The Dinner Garden Improving Food Security

Raised bed of lettuce, tomatoes, 6 different t...
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As I started reading more about vegetable gardens, especially urban gardens, I began to see the link between gardening, food security and poverty. Even in the US, many families struggle to eat healthy because packaged foods are more readily available in urban settings and often are more costly. But, the negative side effects of the lifestyle and eating habits which have resulted are plaguing the US population with health issues such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and so forth. We all know we should eat more fruits and vegetables, but the modern city lifestyle simple isn’t conducive to it.

As people are increasingly realizing this link, more and more people have begun to start urban gardens to increase their ability to easily integrate fresh produce into their diets. For urban apartment or condo dwellers, the garden may be a few plants in containers. For urban or suburban home owners or dwellers, they may have room for a small in-ground or raised bed garden. Some lucky urban residents may have access to a community garden where they usually have more area to work with in collaboration with a group of other urban gardeners.

The Dinner Garden is a non-profit focused on increasing the trend of people to grow their own fruits and vegetables, even in small areas. They distribute seeds for free to families and school children in an effort to encourage gardening and increase food security for families across the US. As any teacher or parent knows, eating fruits and vegetables is extremely important for children’s development and studies show that it can improve energy and brain function. By getting kids involved with gardening at a young age, it can help promote healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

The Dinner Garden has accomplished so much since their beginning in 2009 and the work they are doing is amazing. Check out their website or read some other blogs which feature this organization.

Other blogs on The Dinner Garden:

THANN Sanctuary for an indulgent experience

Bangkok is well-known for its tropical nights, sandy beaches, Thai massage, and trendy designs, whether house wares or high fashion. The THANN Sanctuary will definitely add to Bangkok’s image as an indulgent destination.

THANN is the popular Thai that focuses on being a contemporary Asian lifestyle brand. Its products include wood-infused shower gels, the jasmine-scented hand and body creams, facial products incorporating rice barley and shiso as well as a lovely line of scented candles and essential oils. The great scents are a combination of new and old, which THANN also tests for effectiveness in the lab.

There are two locations of the THANN Sanctuary Spa, which offers THANN products in conjuction with its THANN spa services. The first location is in the ultra-glam shopping destination, Gaysorn Plaza, in the Ratchaprasong District. Another location is at the Siam Discovery Center at the ever convient Siam District.

The interiors of the rooms are fragrant, moody, and sensuous with many natural elements to give the entire space a relaxed, earthy feel. The therapists are very good, the products themselves are first-rate, and the atmosphere hints at a natural Zen-like quality. The attention to detail and service is evident the moment you step into the THANN Santuary.

I recently had a Nano Shiso Anti-Aging Face Massage that lasted 1.5 hours. After a hectic day at work, it was an almost unreal experience to be so pampered. First, you are treated to a foot soak. Then, you are moved onto the massage table. The face massage involves several applications of different facial products including cleanser, mask and scrub. With each application, the therapists goes through a tedious routine while you relax and breathe in all the lovely aromas.

At the end of the face massage, the therapist briefly massages your arms and feet. The finale of the whole experience is a head, neck and shoulder massage. After the massage you are treated to some fruit, light rice tea and a warm towel. The results were an extremely relaxed mind and body with wonderfully soft skin.

THANN Sanctuary

Photo: StreetFly JZ on Flickr

Suan Rod Fai Park – A Wonderful Park in the City

Near Chatuchak Market there is a great place for jogging, biking, swimming, playing tennis or having a family picnic. It is best known as “Suan Rod Fai”, or Train Park, by the Thais and there are several train artifacts lying around.
The park is a converted golf course which the BMT changed into a public park. Now it is a popular spot for joggers and bikers to go, especially in the mornings, to get a good workout. It is also a great location for families to spend the day. There a several playgrounds in the central area of the park, a pool, a butterfly garden and nice lakes to look at. There a many large trees which provide a shady place to sit and relax.
There is a wonderful 3 kilometer paved bike path that goes around the perimeter of the park. Even if you don’t have a bike or want to bother transporting it, bikes can be rented for as little as 20 baht for the day. The selection varies from toddler sized bikes with trainning wheels to typical bikes with baskets, mountain bikes and tandem bikes.

Dengue Fever on the Rise in Thailand

A blood-engorged female Aedes albopictus mosqu...
Image via Wikipedia

Dengue fever is up 94% from last year. Currently, the most affected provinces are Narathiwat, Phayao, Krabi, Chiang Rai, Rayong, Songkhal, Pattani, Petchabun and Trat. Experts think that a longer raining season can be affecting the rise in the disease.

