Berry picking can be fun for the whole family and good for you too! Summer is the season of produce abundance and variety. With the sun at its peak, fruits and vegetables are ripening on vines, just waiting for us to pick them. We won't find a juicier tomato, a crunchier cucumber or a sweeter, plump blueberry than one that we pick ourselves.
Berry season is currently at, or nearing its peak, here in the United States. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are natures super health food. When they are picked fresh at their peak, they can be as sweet as candy, so kids love them
Here are six tips you may want to consider to make your picking a success:
1. Find berry farms that grow organically. Google is probably the easiest way to find an organic berry farm near you. If you are going to pick, pick the best quality. Strawberries top the Dirty Dozen list of fruits and veggies most laden with pesticides, so it is especially important to try and find those organically grown.
2. Pick enough to freeze for the winter. Frozen berries come in handy all year; pies for Thanksgiving, added into a morning smoothy, or healthy muffins. Think like a squirrel, gather them up and store them in the freezer now while they are at their best.
3. Pick first thing in the morning. Berries ripen when the sun is at its peak so try and get to the farm as early as possible because it can get hot. Standing in the hot sun can leave one dehydrated so bring water as well. Don't forget the sunscreen and a sunhat. If you are bringing elderly people with you, consider bringing a folding chair so they can sit and pick.
4. Take your time, enjoy the zen. Try and go when you are not in a rush. Berry picking can be a mindfulness activity. Finding yourself alone in a row, just focusing on selecting the ripened berries, while the birds chirp nearby, can be very relaxing. Soak it up.
5. Listen for recipe tips. Eventually, you may find yourself next to some other pickers. It is not unusual to end up being privy to some funny conversations. If you're lucky, you may end up near some great cooks who love to chat about how they make the perfect piecrust or jam.
6. Taste some berries, but refrain from gobbling them down. Generally speaking, farmers are thrilled to see the public come and enjoy their hard work. They understand the fruit is very tempting and we may want to sample what we are buying. Keep in mind, though; it took a lot of sweat and investment to grow these crops. Gather your berries, pay for them and then indulge if you want to.
Have fun out there! If you do go, take a picture and tag me in your post @TheNatureNurse. I would love to see what you harvest.
Want to learn more ways that you can engage in nature for fun and to promote your health? Sign up for The Nature Nurse™ newsletter, The Nature Nurse™ blog or follow on social media @TheNatureNurse™
Step outside and feel the ahhh...
This summer many of us will make the trek across the sand-carting chairs, umbrellas and burdensome coolers, whatever it takes to get near the ocean. But what about those who are living with paralysis? Wouldn't they benefit from a day inhaling the salty air, gazing at the infinite blue pallet while listening to the hypnotic rhythm of the sea as well? Would they, too, enjoy feeling weightless cradled in the oceans embrace?
One in fifty Americans are living with paralysis according to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. How many of these people do we see enjoying the ocean? My guess is not many. There are efforts today to change that. Let's take a look at some of them, shall we?
Creative minds and some effort from volunteers, friends and family now allow wheelchair bound people to get closer to the water with beach wheelchairs and access mats. Contact the beach, or local parks and recreation department of the beach you would like to go to, beforehand to see if they offer these adaptable options. Often they are available for free and reservations are encouraged. If your favorite beach doesn't offer this, consider raising money to get some.
Cory Lee, demonstrates how he used the temporary access mat provided and set up by Ocean Cures on his facebook page, Curb Free with Cory Lee. Check it out here. If you are living with a disability, considering liking his page, he goes to a lot of fun places!
Many of our veterans have returned from war with injuries of all sorts impairing their mobility. Despite these challenges, they are engaging in the ocean with the help of dedicated volunteers experienced in water sports. Many of them report that these therapeutic recreation activities have been an integral part in their healing from physical and mental wounds obtained while serving.
Nurses will go to the ends of the earth to help their patients. The nurses who volunteer for DiveHeart.org will even go deep into the sea. Scuba diving in tandem with medically challenged people takes a special set of skills. Nurses have always recognized the healing power of nature and they are not afraid to learn whatever skills are necessary to engage their patients in the outdoors.
Recognizing this need, I am planning to coordinate a beginning surfing lesson for nurses with pro surfer, Tony Silvagni's surf school, this summer. If you are a nurse, and want more information, please contact me through my contact page. I am also accepting donations and sponsorships for this event.
Water advocate and visionary leader, Wallace J. Nichols recently tweeted this:
Imagine if we could get more people into the outdoors to improve their health and wellness? The BlueMind Tribe, of which Nichols is the champion, has compiled a list of organizations that offer water therapy options ( link.) If you know of more that should be added, visit www.wallacejnichols.org and submit your suggestion.
I hope this blog has expanded your awareness of all the possibilities that exist to reap the healing benefits of nature no matter what condition we are in. As always, this information is meant to be educational. Always consult with your healthcare team before trying anything new if you have a medical condition. Please feel free to share your stories of how nature has benefited you in the comments below.
Thanks for reading and please share if you care and want to help others.
Who remembers the commercials where a cartoon owl, named Woody, would sing, "Give a hoot, don't pollute?"
Or the commercial where an Indian stood on top of a hill, a tear streaming down his face after he sees someone in a car fling a bag of garbage out the window onto the highway?
Unless you have been living under a rock, wait, let me rephrase that-because if you have been living under a rock you are probably very aware. So, if you have not been living under a rock, and haven't heard the news, we have a huge global waste crisis. One of the biggest waste issues is plastic.
If we Google plastic, we will find a plethora of news feeds describing the plastic pollution issue, images of plastic floating in the sea and animal autopsies showing stomach's filled with plastic garbage like the pilot whale who just died from ingesting eighty plastic bags.
Maybe we want to remember this cute baby owl that I stumbled upon in a shopping center, when we think about how we can act more environmentally friendly?
Another environmental issue, wildlife running out of habitat, but we'll save that for another blog.
If we want to give a hoot for this baby owl and all the other living babies, maybe we can add one more thing to our zero waste practice. For example, I am pretty consistent about using a reusable cup when I go out, I use reusable bags when I shop, grow some of my own food that don't require packaging, and make healthy herbal teas in mason jars rather than buying cold drinks. I pledge to add bringing my own reusable utensils to use rather than plastic ones when I am out and keep some reusable to go containers in my car to use when dining out. This latter practice will help the environment and my weight, lol.
If you want to join in, either as a newbie or want to add to your zero waste practice, here are some ideas:
101 Zero Waste Tips
Zero Waste Home: How To Get Started
Plastic Pollution Coalition
Thanks for giving a hoot and reading this blog! Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.