How to Grow: Organic Beets

Written by – Kaitlynn from MIgardener 

Spring is just around the corner! This is the perfect time of year to brush up on your knowledge of growing techniques. Here at MIgardener, we want to share all of our favorite growing secrets; from our garden to yours. As you read through todays post, you’ll find there is nothing simpler than growing organic!

Today we’ll be talking about how to grow the perfect organic beets. We’ll share tips from how to get the perfect soil density all the way to harvesting. The wonderful thing about beets is that they can be grown all season long. They are some of the hardiest and most cold/heat tolerant of any vegetable. With an added bonus: both the roots and leaves are edible!

Let’s get started.

Fertilize:

Beets are extremely tolerant to hard and clay soil, however if you want a picturesque shape; beets will grow in a perfect globe in loose and fluffy soil. In the realm of fertilizing, beets need to grow tall leaves in order for their roots to grow properly, so they require lots of nitrogen to encourage leaf growth. Once the leaves are formed, photosynthesis will send energy to the roots! Till in an inch of compost into the soil to provide nutrients. Fertilize according to soil test results. We recommend sprinkling in a nitrogen rich fertilizer like Trifecta+ to give it the extra boost of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, trace minerals and micronutrients. Without a good amount of nitrogen, the beets will only produce enough greenery to survive, sparing no energy for the production of the root. Beets that have grown without enough nitrogen will grow to be woody in texture instead of being tender and flavorful.

Ph Levels:

Tolerant to any soil with a ph from 5.5-8, no lower or higher. Compost is a natural ph buffer, so if you notice your soil is leaning too acidic or alkaline simply add more compost to even out the acidity.

Sunlight:

Beets require full sun. 6-8 hours  in order to grow healthy roots. Any less and roots will only grow to be very small. Sunlight is vital for photosynthesis to occur.

Water:

Water frequently. Apply at least 1 inch of water per week. Beets will either be tough without enough water or they will be too dry. If beets aren’t watered consistently they will crack once they drink up moisture, similar to how tomatoes crack. This occurs when the cell walls aren’t flexible enough because of a lack of moisture are then overwhelmed by a sudden burst of h20. Make sure to have even soil moisture to decrease chances of cracking. Tilling in compost to soil will increase water retention and maintain even moisture.

Spacing:

Plant 2 seeds every 3-4 inches apart for better chances of sprouting. Three inches for higher density planting, four inches for bigger bulbs. It’s better to thin them out after sprouting beings  instead of spacing being off balance if germination doesn’t occur for each seed.

Temperature:

As previously stated, beets can are tolerant to both hot and cold temperatures. As long as they’re planted in an area that get’s full sun, they will grow in temperatures anywhere between 50° and 85°f. Above 100°f and beets will grow quickly and flower before the root is fully developed.

Harvesting:

Time to harvest from seed: 50-100 days. From transplant: 35-45 days. In order to harvest throughout the season, plant beets in succession. Succession planting happens when you plant a week or two apart. This way you can harvest beets from spring to fall! Harvest leaves whenever they reach a sufficient size, though don’t over harvest leaves to make sure there’s still energy being sent to the roots. For the best quality roots, harvest when they are 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Larger roots are sweeter but can be tougher in texture. Once you start picking, you can continue for four to six weeks depending on the weather. Otherwise, plant in succession and harvest continually.

A 25 foot row of beets will yield 25 to 30 pounds of produce! Beet roots are high in sugar, and the plant is a good source of vitamins A and C. You can eat beets hot or cold, pickled or raw.

This grow guide is based on videos from our youtube.What variety of beets you looking forward to planting?

The post How to Grow: Organic Beets appeared first on MIgardener.

Urban Beets Cafe & Juicery is ready for you, Wauwatosa

Since early this spring, crews have been hard at work bringing the second location of Urban Beets to fruition in the Mayfair Health & Professional Building at 3077 N. Mayfair Rd. And the cafe softly opened its doors today, inviting a small crowd of west siders to experience the beauty of its plant-based cuisine.

Urban Beets, a vegan cafe founded by Dawn Balistreri, opened its first cafe at 1401 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., expanding the cafe last year to include a full dining room and an expanded dinner-worthy menu, along with beer, wine and cocktails.

The interior of the new cafe offers up a rustic industrial chic look that’s softened by plants, pops of color and the myriad smiling faces of staff. You’ll find edison bulbs above the custom-made live-edge ash wood bar, which is surrounded by clean, comfortable white bar stools.

The dining area features tables which were handmade from reclaimed train car box floors that were hand-finished by Urban Beets staff. Meanwhile, Turkish olive baskets have been repurposed as light fixtures in the main dining area.

Meanwhile, handpainted lettering on the Northern wall proclaims a welcoming, inclusive message indicative of the Urban Beets mission.

It’s a message that means a great deal to Balistreri, and one she says she’s delighted so many have embraced.

