Tag Archives: Superfoods

Our superfood episodes are an ongoing series of special episodes. These episodes are round ups of different food that have claims of being “super” foods. We discuss their history, cultivation, and nutritional composition and determine just how super these foods are.

47: Superfoods VI – Wild Rice, Spirulina, Kombucha, and Acerola Transcript

Listen to the full episode.

Hallie: Hello and welcome to One to Grow On. A show where we dig into questions about agriculture and try to understand how food production impacts us and our world. My name is Hallie Casey and I studied and currently work in agriculture.

Chris: I’m Chris Casey, Hallie’s dad. Each episode we pick an area of agriculture or food production to discuss and this episode we are focusing on superfoods for the sixth time.

[Background music].

Hallie: It is superfoods time again. It’s been a little while and we are back at it again.

Chris: We are. Hey, you know what I had for dessert last night?

Hallie: What?

Chris: Or actually no, I made it yesterday and I had it for breakfast this morning.

Hallie: Okay.

Chris: Chocolate chia pudding.

Hallie: Yum, right?

Chris: It was really good. I made chocolate milk out of oat milk using my hot chocolate recipe and then I put it some chia full. You got to mix the chia seeds up at some point because otherwise they get all gloopy at the bottom.

Hallie: True.

Chris: That’s takings I’m getting used to, but it was delicious.

Hallie: So good.

Chris: Yeah, oat milk is good stuff people.

Hallie: Oat milk is the best of the milks.

Chris: It is.

Hallie: Should we dive into it? Oh, first I wanted to tell everyone that these superfood ideas came from polls that we held on Twitter and Instagram.

Chris: That’s right.

Hallie: If you want to get involved in choosing the next superfoods for the next episode, then you should make sure you’re following on Twitter and Instagram because that is how we are now deciding which foods we’re going to be talking about.

Chris: You have questions, we’ve got answers.

Hallie: We’ve got answers, you all. First crop is wild rice.

Chris: Wild rice, the kind of rice that I never liked to eat as a kid.

Hallie: Why did you not like to eat it?

Chris: I liked white rice. That was enough rice for me.

Hallie: What do you mean that was enough rice for you? You didn’t like wild rice?

Chris: That was the best rice. That was the only rice that I thought was good.

Hallie: Because it’s plain and starchy and boring and not delicious?

Chris: Yes, just like me.

Hallie: Yeah, exactly. You’re plain, white, starchy and boring.

Chris: That’s right. Born and bred. No, but I don’t know.

Wild rice and brown rice, they just all tasted weird and different.

Hallie: I mean, they are different. That’s part of the thing that people don’t know about wild rice. Brown rice and white rice are very similar. Wild rice and white rice are actually quite different.

Chris: Really?

Hallie: They’re fully different species.

Chris: Because it looks like plain rice but it’s a bunch of different colors.

Hallie: Yeah, when you get the wild rice that’s mixed up and it is different colors, oftentimes it’s different kinds of rice that they have taken and mixed together. Like if you get wild rice off of one rice plant, they’re all the same color usually.

Chris: Are you saying they’re lying to me?

Hallie: I mean, it is wild that they do mix multiple kinds of rice and pack them.

Chris: [Laughs]. That is so wild.

Hallie: Because oftentimes the rice in those bags has different cooking times from each other because it’s different plants. It’s different kinds of rice.

Chris: Oh, that’s outright annoying.

Hallie: Yeah, it’s kind of annoying, but it usually ends up tasting good, but you can actually buy straight up one species wild rice if you want and we’re going to talk about that.

Chris: Okay. Talk about that.

Hallie: Wild rice is also called Canada rice. It’s also called Indian rice. It’s also called water oats. The ojibwe word for it is manoomin.

Chris: Is it called Canada rice because it grows in Canada or because Canadians are particularly wild?

Hallie: Because it grows in Canada.

Chris: Okay.

Hallie: [Laughs]. I think we all know Canadians are not particularly wild.

Chris: [Laughs].

Hallie: The species is Zizania. It’s related to as I mentioned Oryzeae, which is the white rice, but it is a different genus within a similar area of the family and it’s all within the same grass family, which Poaceae, which is the grass family has tons and tons of plants in it. It is native to North America and to Asia. Mostly, it’s found in small lakes and streams. There are four different species. You have Zizania palustris, which is Northern wild rice. It’s native to the Great Lakes region of North America and then a little bit further west up into the plains and forests of what is present day Canada and parts of the US. You have Zizania aquatica, which is wild rice. The common name is just wild rice. It is native to the Saint Lawrence River, which feeds into Lake Ontario and it’s also native to parts of Florida and the Atlantic and Gulf Coast. Then you have Zizania texana, which common name is Texas wild rice. Do you know about this rice?

Chris: I feel like I’ve seen it in the grocery store maybe.

Hallie: You have absolutely not.

Chris: Really? Okay. I know nothing about Texas wild rice then.

Hallie: So I think you probably should know some things about Texas wild rice.

Chris: As in, I need to know this for my survival?

Hallie: No.

Chris: Or is this something I should have picked up along the way?

Hallie: Yes, the second one.

Chris: Okay.

Hallie: Texas wild rice is endemic. It’s extremely endangered and it’s pretty much endemic to one river in Texas.

Chris: Really?

Hallie: Which is the San Marcos River.

Chris: Oh, no kidding.

Hallie: Yeah.

Chris: Were we around it when we went swimming?

Hallie: All the time.

Chris: Oh wow. [Laughs].

Hallie: Yes, constantly. The San Marcos River is a spring fed river.

Chris: Yeah, it’s cold.

Hallie: There used to be a place right at the spring called Aquarena Springs known for dressing ladies in mermaid costumes amongst other things.

Chris: Yes, and swimming pigs.

Hallie: But yeah, Aquarena Springs was home to the Texas wild rice for the decades it was open.

Chris: What?

