Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Corn: GMO or non-GMO

As I try to get a grasp of the corn story, I first had to understand the elements that make corn bad for you.  In researching, I found that corn can basically be categorized into two groups: GMO and hybrid/non-GMO.  It is very hard to find traditional corn seeds any more.  GMO or Genetically Modified Organism corn means that the corn has been modified through genetic engineering at the genes level and contains genes that are not naturally occurring.  Basically, it is modifying the DNA or cellular structure of the corn.
Most of the commercial corn has been modified so that it can withstand glyphosate (as in the commercial chemical herbicide Roundup) and it also termed as RR Corn (Roundup Ready Corn).  This means that Roundup can be applied without affecting the corn plant as the plant absorbs the glyphosate to the individual corn kernel level.  The result is you can get beautiful corn filled with glyphosate so from a commercial aspect, corn can be produced in quantity at a reduced overall production cost as you get a higher yield since no insects want to eat it no will it be affected by any disease or bacteria.  If the insects try to eat them, they die.
The Big Chem will say that it is safe to eat corn that is filled with glyphosate.  The US Pesticide Trade organizations also say it is safe.  The major GMO corn seed producer is Monsanto and the produce for Roundup is Monsanto.  In the 2012 Nutritional Analysis - Comparison of GMO Corn versus Non-GMO Corn  conducted by an independent, outsourced, major food company found the GMO corn contains a similar amount of nutrients to non-GMO corn but also contained a number of elements absent from traditional corn, including chlorides, formaldehyde and glyphosate, and in harmful quantities.  In case you are wondering what formaldehyde is used for – it is used in preserving corpse!
You will find conflicting studies and outcomes depending on who did them.  Personally, I look for independent studies done by groups or companies not affiliated with Big Chem.  It is also interesting to note that you get conflicting results from studies done within an organization in US.  I guess it depends on what the policy or interest-to-be-protected is.  At the same time, we all know the lobbyist play a big role.  Other than the studies done by independent entities in US, I also read up on the studies done in Europe and it should be noted that the major sentiment is against GMO. 
The International Agency on Cancer Research has concluded that glyphosate can possible cause cancer in humans.  Monsanto discredits this study by saying that it is inconsistent with their finding.  An international study has also found that it causes hormone disruption as well as resistance to antibiotics in humans.
What are these GMO corn used for apart from eating it as “corn on the cob”?  The corn are used for many things:
1.     Ingredient in production of feed for animals such as cows, sheep, goats and chickens.  This means that these animals also become contaminated with these chemicals and are introduced into our food intake by products from these animals.
2.     To make corn oil.  Corn oil has been touted as being the great alternative for cooking oil and good for the heart.  In exchange you may get damaged livers and kidneys and hormone disruptions.
3.     To make corn syrup, a cheap sweetening alternative which are bad for your liver and kidneys.
4.     To make corn flour.
5.     Ingredient in cereals that are touted as being healthy alternatives.  My thinking: How can it be a healthy alternative?
6.     To make snacks such as popcorn and many others.  There are many alternatives snacks.

I am opting for hybrid corn that has not undergone the GMO process.  Hybrid corns are grown from corn seeds that were produced by crossing 2 types of corn to create a new variety with the characteristics of the “parent” corn.  It involves no genetic engineering at the gene level.  Some of the characteristics the hybridization seeks is drought-resistant, sweetness and color of corn.  From a commercial production perspective, it costs more to produce hybrid seeds and they are not immune to chemical herbicides such as Roundup so you cannot flood a field with Roundup but will have to use alternative means to control weeds.  Hence, it costs more from the production of corn perspective.

At the end of the day, I see my choices as simple:
Do I want to eat corn that can possibly cause liver and kidney failure as well as a host of other possibilities and later pay the medical costs to “cure” these diseases and endure the suffering
Do I eat good corn and pay more for it but have a better chance of not getting liver and kidney diseases and other problems and avoid the suffering?