“I’m so excited and happy that this concept has been supported by so many people,” she says, noting that her regular customer base includes vegans and omnivores alike. “You don’t need to be vegan to eat fruits, vegetables, grains and beans. One of the things that I think makes us so accessible is that we don’t use soy or meat alternatives, so our emphasis is really on serving scratch-made whole foods that taste great.”

Edibles

The menu, which mimics the cafe’s Downtown location, is filled with wide-ranging options for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Breakfast beverages include smoothies ($6.75-7), juices and tonics ($5-7), and superfood lattes like Golden Milk (turmeric) and Matcha Mint ($5.50). There’s also Tapuat kombucha on tap ($4-5).

Entrees include smoothie bowls ($7.50) and bagels ($3.95) to power granola ($7.50) and a “Sunrise Sammy” featuring an English muffin topped with housemade “sausage” (made with gluten-free oats, flax and chia seeds), topped with tomato, spinach, red onion and Sriracha mayo ($5.95). Avocado toast features sprouted wheat bread topped with avocado, smoky coconut “bacon” and balsamic ($3.95).

Meanwhile, Lunch and dinner options include a variety of items from salads and sandwiches to grain-based bowls and thin crust pizzas.

Highlights include a falafel “buddah bowl” with warm quinoa, housemade falafel and roasted beet hummus with spinach, pickled vegetables, housemade tahini dressing and a topping of pumpkin and sesame seeds ($9.95). There’s also a vegan beet-based Reuben sandwich featuring corned beets, saurkraut, relish, Russian dressing and Daiya cheddar on marble rye ($9.95). Pizzas include Buffalo with cashew ranch, spinach, buffalo spiced chickpeas, green onions and garlic drizzle; or veggie pesto with white bean pesto, spinach, artichokes, onions, zucchini and seed Parmesan (both are $12.95).

Urban Beets also offers cider, beer, wine and a selection of sake-based cocktails including a sake bloody mary ($9), a pineapple mojito ($8.50) and a blueberry old fashioned ($8.50). Brunch-worthy Prosecco-based cocktails include basil lemonade and a sunshine mimosa for $8.50.

According to Balistreri, the cafe’s hours will be slightly abbreviated to start. Tuesday through Saturday, they’ll be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. But beginning in about a week, they will adopt regular operating hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In Dining

The new Urban Beets Cafe & Juicery is now open in Wauwatosa.

Lori Fredrich
Senior Writer

Compound Found in Beets Might Help Prevent Alzheimer’s

March 20th, 2018

A compound found in beets that give them their distinctive red color may also hold the key to stopping the processes in the brain that lead to Alzheimer’s, according to research presented by scientists from the University of South Florida.

The compound is called betanin. In tests, scientists showed that it helped suppress the misfolding of proteins called beta-amyloid, which accumulate and form into toxic plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

“We’re hoping that in an age when people are starting to look more at what they’re eating, that hopefully this is another source of data that people can use to understand that we’re trying to get you to do the same thing your mother’s been trying to do since you were a kid: Eat your vegetables,” said Darrel Cole Cerrato, a researcher from USF who worked on the study.

Here’s how scientists think it works: Beta-amyloid is a protein that can misfold and clump together in the brain, creating plaques that block neurons from communicating. According to the lead study author Li-June Ming, Ph.D, much of the damage in the brain happens through a process of oxidation–when beta-amyloid binds to metals like copper and iron in the brain, which appear from things like environmental exposure and diet. While scientists are still trying to figure out how and why proteins misfold, one possible explanation is that the metals can cause it, which then makes them form into plaques that cause neuron death. Betanin binds to those metals, and, in theory, blocks the metals from interacting with beta-amyloid.

“Our data suggest that betanin, a compound in beet extract, shows some promise as an inhibitor of certain chemical reactions in the brain that are involved in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Ming. “This is just a first step, but we hope that our findings will encourage other scientists to look for structures similar to betanin that could be used to synthesize drugs that could make life a bit easier for those who suffer from this disease.”

Researchers tested this by measuring how much oxidation—a process similar to rusting—was involved when betanin was added to copper and beta-amyloid. When betanin was added to a copper and beta-amyloid mixture, oxidation dropped by 90 percent.

“We can’t say that betanin stops the misfolding completely, but we can say that it reduces oxidation,” Cerrato says. “Less oxidation could prevent misfolding to a certain degree, perhaps even to the point that it slows the aggregation of beta-amyloid peptides, which is believed to be the ultimate cause of Alzheimer’s.”

This research was presented at 255th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

How beets can benefit your running

Rules of Success #1. HEALTH IS WEALTH. w/o our health we arent able to get up everyday and be the wealth building creatives that we are. #beetjuice #healthiswealth #juicing #ceomillionaires #beets #creativepointmedia #creative #marketingagency

A post shared by Creative Point Media (@creativepointmedia) on

    Beets, like coffee, are well known for their 100 per cent legal performance-enhancing properties. (They’re also full of health-promoting vitamins, iron, folic acid, and anti-oxidants.) A few years ago, beet juice was found to increase levels of nitric oxide (NO) in the blood, which increases blood flow to the muscles, stimulates mitochondria growth, and strengthens muscle contractions, leading to significantly enhanced endurance in athletes (as much as 16 per cent, according to one early study). Other vegetables also contain nitric oxide, such as carrots, lettuce, spinach, chinese cabbage, bok choy, cabbage, arugula, and rhubarb.