Hallie: Yeah, Texas State has a research station there and they study wild rice. It’s very endangered. It’s kind of weird because part of the main park in San Marcos, I went to school in San Marcos. We didn’t mention that. I went to school in San Marcos, Texas and the main park where all of the college students swim every single day and they jump in and they do challenges and they throw Frisbees, that is where that rice is native to. If you jump in and you swim, there’s all this rice around you and people are always complaining about getting tangled up in the rice and all that.

Chris: It’s so wild to me that it could be endangered because rice is something that I think of as so common, but we just have this little rice plant in Texas that you say I’ve never eaten it. Has anyone eaten it? Is it edible?

Hallie: It’s totally edible, but generally, no. You definitely don’t want to eat it because it’s so endangered. It’s just really, really hard for the flowers themselves to get pollinated because the pollen moves very slowly and it doesn’t move very far, so it’s hard for the pollen to get into the flower and it’s hard for the flower to make fruits. When the fruits are made, we really want those to turn into rice plants because it is hard to get those little rice fruits.

Chris: Then with fewer bees around, that’s probably just making things even more difficult.

Hallie: Well, rice is actually not pollinator pollinated. It’s wind and water pollinated.

Chris: Oh, kill the bees. Rice don’t care.

Hallie: Not relevant.

Chris: Don’t kill the bees. Is there like a black market restaurant where I can pay a thousand bucks a plate to eat Texas wild rice?

Hallie: You didn’t hear this from me, but not no. The answer is not no to that question.


Hallie: But don’t go looking for it at all. Do not go looking for this.

Chris: Oh, wow. Okay. Alright. That might be in the outtakes. We’ll see.


Hallie: The fourth species of Zizania is Zizania latifolia, which is native to China. Manchurian wild rice is the common name. It’s native to that part of China, which used to be called Manchuria. It’s also really hard to find it in China in the wild, so it’s also kind of endangered in China, but it’s actually invasive species in New Zealand.

Chris: That’s where their candidate is from.

Hallie: Yeah, is that the one thing you know about Manchuria?

Chris: It’s the Manchurian candidate.

Hallie: Great, dad.

Chris: That’s it. That’s all I got.

Hallie: The first two species that we talked about Zizania palustris and Zizania aquatica are the species that are most commonly eaten. They’re not endangered. You can find them in the grocery store. They are eaten both today and also have been eaten for centuries by indigenous people that are native to Turtle Island or what we call North America.

Chris: Alright.

Hallie: I mentioned earlier the Ojibwe word for this plant because that’s the one that I was able to find online, but I want to make it clear. This plant was and is very important to many first nations’ people including the Menominee, the Odawa, the Chippawa. If this is a food crop that you personally really like eating, I really highly recommend that you learn more about the people that cultivated it. You can find really great resources and info at nativewildricecoalition.com, including sources on where to buy native grown wild rice.

Chris: Oh, very cool.

Hallie: Extremely cool.

Chris: Thank you.

Hallie: The largest market producers today, unfortunately, are not really first nation’s people. It’s folks in Minnesota and California because everything is grown in California and parts of Canada. Usually, it’s grown on wetland. As I mentioned, it’s native to streams and small lakes. That is usually where it’s grown. Oftentimes, it’s grown on Peats.

Chris: How does Pete feel about that?

Hallie: Oh my goodness gracious.


Hallie: P-E-A-T, as in like a bog.

Chris: Alright. A peat bog is like a marshy grassy puddle thing. Cool.

Hallie: Yeah, marshy grassy puddle thing. Otherwise, it has to grow in these wet conditions otherwise the rice would just be less productive or it would be all the way unproductive. It’s grown somewhat because there’s a market for it, but it does take a lot of water, which is problematic if it’s not growing in its native places where there is already a lot of water.

Chris: Got it.

Hallie: I couldn’t find any specific numbers on how big the market for wild rice specifically is, but as you and I both know it is widely available and very popular. The claims around it. Let’s get into that. Claims are it boosts your energy. It helps with your weight loss. It helps with your immune system. Lots of questions around those claims. No proof around any of those claims.

Chris: Okay. Is it healthier than white rice?

Hallie: It is. It is healthier than white rice. White rice is a whole grain, but it is not terribly healthy. Wild rice does have a good amount of protein.

Chris: Really?

Hallie: It’s a whole grain. Whole grains are pretty much universally good for the hearts. They’re good for all kinds of stuff. It is gluten-free as you know rice is, but also wild rice because it’s really grown differently it’s not usually processed in the same processing facilities as white rice, which can sometimes have gluten contamination. Sometimes with certain wild rice brands, you can get like a more gluten-free brand if you are really, really sensitive to gluten and even if it’s processed in the same bagging system or something like that.

Chris: Got it.

Hallie: Sometimes that can cause issues for folks. Wild rice, not usually a lot of crossover with gluten, which is helpful. It has got good nutrition. It has got good antioxidants. There’ve been several studies that have showed that wild rice compared to other whole grains particularly is very heart healthy, but you know all whole grains are heart healthy, but there have been some studies that show wild rice might have a little bit of an edge over other whole grains.

Chris: I’m going to go get me some wild rice.

Hallie: Pretty cool stuff, right?

Chris: Good stuff. I’m not going to put a cape on it, but I’m going to eat it.

Hallie: It’s a great grain. It’s a great rice. Very important to a lot of native peoples. You can go to nativewildricecoalition.com to learn more about tribal producers. It’s a great grain.

Chris: When I hear the phrase great grain, I just imagine this sort of images of fields of wheat and this majestic music and maybe David Attenborough’s voice narrating something.

Hallie: The great grain god.

Chris: There you go.

Hallie: Probably not cape worthy, but a great grain.

Chris: Go wild rice.

Hallie: Shall we move on?

Chris: We shall move on.

Hallie: Spirulina. What do you know?

Chris: It’s algae, is it not?

Hallie: No, actually. It is not.

Chris: Okay.

Hallie: You know anything else?

