Fending Off Disease with a Fork: Rutgers Scarlet Lettuce Exceeds Blueberries in Polyphenol Content

Rutgers Professor Ilya Raskin’s research focuses on plant-derived functional foods and medicines.

Rutgers Professor Ilya Raskin’s research focuses on plant-derived functional foods and medicines.

Modern science is catching up with ancient wisdom. The expression “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” has been attributed to Hippocrates, father of medicine, around 431 B.C. Hippocrates’ adage is aptly illustrated by a glance down a supermarket produce aisle with its colorful display of deep red strawberries, fiery orange carrots, bright green broccoli and brilliant blueberries. The vibrant hues found in plant pigments that create these distinct colors have aroused the interest of the scientific community as vast amounts of research uncovers the beneficial effects these “phytonutrients” have on preventing disease and maintaining health.

Antioxidants, phytonutrients, and polyphenols have become familiar buzzwords to the health-oriented, and certain fruits and vegetables have achieved “superfood” status due to their high content of these beneficial compounds. In the arena of produce with high antioxidant abilities, blueberries have topped the list. Blueberries are considered the gold standard due to their high levels of polyphenols, which are a subgroup of phytochemicals. Anthocyanins are a further subgroup of polyphenols and provide the pigments that color deep red and purple foods such as blueberries, acai, blackcurrant and red wine. Research has shown these polyphenols to protect against diabetes, cardiovascular disease, memory loss, inflammation and cancer. [Read more...]

Hot Pepper Plots Picked Clean in ‘HYOP’ 2014

Hot Peppers gleaning - 2014In the second annual “Harvest Your Own Pepper” (HYOP) event on October 15, the hot pepper plots at Hort Farm III on Ryders Lane in New Brunswick were once again open to Rutgers faculty and staff to pick their own hot peppers left over from research variety trials. Albert Ayeni, ethnic crop specialist, and Tom Orton, extension specialist in vegetable breeding, are conducting the hot pepper trials for selecting varieties that grow well in New Jersey. In addition, they are investigating the peppers’ potential use as ornamental plants and medicinal foods. Read more about the hot pepper research and the first HYOP in 2013.

Roger Barr, Retired Bergen County 4-H Agent, Inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame

Barr receiving his award from (l-r) Pam Van Horn, president NAE4-HA; Christina Alford, executive vice president, National 4-H Council; and Lisa Lauxman, director, Division of Youth and 4-H, Institute of Youth, Family and Community, NIFA, USDA.

Roger Barr receives his award from (l-r) Pam Van Horn, president NAE4-HA; Christina Alford, executive vice president, National 4-H Council; and Lisa Lauxman, director, Division of Youth and 4-H, Institute of Youth, Family and Community, NIFA, USDA.

Roger Barr of Upper Saddle River, NJ, was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame on October 10 for his lifetime achievements and contributions to 4-H. The former Bergen County agent was honored by the New Jersey 4-H Youth Development Program of Rutgers Cooperative Extension and was one of 14 people inducted during the ceremony at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, MD.

The National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees are nominated by their home states, National 4-H Council, the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents or 4-H National Headquarters based upon their exceptional leadership at the local, state, national and international levels.

The honorees were presented with National 4-H Hall of Fame medallion, plaque and memory book during the ceremony. The National 4-H Hall of Fame was established in 2002 as part of the Centennial Project of the NAE4-HA in partnership with National 4-H Council and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA. For more information about the National 4-H Hall of Fame event and past recipients, visit www.nae4ha.com/hof. [Read more...]

Rutgers Gardens celebrates nature at Fall Festival

Rutgers Gardens hosted its annual Fall Festival over the weekend to help raise funds for the 180-acre public garden. Bruce Crawford, director of Rutgers Gardens, said the festival is a fun day out intended to serve as a fundraiser and community awareness event. "As long as the gardens have been here, there are still a number of families who don’t know we exist," he said. "There’s nothing out front that screams ‘Rutgers Gardens.’"…The preserve, which opened in 1922, is tucked away off Ryders Lane between New Brunswick and East Brunswick.

Read the entire article at Sentinel »

Oyster farmers ride the wave of consumer tastes – Lawmaker offers his help to the shellfish growers

Aquaculture farmers in Middle Township are riding the leading edge of an oyster renaissance, a Rutgers marine scientist said recently, and last week independent growers in the area got the vocal support of a federal lawmaker in their pursuit to revitalize a once-great state industry…Not long ago, the lawmaker’s office reached out to Lisa Calvo, a Rutgers marine scientist working with eight oyster farmers in the township, and one in Cumberland County.

Read the entire article at Middle Township Gazette »