Los Algodones, Baja California; Mexico

This is not the End of the World, but you can see it from here!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cell Phone Theft and Violence: How to Protect Yourself

Posted by Writing PIs on June 29, 2012
Yesterday a stranger smashed his fist into our son’s face and threatened him with a knife.  Why?  He wanted our son’s cell phone.  Our son handed it to him.  We feel lucky nothing worse happened.
Unfortunately, violent robberies of cell phones, especially iphones and other smartphones, are on the rise.  According to Today national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen, police across the U.S. say these thefts have reached epidemic proportions. Many victims are “beaten, bruised, and hospitalized.” In this same report, Rossen quotes Washington, D.C., police chief Cathy Lanier, who says these thefts are a “huge business.  The after-market resale of these phones…the profit that they’re making is just driving this whole problem.”

Wireless Companies Can Stop Violent Thefts

There’s an easy fix to this, but up until recently, the wireless companies were dragging their feet to fix it because…big surprise

If someone demands your cell phone, don’t argue. Confrontation invites violence.
here…the solution would negatively affect their profits.  Wireless companies were allowing these stolen phones to be reactivated later with new phone numbers. Of course, U.S. carriers have allowed the disabling of SIM cards, but as all of us who own cell phones know, SIM cards can easily be swapped out.

How Wireless Companies Can Make Stolen Phones Useless

There’s a simple solution: Every cell phone has a unique ID. When a victim reports a stolen phone, that phone’s ID is blacklisted in all U.S. wireless companies, and service on that stolen phone is banned by all wireless carriers forever.
Dead phones = no profit
No profit = robbers don’t stick guns and knives in people’s faces demanding their phones
Europe already applies this technique, so it’s not as though it’s an untested and unrealistic solution.
Seventy major U.S. metropolitan police chiefs forwarded the above solution to federal authorities, but prior to April 2012, the wireless companies wouldn’t do it.  According to the Rossen article, the wireless companies complained there wasn’t the technology to do what the police chiefs suggested.  The police’s response?  ”There are lives at stake here…this is a deadly situation.  It needs to be rectified, and it needs to be rectified immediately.”

Database of IDs Numbers in Process

Despite the wireless carriers complaint that they don’t have the technology to follow up on the police chiefs’ suggestion, guess what?  They’re doing it now.  According to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, major cellphone carriers and the Federal Communications Commission have agreed to set up a database of these unique ID cell phone numbers.  According to New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, “Carriers with a push of a button will be able to take highly prized stolen instruments and turn them into worthless pieces of plastic.”
Gee, guess that technology issue wasn’t such a roadblock after all.

Tips for Avoiding Cell Phone Theft

Here’s a few common sense tips to avoid being the victim of a cell phone theft:
  • Don’t openly display your phone.  Don’t leave it lying out on your car seat, on your desk, hanging off your backpack, on a table at a coffee shop…you get the idea.
  • When riding a bus, train, subway, try not to use your phone to listen to music, text, even make call unless absolutely necessary.
  • If someone demands your phone, don’t argue, debate or otherwise attempt to negotiate.  You might view yourself as a mediator or diplomat, but guess what?  You’re setting yourself up for some violent street diplomacy.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sunday July 1, 2012 Mexican Presidential elections

Visitors to Nuevo Progreso and other destinations of the border will not be able to buy liquor, beer or wine this weekend.
Mexican authorities are applying the "dry law" for Sunday's presidential elections.
Under Mexican law, alcohol cannot be sold in the 24 hours before the election and cannot be sold on election day.
As a result, no alcohol will be sold in Mexico on Saturday or Sunday.
Stores, restaurants and bars in Nuevo Progreso, Matamoros, Reynosa and the rest of Mexico will stop selling at midnight Friday.
The law applies equally for Mexican citizens and foreign tourists.
The sale of alcohol will resume in Mexico after on Monday.
The dry law does not apply to UETA, Baja or other duty free stores on the Texas side of the border.
Mexico’s “La Ley Seca” or “Dry Law” dates back to after the Mexican Revolution and prohibits the sale of alcohol during major elections.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Banner Mountain Sprouts test positive for Salmonella

California Sprouts test positive for Salmonella

Posted: Jun 27, 2012 5:17 PM

Banner Mountain Banner Mountain
Sacramento, CA- California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director Dr. Ron Chapman today warned people not to eat Banner Mountain Organic Alfalfa Sprouts, Organic Clover Sprouts, and Organic Sprout Blends containing alfalfa or clover sprouts, because these products may be contaminated with Salmonella. To date, no illnesses have been reported.
Banner Mountain Sprouts, Inc. of Sacramento initiated a voluntary recall after learning that a routine surveillance sample of its sprouts tested positive for Salmonella. The recalled sprouts have "sell by" dates between June 17, 2012 and July 6, 2012 and were distributed to retail and wholesale locations throughout California.

The recalled sprouts were packaged in clear four- and five-ounce plastic "clamshell-type" containers, and one- and two-pound plastic bags with labels applied to each.
Alfalfa Sprouts – 1 and 2 pound plastic bags / 4 ounce plastic container
  •  Clover Sprouts – 1 pound plastic bag / 4 ounce plastic container
  •  Zesty Greens – 4 ounce plastic container
  •  Sprout Salad – 5 ounce plastic  container 
  • Alfalfa-Broccoli Sprouts – 4 ounce plastic container
Consumers in possession of these recalled sprout products should discard or return to the store of purchase for refund. Symptoms of Salmonella infection include fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea which may be bloody. Most infected people recover within a week. Some may develop complications that require hospitalization. Infants, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are at highest risk for more severe illness.

CDPH recommends consumers experiencing any ill effects after consuming these products should consult their health care provider. Consumers that observe the product being offered for sale are encouraged to report to the CDPH toll free complaint line at (800) 495-3232.

Xanax and Ambien

an answer. Alprazolam (Xanax), a benzodiazepine, is typically prescribed for anxiety and panic disorders. Zolpidem (Ambien), a sedative-hypnotic, is typically prescribed for insomnia. From a pharmacological standpoint, the two drugs work in pretty much the same way, and the likelihood of psychological and physical dependence with either drug — even at low doses — is very high.

Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter.

Both of these drugs can cause powerful morning "hangovers," especially in older people, as well as memory loss (even amnesia), dementia and suicidal thoughts. Studies show that their use dramatically increases the risk of falls and fractures. Ambien can cause sleepwalking and the type of mania and hypomania that are associated with bipolar, or manic-depressive, disorder.
Neither of these drugs is intended for long-term use on a daily basis. Xanax shouldn't be used for more than 30 days at a time, and Ambien shouldn't be used for more than 10 days at a time.
These drugs are especially dangerous when taken at the same time. Both Xanax and Ambien slow down the central nervous system. When you use them together your central nervous system can slow down so much that your heart stops beating and your lungs stop breathing.
Your fears about dependency are well founded, and weaning yourself off these drugs will be challenging. My rule of thumb: The older you are, and the longer you've been taking the drugs, the harder it will be to get off them.
That's why it's important for you to work with your doctor or other health professional to gradually discontinue the drugs, one at a time, through a slow tapering process. You'll need to brace yourself for such possible withdrawal symptoms as extreme emotional distress, muscle cramps, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, and anxiety and confusion.
The sooner you can stop the drugs, the better. As unpleasant as the withdrawal symptoms may be, they will go away. Small doses of another antianxiety medication during the tapering process may reduce your discomfort and boost your chances of success. (Venlaxafine ER is my first choice for this purpose.) Taking 10 mg of melatonin at bedtime may help you sleep and also improve your sleep patterns.
AARP Information On Xanax and Ambien you should know.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Yuma Crop of the Week: Bok choy January 14, 2012

Crop of the Week: Bok choy

• Bok choy, also known as pac choi and Chinese white cabbage among other names, is in the mustard family. It is an important Asian vegetable that has been cultivated in China since the fifth century.

• Bok choy acreage in the Yuma area is minimal, roughly 200 acres. It is among the vegetables produced in the area in the winter months.

Bok choy is actually a non-heading cabbage with an erect spiral of dark green leaves and thick white/light green petioles, both of which are eaten.

• There is much confusion over the different types of bok choy. To simplify the problem they have been divided into four major groups, based on appearance: 1) The Chinese white bok choy is a sturdy-looking variety with thick green leaves curling outwards. The leaf stalks are bright white, curved slightly and thin. 2) The green leaf stalk type, Shanghai bok choy, has leaf stalks which are light green in color, broad, flat and widen at the base like the other bok choys. 3) The soup spoon type has thinner leaves and leaf stalks. 4) The squat or Canton variety is the most compact. It is short with convoluted dark green leaves. The leaf stalks are white, short and thick.

• Cooked bok choy has 20 calories and 144 percent of daily requirements of vitamin A and 74 percent of vitamin C.

• Look for clean, crisp, white stalks and beautiful green leaves. The Chinese are known to dip the leaves in boiling water and hang to dry for storage through the winter.

• Bok choy has a nice mustard flavor to add to many dishes. It is stir-fried, boiled, steamed or added to stir fries, soups and noodle and meat dishes. Use young leaves in salads and pickle larger, coarser leaves. Ginger, hoisin sauce and soy sauce are great flavor enhancers.

• Don't cook bok choy in an aluminum pot as it causes a chemical reaction that alters its color and flavor.

• Bok choy at one time was also known was ice cabbage because of its translucent color. This particular color, as well as the shape created by its long blond leaves, has inspired many Chinese artists to reproduce it in high-quality jades.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904.

Yuma Crop of the Week: Bell peppers January 21, 2012

Crop of the Week: Bell peppers

• Yuma bell peppers are being grown in the Yuma Valley but are a minor crop in the county with only about 100 acres in production.

• Bell peppers are a great source of vitamin C, with the twice amount by weight as citrus fruits. This powerful punch of vitamin C is an antioxidant that may be effective in preventing certain cancers.

• Bell peppers can be found in a rainbow of colors and can vary in flavor. The variety of the pepper plant and the stage of the ripeness determine the flavor and color of each pepper. For example, a red bell pepper is simply a mature green bell pepper. As a bell pepper ages, its flavor becomes sweeter and milder. Red bell peppers contain 11 times more beta carotene than green bell peppers.

• A wonderful combination of tangy taste and crunchy texture, bell peppers are the Christmas ornaments of the vegetable world with their beautifully shaped glossy exterior that comes in a wide array of vivid colors ranging from green, red, yellow, orange and purple to brown or black. Sweet peppers are plump, bell-shaped vegetables featuring either three or four lobes. Inside the thick flesh is a cavity with edible bitter seeds and a white spongy core. Bell peppers are not “hot” as they contain a recessive gene that eliminates capsaisin, the compound responsible for the “hotness” found in other peppers.

• When selecting peppers, look for firm skin without any wrinkles, and the stem should be fresh and green. They should feel heavy for their size. Avoid peppers with sunken areas, slashes or black spots.

• Store unwashed bell peppers in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will stay fresh for about a week. Green bell peppers will typically stay fresh a little longer than the yellow and red ones.

• Like their relatives the chili peppers, bell peppers originated in South America from seeds of a wild variety dating back to 5000 B.C.

• They have become a staple in central Europe, where they are dried for paprika, a seasoning for Louisiana Creole dishes and an integral ingredient in both Mexican and Portuguese cuisines. Mild, sweet bell peppers have established themselves as staples in salads and as integral components of almost all sectors of American national and regional cuisine.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904.

Yuma Crop of the Week: Collard greens January 07, 2012

Crop of the Week: Collard greens

• Collards are the oldest known greens in the cabbage family, dating back to ancient times in the eastern Mediterranean. Ancient Greeks and Romans cultivated collard greens. In approximately 400 B.C., they were brought to Britain and France. The first documentation of collard greens in America was in 1669, though it is possible they were present in the colonies even earlier.

• The word “collards” is derived from the word “colewort” or “cabbage plant.”

• The plant grows to 3-4 feet in height and bears dark green leaves arranged in a rosette fashion around an upright, stocky main stem.

