Author: Janet Colston

“You should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans. “ — Tom Robbins Protein Replacement is a hot topic Nutrition and protein replacement in particular is a global health concern with implications for the future direction of the planet, not least because the tide could be turning on less sustainable types of food production. We have had some in CEA evangelizing about the power of CEA to feed us all in the future, but the reality is that we need all agricultural practices to work together where appropriate to create resilient sustainable supply food chains…

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Some people suggest saffron is a spice made of red gold. We ask three important questions: what makes it so special, why is it so expensive and should we try to adapt it for growing in CEA? Zafferano Siciliano Crocus produces large saffron stigmas. Saffron (Crocus sativus L., a member of the Iridaceae family) is prized for its unique yellow color in culinary dishes and loved by chefs for its flavor in many of our foods. The high cost comes from the fact that it needs to be grown in a particular climate and the long red stigma must be…

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They say history repeats itself.  Scotland has a great positive circular story that encompasses history, design, engineering, innovation, agriculture, skills, regeneration, energy, health, wellbeing and net zero. This is the story of how a group of visionary students redesigned the iconic Provan Gas Works into a vertical allotment to show off a greener side to Glasgow As the dust settles on COP26 some of Glasgow’s student professionals plan to design a greener, healthier city. For more than a century Glasgow’s iconic gas works have been a significant feature from the north east entry to the city. Despite being redundant for…

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We know people with underlying health conditions are at an increased risk of becoming sick if they catch COVID-19. Although vaccines have been rolled out, new coronavirus variants including the latest Omicron, continue to emerge. Even the most positive amongst us are struggling with endless restrictions on our daily activities. Inevitably our health care institutions and economies are struggling to cope under the strain of continued pandemic surges and are in dire need of help. STOP AND READ! One does not have to move wholly to a vegetarian or vegan diet to gain much of the health benefits discussed in…

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Plants grown in controlled environments can give newly diagnosed cancer patients more locally available fresh options Editor’s Note: Urban Ag News fully understands that many of these crops are not currently grown in greenhouses, hoop houses, high tunnels or vertical farms. But, that is not as important as the fact that they could be if the consumer and the farmer found equal value in exploring local production. Cancer touches us all. One in two people are expected to have some form of the disease in their lifetime. Despite these statistics it is not inevitable nor the curse it was and…

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Would I recommend an entrepreneurial life to anyone? Absolutely if you have a desire to change the world we live in for the better and want to join the millions of highly skilled entrepreneurs already navigating the journey. Challenges and rewards of being an older entrepreneur With a health warning in place, being an older entrepreneur is not easy and it can be a lonely, isolated existence, especially if you are a woman. It can be frustrating if you took a sabbatical to rear your children, or changed career direction and have lost years of networking and experience which can…

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Read our comprehensive article Wasabi Japonica, which describes the unique medicinal properties in Wasabi. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” — Hippocrates For the past year we have been talking about how to boost the immune system with plant phytonutrients and how this can present new opportunities for farmers, particularly if plant pharmaceuticals can be extracted from plants grown in a controlled environment. With an increased knowledge of downstream processing, farmers could learn to take advantage of plant pharmaceutical power quickly and naturally and boost their market share. More than half our medicines come from plants…

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“First, do no harm” Hippocrates Covid-19 effects are the most well known in the world. More than a year on from the start of the pandemic and despite the roll out of effective vaccines in richer countries we still have a limited drug arsenal with worldwide coverage to make life easier for those most at risk. According to physicians at the Mayo clinic, the FDA have approved the antiviral drug Remdesivir and emergency use of the anti-inflammatory drug Baricitinib for use in patients hospitalised with COVID-19. In the UK Dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory corticosteroids is authorised for use in severe cases.…

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“The part can never be well until the whole is well” Plato A diagnosis of diabetes is a time in your life when you may reflect on bad eating habits. Many of us do not understand the mechanisms of disease until we are directly affected but there are some things we can do to reverse the situation. Diabetes is a worldwide socio-health emergency caused by changes to our diets and a more sedentary lifestyle. Around 350 million people across the world are estimated to be diabetic and this is expected to more than double by 2045. The CDC reported Type…

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Can eating healthy brain food from plants grown in CEA improve mental health? “The part can never be well until the whole is well” – Plato In a new series we discuss healthy foods from the aspect of people who are already suffering from an illness. A diagnosis is likely a time in your life when you reflect on bad habits or unfortunate genetics leading to disease. Mental health is an incredibly complex subject and if you are suffering it could be for an infinite number of reasons. It is important to stress that our brains and cognitive function are…

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We have become accustomed to seeing rows of lettuce neatly lined up when it comes to controlled environment agriculture. There is no doubt this gives farmers control in their production where they can calculate growth versus yield and ultimately known profit margins. Lettuce and leafy green production is also an easy way for new growers to master CEA technologies. However the caveat is ‘everyone seems to be doing leafy greens’. While leafy greens are popular with new and established growers we suspect there are many that would love to grow a wider range of health promoting plants. We aim to…

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By Janet Colston In 2020 we spent a lot of time reflecting on functional foods from crops that we grow in controlled environments analyzing how they benefit human health. In a new three part series we discuss why we should boost the immune system with functional foods to prevent disease and ask ‘Why Eat This?’. In addition, we at Urban Ag News will also start to explore why eating this is not only good for the body, but also how it might be good for the farmer and for the planet. New Year Resolutions This time of year we traditionally…

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By Janet Colston Wasabi Japonica is not a name that trips off the tongue when you think of medicinal plants but this ancient Japanese herb is full of functional metabolites with a proven ability to heal disease. The Japanese have known for centuries that Wasabi bestows a remarkable array of medicinal properties with benefits to human health including significant anticancer and antimicrobial functions. Even the heart shaped leaves that grow out of the crown suggest it has cardiovascular benefits as Japanese herbalists used the plant as a vasodilator to improve blood circulation. We delve into these properties and how to…

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By Janet Colston The potato was first domesticated in Peru and Bolivia between 8000 and 5000BC [1]. Andean farmers found they grew well in higher altitudes around the lakes of Titicaca where the ancestors of the Inca settled [2]. Rich in starch, potatoes contain higher vitamin C than oranges, more potassium than bananas, and more fibre than apples [3]. The Spanish introduced potatoes to Europe in the 15th century having realised the food security significance [1]. Almost a century later the governor of Bermuda sent plants to Virginia in the U.S. [4]. It would take another century and a half…

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