    Working on some new refrigerator pickles to go in our salads! I’ve never used this recipe before, but it calls for toasted spices (coriander, peppercorns, Bay leaf) and orange juice with wine vinegar. I didn’t have fresh orange slices to use, so I tossed a few strips of lemon zest in there. We’ll see how it goes, but three cheers for trying something new! #homecooking #pickles #beets #healthyfoods #bayareafoodie

    A post shared by Rose (@happysnacksident) on

    The news kept getting better. A 2014 study found that beets may also be useful in increasing blood flow to fast-twitch muscle fibres, helping you get faster. 

    Some research used recreational runners as subjects, and found slightly improved 5K time trial results and lower perceived effort when runners drank beetroot juice before their runs.

    However, a 2017 review of 23 studies on the subject showed that beet juice is definitely a performance enhancer, but that its effectiveness may be less when combined with other supplements, such as caffeine. (So if you’re going to experiment, don’t go crazy trying to beet-and-coffee-load, better to stick to one or the other.)

    Fall is our favorite time for root veggies like beets! Our organic beets are full of flavor and are a two-for-one veggie as the greens are delicious and nutritious too.

    A post shared by Wegmans Organic Farm & Orchard (@wegmansfarm) on

    Beets are harvested in the fall, so there’s no better time to try them out than fall racing season. However, be careful not to consume too much, since overdoing it can upset your stomach. Registered dietitian and sports nutritionist Megan Kuikman of Brantford, Ont. has some great information on beets on her website. 

    How to make beet juice

    Use beets within a few days of buying or harvesting. Roasting beets in the oven before you juice them is optional; it will make them softer and easier to blend. If you have a powerful blender, roasting is not necessary.

    Wash, peel and cut the beets into 1-inch pieces and put them in your blender or bullet. Add just enough water to cover the beets. Blend until smooth (about a minute).

    Pour juice through a fine mesh strainer. Press the pulp with a spoon to force all the juice out of it. Strain again. You can add more water if it’s too thick. Sweeten with maple syrup or honey if desired. It’s best to make only what you can consume right away, to avoid the danger of bacteria growth. Enjoy!

    Top 3 Health Promoting Properties of Beets

    Beets are very popular in Eastern European cuisine, but have not been very common in the West until recent years. As more and more research comes to light about this nutritional powerhouse, however, more Americans are incorporating beets into their meals. This is good news, as beets have the strong potential to prevent and combat a wide variety of illnesses.

    Some researchers hypothesize that the high consumption of these root veggies is to thank for Russia’s centenarian population throughout the ages. While some beet varieties are white, yellow or multicolored, we are most familiar with the deep red variety. It is exactly the pigments that give these beets their vibrant color that are responsible for much of their disease-fighting powers.

    The red pigments found in beets are known as betalains, which are antioxidants with anti-inflammatory, antifungal and anticarcinogenic properties. In lab studies, betalains have shown significant promise in fighting pancreatic, lung, colon, prostate, testicular, breast and stomach cancer cells. These potent antioxidants also work to protect the body’s cells from environmental stressors, and help to protect organs and tissues from oxidative damage.

    Betalains have also been linked to strong detoxification properties, and may aid in flushing various types of toxins from the body. Traditionally, beets have been employed to purify the blood and liver, and the betalains are likely at least partially responsible for this effect.

    Betalains have also been associated with lowering the risk of birth defects, as well as lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. In order to preserve the most amount of betalain content in your beets, cook them as little as possible – steaming or roasting until just done does the trick.

    To preserve the maximum amount of the nutrients and disease-fighting qualities of beets, you can peel raw beets, chop them, and toss them in your juicer. Beet juice has been found to help lower blood pressure, likely as a result of the natural nitrate content.

    The natural nitrates found in beets convert to nitric oxide in the body, which aids in relaxing blood vessels, improving circulation, and providing energy. Needless to say, all of these effects work to further prevent the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart disease.

    On top of that, beets are rich in vitamin C, which is crucial for the health of the immune system. It also improves skin health, and reduces inflammation throughout the body, which helps to ward off all sorts of chronic ailments.

    The fiber content of beets helps to keep your digestive system running smoothly, promotes healthy gut bacteria, stabilizes blood sugar, and may further reduce the risk of digestive-related illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and even colon cancer.

    One more thing: Be sure to make use of your beet greens, which can be served raw, steamed or sauteed like any other green. These are packed with antioxidants, including lutein, which is important to eye health and the prevention of macular degeneration. Also, they contain more iron than spinach.

    All in all, adding these ancient vegetables – both the roots and greens – to your healthy diet may do wonders in keeping you as healthy as can be.