• Many greens are an exceptional source of vitamins A, C and K. Collards are rich in many vital B-complex groups of minerals such as niacin (vitamin B-3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and riboflavin. The leaves and stems are good sources of such minerals as iron, calcium, copper, manganese, selenium and zinc. They're also a good source of fiber.

• Greens have a long tradition on the plates of many cultures. Most Americans know them as a Southern dish that originated with the slaves. Slow cooking with a mixture of greens, pig's feet or ham hocks yielded a much-needed meal.

• Collard greens have a milder taste than mustard greens or kale. In addition to be being served boiled with bacon or ham hocks, collard greens blend nicely with either salads or cooked meat and fish dishes. The fresh leaves can be used as fresh juice along with fruit juice.

• Purchase greens that have a crisp, fresh look and are free of defects such as visible insect damage. Collards can be stored in refrigerator for up to four days.

• A New Year's tradition calls for the consumption of collards and black-eyed peas to bring good luck and a prosperous year.

• Chefs of many ethnicities have discovered greens and added them to a variety of trendy restaurant dishes, garnering interest from diners who might not have been exposed to cooked greens before.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904.

Yuma Crop of the Week: Leaf lettuce February 25, 2012

Crop of the Week: Leaf lettuce

• In 2005, Yuma producers grew more than 8,000 acres of leaf lettuce valued at over $120 million. Production of leaf lettuce in Yuma has increased by more than 20 percent since 1998 and today is the third-ranking crop here, based on gross farmgate receipts. California and Arizona account for approximately 97 percent of the U.S. leaf lettuce production.

• The salad has been around since ancient times, named for the Latin for salt (sal), in which the greens were seasoned with salt. In the 1970s, salad became a national obsession in the U.S. as salad bars sprang up everywhere. Along with increased interest in salad came widening choices of ingredients and more variety in salad dressings. The 1990s initiated the decade of convenience, with the emergence of the grocery store “salad mix”: pre-cut, pre-washed greens for an easy mixed green salad.

• Leaf lettuce is also fun to use as a wrap. Add grilled chicken and salsa for a healthy entree.

• Lettuce is a close relative of sunflowers, artichokes, chicory, endive and sunflowers.

• Leaf lettuce is a descendant of the weed Lactuca serriola (prickly lettuce), which probably originated in the region stretching from Asia Minor into modern-day Iran. Thanks to horticultural work from the Roman period to the present, we are now enjoying around 2,000 years of work in developing modern types and varieties of leaf lettuce.

• Iceberg lettuce doesn't offer much nutritionally, but loose leaf lettuce is nutrient rich. In fact, loose leaf lettuce provides 5 to 6 times the amount of vitamin A and five to 10 times the vitamin A compared to iceberg.

• Leaf lettuce is any of several varieties of lettuce with leaves that branch from a single stalk in a loose bunch rather than forming a tight head. The leaves are crisper and more full-flavored than those of the iceberg varieties. Depending on the variety, leaf lettuce can range in color from medium to dark green; some have red-tipped leaves. Among the more popular leaf lettuces are oak leaf, frilly red leaf and crinkly green leaf.

• In general, leaf lettuce is more perishable than head lettuce. Choose bunches with crisp, evenly colored leaves with no sign of wilting or yellowing. It should be washed and either drained completely or blotted with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture before being refrigerated in a plastic bag. It will keep this way up to about three days.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904.

Yuma Crop of the Week: Lolla Rossa February 04, 2012

Crop of the Week: Lolla Rossa

• Lolla Rossa is among the crops harvested in the Yuma area for the baby leaf salad industry. There are more than 5,000 acres of mixed baby leaf greens produced in the Yuma area.

• Lolla Rossa is a deeply curled loose leaf lettuce variety with heavily frilled green leaves that have magenta-red edges. The stiff frills help to separate other leaves in salads as well as adding a lovely red color.

• Lettuce is a great vegetable, but it doesn't have to be relegated to rows in a vegetable field or garden. Some view this versatile plant as an ornamental addition to the landscape, adding color and texture. It looks handsome mixed with annuals in a flower bed, combines well with spring-flowering bulbs, or is a great foliar foil in mixed containers. When mixing lettuce with other ornamental plants, the same principles of design are used as with other foliage plants, selecting plants to contrast in color and texture with the adjacent plants.

• The Italian variety Lolla Rossa and its green leaf sister, Lollo Biondo, taste pleasantly strong and nutty although slightly bitter.

• All baby leaf, spinach and other small leaf baby green varieties in Yuma are harvested mechanically.

• Whether you choose baby field greens for your salad or dive right in to mustard greens, ounce for ounce these celebrated greens pack a powerful nutritious punch. They provide a wide array of nutrients, including fiber, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, folic acid and chlorophyll (the green pigment found in plant cells). Many varieties of leafy greens, including Lolla Rosa, are rich sources of vitamin C. The darker the leaves, the more nutrients the vegetable usually has.

• Lolla Rossa lettuce is believed to be a selected form of the bitter-leaved wild species (Lactuca serriola) found throughout Europe, Asia and North Africa.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904.

Yuma Crop of the Week: Artichokes March 24, 2012

Crop of the Week: Artichokes

• Yuma artichoke production varies from the edible artichokes to the production of its seed. Acreage is in the range of about 400 acres within the county.

• Artichokes are the large, unopened flower bud of a plant belonging to the thistle or sunflower family. The many leaf-like parts making up the bud are called scales. Peak season for Yuma-grown artichokes is late February through April.

• Historians believe the artichoke originated in the Mediterranean countries, possible Sicily or Tunisia, where they were first developed into an edible vegetable. In 77 A.D. the Roman naturalist Pliny called the choke one of earth's monstrosities, but many continued to eat them. Historical accounts show that wealthy Romans enjoyed artichokes preserved in honey and vinegar, seasoned with cumin, so that this treat would be available year-round.

• From the 16th century to the end of the 20th century, the artichoke was made a gourmet item in Paris. The artichoke was thought to have been an aphrodisiac during the 16th century, so much so that consumption of the rare vegetable was reserved only for men for it was thought to enhance sexual power.

