Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oregano Is New CO2-Cutting Drug of Choice (For Cows)

by A.K. Streeter, Portland, Oregon

You weren't one of those teenagers that tried to smoke oregano straight from your mom's spice rack, were you? The urban lore of the 70's held that smoking oregano would get you high, and yes, I tried it. It definitely didn't work.

But though oregano may not be a great high, it turns out that this common herb has a lot of other medicinal properties, including curbing cows methane production by as much 40%. As cows are such a potent contributor to CO2 emissions, this is good news.

A study by Alexander Hristov of Penn State's dairy cows found that feeding them oregano along with their regular rations caused the cows to produce up to 40 percent less methane in their belches. (Contrary to earlier belief, it seems to be the burps, not the farts, that produce the most methane in ruminants.) In addition, the oregano supplement Hristov fed the cows increased their milk production by a few pounds over the course of the trials.

Grass-fed cows (who tend to eat a lot of herbs) have already been thought to be less methane-producing.

According to this LiveScience report, Hristov screened hundreds of essentials oils and plant compounds before settling on oregano as the supplement most effective at reducting methane while causing no negative effects on the cows.

Oregano is a mainstay of Italian, Greek, and other cuisines. Wikipedia says oregano became popular in the U.S. after World War II when returning soldiers brought back a taste for the "pizza spice."

But interestingly, this hearty herb also has health benefits due to its strong antioxidant properties and antimicrobial action. Hippocrates used oregano as an antiseptic as well as a cure for stomach and respiratory ailments. Oregano has recently been found to have extremely effective properties against methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), showing a higher effectiveness than 18 pharmaceuticals it was compared with... read more story at

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Organic Strawberries Have Better Taste & Nutrition Than Conventional & Better For Soil Too: New Study

by Matthew McDermott, New York, NY

In the tug of war over whether organic farming is really better than conventional chemical-laden farming, a new study in the online peer-reviewed journal PLoS One comes out solidly in support of the benefits of organic. Self-described as the most comprehensive study of its kind, researchers from Washington State University found that commercial organic farms produce was more flavorful and nutritious strawberries, while leaving the soil healthier and genetically diverse.

In coming to that conclusion, the scientists analyzed 31 chemical and biological soil properties, soil DNA, as well as the taste, nutrition and quality of three strawberry varieties on 13 organic farms and 13 chemical farms in California, where 90% of the US strawberry crop is grown.

Science Daily sums up the findings:

...The organic strawberries had significantly higher antioxidant activity and concentrations of ascorbic acid and phenolic compounds.

...The organic strawberries had longer shelf life.

...The organic strawberries had more dry matter, or, "more strawberry in the strawberry."

Anonymous testers, working at times under red light so the fruit color would not bias them, found one variety of organic strawberries was sweeter, had better flavor, and once a white light was turned on, appearance. The testers judged the two other varieties to be similar... read more story at