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Today is May 29

Learn About Composting Day

What can and cannot be composted

Avid gardeners know that compost can add vital nutrients to soil used in gardens, container plants and lawns. The fact that compost is so versatile and nutrient-dense may not even be its most admirable quality. Made from items used in and around the house, compost costs just about nothing to produce.

The raw materials that make up compost come from organic waste. These can be disposables from the garden and kitchen, as well as other areas around the house. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, yard trimmings and food scraps add up to 20 to 30 percent of the municipal solid waste in the United States. Turning waste into compost not only helps the landscape, but also the planet.

Compost is relatively easy to make, and there are scores of materials that can be put into compost. But it is just as essential to know which ingredients cannot be used in compost.

Okay for compost

Most organic materials, or items that were once living, can be used in compost. Plant-based items used in cooking, such as potato peelings, carrot skins, banana peels, cocoa hulls, coffee grounds and filters, corn cobs, apple cores, egg shells, fruit peels, kelp, and nut shells, can be added to compost.

Other items from around the house, like unused kitty litter, hair, shredded newspapers and cardboard, leaves, flowers, paper, pine needles, ashes, and sawdust, can be successfully added to compost. Stick to items that are not treated heavily with chemicals.

Should not be used in compost

Inorganic and non-biodegradable materials cannot go into compost. These are items like plastic, glass, aluminum foil, and metal. Pressure-treated lumber, although a natural material, is treated with preservatives and often pesticides that can be harmful if they leech into the garden.

The small-gardening resource Balcony Garden Web indicates coated or glossy printed papers, such as those from catalogs, magazines, wrapping paper, marketing materials, and business cards, should not be added to compost piles because of the chemicals and inks used in these pages.

Planet Natural Research Center says to avoid pet droppings from dogs and cats. Animal products like bones, butter, milk, fish skins, and meat, may decompose and start to smell foul. Maggots, parasites, pathogens, and other microorganisms can form in the compost. These materials also may attract flies and scavenger animals. Plus, they decompose very slowly.

Any personal hygiene products should be avoided because they are tainted by human fluids and that can pose a health risk.

While weeds are not harmful in compost piles, there is the risk that seeds can germinate and then infiltrate garden beds when the compost is used. The same can be said for tomato plants and some other hardy fruits and vegetables.

Compost is a winner in the garden and around the landscape. Learning which ingredients can and can’t be added to compost piles is useful for any gardener.

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World Jazz Day

What is jazz? That’s a simple question with a tough answer. As you’ll soon learn, this type of music defies easy definition. Jazz legend Louis Armstrong may have explained it best. He once said, “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.”

Jazz has been called “America’s Classical Music.” It came out of New Orleans, Louisiana, in the early 1900s. The city’s population was made of people from many cultures. Jazz came from a blend of their music styles. This included ragtime, marches, blues, and brass.

In the past 100 years, jazz has continued to evolve. It’s been led by brilliant musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis. Today, there are over two dozen distinct jazz styles. These include traditional jazz, swing, bebop, cool jazz, fusion, and jazz-rock.

Many describe jazz as unique in its variety. This directly results from its most key component: improvisation. In most jazz music, musicians play solos they make up on the fly. This results in jazz being as diverse as the people who play it.

Each Jazz musician carves out their own sound and style. For example, trumpeter Miles Davis can sound very different from trumpeter Louis Armstrong. This means listeners can hear several different recordings of the same song, and each will sound different! Jazz musicians can turn a familiar song into something new with each new improvised solo.

Most jazz is very rhythmic, possesses a forward momentum (called “swing”), and uses expressive notes (called “blue” notes). These notes are slightly lower in pitch than those on the major scale. You will also often hear “call and response” patterns, in which one instrument or voice answers another.

Do you like jazz? In such a diverse style of music, many people can find at least one jazz musician they enjoy. Today, this music provides entertainment for people all over the world!

For more information visit here.

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World Digestive Health Day

Did you know the average person generates about five TONS of stool in his or her lifetime? Also, the average person passes gas 14 to 17 per day (yes, there was a study about this), and on average, you’ll pass about half a liter of gas/day.

Frequency, shape, size, color, and other fecal features can tell you a great deal about your overall health, how your gastrointestinal tract is functioning and even give you clues about serious disease processes that could be occurring, like infections, digestive problems and even cancer.

Here are a few tips for achieving healthy bowel movements:

  1. Eat a diet that includes minimally processed foods and is rich in fresh, organic vegetables and fruits that provide good nutrients and fiber; most of your fiber should come from vegetables, not from grains.
  2. Avoid artificial sweeteners, excess sugar (especially fructose), chemical additives, MSG, excessive amounts of caffeine and processed foods as they are all detrimental to your gastrointestinal (and immune) function.
  3. Boost your intestinal flora by adding naturally fermented foods into your diet, such as sauerkraut, pickles and kefir. Add a probiotic supplement if you suspect you’re not getting enough beneficial bacteria from your diet alone.
  4. Try increasing your fiber intake; good options include psyllium and freshly ground organic flax seed (shoot for 35 grams of fiber per day).
  5. Make sure you stay well hydrated with fresh, pure water.
  6. Be active. At least 30 minutes of calisthenics four times a week translates into healthy bowel habits plus many other health benefits.
  7. Avoid pharmaceutical drugs, such as pain killers like codeine or hydrocodone which will slow your bowel function. Antidepressants and antibiotics can cause a variety of GI disruptions.
  8. Avoid stress (or at least learn how to control it).
  9. Consider squatting instead of sitting to move your bowels. As crazy as it sounds, squatting straightens your rectum, relaxes your puborectalis muscle and encourages the complete emptying of your bowel without straining, and has been scientifically shown to relieve constipation and hemorrhoids.

To learn more visit here.

By Aldo Russo, MD Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology 

Dr. Russo received his undergraduate degree and medical degree from Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Urena in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Following this he completed his Internship and Residency at Danbury Hospital in Danbury, Connecticut. He completed his Fellowship in Gastroenterology at LSU Medical Center in New Orleans in 2000.

Dr. Russo is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology and has been on staff since January 2005. Dr. Russo’s expertise is in the area of prevention of colorectal cancer, viral hepatitis treatment, IBD and gastrointestinal emergencies. His special medical interests include viral hepatitis and IBD.