• It was not until the early 20th century that artichokes were grown in the United States. In the U.S., artichokes were first grown in Louisiana brought there by settlers in the 19th century.

• The word artichoke comes from the Arabic word “al-qarshuf.” The name passed into Spanish during the Middle Ages. The Old Spanish word “alcarchofa” was variously modified as it passed through Italian. The name “articiocco” was then modified in English, once introduced to the English.

• The artichoke was introduced to California by the Spanish during the 19th century. During this time, many Italian immigrants settled in the coastal city of Half Moon Bay. In the 1950s, artichokes earned fame in the state of California, thus giving the status of the official vegetable for Monterey County. Today, California provides nearly all of the artichokes in the United States.

• Here's one way to eat artichokes: Pull each leaf off the cooked choke, hold the pointed end between your fingers and drag the leaf between your teeth. Most of the edible portion is on inside bottom as about 1/3 of the choke leaf. Once you've eaten all the leaves, you'll see the heart or flower of the choke. Once you see a bed of fuzzy or hair like strands, you've hit the heart. Scoop out the fuzz with a spoon and discard. The rest of the base of the choke is edible, referred to as the heart.

• Artichokes are actually a flower bud, and if allowed to flower, blossoms measure up to 7 inches in diameter, are a wonderful violet-blue and resemble that of a thistle, its closest relative.

• In 1947, Marilyn Monroe was crowned the first Queen of the Artichokes in Castroville, Calif., known as the Artichoke Capital of the World.

• Artichokes have small quantities of many vital vitamins and minerals that are important insofar as they supplement other foods in the diet. Current research is showing benefits to the liver from cynarin, a compound found in the artichoke's leaves. Silymarin is another compound found in artichokes that has powerful antioxidant properties and may help the liver regenerate healthy tissue.

• Artichokes provide the important minerals magnesium, chromium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, iron and calcium. A single artichoke provides 6 percent of the Recommended Daily Value of phosphorus, 10 percent of magnesium, 8 percent of manganese, 10 percent of chromium, 5 percent of potassium, 4 percent of iron and 2 percent of calcium and iron.

• Due to the manner in which whole artichokes must be eaten, they are often served as an appetizer or as a separate course during the meal. Or they may be stuffed with meat, fish, poultry or fresh vegetables and served either hot or chilled as a main dish salad.

• Cynar is an Italian artichoke-flavored aperitif, a before-dinner liquor that is thought to stimulate the appetite.

• The artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is actually a perennial thistle and can grow over 6 feet tall, with arching, deeply lobed, silvery glaucous-green leaves from 2 to 4 four feet long. The flowers develop in a large head from an edible bud about 4 to 8 inches in diameter with numerous triangular scales. The edible portion of the buds consist primarily of the fleshy lower portions of the bracts and the base, known as the “heart”; the mass of inedible immature florets in the center of the bud are called the “choke.”

• When harvesting, artichokes are cut leaving an inch or two of stem that help in keeping them fresher longer, frequently remaining quite fresh for two weeks or longer under average retail conditions.

• Apart from food use, the artichoke is also an attractive plant for its bright floral display, sometimes grown for its bold foliage and large purple flower heads.

• Artichokes can also be made into an herbal tea; artichoke tea is produced as a commercial product in the Dalat region of Vietnam.

• While Yuma-grown artichokes are grown primarily from seed, the California artichoke can be grown as a perennial.

• The height of the artichoke flower stalk can determine the size of the bud.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904.

Yuma Crop of the Week: Celery March 31, 2012

Crop of the Week: Celery

• Celery acreage in the Yuma area has increased each year since 2005. It is grown exclusively for the fresh market and can take up to 16 weeks to reach maturity. In 2007, Yuma County growers had about 1,000 acres of celery in production with a value of more than $1.2 million.

• Celery has negative calories! It takes more calories to digest a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with.

• Celery is a member of the Umbelliferae family, a cousin of carrots, parsley, anise, parsnips, fennel, caraway and celeriac (celery root).

• Celery plants are raised from seeds in greenhouses. It takes only one ounce of celery seeds to grow one acre of celery. Celery production and harvest are very labor-intensive. A person handles each individual plant at least three times, once when it is transplanted in the field, again when it is trimmed and then when it is cut and placed in a carton.

• Keep raw celery on hand for a quick snack that's delicious and nutritious. Kids enjoy the texture and sweetness of celery, and you can add to the nutrition value by spreading celery pieces with peanut butter, cream cheese or a zesty yogurt dip. If you keep celery in ice water, it will stay nice and crunchy.

• Celery packs a nutrition punch. It's a good source of calcium, vitamin C, fiber, potassium and folic acid. It also contains compounds that may help lower cholesterol and prevent cancer.

• The name celery is from the French word celeri.

• Originally a bitter, wild marsh plant ranging from Sweden south throughout Europe, celery was used over centuries for medicinal purposes “to purify the blood.” The winner of an athletic event in ancient Greece was given a bunch of celery, much like flowers are given today.

• Using a celery stick to garnish a Bloody Mary originated in the 1960s at Chicago's Ambassador East Hotel. An unnamed celebrity got a Bloody Mary but no swizzle stick. He grabbed a stalk of celery from the relish tray to stir his Bloody Mary and history was made.

• Two billion pounds of celery are grown each year in the U.S. Per capita U.S. consumption of celery is about nine to 10 pounds per person annually.

• Celery stalks, celery seed and celeriac (celery root) are each grown commercially from different varieties of the plant.

• The edible celery stalk is not a plant stem as often claimed. It is a petiole, which is part of a leaf.

• Many sound artists break stalks of celery into a microphone to simulate the sound of breaking bones.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904.

Yuma Crop of the Week: Beet greens March 04, 2012

Crop of the Week: Beet greens

• When people say “beets” they are usually talking of the beet roots. Buy beets with the “greens” or tops attached and you are actually getting a two-for-one sale! You can eat the greens and the beet roots separately or combine them in a meal.

• These tender greens are high in dietary fiber and antioxidants A, C and E. Beet greens provide a good source of protein and are cholesterol free.