I love corn so now we plant our own hybrid corn without the use chemical pesticides or herbicides or fertilizers.  We use organic pest control and fertilizers and control weeds the “old-fashioned” way, manual weeding.  The end result is we get good tasting, healthy corn.  It is not difficult to plant and care for them, just requires more time.  However, I find it well worth the effort.

I find it interesting that the manufacturer of Roundup and GMO corn seeds, Monsanto bought a major pharmaceutical company, Bayer.  To me, it is making profits from both ends.

The onus is on us to educate ourselves.  The debate continues with those with commercial interest categorically saying that GMO Corn is safe and those without, saying it isn’t or further studies needed as initial study indicates it is possible not safe.  For the adults, we can make our own choices.  For our children, I hope we make the right choices.  Personally, I do not want my son to suffer from liver and kidney diseases as a result of the choices I made for him.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Possibilities in dehydrating Part 1

This is part 1 of my new series on dehydrated foods.  All the produce that we dehydrate are produced at the farm hence it is natural and grown in an organic manner.  I remember growing up, my grandmother, grand-aunts and aunts often things were dried to preserve them especially in the villages where there was no electricity supply which means no refrigerators, chillers or freezers.  They did it to various fruits and also fish.  They didn't use low quality items but fresh, good quality items to create these foods that can be preserved for later consumption.  With our weather and tropical fruits, once ripe they do not store for long periods well so dehydrating them is a good option.

We only do market once a week and the fruits ripen when they "feel" like it.  To me, they will not be in its prime for market so I had to come up with a way to not waste them.  I also had to come up with an alternative on the occasion that we are left with some produce after market.  After all the hard work in growing and caring for them, it would be a shame to just have it rot away although at the farm, it becomes food for the animals.  After evaluating various options, I decided to invest in a dehydrator as to me, the fresh produce can then be dried in a clean manner free from flies and the like, preserving as much as the nutrients and allowing for storage without the need for chillers or refrigerators.

Two of the fruits that we dehydrate and convert to an on-the-go snack which is healthy and tasty are papayas and bananas.  By dehydrating it, there is a minimal loss of the nutrients and the flavour is intensified.  It is packed in a suggested fruit serving size so it is easy to take it with you.  It can also serve as your breakfast fruit if you are on the run - you can munch it on your way to work.  The idea is to have your fruit servings easily accessible as a snack without any additives, sugar, colouring or preservatives.  Seasonally, we will also have dehydrated jackfruit.

One of the often used plant as a condiment that we dehydrate is lemongrass.  It comes in a crushed form and can be used in multiple ways.  By steeping in hot water, it can be turned into lemongrass tea.  This drink can be served either warm or cold, either sweetened or unsweetened or added to another drink as flavouring.  In the crushed form, it can also be used for cooking.  Being in a dehydrated form, it can be stored in your kitchen, ready for use whenever you want.    One stalk is approximately 1 teaspoon.  We do not add anything to our dehydrated lemongrass so it is pure lemongrass.  Lemongrass is an alternative therapy or home remedy used for various conditions such as to aid in digestion, improve skin condition, fighting cancer, controlling cholesterol levels, for cleansing and detoxifying - there are quite a few others.  Some of the properties of the lemongrass are analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anticancer, antibacterial and diuretic.  It is from these properties that it is used as alternative or complementary treatment.  I find the taste to be pleasing and add it to drinks and used it for cooking.  Although I prefer it fresh, for the times when I do not have any fresh lemongrass, this works just as well.

Ginger torch is also another commonly used herbal condiment in local cuisine.  By having the
dehydrated crushed ginger torch flower within easy access, you can use it as a seasoning that is sprinkled over the top of hot rice, giving a wonderful fragrance to plain white rice.  It can also be used to season various dishes. namely savoury dishes.  Each pack contains only ginger torch flowers without any preservatives,  The color of the crushed ginger torch is also all natural - the color of the flower.  With the dehydration process, it retains its aromatics and flavour.  There is no need to refrigerate it, just store it the same manner that you would store dried herbs - in a cool area.
In traditional or alternative therapy, it is used to reduce diabetes and hypertension and also to treat loss of appetite.  No wonder I like the plain rice better when I sprinkle some bunga kantan on it.  It is said to also have anti-inflammatory properties.