    -The Alternative Daily

    Sources:

    7 Things That Occurred When I Ate Beets For 2 Weeks

    Basically, what a 2013 study by Andy Jones, a teacher of applied physiology at the University of Exeter and go-to expert on beets and performance, recommended is that the quantity of oxygen you need to sustain exercise reduced after taking in beet juice. A big bowl of beet soup had a bigger, uh, impact, than a bowl of chopped beets with greens. I attempted a liquid “beet efficiency supplement,” which is like a shot of beet juice the equivalent of 3 beets.

    How to Eat Beets for Breakfast

    With their jewel-like hue and subtle, sweet flavor, beets tend to steel the show at lunch and dinner, folded into elegant salads, roasts, and pastas. But why should you only see red in the P.M. hours? Beets are just the thing to add to your morning table.

    Beets are chameleons: they crisp up into chips just as seamlessly as they are pureed into sauces and dips. And they make everything they touch a show stopper: Usually-boring hard-boiled eggs to ubiquitous granola bars start glowing with the addition of the ruby red root.

    For our favorite ways to bring beets onto our breakfast plates, keep on reading. 

    Andrea Nguyen

    Posted in Food

  • By Extra Crispy Staff

    Posted in Video

  • Beet-Pickled Eggs

    Photo by BERNARD WEIL VIA GETTY IMAGES

    These ruby-red hard-boiled eggs taste as bright as they look, thanks to a bracing vinegar pickling liquid and the perfect amount of black pepper. 

    Beet Chips with Turmeric-Yogurt Dip

    Photo by Greg Dupree

    Did you know you could make super crispy beet chips in the microwave? Neither did we. Crunch.

    Roasted Beet Hummus

    PHoto by Teresa Sabga

    This magenta dip adds a splash of color to any Mediterranean breakfast plate. 

    No-Bake Beet Granola Bars

    Photo by Teresa Sabga

    Sneak some veggies into these chocolately, no-bake granola bars.

    Beet Cured Lox

    Photo by David Williams

    If you have a little patience, curing lox with beets is a breeze. (It just looks super impressive.) 

    Beet Hollandaise

    Photo by Henry Hargreaves

    Your yolk porn game will be unBEETable with a drizzle of this hot pink hollandaise. 

    Beet and Carrot Zoodle Quiche

    Photo by Teresa Sabga

    Get out your spiralizer to add colorful ribbons to a crowd-pleasing quiche.

    Beet Yogurt Dip

    Photo by Caitlin Bensel

    This tangy beet dip is a really good excuse to eat your vegetables.

    Sustainable and nutritious unrefined whole cane sugar? Skip the latest organic scam and eat sucrose from GMO sugar beets | Genetic Literacy Project

    A drive toward The Everglades down US 98 between Yeehaw Junction and Belle Glade, FL takes you around the east side of Lake Okeechobee. The air is always thick, warm and humid, and local lands peek just above sea level. Water for irrigation is channeled from place to place through a series of canals that support the growth of regional crops like sugar cane. The fields are beautiful and massive, made of tall, thick green waves that reach toward blue Florida skies.

    These fields are one source of the nation’s sugar, but over the years other crops have also been developed to produce this sweet food ingredient. However, there is great controversy surrounding how the crops are grown and harvested, and today ideologies clash about what sweet sustainability really means. An analysis of the current state of sugar production finds great irony in that the most sustainable methods take a back seat to other processes that ignore the impacts of production. Feel-good marketing, appeals to the high-end consumer obscure the fact that sugar is sugar, no matter how you brand it.

    Environmental groups have traditionally loathed sugar production from sugar cane, mostly because it is a water-intensive crop with a massive environmental footprint. Sugar cane is burned before harvest, which seems counterintuitive to profitable production. Burning is a harsh yet effective way to quickly remove leaves, dry the cane.

    and crystalize the sweet sap within. Annual harvests burn 150,000 acres of sugar cane, and environmental groups annually rally against the process as they claim it causes toxic pollution that wafts into adjacent urban centers. The other huge concern is the production of greenhouse gasses, with flames releasing much of the carbon that the cane spent a season sequestering.

    But environmentalists have an opportunity to celebrate, as there is a more sustainable way to make sugar: from sugar beets, which do not require burning before harvest. Instead of the sultry climes around the world, sugar beets are grown in temperate climates in the upper Midwest, Great Plains and Far West. Sugar beets are large heavy roots supporting a vigorous crop of leaves above the soil. The leaves harness the sunlight and produce sugar through photosynthesis. These sugars are transported within the plant and stored in the root, which can contain up to 25 percent sugar.

    About half of all sugar in the US comes from sugar beets, and the other half comes from sugar cane. Ultimately the end products of cane and beet production are the same—both contain a high concentration of sucrose. Sucrose is the chemical crystalized into the familiar form of table sugar. Whether it comes from sugar cane (C12H22O11) or sugar beets (C12H22O11) does not matter, it is chemically the same.