• Beet greens are grown as part of Yuma County's baby leaf production for the bagged salad industry. Baby leaf salads are gaining in popularity over traditional whole head lettuce salads in response to consumer demand for greater variety and convenience in their diet. Baby lettuce leaves are mixed, washed and packaged as whole leaves, with a shelf-life of approximately 10 to 15 days.

• Beet greens pair nicely with feta cheese and nuts — especially walnuts or hazelnuts. Olive oil or walnut oil, vinegar (balsamic or red wine) and orange juice are always nice as a dressing.

• In the same family as chard, beet greens are delicious used as a cooking green when they are young and tender. Beet greens work great in any recipe calling for spinach, chard, sorrel or kale.

• Good-quality beet greens will have dark-green colored leaves with rich red veins and fairly long, upright stalks. Avoid beet greens with leaves that are wilted, yellowing or have dark green patches of slime on parts of the leaves. They are best used fresh as their integrity will diminish rapidly. To maintain firmness of beet roots, cut off leaves and stems 1½ inches about root crown. Wash well and spin dry. Store in a plastic bag and refrigerate in the hydrator drawer.

• Mechanical harvesters maximize capacity, time and efficiency of harvesting beet greens and other baby leaf varieties.

• A key focus of all fresh produce includes locking in nutrients, maximizing food and consumer safety, and delivering optimum freshness and taste. One of the major ways to achieve this is through the use of leading edge breathable packaging. The resulting film structure manipulates the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide contained within the packaging, and thus enables the leafy greens to live longer by delaying the ripening process and reducing ethylene production.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904.

Yuma Crop of the Week: Mizuna March 10, 2012

Crop of the Week: Mizuna

• Mizuna is a Japanese mustard green with glossy, dandelion-like jagged edge, dark green leaves with striking silvery white. It has a mild, sweet, somewhat earthy flavor. It has been cultivated in Japan since ancient times but most likely originated in China.

• Another Japanese name for mizuna is kyona-greens from Kyoto, the ancient capital of the empire. Mizuna translates from the Japanese as water or juicy vegetable.

• In terms of acreage, mizuna has a relatively small role in Yuma County winter produce production. However, it is a large player in the world of spring mix salads. Spring mix blends contain a varying mixture of green romaine, red romaine, tango, lollo rossa, green oak, red oak, mizuna, arugula, frillice, red chard, radicchio, frisee, curly endive and spinach. About half of the greens and lettuces in a spring mix are sweet and mild while others have a slightly bitter edge.

• Mizuna leaves also can be added to soups and stir-fry, normally added at the end of cooking. In cooking, as with nearly every leafy green, it's wise to pull the leaves from the stalks and ribs and cook each separately. Mizuna can be adapted to most any cooked dish requiring mustard greens or cabbage recipe. Some recipes call for mizuna being stuffed into ravioli and speckled through cream sauces.

• Spring mix is a dieter's delight and offers lots of healthy eating without an abundance of calories. Dark-colored greens offer the most nutrition. Spring mix is high in vitamin A and iron.

• When selecting spring mix, look for small greens that have fresh-looking, crisp leaves. When wrapped in plastic and stored in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator, the greens will stay fresh for about a week.

• Spring mix blends may vary. Varying in taste and texture, spring mix offers a pleasant and palatable balance of flavors and textures. About half of the greens and lettuces in a Spring Mix are sweet and mild while others have a slightly bitter edge.

• Spring mix first originated in Nice in southern France. From France, it spread to the West Coast by way of Berkeley, Calif. Alice Waters, a self-proclaimed salad warrior, opened a restaurant called Chez Panisse, where she grew the salad mixes on her property. One of her goals was to teach the value of produce to her customers.

• In Italy and France, salads are served after the main course as a refreshment for the diner's taste buds and eyes. In the United States, salads are served before the main entree. Lettuce greens are especially popular in European and Asian cuisine.

• It was in the 1980s that salad mixes became exceptionally popular and the demand has continually escalated. These greens and lettuces thrive in the deserts of Southern California and Arizona during our wonderful winters.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904.

Yuma Crop of the Week: Onion seed April 07, 2012

Crop of the Week: Onion seed

• In 2005, Yuma County was the home of more than 150 acres of onions grown for seed, with crop valued in excess of $1 million. The Yuma climate is the perfect growing environment for onion seed, with its cool winters and hot and dry summers.

• Hybrid seed production demands premium contracted grower prices. Typically in Yuma, onion seed is grown under a contract between a grower and a seed company. The grower is responsible for all production inputs while the seed company provides the parent seeds, technical advice and variety information.

• Onion seeds are planted from early August to September and harvested from late June to early August of the following year for a lengthy 10-month growing period.

• Onion flowers are pollinated by flying insects, so onions grown for seed must be isolated by a minimum of 1½ miles (and sometimes greater) from any other onion seed field to prevent cross-pollination.

• Bulb onions produce their characteristic “bulb” when onion leaf bases swell to form storage tissues. Bulb formation is triggered by increasing day lengths in late spring, during the first growing season. When given the proper environmental conditions, an onion plant forms one or more flower inflorescences that terminate in an umbel containing several hundred seeds.

• Bolting (the growth of the seed-producing inflorescence) is undesirable in onions grown for bulbs but is essential for onion seed production. Bolting requires a period of chilling at temperatures of 45 to 55 degrees for a month or longer.

• When the seed-laden inflorescence (a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem) that produce seeds has dried sufficiently in the field, they are cut from the mother plant and spread out on large plastic tarps and further dried for an additional three weeks. Later, the seed is thrashed using conventional combines.

• Most onion seed varieties are for the production of onion hybrids, which require special growth and management considerations. One critical factor involves the careful selection of parents that bloom at the same time.

• One acre of onions grown for seed production can yield up to 300 pounds of seed.

• The seed is distributed worldwide, mostly for commercial production.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904.

Yuma Crop of the Week: Celery seed April 14, 2012

Crop of the Week: Celery seed

• In 2009, Yuma County growers had about 1,200 acres of celery in production with a value of more than $1.2 million, a crop that has been on the rise in recent years. And, to assist in the supply of its seed, Yuma-area vegetable seed producers are growing celery seed, which will be harvested at the end of June.