Blue sweet pea flower (bunga telang) is a bright, depp blue flower which is often used in Malay cooking especially for making nasi kerabu, colouring the rice a nice blue.  This flower is a natural food colouring and with its color also have antioxidant properties as well as other healing properties.  To make a food colouring, just pour hot water over a few friend flowers and allow it to steep until the liquid is cool.  This liquid can then be used as a food colouring for making cakes, agar-agar, etc.  Apart from using it as a food colouring to make both savoury and sweet dishes, it also makes a nice blue tea with a subtle floral flavour.  To make the tea, pour hot water over a few pieces of the dried flower and you will immediately see the water turning blue.  It can be served hot or cold, sweetened or unsweetened.  It can be combined with other ingredients to make a drink and I find it interesting that when calamansi (limau kasturi) juice is added to it, it turns into a royal purple color.  This would make an interesting and good tasting drink especially for children in providing them with a healthy alternative.  The flowers are picked at full bloom and dehydrated making it easy to store and have readily available.

I grow all kinds of plants that lends itself to being dehydrated and in part 2, I will describe the other dried products that we have :)

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Fish Story: Part 2: The Fishes

Whenever we harvest the fish, I do enjoy cleaning the fish because the fish are not smelly, they are firm and fresh and look good and my mind is filled with endless possibilities of what to do with them.  Three things that I have invested in that I find serves me well is the chiller, the freezer and the dehydrator.  These three heavy-duty equipment backs me up in processing my fish and retaining the quality and freshness of the fish.

Once the fish are harvested, and there normally is a lot of it, the ones waiting to be cleaned are placed in the chiller.  This ensures that the fish does not spoil and remains fresh until I clean it.   As the water
used to clean the fish is also from a clean, fresh uncontaminated source, this further adds quality to the fish and keeps it clear of chemicals.  Once cleaned, I then decide what to do with it.

Live catfish
Catfish fillet
For catfish, all the larger ones are filleted, packaged and frozen in the freezer.  The catfish do not go into the chiller before being processed but is kept alive.  The mid-sized ones are cleaned, marinated with herbs from the farm and then smoked with unprocessed wood being the source of the fire.  Once it is smoked to the degree desired, it is then dehydrated, reducing the moisture content to a level that will inhibit microbial or bacteria activity.  It is then packaged and ready for sale.  We do also sell live catfish at our market stall but it all depends on what the demand is at that time - fillets, smoked or fresh. 
Smoked catfish

Fresh red tilapia
Marinated red tilapia
The red tilapia is also processed to be sold either as frozen fresh which means it goes directly into the freezer and depending on order, are sometimes cleaned before frozen.  Some are marinated in herbs and are then dehydrated and sold packed as dehydrated marinated red tilapia.  For the dehydrated fish, I will remove the scales as I do not enjoy eating the scales.  Once dehydrated, this fish can simply be fried or cooked in other savoury dishes with a gravy like asam pedal or masak lemak (with a coconut milk based grace).

Smoked and dehydrated eel
Marinated eel
From the river water coming in, we also get river eel which then find our fish pond as the place to live.  They eat the small river fish and flourish.  They are cleaned and filleted, producing long strips of fish meat.  We cut them to shorter strips and then marinate them in a herbal mixture for at least 12 hours.  It is then smoked and then dehydrated.  We use all natural ingredients with the aim to keep it as natural and tasty as possible.  Many people tend to say that they don't eat eel because of how it looks.  Strangely enough, many of these people eat Unagi (the Japanese name) and didn't realise  that they were eating eel.  They can be steamed to rehydrate or made into soups.  I just like to cut them up into pieces and eat with rice porridge or cook them in a savoury coconut milk based gravy like masak lemak cili.  It can also be used as a topping in salads.

