was reading, but rather adding minor amounts of green leafy vegetables to be masked by the fruitie goodness the family loves.  We've experimented with various veggies to add to our smoothies over the years and found broccoli stands out too much but nothing in small quantities shows in the final blend.  We've used spinach extensively, but now I know I can use lettuce with equal abandon!  I'm looking forward to using much more of this in the near future...

Doesn't that salad green bed look healthy? You can just make out in the top right corner my failed carrot bed (first year carrots have failed me).  I can see using most of this on either salads or smoothies and I'm definitely going to plant more greens for fall, and more for winter harvest.  My brother's growing Mache and Arugula so I'm excited to try them to make sure I want to grow them this winter.

Oh, and I can't leave out my smoothie staple.  My spinach bed is finally growing, though I'm fearful that the succession planting failed.

Anyways, I'm excited again at all that salad bed has to offer.  We just don't eat salads every night like some friends of ours do, so much of my spring lettuce harvest is given away or composted.  Now of course the left overs will be given to the girls, but that, my friends, is another post!

Enjoy your garden, and go eat some more Omega 3s!


  1. I feel it is really important to do research on the foods we eat and to eat foods in moderation. “Omega 3s” has become a buzzword for marketing purposes lately. Most don’t even know what is so special about it, but think it must be good because everyone is talking about it. Now it is showing up unnaturally in many foods. Even Monsanto is in the act modifying Soy Beans: Forbes: Monsanto Modifies Soy beans To Grow ‘Fish Oil’

    The more I learn, the more worried I become about the foods we eat.

  2. Now I have to try Romaine smoothies! I have quite a bit of it, you know. Your greens are looking marvelous!

  3. Congrats on your 500th post. I always miss those kinds of milestones. In my blog and in real life.

  4. That is such a great idea, adding leafy greens to smoothies. Brilliant way to add more nutrients! Your salad bed does look incredible.

  5. Wow.. congratulations!! I've really enjoyed following your garden adventures and have always come away inspired by you and your obvious passion for the garden! Here's to 500 more posts!!