    But ironically, sugar beets are not lauded by many environmentalists as an alternative to sugar production-by-inferno. In fact, they are often decried as an unacceptable alternative—because they are genetically engineered. By 2003, most US sugar companies switched to beets genetically engineered to resist the herbicide glyphosate (popularly recognized as “Roundup Ready”), allowing farmers to manage weeds with a simple, inexpensive spray. Farmers I’ve spoken to say that it is the difference between $25 an acre for an environmentally low-impact spray and well over $500 per acre to hire workers to weed fields by hand, if you can find the labor to do it.

    The politics of sucrose: Questionable benefits of ‘organic dehydrated whole cane sugar

    The problem today is that activist groups pressure food companies to source sucrose from “non-GMO” producers. The beet growers’ share of the US sugar market has slipped considerably as a result. Hershey, one of the world’s larger buyers, no longer uses beet sugar in its Kisses and milk chocolate bars and says it plans more phase outs.

    This pressure campaign pits the chemistry of combustion against the chemistry of efficient weed control, forcing activists to choose between two options they don’t necessarily appreciate. You can’t get both the non-GMO and pollution-friendly stickers on the package. Which do you like less, chemical herbicides or contributing to climate change?

    That’s an easy decision for most scientists and environmentally savvy individuals, as the herbicide-tolerant sugar beet is clearly the more sustainable option. Still, many activists and consumers reject C12H22O11 from sugar beets and opt for C12H22O11 from sugar cane because they have been conditioned to fear the genetically engineered trait in the plant that produced it. But the science is clear: There are no genes and no proteins in sugar, no matter its source—just C12H22O11.

    Consumer fear and confusion is a sweet spot for exploitation, and a new industry has emerged to sugarcoat sugar production. Boutique ‘dehydrated whole cane sugar’ now graces the shelves of high-end markets. Sugar’s new facade goes by exotic monikers like sucanat, rapadura, panela or muscovado. “I love using organic whole cane sugar (or Sucanat) for baking and cooking,” waxes foodie Tsh Oxenreider, founder of the popular foodie website and podcast The Art of the Simple.”Producers take juice from organically-grown sugar cane and simply dehydrate it.  The resulting crystals stay rich in minerals, trace elements, and vitamins, so I can use the deep, rich flavor guilt-free….”

    And you can buy this New Age organic sugar at your local Whole Foods for only 10 times the cost of standard sugar!

    To say such claims are bogus is an understatement. These products target the gullible, affluent consumer who sees sugar as poison, and white sugar as a Big-Food megatoxin to be vigorously cleansed from the system. But wrap the exact same chemical in the lore of the smallholder developing-world farmer, sprinkle vanishingly small traces of mostly useless vitamins, and deadly carbs are magically transformed into tablespoons of feel-good and nutritious glory.

    Even more reputable organic sites are calling out this scam. As Katie Kimbrall of Kitchen Stewardship writes:

    Every time I spend 5-10 times as much on something like rapadura or sucanat (which when properly processed I see as equals), I wonder: is this upgrade really worth the money? Are there health benefits to unrefined sugar cane that are 5-10 times as beneficial as white sugar? If you believe that white sugar is basically a poison, is 5-10x as good as poison still mostly poison?

    What about those health benefits? Kimbrall adds:

    Some claim that it metabolizes slightly slower than white sugar and is, therefore, lower on the glycemic index – BUT the sucrose content is still so high that it’s not exactly a recommended food for diabetics and the like.

    Sucanat and rapadura do contain calcium, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin A and B vitamins, and although I continue to see websites state that they’re ‘an excellent source of’ the above, they really only have trace amounts. There’s iron in there, too, which never hurts, but again, you’d have to eat a lot of unrefined sugar to get a decent amount of iron.

    Hard truths

    The ‘unrefined’ sugar fad does little more than mask the environmental destruction caused by sugar cane production. The developing world also burns cane in 90 percent of cases. Less frequently, sugar cane juice is evaporated over lowheat, which requires carbon-based energy. Workers laboriously stir the juice until crystals form, which are then separated from the slurry with sieves. The end product is a beige-brown aggregate that is packaged for the affluent, industrialized world.

    The products do taste different and their flavors are a bit more complex, but they’re still almost entirely sucrose. Pushing destructively grown whole cane sugar with nutritionally meaningless amounts of vitamins to sell empty-calorie products at exorbitant prices exploits the public hungering for the truth about both sustainability and nutrition.

    The difference in flavor comes from purity, a word thrown around frequently in healthy food circles. More irony abounds. White sugar consists of highly refined, distilled crystals of sucrose that represent a substantially pure chemical. The boutique sugars are typically brown, celebrating their unrefined state, originating typically from a developing-world distillery where substantial energy is used to dry down the crystals. They still are 95-99 percent pure sugar, but they sport the color of co-purifying chemical compounds such as the molasses notes that lend the brown color.

    Want to follow the latest news and policy debates over agricultural biotechnology and biomedicine? Subscribe to our free newsletter.