Chris: I know it’s in some smoothies that I used to buy.

Hallie: Back in the before times in the smoothie times.

Chris: [Laughs]. Very much in the before you times actually.

Hallie: What?

Chris: Yeah.

Hallie: I didn’t know there were smoothies invented before I was alive.

Chris: It’s true. They existed.

Hallie: Wow.

Chris: We had blenders and everything.

Hallie: Blenders and everything. Spirulina is a cyanobacteria, which is called generally a blue-green algae, but is not an algae.

Chris: Okay. I was about to say. Did I not just say it was an algae?

Hallie: It’s not an algae. It’s a blue-green algae. It’s microscopic. It’s a bacteria. It grows like algae, so we say blue-green algae. That blue-green is quite important because if you cut it off, it would just be algae. But a blue-green algae is an algae like thing that is blue-green and not an algae. Very confusing I know.

Chris: That was very confusing. If I take a giant antibiotic and kill the microscopic bacteria, will this fix my gut?

Hallie: What?

Chris: If it’s bacteria I don’t know, can it fix my gut bio?

Hallie: Oh, I see. Well, we will get to that.

Chris: Okay.

Hallie: These things photosynthesize much like plants and algae.

Chris: Really? That’s pretty cool.

Hallie: It’s quite cool. Love an autotroph.

Chris: What’s an autotroph?

Hallie: An autotroph is something that creates its own food as opposed to us heterotrophs meaning other and then troph meaning like food energy, so we have to source something else for our food as opposed to like a plant creates an onset.

Chris: Man, if I could create my own food, I would have to leave the couch even less.

Hallie: Wouldn’t that be great?

Chris: [Laughs]. That would be so great. Autotroph made some ice cream.

Hallie: Cyanobacteria is very important on our planet. There is a theory that it is responsible and it seems very likely that it’s responsible for what is known as the Great Oxidation Event, which was a geo historical time period where oxygen levels of the ocean and the atmosphere rose.

Chris: Okay. I was actually going to ask that as this blue-green algae that’s not algae, is it the thing that lives in the ocean along the surface or whatever and you can see little spots of it?

Hallie: Well, it is microscopic.

Chris: But if there’s like a lot of things.

Hallie: Exactly. If there are many microscopic things, it becomes macroscopic.

Chris: There you go and it very possibly raised the oxygen level of the whole earth.

Hallie: Very possibly, but also it just creates a lot of oxygen, like way to go cyanobacteria.

Chris: I was going to say that sounds pretty important.

Hallie: Extremely great. There are species of cyanobacteria that are also responsible for fixing nitrogen in soils, which like way to go.

Chris: Oh, that’s nice. Got to have the nitrogen for the plants to grow.

Hallie: Right. Spirulina specifically is made from three cyanobacteria species, Arthrospira maxima, Arthrospira fusiformis and Arthrospira platensis.

Chris: Alright.

Hallie: It’s confusing because there is actually a species of cyanobacteria called Spirulina where that’s the genus, but that’s not what this is. It used to be called Spirulina and then they changed the genus and I would think that you would just change the other animals gene or the other bacterial genus because this one you had a common name that people were using, but I digress.

Chris: Okay. I’m confused more now, but that’s okay. There’s multiple genuses of this bacteria. Do they all live together or do you find them separated out?

Hallie: That’s a great question. I do not know the answer to it, but great question, dad.

Chris: Thank you.

Hallie: Absolutely.

Chris: I try to pay attention.

Hallie: How do you grow Spirulina?

Chris: Well, I mean, it just sort of exists in the ocean, does it not?

Hallie: It does grow in water, but if you’re going to create a product of it, then you have to have some method of producing it.

Chris: Okay, so I presume you start with some water.

Hallie: You do start with some water. Naturally, it occurs in lakes. We talked about the ocean. These species specifically occur more often in lakes, particularly lakes with a higher pH. For production, they’re usually grown in a controlled environment. You got like a tank of some kind, tanks have to be oxygenated with water movement and then when it’s time for the Spirulina cyanobacteria blue-green algae to be harvested, the water is pumped up. I saw that you also have this, so it’s pumped up through a faucet and you place a really fine mesh screen over the tank. They have a little fountain that comes up with the water and then it just goes back down onto the screen that’s placed over the tank and then the water just goes back into the tank and the blue green algae is caught on that net. Then they have like a little, have you ever made like dough and you have like a dough scrapper. Do you know what I’m talking about like a little pastry dough scraper?

Chris: Yes.

Hallie: They have one of those. They just scrape all the algae together and then they just gloop it into a five gallon Home Depot bucket.

Chris: Okay. You can look at that mix of spirulina and water with a slightly higher pH and say, yeah, basic.

Hallie: [Laughs]. Then the spirulina gloop in the Home Depot bucket is taken away and it’s dried and then processed. What is it processed into? Most commonly, it is a powder and this powder can be put in things like smoothies or tablets, which has become much more common.

Chris: That sounds weird.

Hallie: Like a little spirulina pill to take with all your supplements and vitamins.

Chris: Everything’s got to be a pill.

Hallie: Exactly. There are other specialty products, obviously with spirulina, but pills is what I saw a lot of.

Chris: I guess gloop is not efficient enough for transport.

Hallie: Definitely not.

Chris: [Laughter].

Hallie: I found a couple of different numbers estimating how big the market was, but on average it was between like $5 and $8 million, so it isn’t nothing. It’s definitely a niche, but it’s like, certainly there is some money there. A lot of claims that it’s helpful for high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes. That it will cure malnutrition, all this stuff, improve your kidney function, improve liver function. Lots of these claims.

Chris: Sure.

Hallie: It is a good source of beta carotene. It is a good source of minerals, a good source of gamma linoleic acid, which is an essential fatty acid.

Chris: That sounds good.

Hallie: It’s about and I don’t know how, 60% protein.

Chris: Really?

Hallie: I don’t know how at all, but also to be fair, you would have to eat a lot of spirulina to get your daily protein content.

