Grow Fresh Food in Small Spaces

windowsill herbsYou Can Grow Your Own Fresh Food Almost Anywhere!

Histamine develops and accumulates to high levels in aging food. Eating old, long-stored food can provoke symptoms in people with histamine intolerance.
The best way to make sure your food is fresh is to grow it yourself. If you can simply reach out and pick a few lettuce or rocket leaves, or pull up some carrots or pluck some herbs, you can not only stay healthy, you can cut down on ‘food miles’ and your grocery bills.  You can ‘eat fresh’ every day. If you don’t happen to live on a farm, you can still enjoy your own fresh vegetable patch.

In the USA, gardeners like Paul Wheaton are spreading the word about growing your own organic foods sustainably and living in small spaces. HGTV has free online articles with helpful suggestions, such as Intensive Gardening Makes Small Spaces Work Double Time and Edible Gardening in Small Spaces.
The Univeristy of Maine in its article on Gardening in Small Spaces says, “At a time when Americans are overweight and under-exercised more than ever before, consider that a 150-pound person working in the garden will burn approximately 350 calories per hour. That’s roughly equivalent to doing low-impact aerobics, playing softball, pulling a cart while playing golf, walking at a very brisk pace, or playing vigorously with children. Of course, consuming home-grown vegetables is good for your health as well. Fresh vegetables are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, all of which play a role in cancer prevention and general good health. And when you grow your own vegetables, you know exactly how they were grown and where they originated—issues of food safety and security that are becoming more and more important to our society.”

Alan Titchmarsh, arguably the most famous gardener in the UK, says, ““I think it is a very underrated mission, encouraging people to grow things and to look after that little patch of ground outside their house. Hopefully [his TV gardening series] shows just how important gardens are. It sounds like a grandiose claim, but they can, and do, change lives. They are a safety valve, an oasis, a sanctuary, somewhere to feel at one with nature, all of those things. I always call them an escape to reality because that is the real world, really. And if you can make a garden that suits you and your sensibilities, you realise its value. It will aid the environment immeasurably and give them enormous solace, stimulation and pleasure.” His book “How to Garden: Vegetables and Herbs” is useful for UK gardeners.

Your own Backyard

Clive Blazey, the Australian founder of the Digger’s Club, says, “If you plan your garden carefully, you can grow a remarkable amount of produce in only a few square meters of space. To feed a family of four for a whole year, you only need 40 square meters of ground.” One of Mr Blazey’s “mini plots” could easily fit into the area occupied by a small suburban backyard. Or, to feed one person for a year all you require is ten square meters of ground.
Mr Blazey’s method is based on successional plantings, and you can read about it in his book The Australian Vegetable Garden. The method can be adapted to any country or climate.

Your Courtyard, Deck or Patio

Containers such as flower pots, tubs and hanging baskets can be used to grow your own fresh produce in small spaces.

Your Roof

Roof gardening is growing in popularity. Up there, there’s plenty of sunshine for growing plants. As an added bonus, growing vegetables on a roof can be a great way to insulate a home or office space. Do your research first – you need to be able to safely access the roof and make sure it’s properly waterproofed.

Your Windowsill

No home is too small to grow herbs and salad greens for the kitchen. Potted plants can thrive even on a sunny windowsill. Freshness means low histamine, and growing your own living herbs for muffins, garnishes, main courses and salads etc. is the best way to ensure freshness. Products like the ‘Jiffy Windowsill Greenhouse” can help.

Get Plants for Free!Propagating fruit plants

You don’t have to always buy plants, seedlings and seeds. Once you have a plant, you can propagate more. Find out how to make your own new plants from old, using simple techniques such as seed-saving or taking cuttings. Propagating Fruit Plants will tell you how.

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Freezing foods for freshness

freezing foodsFreezing foods for freshness

The Ice-Man Cometh …

Histamine is odorless, flavorless and invisible to the naked eye – thus, it is undetectable without scientific instruments. It starts to accumulate in plant and animal foods as soon as the plant or animal dies, and continues to build up over time. This is why it is chiefly found in aged, cured, fermented, cultured, and spoiled foods. Histamine itself is not destroyed by cooking, freezing, hot smoking or canning.
So how can people with histamine intolerance cope?