• One successful acre of plants will yield about 500 pounds of seeds. There are about 71,000 seeds per ounce or 1,120,000 seeds per pound.

• Celery seed is not well-known in Western herbal medicine, although it has been used medicinally for thousands of years in other parts of the world. During ancient times, Ayurvedic medicine used celery seed to treat colds, flu, water retention, poor digestion, various types of arthritis and certain diseases of the liver and spleen.

• Today, celery seed is used primarily as a diuretic (increasing urine output to help the body get rid of excess water). Celery seed is also suggested for treating arthritis and gout and to help reduce muscle spasms, calm the nerves and reduce inflammation. However, there are no scientific studies in humans that show whether celery seed is effective for these conditions or any others. Studies do show that celery seeds act as a mosquito repellent.

• A few animal studies suggest that celery seed extracts may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as protect the liver from damaging substances such as the pain reliever acetaminophen. Preliminary animal studies also show that celery seed may help prevent the formation of cancerous tumors in mice.

• In humans, researchers have found that people who eat a diet rich in lutein (from celery, spinach, broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, oranges, carrots and greens) were significantly less likely to develop colorectal cancer. However, celery was just one part of their diet, and no one knows whether the effect is due to celery, another food or some combination of foods.

• In North America, commercial production of celery is dominated by a variety called Pascal celery. Gardeners can grow a range of cultivars, many of which differ little from the wild species, mainly in having stouter leaf stems. They are ranged under two classes, white and red; the white cultivars being generally the best flavored, and the most crisp and tender.

• With cultivation and blanching, celery stalks lose their acidic qualities and assume the mild, sweetish, aromatic taste particular to celery as a salad plant.

• When Europeans refer to the seed of the wild celery plant as “smallage,” they must be thinking of the size since the flavor and aroma of the celery seed are anything but tiny. In fact, you must take care in seasoning with celery seed to avoid overpowering a dish. Used properly, it will offer a warm taste with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

• A common ingredient in pickling, celery seed accents a wide variety of foods. Beyond the typical tomato juice or vegetable salads, think of it for fish, eggs or meat dishes. Celery salt is a mixture of ground celery seed and table salt deemed almost essential to a Bloody Mary cocktail.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904.

Yuma Crop of the Week: Cabbage April 21, 2012

Crop of the Week: Cabbage

• The last of the green cabbage for this growing season is now being harvested. In 2010, Yuma County farmers grew more than 700 acres of cabbage valued at over $2.2 million.

• Cabbage, Brassica oleracea, is a plant of the family Brassicaceae. Native to the Mediterranean region, it was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans; Cato the Elder praised this vegetable for its medicinal properties, declaring that “It is the cabbage that surpasses all other vegetables.”

• There are three major types of cabbage: green, red and Savoy. The color of green cabbage ranges from pale to dark green while red cabbage has leaves that are either crimson or purple with white veins running through. Both green and red cabbage have smooth textured leaves. The leaves of Savoy cabbage are more ruffled and yellowish-green in color. Red and green cabbage varieties have a more defined taste and crunchy texture compared to Savoy cabbage's more delicate nature.

• The only part of the plant that is normally eaten is the leafy head and the spherical cluster of immature leaves. The so-called cabbage head is widely consumed — raw, cooked or preserved — in a great variety of dishes such as cooked in soups and stews or raw in cole slaw.

• Sturdy, abundant and inexpensive, cabbage is a long-standing dietary staple throughout the world, widely cultivated and stores well so it was a common winter vegetable before refrigeration and long-distance shipping of produce.

• Sauerkraut, a dish made from fermented cabbage, has a colorful legacy. Dutch sailors consumed it during extended exploration voyages to prevent scurvy because of cabbage's high vitamin C content.

• Cabbage contains quercetin, an antioxidant that is a natural antihistamine that can benefit allergy sufferers. A chemical (isothiocyanates) found in cabbages may lower the risk of lung cancer in smokers by as much as 38 percent.

• Choose cabbage heads that are firm and dense with shiny, crisp, colorful leaves free of cracks, bruises and blemishes. Keeping it cold will keep it fresh and help retain its vitamin C content. Put the whole head in a plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator. Red and green cabbage will keep this way for about two weeks while Savoy cabbage will keep fresh for about one week.

• The world's largest cabbage is credited to William Collingwood of County Durham, England, whose prized cabbage in 1865 weighed in at 123 pounds.

• World Cabbage Day is on Feb. 17.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904.

Yuma Crop of the Week: Alfalfa seed May 05, 2012

Crop of the Week: Alfalfa seed

• Yuma County is known for growing alfalfa, with about 30,000 irrigated acres valued in 2009 at over $35 million. While alfalfa is an important forage crop in Yuma County, the area also produces seed for the crop.

• The approximate yield of U.S. alfalfa seed in 2005 was 135 million pounds, with an average price of $190 per 100 pounds of seed for an estimated total value of $218.5 million.

• Alfalfa seeds are so small (1-2 millimeters), slightly wider than the tip of a pencil lead, there are about 200,000 alfalfa seeds per pound.

• A fringe benefit to growing alfalfa seed is the production of honey from bees. In the U.S., $147.7 million worth of honey is produced each year.

• Alfalfa is referred to as the “Queen of Forages” because of its high protein, vitamins, energy and digestibility. Alfalfa can be used whenever herbivores need high quality diet for growth, stamina, strength and the production of meat, milk, wool, eggs or feathers. Lucerne is another name for this crop that was first used in Iran.

• Alfalfa is also important for soil enrichment, soil water-holding capacity improvement, mulch and extraction of deep minerals and nitrogen. It can gather available nitrogen from the air and use it for their growth. On average, an acre of alfalfa will fix about 450 pounds of nitrogen per year, thus reducing the need to apply expensive nitrogen fertilizers.

• Alfalfa's rise to great economic prominence is attracting new technology, specifically herbicide-resistant alfalfa.

• Alfalfa was first successfully grown in the United States during the mid-1850s.