Chris: Oh, yeah.

Hallie: Like a lot. You had it in just like in a powder in your smoothie. How many smoothies would you have to have? A lot.

Chris: You could still eat a spoonful of powder.

Hallie: But like compared to a steak. If a chicken breast is like your daily protein and that’s like 100% and this is 60% and you had like a tablespoon, how many tablespoons? It’s probably not the most efficient way to get your protein, but for an algae or a cyanobacteria blue-green algae, I should, say it seems like a lot of protein.

Chris: Way to go spirulina.

Hallie: Way to go. It does not seem bad for you at all, but probably will not cure your liver malfunction.

Chris: Is that a claim?

Hallie: It’s a claim. I mentioned that earlier.

Chris: Okay. Sorry, I missed that. That’s out there. I almost want to put a cape on it for being a bacteria with that much protein. Way to go.

Hallie: It is impressive. It is not regulated by the FDA. We are talking about superfoods. I would not necessarily call this a superfood as it is not really regulated by the FDA in the same way. There are technically nutrition labels, but there’s not a lot of science around how accurate those nutrition labels are. I would say if this was like more in the mainstream, if there was better regulation around it, if it was more clear what it was and what was going into all of the things that were on all the shelves, perhaps we could put a cape on it, but I don’t want to tell people to go out and buy spirulina and they’re buying like 50% sawdust, 50% spirulina. Not saying that that’s what’s happening.

Chris: But it’s possible.

Hallie: But what I’m saying is there’s very little regulation and it’s unclear.

Chris: Well, when someone’s trying to sell me something that’s not regulated by the FDA for efficacy or safety, I need a break.

Hallie: A break. Here we go.

[Background music].

Hallie: Dad, do you know what time it is?

Chris: It’s 7:43.

Hallie: It’s time to vote.

Chris: Get out there. Vote your votiness. Use your voting right.

Hallie: Do all the voting.

Chris: I did it today. It took me about 15 minutes and it’s the first week of early voting still. Just because the lines were super long on the first day, doesn’t mean you can’t find a place to go on a quick vote and there’s a lot of resources like VOTE411 that you can go and get sample ballots and see how candidates stand on certain issues. Get out there. Do your thing.

Hallie: Absolutely, I personally am using Ballotpedia as well as the League of Women Voters and my local newspaper who compiled a bunch of statements from local candidates I would never have been able to access this much information on the people running for school board in my area without their amazing work. If you are able to vote in the US we have this election coming up, please, please, please go out there and vote.

Chris: You know who I would vote for?

Hallie: Who’s that?

Chris: Our patrons.

Hallie: Oh, you mean like Paul, who recently upgraded his patronage and our starfruit patrons, Lindsay, Vikram, Patrick, Mama Casey and Shianne.

Chris: Exactly like them.

Hallie: We are so grateful for every single one of our patrons, new, old, medium. You guys are all amazing. We love you so much and we hope you’re having a wonderful day wherever you are and I think that it’s now time to get back to the episode.

[Background music].

Hallie: Dad, do you have a nature fact for us?

Chris: I do.

Hallie: Terrific.

Chris: Listener, you’re going to have to bear with us for a little bit because this is an audio medium and the nature fact that I found is visual in nature. But part of the joy of this will be Hallie’s reaction to it I’m sure. We will put a link in the show notes where you will be able to go see this amazing feat of nature factness.

Hallie: Now, I’m really confused.

Chris: The next item that we’re going to talk about is kombucha. Alright. Wonder Woman is coming out. The next Wonder Woman movie is coming out.

Hallie: Is it?

Chris: I don’t know. In the next few months or so.

Hallie: How nice?

Chris: It gets delayed for a year from COVID. I don’t know. Check your local listings.

Hallie: [Laughs].

Chris: But apparently with kombucha, you can shape it.

Hallie: What?

Chris: As you grow it, you shape it.

Hallie: Oh, like the SCOBY? We will talk about what a SCOBY is.

Chris: I don’t know what a SCOBY is. I just found this cost player who made a wonder woman costume out of kombucha.

Hallie: No.

Chris: Listener, we’re currently looking at a three piece set. There’s a pair of boots on a pedestal. There is the wonder woman. I don’t know. What is that? The dress thingy?

Hallie: The little corset with the skirt.

Chris: There you go on a stand and a tiara and then her cufflinks, her bracelets.

Hallie: Listener, first of all is if it’s safe for you to look, you should pause this episode and go look at this. To be fair, where are you going? You shouldn’t be going anywhere. You should be at home. Go take a look at this. Second of all this, if I’m picturing a costume made out of a SCOBY, I’m picturing something pretty disgusting, right? If you know what a SCOBY is, that’s gross. This is very much extremely cool and not gross.

Chris: It is. It’s all a different color. It’s got all the colors right. Got all the structure right and it’s got a picture of her wearing the pieces.

Hallie: Is that shield made of a kombucha SCOBY?

Chris: I don’t know if the shield and the sword are made of the kombucha or not.

Hallie: This is wild. This is an excellent nature fact, dad.

Chris: Thank you. Thank you very much. I apologize for the visual nature, but once you see it, you will be blown away.

Hallie: What is the artist’s name?

Chris: Christine Knobel. Knobel, K-N-O-B-E-L.

Hallie: Great work, Christine. Absolutely amazing.

Chris: Good job, Christine.

Hallie: So kombucha, what do you know, dad?

Chris: I know that you can make it in the kitchen and it doesn’t taste that great.

Hallie: What? You don’t like kombucha?

Chris: I think it’s one of those things I’ve tried I don’t remember. I’ve tried Yerba Mate once. It definitely did not taste good. It tasted like grass or dirt or something. It tasted like the ground.

Hallie: [Laughs].

Chris: I may be conflicting Yerba Mate and kombucha, but I’m pretty sure I’ve tasted kombucha and I was just like, no. That’s not for me.

