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I’m not sure which fruits and vegetables you are referring to, but genetic modifications, or genetic engineering is not a new technology. It has been used in agriculture, for example, to make crops like corn and soy resistant to pests or tolerant to herbicides. In medicine, genetic engineering is used to develop microbes that can produce pharmaceuticals. And in food, genetic engineering is used to produce enzymes that aid in baking, brewing, and cheese making.

Traditional breeding and selection methods have been used successfully for years. However, the process is very time-consuming, sometimes requiring up to 20 years to develop a new plant variety. This is because traditional methods are random and imprecise, involving the passing of thousands of genes with each generation. It is difficult to guarantee that the undesirable traits will not be passed along with the desired traits and to screen for all possible trait combinations. This results in the tedious effort of selecting out those varieties that are most desirable and continuing the process until the final plant variety is achieved.

New biotechnology techniques — specifically genetic engineering — are an extension of older techniques and apply the same principles. However, new biotechnology is more precise and direct than traditional breeding and selection and allows for the transfer of genes from one species or genus to another. This is because new biotechnology allows for the transfer of a single genetic trait — rather than thousands as in traditional breeding — in a predictable and controllable manner. A wider range of new traits can be introduced into food without the introduction of extraneous and undesirable genes and in a more timely fashion.

Genetically modified varieties of papaya, potato, squash and tomato have been marketed internationally. The Rainbow variety of papaya from Hawaii was genetically modified to resist a virus that was destroying the crop.

A WHO report on modern food biotechnology can be found here: http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications/biotech/biotech_en.pdf

 

Nuts, seeds, meat products, eggs, beans, and dairy products are some of the best sources of protein. Try adding in protein-rich snacks such as:

  • Banana with low-fat chocolate milk
  • Whole wheat pasta and tomato sauce with broccoli
  • Brown rice topped with edamame and other favorite veggies
  • Any of our smoothie recipes

 

Good luck with your training program and best of luck!

 

Pureed fruits and vegetables combined with oils and seasonings make great sauces on fish, chicken, beef, oatmeal’s, and more. Lactose free milk products also make great substitutes in your favorite dressing recipes.  Try our Spicy Cherry Sauce recipe over broiled cod, baked chicken, or any dish of your choice.

 

I find the winter “blues” typically hit me right after the holidays.  The days are short, the temps are cold and unfortunately we’ve still got a few months before it begins to warm up and the first signs of spring appear.  One of the things I miss during the cold weather is the abundant availability of fresh herbs I have in the summer.  During the warmer weather it’s easy to grow them in pots on the back porch or in the garden–not so in sub-freezing temperatures.

This year I decided to give one of those indoor herb gardens a try after seeing them as part of a post-holiday sale.  The version I got contained basil, oregano, parsley and cilantro, but there are some that have up to 12 different herbs included.  In fact, you can order some that already have the herbs grown so that you just maintain the existing plant.  Since I just started my garden, I don’t have any herbs for use yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to a little taste of spring when they’re grown!

If you’re not familiar with using fresh herbs, it’s very simple and worth exploring.  I love adding fresh basil to salads, especially those that include tomatoes.  Salsa and guacamole aren’t the same without fresh cilantro and chopped, fresh parsley is the perfect touch to many pasta, fish and chicken dishes.  I’m including a recipe for Easy Vegetable Focaccia from the Fruits & Veggies–More Matters recipe database.  It calls for either dried or fresh oregano and basil–definitely go with the fresh versions of these herbs, you’ll love the added flavor!

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Salsa can be made with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Most salsas include tomatoes, making them a good source of vitamin A and potassium. When it comes to store bought salsa, however, be conscious of the sodium content. Look for low-sodium salsas and choose salsas with lots of fruits and vegetables. Try our Farmer’s Market Salsa or Fruit Salsa recipes!

 

It seems like one of the biggest challenges for many people when it comes to health and fitness is time.  If you’re like me, you’re most likely trying to juggle your work schedule with the school and sport schedules of your children.  Don’t forget to add in doctor appointments, grocery shopping, regular errands …you know the routine.  Typically the first thing to get slashed from my to-do list is my visit to the gym when my schedule gets crunched.  Of course, this is probably the worst thing to do because ultimately I’m left feeling less energetic when I don’t exercise, which then impacts everything else I have to do.

This leads me to my New Year’s resolution–trying to make myself more of a priority for the upcoming year.  When you stop to think about it, it’s rather funny–we make it a priority to take our cars to the mechanic and get regular maintenance, but we tend to ignore the most valuable thing we have–ourselves!  Since resolutions usually fall apart unless you have a strategy on how you expect to accomplish them, my plan is to enlist a little more help from my husband and kids.  For example, on certain evenings when I know his schedule will allow, I will ask my husband to pick the kids up from school so I can go straight to the gym from work.

The reality is I know I feel a lot better when I stick to a regular exercise regime and when I’m feeling better I have more energy, which benefits everyone in the family because I get more done.  The bottom line is that the success of my New Year’s resolution will have a positive impact on the entire household, so it’s in their best interest to be supportive (we’ll see how that goes!).

I’d encourage you to make a similar promise to yourself for the upcoming year–take some time specifically set aside for YOU.  It could be to focus on exercise like I’m doing, or maybe on eating healthier or doing a favorite activity.  I also came across this great list of Realistic Resolutions for 2012 on the Fruits & Veggies–More Matters website.  Their all “doable” things you can realistically accomplish this year.  Have a Happy New Year and let’s make it a healthy 2012!

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Some have expressed concern that pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables cause adverse health effects, but little evidence supports this. In fact, see just how many fruits and vegetables you would need to consume to even come close to anything that might be harmful.  Just remember that all forms—fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice—of fruits and vegetables are equally as nutritious for you and that the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables outweigh any risk of consuming fruits and vegetables grown with pesticides. Remember to wash all fruits and vegetables before consuming to remove any excess dirt or bacteria and visit our Fruit & Veggie Database for selection and storage information.

Fruits and vegetables are great ingredients to add to smoothies! This is an easy way to get in your daily cups of fruits and veggies! Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function most efficiently! Try our Strawberry Banana Smoothie.

 
The Expert: Dr. Elizabeth Pivonka, a mother of two and a registered dietitian, shares years of experience in getting people to eat more fruits and veggies.
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