Packed dehydrated lampam
The lampam is a fish with many bones but it is tasty.  Since I am too lazy to pick out the bones, I find  that by turning them into dried fish, they taste great and I do not have to worry about the bones and I can just munch my way though it as it becomes crispy.
It is cleaned including removing the scales and then marinated with a slightly salted herb marinate.  I leave it to marinate at least 12 hours before placing them in the dehydrator.  Once dehydrated, you can just enjoy them as is. The smaller sized ones becomes a pure fish cracker.  The larger ones, can either be further fried or eaten as is with or without sambal belacan.  It can also be cooked with a sambal sauce or in a savoury dish with a coconut milk based gravy.    It is packed ready for sale and does not require refrigeration for storage as long as it is stored in a cool area as the dehydration process removed moisture thus preventing bacteria or microbial activity.

Packed, dehydrated selling
Fresh seluang
The seluang is a small river fish that is tasty but delicate.  Improperly handled when fresh, you will end up with a mush on your hands.  Sometime we sell it fresh but it has to be sold and cooked within 24 hours so this makes it tricky.  We get lots of it in the pond so it is a waste if I do not handle it correctly.  As such, most of the time I will dehydrate it.  I will place them in a draining bowl to minimise handling of the fish.  This bowl is them placed in water that has sea salt and various herbs added and gently shaken so that the fishes are coated with it.  It is left to sit in the liquid for about an hour before draining.  This process firms up the fish whilst at the same time adds flavour to the fish.  They are then arranged on the dehydrating tray and placed in the dehydrator.

All the fish wastes are collected from cleaning the fishes serve as the  main ingredient in creating my fish amino acid (FAA) fertiliser which is then used in fertilising the vegetation at the farm.  I use the water from cleaning the fishes to water the plants.  I find this is a good way to return to nature as it improves the soil at the same time that it nourishes my vegetation.  The FAA it then formulated with other ingredients and becomes one of the fertiliser produced by the farm for sale.

I use the dehydrator a lot and not the traditional way of drying the fish in the sun for several reasons:
  1. I can dry my fish any time and am not dependent on the weather.
  2. I can be assured that my dried fish will be free from air-borne contaminants.
  3. I can be assured that my dried fish are free from flies, fly eggs and worms.
  4. The fish are dried more evenly and to the level where the bacteria or microbial activity will be prevented.
  5. Once in the dehydrator, I can just leave them until they are ready and not have to keep checking on them.
The herbal marinate contains herbs that are grown on the farm so I can be assured that they are free of chemicals.  I use sea salt because they are better for us.

Why do I do all these?  Simple.  It doesn't make sense to ruin good quality, fresh and tasty fish by adding chemicals or ruining them with improper handling and processing.  At the end of the day, it is the taste that counts and so far, I have got good feedback on them and that makes me happy :)

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Fish story - Part 1: The pond

I have a fish pond at the farm which doesn't quite look like a pond.  It flows with fresh water from the source through a 3 inch polypipe that I had installed and the water flows out into Sg. Lai at the other end.  When I first bought the land, I noticed that there was a dried stream bed the winds through the land so I used that as the guide and created the fish pond by deepening and widening resulting in a river-like fish pond.  Over the years, I have made modifications and I love how it is turning out.  I am blessed because the farm is located in an area where there is a fresh water source and still uncontaminated - something which I strive to encourage the neighbour to maintain and hopefully no developers will come and destroy it.

I rear red tilapia, lampam and catfish.  Along with the inflow of the river water, I further get river fish and shrimp bounty like bujuk, seluang, eels and haruan.  With the addition of the other fishes, it is a blessing and a challenge as the larger river fish tends to also eat the fish that I put in the pond.  So, it is a balancing act.  The small river fish becomes food for the larger fishes.  I further add greens by planting kangkong and throwing in tapioca leaves which also becomes their food.  From my recycling of organic wastes, I get some black fly larvae which also serves as a protein supplement.  I do supplement with fish pellets but it serves as an addition but it is something that I hope in the near future I can totally remove.  Periodically, we will put banana pseudo stems from our own banana harvesting activity and this serves multiple functions: additional food, water cleanser and places for the fish to lay eggs and rear their babies.  It is a continuos balancing act but it is all aimed at producing tasty, fresh water fish without the muddy or weird smells nor lots of slime.  The water is uncontaminated water and we do not feed it garbage like animal carcasses or chicken innards.  The water is nice and clear and you can easily see the more bright color fish and although ton see the silvery-tone fish takes a bit of work.  As the farm is totally organic, we do not have any chemical elements contaminating the water and the fish.