Hallie: I’m quite surprised that you have not had kombucha. I feel like it’s very popular these days like you can get it everywhere.

Chris: In fact, I think I got in a jar. I forget what flavor it was supposed to be or whatever and I just remember being no.

Hallie: That is very surprising to me. I like kombucha, but when I was in grad school, two of my three roommates were growing kombucha in the kitchen so we had a lot of kombucha on hand all the time.

Chris: Well, the kids like it. What can I say?

Hallie: It’s good. You should try. It’s like a drink.

Chris: It’s not good.

Hallie: It’s good. It is fermented black or green tea.

Chris: Which just seems like a bad idea. It seems like you’re going to leave the liquid out it’s going to grow mould on it. You’re going to get sick when you drink it.

Hallie: But the thing is you don’t get sick because it’s supposed to have microbes on it. How you make kombucha, you have the tea.

Chris: You know what’s a microbe?

Hallie: What?

Chris: COVID-19. That’s a microbe.

Hallie: Oh, my God. Cut that out and put it in the outtake.

Chris: [Laughs].

Hallie: We’re not making COVID content anymore.

Chris: Alright.

Hallie: How you make kombucha? As I mentioned, it’s fermented tea, so you got to have the tea and then you add in a lot of sugar and then you add in the SCOBY, which is an acronym for a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.

Chris: So wait. Are you making a SCOBY treat, SCOBY snacks?

Hallie: Yeah, you make SCOBY snacks. Exactly and the SCOBY eats it all up and then it all gets fermented.

Chris: I can’t possibly be the first person to think of that joke.

Hallie: [Laughs]. If you’ve never seen a SCOBY, I want to describe it for you. Dad, have you ever seen a SCOBY?

Chris: No, I don’t know what a SCOBY is. You said it was an acronym.

Hallie: It is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.

Chris: Symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, SCOBY.

Hallie: So I want to paint you a picture. You have like one of those glass containers with the little spouts you would put lemonade in or something on a cold day.

Chris: Sure.

Hallie: Instead on the inside, there is some black tea with a lot of sugar and on the top, there is approximately half a centimeters worth of slimy organism symbiosis and it’s very slimy and it takes up the whole width of the jar. When it is big enough, you lift it out of the water and you peel away the layers.

Chris: You peel it?

Hallie: You peel away the layers and you create a wonder woman suit or you throw it down the garbage disposal or you send it away with your friends to start their own kombucha at their own house.

Chris: You peel it.

Hallie: You kind of peel it away in a way that’s very weird and I did not believe until I saw it with my eyes, but it just peels away. It’s like little sheets of paper, but it’s a SCOBY. It’s wild. It’s very slimy. It’s very delicious though.

Chris: It sounds disgusting.

Hallie: But it’s very delicious.


Hallie: Kombucha possibly originated in China. There’s a lot of theories though. It’s kind of hard to tell because you can peel the SCOBY away and give it away, so it was widely circulated. It is alcoholic as it is fermented, but it’s less than 5%, so it is not regulated.

Chris: Also the fact that it’s made with green or black tea is probably another reason that I don’t drink it because I don’t drink caffeine in general.

Hallie: I don’t know what the final caffeine level is. If like the fermentation breaks down any caffeine molecules I don’t actually know.

Chris: If Texans turned sweet tea into kombucha, is that a [inaudible]?

Hallie: Absolutely. The market for kombucha now is huge. I looked it up. It is billions of dollars.

Chris: Oh, boy.

Hallie: Billions and billions of dollars. It gained popularity in the nineties as a health food and now it has just exploded and you can find it in most grocery stores.

Chris: Alright.

Hallie: There is also a new product called Kombrewcha or hard kombucha.

Chris: Kombrewcha or hard kombucha, so it’s kombucha with more alcohol.

Hallie: It’s like a Mike’s Hard kind of thing, but for kombucha. Claims, it rids your bodies off toxins. It can treat hair loss, it can treat arthritis, cancer, constipation. It can treat diabetes and prevent aging. Lots of claims. It was widely and still is widely promoted as a health food.

Chris: Listener, if you were putting alcohol into your body, you are not riding your body off toxins. You are putting toxins into your body.

Hallie: Probably the same with caffeine, not untrue. Nutritionally in actuality, in reality, it has whatever nutrition was in the teas. Green tea has antioxidants in it. Black tea has some antioxidants in it. That’s pretty much how nutritious the kombucha is. However, there have not been any human trials on kombucha to look at any benefits or risks.

Chris: I thought part of the supposed benefit of kombucha came from the fact that it was an active bacterial culture or something like that.

Hallie: Right. That is something that’s widely spread around. Again, there have not been any trials and there’s not really any reason to believe that the bacteria in the kombucha is going to bolster the bacteria in your gut. They are very different and we don’t have any science showing that kombucha is good for your microbiome. There are some risks with kombucha because a lot of people grow it at home and because there is fermentation involved, there are risks of pathogenic microorganisms getting introduced, so you do have a risk of something bad being in there. Also because kombucha has a very low pH, you do also have the risk of, if you put it in a metal container, it can actually leach metals out of the container. It’s very, very acidic. There are serious health consequences to drinking super acidic things. There are some people who drink kombucha like every single day and it’s not always good to be drinking something that’s as acidic. But again, there are no human studies on the risks or benefits of kombucha.

However, it does not seem to be the best thing for you to be drinking all the time.

Chris: Not only will I not put a cape on this, but unlike wild rice and spirulina, I’m going to say hard pass.

Hallie: I would not say hard pass.

Chris: I would say hard pass.

Hallie: It’s delicious and there’s not a lot of risks. Don’t put it in a metal container. Be aware that as with anything fermented, there are risks to pathogens, but no, I wouldn’t say hard pass. I would say once in a while, if it’s a lovely drink, it’s nice cold drink you’re looking for something, kombucha is a good option. There’s lots of flavors. It’s very delicious. I would not say it should be a habit of yours to drink kombucha all the every time and don’t put it in metal containers, but it’s not going to cure anything. But it’s an okay drink.