    Many American farmers, who switched years ago to GMO beets precisely because they require less spraying of fewer toxic chemicals, are mystified by the activist push to grow what appears to be a far less sustainable crop. As Minnesota sugar beet farmer Andrew Beyer told NPR, planting non-GMO beets to meet demand from the organic market would mean spraying his crops every 10 days with a “witches brew” of five or six different weedkillers, the very practice he abandoned years ago.

    “The chemicals we used to put on the beets in [those] days were so much harsher for the guy applying them and for the environment,” he says. “To me, it’s insane to think that a non-GMO beet is going to be better for the environment, the world, or the consumer.”

    In the end, sugar is sugar. Whether the sucrose comes from cane or sugar beets, from the tropical Himalayas or the shores of Lake Okeechobee, the molecule itself is identical. The real difference comes down to politics, hypocrisy and the values of buyers. The more sustainable and affordable products sport stickers that may scare the ill-informed, while a partially-purified version of the same compound imported from a far-away place produced under dubious environmental standards is considered worthy of a substantial investment for a whole lot less product. There are many curious conundrums around sugar, but the biggest one might be the willingness to pay ten times the price for a less sustainable product.

    Kevin M. Folta is a professor in the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida. He hosts the Talking Biotech Podcast. Follow professor Folta on Twitter @kevinfolta and email your questions to

    Sugar beets picking up as Colorado money crops

    FORT COLLINS, Colo.– Colorado’s past, present and future are all visible from Paul Schlagel’s front patio simply a couple of miles off Interstate 25 in Longmont.A beautiful view of Longs Peak and the Rocky Mountain range rests undisturbed to the west. Production and housing developments have actually inched more detailed from the east, and the when desolate Boulder County Roadway 20 1/2 that runs by the farmhouse is now loaded with consistent traffic.A rotation of crops surrounding the homestead includes a field of sugar beets, which the Schlagel household has actually grown given that they immigrated to Colorado with legions of other Germans from Russia in 1907. Paul and his son, Scott, lead the farming today, and a sixth generation of the Schlagel family showed up previously this month. “Sugar beets are part of our heritage but it’s also deeper than that,”said Paul, a 63-year-old long-lasting farmer.

    “The sugar beet grower group is small, however we are devoted to the sugar market and keeping it choosing generations. “These sugar beets are different than the purple veggie frequently used in salads and championed on”The Workplace”

    by Dwight Schrute. When gathered, sugar beets have to do with a foot long and weigh 2 to 5 pounds.The crop is exclusively grown to be transformed into white table sugar– a scientific procedure when described on an episode of Sesame Street

    .”We are getting as great a sugar beet crop as ever,”Paul said.”And whatever you say about sugar, it is still a vital active ingredient to cooking and

    does a lot more than just make stuff sweet.” The Schlagel family has actually grown sugar beets considering that it was Colorado’s very first real cash crop, populating the state in the 20th century with laborers from worldwide and diversifying an economy formerly reliant on mining and ranching. They’ve stuck with sugar beets as their importance in the state’s economy has actually diminished with fluctuating sugar products costs, a shrunken farm labor workforce and other markets emerging.But now technological and research advancements have the Schlagels and other farmers growing sugar beets as efficiently as ever. Regardless of a decreasing amount of farmland dedicated to the crop, Colorado farmers produced more than 1 million loads of sugar beets in 2015 for the first time given that 2000.”It is really a sustainability success story,”stated Rebecca Larson, the vice president and chief scientist for the Western Sugar Cooperative.”Technology has permitted us to not disrupt the soil, not burn as

    much fuel and grow the sugar beets on less acres.” The greatest population development Colorado would ever experience happened the turn of the 20th century, thanks to sugar beets.An 1888 experiment performed by Colorado State University precursor college Colorado A&M had determined that Colorado’s soil and

    environment were ideal for growing sugar beets. When a German seed supplier visited the Fort Collins location soon afterwards, Coloradoan archives state he forecasted the location’s genuine estate would double within a couple of years– little did he know what it would end up being today.Immigrants originated from numerous parts of the world to help plant, weed, harvest and labor in the sugar beet fields. Fort Collins grew from 3,000 residents in 1900 to more than 8,000 by 1910. Similar development was available in the other Centennial State cities. Fort Morgan’s population tripled within 4 years of its sugar beet industry beginning, and the home rates there increased from $40 an acre to about $200 an acre.” If you return in history, sugar beets were the money crop,” Paul said.”They populated Colorado and constructed the railways. … Individuals utilized to line up to deal with your farm.”Great Western Sugar Co. processing plants appeared in more than 20 different Colorado cities– if your town had one, it was on the map.Farmers would provide their sugar beet harvest every fall so they could be transformed into sugar crystals. “The sugar beet crop was constantly the check to settle the bank, all your bills and the farm,”Paul said.”Whatever else you grew was to feed your animals.” Processing plants formerly run in