With the two main elements of food and water in place, the other main element is maintenance and operations.  The fish pond is segmented into 3 areas: the largest is non-cemented base as I try to mimic as natural environment as possible, the second is a temporary holding area when we do our fish sorting and the third is a cemented base processing pond which otherwise is used for rearing our catfish.  Every two months, we will drain the ponds and sort and harvest the fish.  As the larger fish tends to eat the smaller fishes, sorting and harvesting will minimise the cannibalisation.  By draining the ponds, we get to clean and change the water although it is not necessary since water is flowing in and out continuously.    Our latest improvement was to build "retainer" walls along one section that is closest to the farmhouse.  Over the years, erosion has occurred so it became necessary to build one to protect that area.  The plan is to further beautify it with flowering edibles like roselle so it can become another nice spot to rest and relax and where I can fish with a fishing rod when I feel like it.

Besides it being an opportunity for a produce and ensuing products for the farm, it also serves as a
flood mitigation element.  This are has been known to flood especially during rainy season as the level of the river can rise very fast after prolonged rain.  Sg. Lai is fed by 5 other small rivers and streams so the water volume can increase dramatically and it comes with strong currents known to have floated 1m in diameter cement drain pipes like it was a cork.  It also adds aesthetic value and serves as a lounging area hence the addition of the patio where I can sit in the late afternoon and enjoy a drink and fresh air as I watch the fish - utterly relaxing.  The fountain that was created requires no pumps but uses the pressure of the water flow.

I expect in the ensuing years I will probably do more modifications but always balancing between maintaining the environment, natural elements and aesthetics with the underlying aim of producing quality fresh water produce and products as an integrated farm.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Is it really organic versus Organic instead of Chemicals?

A question put forth to me:" I am skeptical that it is organic.  Is it really organic? Or it is organic when compared to chemical?".  Due to this confusion and/or skepticism, that is why I do not really like the term organic but instead prefer natural.  At the farm, I focus more on natural farming.  What is the difference you may ask?  Here's my determining factor:

  1. If you use organic sources such as kelapa saw it, coco peat and rice husks, this may be considered organic but to me, I will avoid using it.  Why?  Simple really, all these items are laden with chemicals during the growing stage from chemical herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers.  So while it is organic, I do not consider it as organic.
  2. If something is grown using hormones, whilst it may be considered organic, it is not something that is my preference because the hormones could be synthetic hormones.  Plus. it is not natural and something that is done more from a commercial perspective.

It is getting more difficult to obtain clean sources because of the widespread use of chemical herbicides and herbicides, not to mention fertilisers.  In order to obtain SOM (Sijil Organik Malaysia), the land needs to be free of chemical pesticides and heavy metal apart from other conditions.  I don't remember seeing any mention of chemical herbicides.  Regardless, at the farm we do not use chemical pesticides or herbicides.  I believe that we can always work with nature and obtain natural sources.

In the production of our enzyme and fish amino acids, 90% of the ingredients used is farm based, when I can be confident of it being free from chemical contamination.   Our water source is clean, natural water taken from the source, running through 3000 m of polypipe.  We have 2 lines: 1 strictly for the fish and the other for other farm and farmhouse use.

When someone asks me  how can I claim that my FAA is organic.  Simple.
First: the fish source ingredient is from the farm.  The fishes' main diet is the small river fish, shrimps, algae, certain leaves and banana pseudo stem from the farm.  We do not use fish from the markets where you can almost be certain that it has been contaminated with chemicals to make it look fresh, smell fresh.
Second: The water used is uncontaminated, clean natural water.
Third: The only external ingredient is the probiotics bacteria and sea salt.  The remaining ingredients are all farm based.
The FAA concentrate is diluted at the rate of 1-2 capfuls per litre of water and watered at the base of the plant.