Chris: Maybe sit down to dinner my steak potatoes made with some asparagus and I swirl a glass of kombucha.

Hallie: Exactly.

Chris: [Laughs]. Oh, men.

Hallie: Sniff it. Look at the legs or whatever.

Chris: The legs?

Hallie: It’s a wine thing.

Chris: Whatever. Hard pass.

Hallie: Should we do our last thing?

Chris: Let’s do the last thing.

Hallie: It’s acerola.

Chris: Hey, Hallie. What the flat Jack is acerola? I have never heard of that.

Hallie: Acerola. The scientific name is Malpighia emarginata.

Chris: Wow.

Hallie: The family is Malpighiaceae. One of the common names for acerola is Barbados cherry. Acerola is a malpighiales. It is not a rosid. Cherries are rosid, not a malpighiales. They’re not actually that related.

Chris: It sounds like it’s a bad big.

Hallie: As I mentioned, common name for acerola Barbados cherry, Acerola cherry, West Indian cherry and the wild crepe myrtle.

Chris: Wow. Is that what dumps those stupid flowers all over my car once a year?

Hallie: There is a plant that we grow here in Texas that is native to Southeast Asia called the crepe myrtle. However, and I tried to find this and I could not, they are definitely not at all related. The one that grows in your yard is [inaudible] indigo. It is in the [inaudible] family. This is in the Malpighiaceae family. So different families I don’t know. I don’t know why they’re called the same thing. I couldn’t find it.

Chris: Someone probably saw the flowers and said, “Hey. That looks about right.”

Hallie: Quite possibly. The acerola is from Central America, South America and parts of North America. Generally, it is mostly available in capsules or an extract form. It’s not often eaten fresh except for in the areas where it grows native to. In the Gulf coast areas of what we call North America and in parts of Central America down to South America and the Caribbean, it is consumed in those areas.

Chris: In those areas, what form does it take?

Hallie: Well, it’s a fruit. In those areas where it’s native to it is eaten fresh and other places it’s eaten as an extract or a capsule.

Chris: It looks sort of like a cherry likish.

Hallie: It looks like a cherry, but it’s very different from a cherry.

Chris: Alright.

Hallie: The extract, I found some numbers between $8.6 and $5.8 million for the extract is the market in 2017. Again, similar to spirulina, it’s quite niche, but there is definitely money involved. As an extract, it’s put into supplements. It’s used as a food preservative in packaged foods, snacks, beverages, stuff like that. It’s also used for meat preservation, but most commonly you’ll see it as a supplement. There was a lot of interest back in the sixties after some cool science found some cool things about acerola, which I’ll get to in one second, but no one’s ever been able to make it marketable either fresh or juiced or canned, so all we really have is like the dried extra.

Chris: Was it the same science where they did LSD research on prisoners or whatever?

Hallie: Definitely not, dad. What a weird thing to say? What an energy to bring to the end of the episode?

Chris: You said back in the sixties. I just figured that’s all they did.

Hallie: [Laughs]. That’s I will tell you not what agronomists were doing. The claims, it improves your athletic performance, can fight infections, provide health benefits to smokers, can act as a natural cancer treatment. It can boost your eye health, yada yada yada. There’s a long list of claims as it is marketed generally as a health food supplement. Widely, those are disproven.

Chris: That’s too bad because that sounds great.

Hallie: Right. Almost too good to be true. It does in fact actuality have good levels of Vitamin A, good amounts of iron, good amounts of carotene.

Chris: Excellent.

Hallie: It has good amounts of Vitamin C. Now, I want to play a little game with you. Some of the other food crops that we eat that have good amounts of Vitamin C are oranges, broccoli and kiwi. I’m going to read you the amounts of Vitamin C that those three crops have and then I want you to guess how much acerola has because this is the thing in the 1960s that they were researching and this was the thing that led people to try to propagate it as a food crop, so it does have high Vitamin C.

Chris: I feel like I already know the answer.

Hallie: [Laughs. Hang on. Oranges have 53 milligrams of Vitamin C per 100 grams, broccoli it’s 89 and kiwi it’s 93. What do you think acerola has?

Chris: 200.

Hallie: 200 is your guess?

Chris: 200 is my guess.

Hallie: The answer is 1,676.

Chris: Holy snapdragons.

Hallie: It’s a lot milligrams per 100 grams of acerola.

Chris: It is a lot. Wow.

Hallie: It’s like a whole lot. It’s like, wow! It’s a whole, whole lot.

Chris: Do you know what I remember from biochemistry?

Hallie: What?

Chris: Is if you consume an excess of Vitamin C, it all comes out. It just makes you pee faster and you just slough it all out.

Hallie: Exactly. It is water soluble, so it just all goes out. That’s one of the cool things about this is there are a lot of vitamins where if you eat too many, bad things can happen to you.

Chris: It’s true.

Hallie: This one, not the case. Imagine if you’re sailing the seas and you get scurvy and then you stumble upon an island in the Caribbean and you find an acerola tree, how lucky are you?

Chris: Oh man, I’m getting me some.

Hallie: Cure that right up. Vitamin C is great. It’s great for scurvy. It’s very crucial to immune system function. It’s important for tissue repair. It’s a good antioxidant. As you mentioned, it’s water soluble. If you’re going to be a food and you’re going to have a lot of all nutrient, I feel like Vitamin C is the one to have because there’s no downsides to having a lot of Vitamin C. You can just max people out immediately. It’s like a chip code.

Chris: If I’m ever lost at sea and I get stranded on the island and I find some acerola in that case, I will put a cape on it.

Hallie: Absolutely.

Chris: [Laughs]. But I still don’t feel like we can play the song.

Hallie: What? No, let’s play the song.

Chris: You think deserves the song?

Hallie: Absolutely. Why not?

Chris: I mean, I love the song.