    Fort Collins at 625 Ninth St., in the area just behind New Belgium Brewing that today houses the Fort Collins Street Department; in Windsor near the current intersection of First and Walnut streets; in Loveland at the crossway of Madison Opportunity and East 11th Street; and in Greeley

    simply east of U.S. Highway 85 at 1302 First Ave.Sugar beet profitability began to subside in the 1950s. New policies and competition from imported sugar walking cane harmed the industry.Processing factories started to close throughout the state, a number of which sit vacant today. Great Western Sugar Co. ultimately stated personal bankruptcy in 1985. In Fort Collins, an only remnant of the factory towers above the Poudre River in Kingfisher Point Natural Area today. The suspension flume bridge that was constructed in 1926 to discard excess waste from the factory into a field was added to the National

    Register of Historic Places in 2014. The Option City, however, has actually remained prominent on the planet of sugar beets.A U.S. Department of Agriculture research facility was begun in the 1920s to combat illness outbreaks and has continued to run ever because. A reproducing line initially developed here during the 1980s is now used around the world due to the fact that it is resistant to a harmful fungus called Rhizoctonia.Of all the past Colorado sugar factories, just Fort Morgan– which began running in 1906– remains active.”There are a great deal of factors that enter into play, however location is most likely the finest reason (why Fort

    Morgan remains), “said Rodney Perry, Western Sugar Cooperative’s president and CEO.

    ” Fort Morgan beings in the middle of the beet growing region from the Front Variety out to Yuma.”It was pitch black at 4 a.m. as Paul and Scott aimed to plant their 2018 sugar beet crop prior to an impending storm this April. Both grew up operating in the fields, hauling loads of sugar beets prior to school

    throughout the harvest months.”I would inform people I understood how to drive a tractor when I was 5 years of ages,” stated a smirking Scott, now 32. Sugar beet planting utilized to need horse-drawn power. It evolved to gas tractors, where motorists had to alternate looking forward and back in an attempt to plant a straight row.But now the planting is done much more efficiently with GPS technology. The improvement has actually emerged as a typical

    farming tool over the previous years. “You’ve constantly wanted people to drive by your farm and state,’Oh those are quite straight rows,'”Paul said.”I was never that proficient at it. They were always somewhat misaligned.”Now they are constantly straight.”GPS technology is also utilized in harvesting, fertilizing, herbicide application and sprinkler watering as computers now handle the bulk of farming chores.Another major improvement in the sugar beet industry was the intro of Roundup Ready seeds in 2008– which suggests the plant is not hurt by the application of herbicides. Roundup Ready seeds have helped farmers increase

    sugar beet yields from an average of 8,000 pounds of sugar per acre to 13,000. “It transformed how people farm with sugar beets,”Larson stated.

    “Before it was actually difficult to manage weeds. Spraying herbicides killed those weeds however also would have an influence on the beets.”But “today, we do not have weeds, period,”Paul added.More improvements could be coming from the USDA sugar beet research study facility in Fort Collins. Multi-year studies on enhancing yields and securing sugar beets from plant pathogens are currently underway.Scientists test plant breeding and study the substances of wild sugar beet varieties. The more efficient seeds development indicate less costly chemicals farmers need to apply.The Fort Collins USDA site has actually made more than 120 research study releases given that 1961.”We are trying to help the American farmer, “stated USDA sugar beet research service technician Travis Vagher.

    “By limiting the amount of chemicals utilized, it increases their bottom line.” Much of the farming development has been intended at effectiveness and offseting a minimal labor force pool. It has the Schlagels and other sugar beet farmers optimistic about the future of the storied

    crop.A 2017 contract with the government of Mexico could assist increase prices of U.S. sugar, an item that’s bought years ahead of time. There are now restrictions on how much Mexico can import to the U.S.There are still some challenges.Western Sugar Cooperative was fined$2 million by the state of Colorado in May for air, water and health offenses at the Fort Morgan plant– smell problems ran widespread in the city in 2015. The cooperative has accepted clean up its issues.But as the ups and downs of growing Colorado’s first cash crop continue, generational sugar beet farmers remain committed to growing it.” We have actually made fantastic strides,”Paul said.”We have actually been on this exact farm for more than 50 years and things have altered a lot.”___ Info from: Fort Collins Coloradoan.

    Why Beets Are One of the Healthiest Foods | Wellness Mama

    Beetroot powder is one of my favorite ways to add beautiful color to homemade beauty products. But beets are amazing for reasons beyond their gorgeous color. Beetroots and beet greens are amazing powerhouses of nutrition and can help the body in multiple ways when included in a healthy diet.

    What’s in a Beet?

    Beetroots are an incredible food that has a distinct nutritional profile. They contain a little bit of everything!

    Take a look at this list:

    Additionally, beets contain phytonutrients like betalains. Beets are especially high in betalains which are responsible for giving beets their color and have many health benefits of their own (read on for those benefits!).