Why do I say my enzyme concentrate is organic?
First:  All the ingredients used are from the farm including the sugar source for the fermentation (we plant black sugar cane which is the source for the sugar).
Second: The water used is from our clean, natural uncontaminated source.
Third: All the pest control ingredients are also plant-based which is grown at the farm.
This enzyme concentrate is then diluted at the rate of 1-2 capfuls per litre water and either sprayed or watered at the base of the plant.

These two items are the main components in our fertilisation of the plants and trees.  In our fertilisers, we also use calcium, magnesium and potassium as well as other trace elements.  All are from our farm produce.  For example, our calcium source is also from the farm: our farm chicken eggs and certain fruits high in calcium.  Our chicken are not corn-fed to reduce introduction of contaminants.  90% of their food is from the farm.  Potassium from banana pseudo stem and bananas.

Soil conditions are important so soil improvers are also an essential part of the practice at the farm so that we can continue to grow good vegetables and fruits.   I mix the soil improvers into the soil in subsequent plantings in the same soil to ensure the soil remains healthy and fertile.  I also use it to cover non-liquid fertilisers applies to promote the decomposition of the fertiliser as well as in soil used to increase the soil level.

The base of the soil improver is the mulch where the source ingredients are also from the farm.  Again, I can be sure that it has not been sprayed with toxic chemicals.  Hence, I do not use any organic material from kelapa sawit, rice husks or coco peat as although it is considered organic, it is not for my farm.

I do use some vermicompost that I obtain from a source that I feel confident as well as chicken manure although minimal.  I am careful of what is introduced at the farm.  Why do I care so much?  I have a 3 year old son who I hope will grow up in good health without the new age, post GMO illnesses like psoriasis, eczema, respiratory problems, as well a host of allergies and other health issues.  At the same time, I enjoy planting and I do not want to have to worry about getting harmful chemicals on me :)  This is the least I can do to leave a good environmental legacy for my son.

The ability to do all this is because I have an integrated farm and do not practice monoculture so I have the diversity in source ingredients as well as availability.  Whilst it is difficult to determine chemical contamination from sources out of the farm, I try to limit the exposure.  Nature provides a lot of benefits hence our maxim of "Maximising Nature's Bounty" :)

Friday, 4 November 2016

Mahkota Dewa - one of our heritage plants

I have a keen interest in natural alternative therapies hence my deep interest of the various herbal plants and trees that is part of our heritage.  The Mahkota Dewa or God's Crown (scientific name:
Phaleria macrocarpa) is indigenous to Malaysia and Indonesia.  It can be grown in containers as well as in the ground.  I planted my from seed and it took 1 1/2 years before it started to flower and fruit.  I have two of these trees, both sprouted from seeds, but the one that is planted in a container in the greenhouse is doing much better.  I guess it is because it receives more care than the one planted outdoors.

It takes between 10-14 days for the seed to germinate.  The soil used is a mixture of 3:1 ratio of soil and organic matter.  It requires minimal fertilisation - I fertilise it quarterly with an organic fertiliser mixture that also contains calcium and magnesium along with potassium, nitrogen and phosphorous.  It is an evergreen tree and can grow up to 18m tall.  It can grow in full sun to partial sun areas.  The tree in the container is about 1m tall and is already flowering and fruiting.  I use an 18" high polybag with a 12" diameter.  The tree produces dainty white flower clusters which when pollinated, produces bright red fruits when ripen.

In traditional Malay therapy, it is used to treat diabetes, cancer of the lungs,
hepatitis, lower cholesterol levels, reduce high blood pressure and several others.  The fruit has therapeutic properties such as:

  • antioxidant, 
  • anti-tumor, 
  • antiviral, 
  • antibacterial, 
  • anti-hyperglycaemia and 
  • anti-diarrhoea.  
The main part that is used is the ripe red fruit. as well as the mature leaves.    The fruit can sliced and dried for storage for later use.  The leaves can also be dried for storage for later use.