• In the U.S., more than 23 million acres of alfalfa are cut for hay, with an average yield of 3.3 tons per acre. The average yield in Yuma County is three times the national average, with over 9.2 tons per acre.

• Alfalfa is also directly consumed by humans in the form of alfalfa sprouts. Also, the leaves are eaten as a vegetable. And because it's very high in fiber, it is often formulated to work as dietary supplement in different forms such as tea and tablet. Alfalfa juice is used in some health food products.

• In addition to the traditional uses of alfalfa as an animal feed, alfalfa is beginning to be used as a biofuel for the production of electricity, bioremediation of soils with high levels of nitrogen and as a factory for the production of industrial enzymes such as lignin peroxidase, alpha-amylase, cellulase and phytase.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904.

Yuma Crop of the Week: Basil May 12, 2012

Crop of the Week: Basil

• Yuma County fresh herb growers produce basil on less than 50 acres. Production continues throughout the year even in the hottest parts of the summer. Yuma-grown basil is routinely shipped throughout the nation to high-end restaurants and food stores.

• There are more than 40 known varieties of basil.

• Mediterranean cuisines frequently use basil, especially combined with tomato. Basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto, an Italian sauce from the city of Genoa. Vietnamese and Chinese use fresh or dried basil in soups and other foods. In Taiwan, people add fresh basil leaves to thick soups. They also eat fried chicken with deep-fried basil leaves. Basil can be added to meat and poultry as well as fish, rice, cheese and eggs. It also adds a special something to vegetables, especially root vegetables, and to soups and sauces.

• Basil, which has long been known to contain bacteria-fighting properties, has recently been incorporated into plastic wrapping to preserve foods. Certain antimicrobial chemicals within basil will ooze out of the wrapping and slow the growth of eight types of lethal bacteria, including E. coli and listeria. Experiments showed basil-impregnated wrapping extends the shelf life of cheese and most likely meats, fish, baked goods, fruits and vegetables.

• Basil essential oil is used topically to massage the skin. It enhances the luster of dull looking skin as well as hair. As a result, it is extensively used in many skin care supplements that claim to improve the tone of your skin. It is also used for acne and skin infections.

• The pungent aroma of basil repels many flying insects. Have either a pot or a vase of cut stems on the table when eating outdoors.

• A tea made from the leaves is used in India as a remedy for colds. It is also used for the relief of dysentery, gas pains and nausea, and as a cure for worms and warts.

• The fresh herb can be kept for about a week in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer after being blanched quickly in boiling water. Place fresh leaves in a dry jar with a pinch of salt and cover with olive oil. The dried herb has a different taste, rather like curry.

• Basil is an annual herb of the mint family, native to central and tropical Asia and Africa (some say it originated in India).

• Basil plants reach a height of 12 to 30 inches depending on the variety, with foliage in shades of green and deep purple and blossoms in white, pale pink, lavender and mauve.

• The basil name comes from the Greek for “king” and it is revered as a sacred herb in the Hindu religion. Every good Hindu goes to his rest with a basil leaf on his breast. This is his passport to paradise.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904.

Yuma Crop of the Week: Chicory May 19, 2012

Crop of the Week: Chicory

• Like other specialty crops grown in the Yuma area, acreage devoted chicory is minimal yet important one for those who produce and use it.

• What Americans call endive, the British call chicory, and what the Americans call chicory, the British call endive.

• Chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a hardy perennial that was brought to North America from Europe in the 1700s and is now well-established across the continent.

• Though chicory has a variety of uses, it's best known for its association with coffee. At many points through history, coffee has become unavailable or too costly. During these times, people often turned to roasted chicory as a substitute. There is no caffeine in chicory, and it produces a more “roasted” flavor than coffee does. Many coffee producers offer blends with up to 30 percent chicory; others enjoy a cup of “coffee” made entirely from ground, roasted chicory.

• The origins of adding chicory to coffee as a filler and flavor enhancer began as early as the 15th century. The tradition spread to the French, and it became common in parts of Europe where coffee could not be grown or because it was cheaper.

• For many years, chicory was used to stretch coffee supplies in the United States, especially in hard times such as the Civil War. Somewhere along the way, chicory became synonymous with New Orleans coffee, a blend of dark roasted coffee and chicory.

• Chicory also offers extra health benefits that you wouldn't normally get from your cup of coffee. It is reported to help cleanse the blood and improve the health of your liver. Chicory contains inulin, which may help humans with weight loss, constipation, improving bowel function and general health. Chicory helps the body to better absorb calcium and other minerals.

• Chicory is a perennial, with a tap root like the dandelion. The stems are 2 to 3 feet high, the lateral branches numerous and spreading, given off at a very considerable angle from the central stem. The flowers are blue-purple and will open and close at precisely the same time every day.

• The leaves are used in salads, for which they are much superior to dandelion. They may be cut and used from young plants but are generally blanched, as the unblanched leaves are bitter. The young blanched heads also form a good vegetable for cooking. The root can be boiled and eaten like a vegetable (it's related to endive and radicchio). It's also grown as cattle feed in Europe.

• Chicory lives as a wild plant on roadsides in its native Europe and in North America and Australia, where it has become naturalized.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904.

Yuma Crop of the Week: Mini watermelons May 26, 2012

Crop of the Week: Mini watermelons

• Mini watermelons are growing in popularity. More than 250 acres are in production in the Yuma area, mainly in Winterhaven. Mini watermelons were first grown in the Yuma area about 10 years ago.

• Seedless mini, or “personal,” watermelons are becoming more common in local markets. They weigh between 3 and 7 pounds each and are perfect for serving one or two people. Besides being smaller than traditional watermelons, they have a thinner rind, which means more edible flesh per pound. They also have a uniform flavor throughout the fruit. As the popularity of these mini melons increases, seed companies are developing varieties with improved characteristics.

• In developing the mini 6-inch watermelon, plant breeders crossed wild dwarf varieties of melon found in undisclosed locations outside the U.S. with established commercial strains. They then bred the resulting mini melons to have thin skins and a very flavorful and sweet flesh.