  1. Choose to eat foods that are low in histamine and histamine-triggering compounds. (See the book “Is Food Making You Sick?“)
  2. Eat only foods that are very fresh.
  3. Make the most of your freezer!

Freezing foods is just about the only thing that halts the development of histamine. If you don’t have your own vegetable patch or herb garden, or if you cannot get to the supermarket every couple of days to buy fresh produce, take advantage of the modern convenience of a freezer. Do not allow food to languish for days in the refrigerator.  If you’re not going to eat it straight away – freeze it. Defrost it when you are ready to eat it.

Of course foods like lettuces do not freeze well, but it is possible to freeze herbs and retain their flavor, if not their texture. Wash them and chop them first.

Here are some helpful suggestions for freezing herbs:

  • Simply place them in a freezer-bag or zipper-lock bag and store them in the freezer for up to two weeks.
  • Place chopped herbs into the compartments of an ice-cube tray, cover them with water and freeze them. You can leave them in the tray or put the frozen herb-blocks into a freezer-bag or zipper-lock bag and store them in the freezer for up to two weeks.
  •  Put chopped herbs into the compartments of an ice-cube tray, cover them with vegetable oil and freeze them. Freezing in oil best preserves the flavor.

 

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Boosting your DAO

boosting your daoAntihistamines

If you find that taking certain antihistamines significantly improves your health, then it’s likely you suffer from HIT (Histamine Intolerance). Some common antihistamine trade names include:

Zyrtec = cetirizine, an antihistamine that works by blocking histamine (H-1) receptors.
Zantac – ranitidine, an antihistamine that works by blocking histamine (H-2) receptors.

Both of these – like any medications – can have unwanted side effects. However, these are generally outweighed by their benefits, at least in the short term. Taking them is a good way to hit your symptoms hard and really get them to settle down. If you wish to follow up the potential side-effects of Zyrtec and Zantac, click on these links: Zantac   Zyrtec

That said, taking Zantac and Zyrtec is not a long-term solution. It’s like putting a bandage over an infected wound – it looks okay from the outside but the problem remains. Besides, over time the body can develop resistance to the meds. Then they gradually lose their efficacy and you go back to ‘square one’.

About Boosting Your DAO

We suggest that HIT sufferers:

  • Make sure none of your other medications (if any) are DAO (diamine oxidase) blockers, which might have brought on your symptoms in the first place. If possible – and under medical supervision – try to wean off them.
  • Stick to the Strictly Low Histamine Diet and its associated dietary supplements. A low histamine diet with safe, natural supplements has no unwanted side effects and for many people it has provided that ‘miraculous’ relief they have been seeking. It doesn’t take months and months to get a result – only a few weeks.
  • Another essential is dietary fiber. Consuming abundant fiber has been proven, in numerous studies, to decrease inflammation in the body (and the reverse is true of a high fat diet). It can actually improve the binding ability of the histamine H-1 receptor.
  • Stress can be a powerful trigger for Histamine Intolerance too, so it’s important for people with HIT to treat themselves kindly and allow themselves time to relax. For anyone with HIT who is reading this post, we recommend visiting the Helpguide website and looking at their excellent Stress Management Guide.
  • Protect and heal your intestinal mucosa. The body produces DAO in the small intestine, the upper part of the large intestine, and the kidneys. To help protect and heal the mucosal lining of your intestines, include the spice turmeric and brassica vegetables (e.g. cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, )in your diet. Prebiotics and probiotics, too, play an essential role in the healing of the gut.
  • Protect and heal your kidneys. Your kidneys may be perfectly healthy, but there are still things you can do to make sure they stay that way – and to boost their DAO producing capabilities. The Kidney Foundation of Canada recommends that people with kidney disease should ‘control your salt intake and avoid foods with a high sodium content. These include processed foods like “deli” meats, canned foods, convenience and “fast” foods, salty snacks and salty seasonings.’ They also say, ‘Phosphorus is a mineral which normally keeps your bones strong and healthy. However, too much phosphorus may cause itchy skin or painful joints. When the kidneys start to fail, your blood phosphate level will rise. Therefore, you may need to limit certain foods which contain even a moderate amount of phosphorus. These include milk, cheese and other milk products, and protein foods such as meat, fish and poultry.’
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