Amongst the side effects of the fruit is headaches and can be poisonous if it is over-consumed.  It is also not recommended for pregnant ladies.  The normal method of consumption is by drinking the liquid resulting from boiling 3-5 fruits in 1 later of water and until it has reduced to 650ml or reduced by 2/3.  It is then consumed 1/3 at a time.  As with any herbal therapy, it is best to consult a herbalist first before consuming this.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Papayas, our local delight with options

Papaya is one of the highest nutrition local fruits, rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber and enzymes including protein-digesting enzyme.  We are blessed to be living in a climate  where papayas can be grown easily with  minimal care.  There are many varieties of papayas and the shape and size differs.  Not all papaya trees produce fruits, there are some that just produces flowers.  To produce healthy papayas, it is important to ensure that it is free from chemical pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilisers.  For me, I avoid GMO papayas as well as the usage of hormones to modify size, taste and texture.  t would be silly to eat something to care for our health when it also contains toxic chemicals.  There is no need to put herbicides to kill off the weeds around the plant and have it be introduced into the fruits that we eat.  Just clear the weeds manually and you can just leave it to dry off or place it in your compost pile.  I also practice salting the ground with coarse salts on a quarterly basis for several reasons.  The type of papayas we grow are less fibrous is texture giving a creamier taste.

It is a great fruit to start the day, having middle of the day and also in the evening supplying us with loads of antioxidants and helping our digestive system.  The fiber in papaya binds with the cancer-causing toxins in our digestive system, keeping them away from our healthy colon cells hence it is a good preventive against colon cancer. The other nutrients in papaya such as the vitamin C, vitamin E, folate and beta-carotene have been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer.  A healthy digestive system further promotes our overall health.

For adults, this fruit is a great fruit to eat as protection against rheumatoid arthritis based on a study that was reported in the Annals of the Rheumatic Disease.    So great for women who tend to suffer this as we age.  For men, in a cancer study reported in the Asian Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that this lycopene-rich fruit helps to reduce  the risk of prostate cancer.  The nutrients in the papaya also helps to inhibit the oxidisation of the cholesterol, protecting our heart.

So, with one fruit, you get to cover your digestive system, bones, heart as well as immune system, it is definitely sitting high in my list of fruits to eat.  I get easily bored or tend to "forget" to eat it if there is only one way of eating them.  There are many ways of eating papaya and still get the necessary nutrition so it makes it easier to incorporate into my daily diet.

We are most familiar with eating the ripe papaya raw but we can also eat the unripe papaya in many ways.  It can be fermented to make it into a probiotic-rich  food.  The fermented green papaya can be eaten similar to sauerkraut or turned into a salad or our local kerabu.  The free papaya can also be skinned and cut into pieces and turned into nutrition soups or used in cooking savoury dishes like curry.  A simple soup is to brown shallots and garlic, add water and the cut pieces of green papaya and bring to boil and allow it to simmer until the pieces are soft.  You can add salt and other condiments to taste.  This soup can be dressed up with other ingredients such as chicken, beef, seafood or other vegetables.

The ripe papaya can also be turned into nutritious drinks like milk shakes or added with other fruits and vegetables to create a healthy drink.  It can also be turned into a healthy, nutritious and delicious snack by dehydrating them.  The dehydration process removes the moisture and it is best to dehydrate it to contain less than 15% moisture as this will inhibit the growth of bacteria that will result in the dried papaya to spoil.  When dehydrating papaya pieces, it is best to use the ripe papaya of good quality and not spoilt or mushy papayas that has already started to spoil.  The end result is a great snack that has minimal loss of its nutrients and ready to be enjoyed at any time.  It is also easy to store them and does not require refrigeration and lasts for months (although you will find that you consume it much faster).  What I do is to pack them in serving sizes as this means that I do not expose the dried papayas to the environment unnecessarily.  The thickness of the papaya pieces will determine whether you end up with crispy pieces or slightly chewy papaya chips.

With its nutrition and health benefits along with its versatility, why not go local and consume our papayas :)