Backyard gardens for lazy locavores

Want organic veggies from your own backyard without getting your hands dirty? Trevor Paque, founder of MyFarm in San Francisco, will plan, install and maintain your garden. He'll even pluck your harvest when it's ripe and leave it at your doorstep. With as little as a 4-square-foot plot of dirt and a dream of fresh produce, you can be part of Paque's "decentralized urban garden … increasing local food production and securing a sustainable food system," according to myfarmsf.com. "We ask what vegetables you like and grow them just for you."

Marinades stake healthy new claim

Marinating meat before grilling may help your body fight cancer. A team from Kansas State University found that soaking that steak in spices before tossing it on a sizzling grill can reduce heterocyclic amines, cancer-forming compounds, by more than 70 percent. Apparently, Caribbean marinades jerk cancer off track the most. Steaks marinated for one hour in an island blend of spices decreased the HCA content by 88 percent. An herb marinade lowered content by 72 percent and a southwestern blend reduced HCAs by 27 percent. The study was published in July's issue of the Journal of Food Science.

"Commercial marinades offer spices and herbs which have antioxidants that help decrease the HCAs formed during grilling," said J.S. Smith, principal researcher at KSU, in a release accompanying the article. " The results from our study have a direct application since more consumers are interested in healthier cooking."

Americans wine less

Americans are quaffing more beer than wine, according to Gallup's annual Consumption Habits poll. The July poll showed that beer regained a better-than-double-digit advantage over wine when U.S. drinkers were asked to name which alcoholic beverage they most often enjoyed. In recent years, wine was catching up, even pulling slightly ahead in 2005. This year's victory for brews marks the first time beer has led by double digits since 2002.

The poll also found that daily drinking was more common among Americans of higher socioeconomic status. According to the survey, during the past four years, an average of 42 percent of college graduates reported having had a drink in the last 24 hours, compared with 32 percent of those who had not graduated from college.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 9/p. 24