Hallie: [Laughs]. Here comes the song.

[Background music].

Chris: Alright. If you have a smoothie, maybe have a little spirulina in it. If you want some extra protein any morning, maybe put a giant scoop on your cereal or just take a big spoonful and crunch it away. Eat some wild rice. Wild rice sounds great. I’m going to try it again. It doesn’t cook as quickly as white rice. Doesn’t taste as good as white rice. Maybe you just have to get used to the flavor. I don’t know, but it sounds like pretty great stuff. If it’s native to Texas, it’s endangered. Don’t eat it. Stay the heck away from kombucha.

Hallie: No.

Chris: It’s bad stuff.

Hallie: Disagree.

Chris: Hard pass and give acerola a try.

Hallie: If you can find it.

Chris: If you can find it, especially in cherry like form.

Hallie: Cherry like form seems great.

[Background music].

Chris: Thanks for listening to this episode of One to Grow On.

Hallie: This show is made by me Hallie Casey and Chris Casey. Our music is Something Elated by Broke for Free.

Chris: If you’d like to connect with us, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at One to Grow On Pod or join our Discord and Facebook communities and leaf us your thoughts on this episode.

Hallie: You can find all of our episodes and transcripts as well as information about the team and the show on our website, onetogrowonpod.com.

Chris: Help us take root and grow organically by recommending the show to your friends or consider donating to our Patreon at patreon.com/onetogrowonpod. There, you can get access to audio extras, fascinating follow-ups, exclusive bonus content and boxes of our favorite goodies.

Hallie: If you liked the show, please share it with a friend. Sharing is the best way to help us reach more ears.

Chris: Be sure to see what’s sprouting in two weeks.

Hallie: But until then, keep on growing.

[Background music].

47: Superfoods VI – Wild Rice, Spirulina, Kombucha, and Acerola

More superfoods! Will wild rice, spirulina, kombucha, or acerola be caped? Will you please vote? Will you wear kombucha scoby?

Read the transcript for this episode.

Wonder Woman kombucha: https://hackspace.raspberrypi.org/articles/wonder-woman-cosplay-made-from-kombucha
Native Wild Rice Coalition: http://www.nativewildricecoalition.com/

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About us
One to Grow On is a podcast that digs into the questions you have about agriculture and tries to understand the impacts of food production on us and our world. We explore fascinating topics including food, gardening, and plant sciences. One to Grow On is hosted by Hallie Casey and Chris Casey, and is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey. Show art is by Ashe Walker. Music is “Something Elated” by Broke For Free licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

34: Super Foods V Transcript

Listen to the full audio.

Hallie: Hello and welcome to One to Grow On. A show where we dig into questions about agriculture and try to understand how food production impacts us and our world. My name is Hallie Casey and I studied and currently work in agriculture.

Chris: I’m Chris Casey, Hallie’s dad. Each episode we pick an area of agriculture or food production to discuss and this week it’s superfoods number five.

[Background music].

Chris: Okay, but will we be able to use the confirming it’s a superfood song. Let’s find out.

Hallie: All right. Superfoods. I am so excited to do another superfood episode today.

Chris: Looking at this list, there is definitely one food on here that I enjoy eating and I really hope it’s a superfood.  

Hallie: Oh, okay.

Chris: I bet it’s probably not, but I hope it is.

Hallie: We’ll find out. Should we kick off with our first food? 

Chris: Let’s kick off with our first food, which is wheatgrass.

Hallie: What do you know about wheatgrass? 

Chris: Well, I know it’s a grass. 

Hallie: Cool. 

Chris: I know it has the word wheat in it, but I don’t know if it’s actually wheat. I guess I assume that maybe it’s wheat. I don’t know. Is it part of wheat? Who could tell me? I bet you could tell me, and I know it’s an expensive add on in smoothie joints. 

Hallie: Yes, it is in smoothies sometimes. 

Chris: It’s green. 

Hallie: You are not wrong about that. 

Chris: All right.

Hallie: Wheatgrass is the grass of wheat. It is the leaves of Triticum aestivum, which is wheat.

Chris: Wait a minute. It’s the leaves? I thought it was the stocks. 

Hallie: It’s the leaves.

Chris: Wow. Okay, so I’ve already learned something new. 

Hallie: Wheatgrass, you can get it fresh, which is often what you see at smoothie joints. You can also get it freeze dried, which is often also incorporated into drinks as well. Wheatgrass was actually made popular by a woman named Ann Wigmore who apparently lived in Boston, was originally from Lithuania and she was one of the first folks according to this book that I skimmed about her to popularize the idea of raw foods in US diets, which was around the 1940s. Raw food is generally not considered a negative thing in diet. It’s good to eat raw fruits and vegetables, but this lady, Miss Wigmore also promoted a lot of other fake and harmful claims that were just fake pseudoscience. She claimed she had a cure for diabetes and she claimed she had a cure for all these things that it was just lies and it was really harmful. Not a fan of her.

Big fan of raw food. Wheatgrass falls into the category of sprouts similar to bean sprouts and stuff like that.

Chris: Like alfalfa sprouts?

Hallie: Yeah, similar to alfalfa sprouts. Alfalfa sprouts and bean sprouts are both leguminous sprouts that are dicotyledonous and these wheatgrass sprouts are monocotyledonous, so the grasses that you’re eating are basically the little embryos that have just germinated from the seeds of the wheat, but they’re very, very young. We talked about micro greens and in that episode we talked about sprouts and how there are some food safety concerns around sprouts and micro greens. You can have some food safety concerns around the wheatgrass as well as bean sprouts and alfalfa sprouts because they’re so young and tender that they can have food safety issues around fungus. That can be an issue. 

Chris: Oh wow.

Hallie: Yeah, we talked about this. Particularly with bean sprouts there have been some high profile cases of food borne illness. It’s a concern. If you have these young sprouts, it can happen.

Chris: Okay. Real quick, cotyledon is a word which you have defined on the show before and it means something.

