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Posts Tagged: nutrition

Dig it, Grow it, Eat it: School gardens support learning and healthier food choices

Different edible parts of plants are on display (roots, stems, flowers, leaves and seeds) for students to have hands-on learning in the garden. (Photo: UC Master Gardener Program Marin County)

The success of a garden is normally identified by plentiful crops of tomatoes and squash or the beautiful display of vibrant thriving flowers, shrubs or trees. However, a school garden's true success is dependent on the rich experiences and education students receive.

Taking the classroom into the garden

School gardens can play a big part in supporting a child's education outside of the traditional classroom environment; offering hands-on learning experiences in a variety of core curricula. Social sciences, language arts, nutrition and math are just a few of the many subjects that can be easily integrated into the school garden curriculum.

When paired with nutrition education, school gardens can transform food attitudes and habits.

“Gardens containing fruits and vegetables can change attitudes about particular foods; there is a direct link between growing and eating more fruits and vegetables,” said Missy Gable, statewide director for the UC Master Gardener Program. “Programs statewide connect people to local community gardens, or provide school administrators and staff the information needed to get started with their own school, community or home garden.” 

UC Master Gardener volunteers in Marin County connect gardening topics to science and nutrition in portable field trips for their award-winning project, "Dig it, Eat it, Grow it." (Photo: UC Master Gardener Program Marin County)

“Dig it, Grow it, Eat it”

The UC Master Gardener Program of Marin County hosts an award-winning school gardening program that emphasizes engaging students with the many learning opportunities in nature. The program is a portable field trip for school-age youth called “Dig it, Grow it, Eat it.”

“Dig it, Grow it, Eat it” starts with University-trained UC Master Gardener volunteers training school educators. Once trained, educators use the curriculum to teach students how to grow edible plants from seed to harvest. UC Master Gardener volunteers help deliver the curriculum and provide additional resources. Students learn how plants grow, and receive nutrition lessons to give them a better understanding of the human body's need for healthy food.

Students learn about healthy soil and the benefits of composting from a UC Master Gardener volunteer during a "Dig it, Eat it, Grow it" school field trip. (Photo: UC Master Gardener Program Marin County)

The half-day workshop rotates groups of students through six stations providing them with garden enhanced nutrition education, linking health with growing and harvesting foods they like to eat and are good for them. These include:

  • Edible Plant Parts
  • How Plants Grow
  • Plant Seed Science
  • Propagation
  • Soil Science

The “Dig it, Grow it, Eat it” curriculum is centered on the theme “We love the earth because we care for it. We care for the earth because we love it.” For many children, getting their hands dirty in the garden and discovering the science of growing their own food brings a sense of joy and pride they can carry with them for years to come. 

Connect with us

The UC Master Gardener Program extends to the public free UC research-based information about home horticulture and pest management. In exchange for the training and materials received from the University of California, UC Master Gardeners perform volunteer services in a myriad of venues. If you are interested in becoming a certified UC Master Gardener contact your local UC Cooperative Extension office or visit mg.ucanr.edu

 

Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 11:43 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Popular Japanese tea matcha has health benefits

Matcha, finely ground powder made from baby green-tea leaves, is growing in popularity due to health benefits and the natural woodsy flavor it imparts to drinks, pastries and savory dishes, reported Jenice Tupolo and Carla Meyer in the Sacramento Bee

To find out if the most-prized tea in Japan lives up to its purported health benefits when scrutinized scientifically, the reporters contacted UC Cooperative Extension specialist Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr.

“The health benefits are similar to that of green tea in general,” Zidenberg-Cherr said. Possible benefits of green tea include lower risk of cardiovascular disease and some types of cancers, and bone-density improvement. Though "the studies are pretty inconclusive," she said, some have been promising.

"Some have shown a benefit of maybe three cups a day in terms of reduced risk of cardiovascular disease especially," she said.

Zidenberg-Cherr cautioned against taking matcha or green tea with dairy milk.

"There is a protein in cow's milk that will bind to those important catechins and reduce how much you actually get in your body," she said.
 