    You may not believe this if you’re not a beet lover, but beets are sometimes called “nature’s candy” because they are so naturally sweet! Beets do have a high sugar content (compared to other vegetables) but a low glycemic load so most people can eat them without problems. They also contain lots of dietary fiber which helps slow digestion of sugars.

    The Bountiful Benefits of Beets!

    We all know that vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. Most vegetables contain fiber (helps digestion) and lots of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for a healthy body. But beets contain some specific nutrients that set them apart.

    Reduce Inflammation

    Inflammation is an important mechanism that the body uses to fight invaders and heal injuries. But many times inflammation doesn’t go away (due to diet, lifestyle, and underlying disease) and can become chronic. Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are implicated as the cause of many age-related diseases and cancers.

    Research shows that beets can lower inflammation and oxidative stress. A 2014 study found that beetroot supplements reduced oxidative stress and inflammation in rats.

    A 2016 study found that beet juice reduced inflammatory markers in people with high blood pressure. This study found that raw beet juice had better outcomes than cooked.

    Support Heart Health

    Lower inflammation and oxidative stress are two things that can have a huge effect on heart health. But beets also seem to have direct effects on lower the risk of heart disease. Beetroot juice lowered both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure in a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

    Beets also reduce LDL cholesterol in people with uncontrolled blood pressure, according to a 2017 study. However, beets didn’t affect cholesterol in those who did not have uncontrolled blood pressure.

    May Be Anti-Cancer

    Cancer is a growing problem today, with over 38 percent of people getting a cancer diagnosis at some point in their lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute.

    Dr. Mark Hyman talks about the way we approach cancer treatment and prevention in our society in a blog article. He writes,

    The problem with cancer—one which almost no oncologists think about—is not the tumor, but the garden in which the tumor grows.” In other words, we have to look at the body as a whole and ask, “why is this tumor growing?” The answer, he writes, is usually a combination of diet, lifestyle, thoughts, and environmental toxins.”

    Beets can be an amazing tool in creating a healthy “garden,” but beets alone can’t fix a poor diet or an unhealthy lifestyle. That being said, studies are finding that beets have a beneficial effect on tumor cells. One 2013 study found that beetroot extract reduced multi-organ tumor formation in animals. Researchers in another study found that the betanin in beets is likely what causes the destruction of cancer cells, though they say more research is needed.

    Helps Detox

    Beets are rich in antioxidants, specifically betanin. Betanin helps the transcription and expression of important enzymes like glutathione. Glutathione is one of the most important nutrients in the body. It helps recycle and produce antioxidants to maintain cellular health and is crucial for detoxification in the liver.

    Beets are also a good source of pectin. Pectin acts as a chelator and it binds to toxins and removes them from the body.

    Improves Cognitive Function

    While nitrates have gotten a bad rap (mostly because of cured meats), they’re actually a healthy and important part of the diet. Nitrates from vegetables convert into nitric oxide in the body which helps relax blood vessels and improve circulation. This includes increasing blood flow to certain parts of the brain that are necessary for cognitive function.

    Beets are an amazing source of natural nitrates. Studies show that beetroot juice as part of a high nitrate diet can positively affect cognitive function in people of all ages.

    Other research published in The Journal of Neuroscience suggests that Alzheimer’s disease may be caused, in part, by folate deficiency. Beets are a rich source of folate. Because it’s in a natural form (folate instead of folic acid) the folate in beets is more bioavailable to most people.

    Improves Endurance and Athletic Performance

    As mentioned earlier, beets are an amazing source of natural nitrates. These nitrates are converted to nitric oxide, which helps improve oxygen circulation. Nitrates were also found in a 2011 study to increase the efficiency of mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cells).

    A 1985 study found that nitrates from beetroot juice extended the time to exhaustion in low-intensity exercise. It also reduces the amount of oxygen muscles need during exercise.

    Boosts Eye Health

    While the beetroot is responsible for many of their health benefits, beet greens are pretty amazing too. Beet greens are a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin which help improve eye health. According to research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids reported to be present in the eye lens. These carotenoids act as antioxidants to protect eye health.

    How to Eat Beets (More)

    Both beetroots and beet green are amazing foods that you can grow easily at home if you have a small garden space. Beets come in a variety of colors from deep purple to light golden, but they all have generally the same nutritional profile. Whether you grow your own delicious beets or get them at the farmers market or grocery store, the important thing is to eat them! Here are some ways to enjoy beets regularly.

    Too Much of a Good Thing?

    Beets are most nutritious when raw or cooked gently (not too long). However, beets and beet greens contain a high amount of a compound called oxalates. Oxalates can contribute to kidney stones and arthritis in some susceptible people. Leaky gut and MTHFR mutations make you more likely to be sensitive to too many oxalates. But as with anything in life, moderation is key.

    Bottom line, adding beets and beet greens to a healthy diet is good. Eating beets at every meal instead of a variety of vegetables is probably not good! If you have a history of arthritis or kidney stones you may want to go easy on the beets. Check with your doctor to figure out what is best for you.