While I was living in Thailand as a teenager, I contracted dengue fever and spent one week in the hospital with an IV drip. Actually, I went to the local clinic and was first diagnosed with the flu. However, within the next two days my condition had worsened to the point that I was admitted to Samitivej Hospital. I was treated for the symptoms of the disease but I want not diagnosed with dengue until my blood tests returned from Australia. This was almost 12 years ago, so I hope that diagnosis for dengue is better now.

I highly recommend using insect repellent, even during the day, to avoid getting bit by the mosquitoes carrying this disease. Also, try to get rid of any pools or puddles of stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed. If you suspect you have dengue fever – get to the doctor quickly.

Basic Information on Dengue

Dengue (pronounced DENG-gay) fever is short for dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and is common in the tropics including South American and Southeast Asian countries. Dengue can be life-threatening, especially for very young children or elderly. Dengue differs from malaria in that it is equally common in urban areas as in rural areas, although they are both spread via mosquito vectors. Dengue is transmitted to humans by the striped Aedes (Stegomyia) aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito, which are daytime feeding mosquito.

Symptoms of Dengue Fever

  • Fever, headaches, eye pain, severe dizziness and loss of appetite
  • hemorrhagic tendency (bruising, bleeding, vomiting blood or bloody diarrhea)
  • Thrombocytopenia – Low blood platelets

Dengue commonly strikes people with low levels of immunity. It is possible to get dengue fever multiple times even though an attack of dengue produces immunity for a lifetime to a particular serotype of the virus (there are 4 serotypes). Dengue goes by other names like “breakbone fever” from the intense joint and muscle pain often associated with the disease.

Happy Brains Need Water

Water is good for you. You should drink 8 glasses (64 oz.) a day. If you haven’t ever heard these tidbits of information which are readily available from any health book, magazine or website, Vanessa Race has some astounding news for you. Yes, your brain is make up of over 70% fluid, also known as water. As a matter of fact, your entire body is also made up of a similar percentage of water. Water is an important component in the biochemical processes that occur in your body every second and drinking adequate amounts of water does help your body function better.

Drinking a lot of water is a healthy habit that has many positive benefits ranging from a better complexion and good looking skin to flushing out impurities in your system. Why do you think water is a number one component and commonality in detox programs. Whether or not thinking fast due to your larger neurons being able to communicate faster makes you happier is rather subjective. It’s hard to credit the simple act of drinking water to happiness, although it can be credited with making you healthier when combined with a healthy diet and exercise. also mentioned that brains don’t have feelings and they can’t be happy. A specific memory recalled by the brain can lead to the person feeling happiness, but the brain itself doesn’t feel anything. Often times brains are likened to computers and in many ways they are similar. Your brain doesn’t feel ecstasy when you finish writing your term paper that took you days to write, but you do. Your computer, and similarly your brain, are simply the tools you used to accomplish the task.

Excerpt from


Brains don’t become happy. Brains process. The memory of the brain determines if the outcome will be happy or not. In perhaps the award of 2007 for most inductive stupidity, Khun Vanessa Race, a Harvard graduate with a Masters in neuroscience (too bad) posits that (sit down) “The brain is composed of approximately 8% protein, 10% fat and 72-75% of fluid, That is why drinking lots of water helps, because its part of what makes you happy, and what makes your brain work better.” Give me a break. Somebody get this dude a hobby.

Original article from Asia One


The happy brain
Mon, Dec 31, 2007
The Star

WHAT do water, soft undergarments and a smile do to you?

It gives you a happy and more active brain, say experts.

“The brain is composed of approximately 8% protein, 10% fat and 72-75% of fluid,” said Khun Vanessa Race, a Harvard graduate with a Masters in neuroscience, who talked about how happiness is good for our brain.

That is why drinking lots of water helps, because its part of what makes you happy, and what makes your brain work better.

“Neurons are like plants, if you don’t give them (neurons) water, they will shrink in size,” Race explained.

Therefore, as neurons have to communicate by sending neurotransmitters through the space between them (the synapses), any shrinkage in size will result in this space becoming wider, making it more difficult for neurons to communicate.

“Drinking a lot of water actually makes you happier, because you can think a lot faster,” Race continued.

In another research done by Prof Shigeki Watanuki from Kyushu University, he found out that our environment and what we wear actually have an effect on our brain activity through various physiological responses.

One of the interesting findings was that soft underwear might decrease physiological stress. “It was found that soft underwear decreases cortisol levels and increases the level of IgA (immunoglobulin A),” said Prof Watanuki, who is an expert in Physiological Anthropology.

Coupled with a comfortable environment and mentally stimulating food such as the essence of chicken, a relaxed person can have better brain function, he explained.

Have you ever smiled and instantly felt better? Race has an explanation.

One of the research she was involved in found out that besides making more friends, a smile could release endorphins in the brain and make a person feel happier.

When the brain is happy, it makes it more conducive to learn, said Race.

This story was first published in The Star on Dec 30, 2007.

Sourced from Singapore’s