A matcha tea latte from Starbucks. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Posted on Friday, July 22, 2016 at 9:33 AM

Research and outreach support culture of health and fitness

Nutrition, physical activity and community-building part of obesity prevention in Firebaugh.
The small, mostly Mexican-immigrant Central Valley community of Firebaugh has been at the center of an extensive UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) research and outreach project that is aiming to reduce the incidence of childhood obesity, reported Alexandra Wilson on the USDA Blog

The project, called Niños sanos, familia sana (Healthy children, healthy family) has turned into a community-wide effort and a new culture of health for families. Lucia Kaiser, UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist, is leading the project. Outreach involves UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisors and staff in Tulare, Yolo, Kern and Fresno counties and the UC CalFresh and EFNEP programs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.

“The lasting impact that Niños Sanos, Familia Sana will have in Firebaugh is precisely the goal of the childhood obesity prevention program – working at the family, school, and community levels to make healthy kids and healthy families a part of everyday life,” said Deirdra Chester, NIFA's national program leader for applied nutrition research.

According to the USDA blog post, Niños sanos, familia sana has contributed to changes in the community:

  • Slower weight gain among obese boys
  • Reduction in children's consumption of high-fat/high-sugar foods
  • Growing interest in programs and policy reflecting local commitment to improved health and nutrition

For more information, see a story and video snapshot in the UC Food Blog.

 

Posted on Tuesday, September 22, 2015 at 3:31 PM

New booklet advises Santa Cruz County residents 'Fresh Starts Here'

Produce tasting, nutritional tips and raffles were part of a celebration around the release on Monday of a new guide to local fruit and vegetables in Santa Cruz County, reported Donna Jones in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

The 40-page booklet - titled "Fresh*Starts*Here" - was developed by UC Cooperative Extension, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau. It includes nutrition information, tips for choosing and storing produce, recipes, and profiles of local farmers and health care professionals.

"It's about healthy eating and a healthy community," said Laura Tourte, UCCE farm management advisor in Santa Cruz County.

Tourte said the guide promotes consumption of food grown by local farmers. The recipes were chosen with an eye toward simple preparation and appeal to families.

UCCE contributed $4,100 to support the printing of the booklet, and all development committee members and participants contributed their time and effort. Funds to produce additional copies and a Spanish-language version are being sought.

Additional events marking the release of the booklet take place at 3 p.m. Nov. 18, at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation main clinic, 2025 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz; and at 3 p.m. Nov. 20 at the PAMF westside clinic, 1303 Mission St., Santa Cruz.

Berry grower Javier Zamora is one of the farmers featured in the new booklet, 'Fresh*Starts*Here'
Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 9:24 AM
Tags: Laura Tourte (2), nutrition (70)

UCCE partners with UC Merced on critical issues

University of California Cooperative Extension has headquartered two new specialists on the UC Merced campus, reported Scott Hernandez-Jason of UC Merced University News. Karina Diaz-Rios, specialist for nutrition, family and consumer sciences, joined UCCE on Sept. 2. Tapan Pathak, specialist for climate adaptation in agriculture, will start Feb. 2, 2015.

"These positions come with a focus on interacting with the community, conducting applied research, and translating UC research to help the ag economy and local residents,” said Tom Peterson, UC Merced Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor. “We are pleased that UC Merced can partner with UC ANR (UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources) on these important issues.”

Karina Diaz-Rios
According to the news release, Diaz-Rios will be housed in UC Merced's Health Sciences Research Institute and focus on nutrition research and education and food security. She will connect with a larger team of nutrition researchers and educators throughout the UC system addressing issues related to healthy food and human health.

Tapan Pathak
Pathak, who will be housed in the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at UC Merced, will help farmers and ranchers adapt to new conditions created by variable and changing climate. He will collaborate with UC colleagues and state and federal agencies in statewide efforts to address climate variability and climate change adaptation and mitigation. He is currently an extension educator in climate variability at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

UC ANR continuously provides research-based solutions to the California agriculture industry, said Barbara Allen-Diaz, ANR vice president.

“California agriculture is a world-recognized marvel, and we'd like to think the university, through ANR's research and outreach, is a big reason why,” she said. “Adding UC Merced to our existing, thriving partnerships with UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UC Riverside will only strengthen UC efforts in helping California and the world to sustainably feed itself.”

Posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at 10:03 AM

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