• The mini watermelons are made seedless by generating two “master” hybrid lines: one with the usual two sets of chromosomes and one with four sets. When the two are crossed with one another, they produce seedless fruit with three sets of chromosomes.

• In 2007, mini watermelons captured about 8 percent of the U.S. market, and are the fastest-growing segment of the watermelon market. Many believe that the demand for mini watermelons will rise, most notably in Europe.

• So why the attraction to the minis? Folks who can't finish the huge ones welcome the smaller size. And the minis (also called personal watermelons) leave more room in the refrigerator.

• Consumers have the choice of many colors, flavors and textures to consider. Mini watermelons are striped as well as solid-colored, with dark-green skins. Mini melons come in red, orange, yellow and yellow-orange flesh colors.

• Overripe melons sound “too deep and hollow,” unripe melons have a “tinny, high sound.” The melons that are just right are somewhere in between.

• Most parts of a melon are edible — the flesh, rind and seeds. The rind makes an excellent pickle. Soak trimmed strips of rind overnight in salted water. Drain, then simmer in fresh water until tender. Drain and combine with an equal weight of sugar, half as much water and spices. Simmer for 10 minutes until translucent. Bottle with liquid.

• Melons are high in vitamin C, fiber and potassium. The more colorful the melon's flesh, the higher its antioxidant content. Red and orange fleshed types contain carotenoids, a known cancer fighter.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904.

Yuma Crop of the Week: Date palm offshoots June 02, 2012

Crop of the Week: Date palm offshoots

• Medjool dates are an expanding crop in Yuma County. About 4,000 acres of dates are now being cultivated, producing a crop valued at over $25 million. In the early 1900s, date palms were brought to our Southwestern deserts of California and Arizona because the climate in this region was ideal for growing them.

• Date palms need a long, hot growing season. Yuma's low humidity, high summer temperatures and the relative absence of summer rain help in the production of high-quality fruit.

• Each palm is propagated from offshoots. The offshoots develop from buds at the base of the mother plant and consequently the fruit produced will be of the same quality as the mother palm. This ensures uniformity of produce.

• The life span of the date palm is divided into two distinct developmental phases: vegetative, in which buds develop into offshoots; and generative, in which buds form flowers and offshoots cease. From the time that a bud has developed into an offshoot until the time it grows outwards, it takes 18 to 36 months, with another three to four years before it reaches the desired size for its separation and planting.

• Although 20 to 30 offshoots are produced by a palm, only three or four offshoots are suitable for planting out in one year and must still go into the nursery for one to two years before field planting.

• Care and skill, acquired only by experience, is important in order to cut and remove an offshoot properly from its mother palm. The operation, usually carried out by two skilled workers, starts by irrigation several days before cutting. Soil is then dug away from the offshoot(s) using a sharp, straight-blade shovel (a ball of soil is left attached to the roots of the offshoot). A specially designed rectangular chisel is used to cut the offshoot from the mother palm. Injury must be avoided at all times as the offshoot's tender heart should never be damaged.

• In places such as Libya, some areas of Iraq and Saudi Arabia and Yemen, offshoots are not removed and continue to grow in large clumps outwards from the original mother palm. None of them produces a trunk and of course no significant yield of fruit.

• Dates are a key food source for millions living in the Middle East and North Africa. And the trees bearing them have been thriving alongside some of world's most ancient rivers for thousands of years. For many generations of Egyptians, the date has been viewed as a symbol of fertility, sprouting up almost miraculously along rivers and oases in the region's driest deserts.

• Dates are highly nutritious, with a sugar content of ripe dates about 80 percent. The remainder is a rich blend of protein, fat and mineral products including copper, sulfur, iron, magnesium and fluoric acid.

• The date palm wood and leaves provide timber and fabric for houses and fences. The leaves are used for making ropes, cord, baskets, crates and furniture. The base of the leaves and the fruit stalks are used as fuel. The fruit yields food products such as young yellow dates, dried dates, date vinegar, date chutney and date paste for bakery products.

Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at knolte@cals.arizona.edu or 726-3904.

Yuma Crop of Week Pinto Beans June 23, 2012

Crop of the Week: Pinto beans

• Pinto beans are currently being grown in the Yuma Valley. In 2011, Yuma County producers grew more than 2,500 acres of dried beans, a significant increase from 800 acres in 2000.

• The pinto bean (Spanish: frijol pinto, literally “painted bean”) is named for its mottled skin. It is the most common bean in the United States and northwestern Mexico and is most often eaten whole in broth or mashed and refried. Either whole or mashed, it is a common filling for burritos. The young pods may also be consumed as green beans.

• Rice and pinto beans served with cornbread or corn tortillas are often a staple meal. When it comes to making chili, pinto beans are typically used, although the kidney bean, black bean and many others may also be used in other locales.

• Dry beans will keep indefinitely if stored in a cool, dry place, but as time passes, their nutritive value and flavor degrade and cooking times lengthen. Store dried beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where they will keep for up to 12 months. Cooked pinto beans will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three days if placed in a covered container.

• Dried beans are almost always cooked by boiling, often after having been soaked for several hours. While the soaking is not strictly necessary, it shortens cooking time and results in more evenly textured beans. In addition, discarding one or more batches of soaking water can leach out hard-to-digest complex sugars. Pinto beans take longer to cook than most dry beans.

• In Mexico, Central America and South America, the traditional spice to use with pinto beans is epazote, which is also said to aid digestion. In East Asia a type of seaweed, kombu, is added to beans as they cook for the same purpose.

• Pinto beans contain the most fiber of all beans. In addition to lowering cholesterol, the high-fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as brown rice, pinto beans provide virtually fat-free, high-quality protein. They are also an excellent source of molybdenum, a very good source of folate and manganese and a good source of protein, vitamin B1 and the minerals phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium and copper.

• Pinto beans were spread throughout South and Central America by migrating Indian trades. Beans were introduced into Europe in the 15th century by Spanish explorers returning from their voyages to the New World. Spanish and Portuguese traders brought them to Africa and Asia.

Read more: http://www.yumasun.com/articles/beans-79917-pinto-bean.html#ixzz1yk3N41Ul