Hallie: Correct.

Chris: Now there’re these sprouts with one or two of them.

Hallie: Inside of a seed you have different parts. Part of that is the embryo and the cotyledon. Basically, once the little plant pops up from inside of the seed, you get one or two little leaf looking guys that don’t look like the rest of the leaves on the plant. That’s because they were actually inside of the seed and are part of the seed embryo that have kind of pushed out and are starting to grow. If you have a grass, it only has one of these leaf guys and it’s called monocotyledonous and then if you have two, which is pretty much the rest of plants they’re called dicotyledonous.

Chris: Cool. All right. Moving on. 

Hallie: Around wheatgrass, there are a lot of claims similar to once we’ve heard on other superfoods, quote unquote, that it’s anticarcinogenic, anti-anemia, that it can clear your skin, that it helps with joint pain. There’s not a lot of studies, however, around wheatgrass, so we don’t have a lot of info. 

Chris: All the like anticancer, anti whatever. Yeah, that sounds like a whole lot of bull sprouts.

Hallie: Oh my God. Generally, wheatgrass has good nutritional benefits as a leafy green. It can be dangerous to folks with celiac disease or who are allergic to grass or wheat products because it is wheat, but it’s leaves. Leaves are good for us generally. 

Chris: All right. Eat your leaves, eat a salad, and eat some wheatgrass. It’s good for you. It’s fine.

Hallie: That’s fine. Yeah, go for it. Get some nutrients. 

Chris: But it sounds like we’re not going to put a cape on this one. 

Hallie: No, I don’t think so. Well, there’s not a lot of science, so who knows.

We might come back in 10 years and there might be some great science showing some miraculous things that wheatgrass does. At this point, there is absolutely no evidence of that.

Chris: All right. Sounds good.  

Hallie: You ready for the next food?

Chris: I am so ready for the next food.

Hallie: It is avocado. 

Chris: Give me some guacamole, please and let it cure my [inaudible]. 

Hallie: We’re talking of course about the wonderful avocado, which is Persea Americana in the Lauraceae family, which is the Laurel trees. Love that. What do you know? 

Chris: Oh, well I just looked at the show prep notes and I see that it’s a berry, which is awesome because after all, what even is a berry as we’re asked so many times? 

Hallie: Something that’s very specific.

Chris: Yeah, it’s a berry. I don’t know. It’s good on sandwiches. It’s good on toast. It’s good mixed with jalapeno and cilantro. Maybe a little mayo and some salt and pepper and some lime juice and put on a tortilla or on a chip or whatever and it’s good. 

Hallie: Agreed. 

Chris: That’s what I know about avocados. 

Hallie: It is good. True. The word avocado actually comes from an indigenous language the Nahuatl language, which is an indigenous people from Mexico and Central America. The word is Ahuacatl and then that got translated into Spanish, which originally is a fairly anatomical description of a human body part that the avocado resembles somewhat. 

Chris: Oh, so people in native Mexico were perpetually 14 also. 

Hallie: You see it and you say it. Keep it simple. Another English name for it is the alligator pear, which is also fairly literal and I like. 

Chris: Oh, I like that because I’m sure alligators love pears too.

Hallie: Yeah, I’m sure the carnivorous reptile, the alligator loves the pear. Avocados are native to Mexico and Central America. They’re enjoyed widely around the world though on account of how delicious they are. 

Chris: They are. They’re grown pretty widely in California, are they not? 

Hallie: Yes, there are a lot of avocados grown in California. The most common cultivar of the avocado is the Hass avocado. Those are probably the ones you’re familiar with that are nice and big. Avocados are climacteric which is similar to bananas where for a banana you can buy it when it’s green before it has ripened and it can ripen off of the plant and it’s ready to go as opposed to something like a melon. A grape is non-climacteric. If you harvest those before they are ripened, they just stop maturing and they will not get up to maturity. 

Chris: Got it. There are people who actually like green bananas and they are just wrong. 

Hallie: Hey, don’t knock it. A green banana is lovely and starchy. 

Chris: Okay. If you say so.

Hallie: We don’t need to yuck a yum. People like what they like. 

Chris: I think there are just certain truths in the world.

Hallie: Avocados are dichogamous, which is such a fun plant word. Plants have great words. Basically, this means that one plant has both male and female flowers, but the different flower sexes are separated throughout time to try and facilitate cross pollination. 

Chris: Kind of like Doctor Who?

Hallie: Yeah, kind of like Doctor Who except for they’re both aging forward in time, not backwards in time.

Chris: Got it. I’m glad you said that word because I would have said dichogamous, which just sounds kind of weird but dichogamous makes sense. 

Hallie: Yeah, dichogamous. Basically it means that either the male or female flower blooms first and then a week or two weeks later, the other one blooms. This is basically just so that different plants can get on with other plants so that you have more robust mixing of DNA in reproduction, which is fine. Except for that it’s a really annoying thing for breeders because if you want to cross pollinate something that’s blooming at the same time, it’s on the same schedule, you have to go and collect pollen and then artificially pollinate it two weeks later.

It’s just a whole thing. It’s very annoying.

Chris: You never know if either the male or the female is going to be the late bloomer. 

Hallie: What? Is this a joke? 

Chris: The late bloomer.

Hallie: Is it a joke? 

Chris: Late bloomer. 

Hallie: I’m assuming this is a joke.  

Chris: Obviously.

Hallie: Flowers bloom dad. Also you can’t have flowers that are just late bloomers. 

Chris: But one of them comes later than the other one. Isn’t that what you’re saying? 

Hallie: Yeah, but it comes in order. It’s not like you’re guessing every year. I’m just taking your joke very literally. 

Chris: Okay. One of them happens first and the other one happens later. 

Hallie: Yeah, but you do know which one’s going to be the late bloomer. You can anticipate it is what I’m saying. Anyway.

Chris: Moving on. 

Hallie: You can propagate avocados by seed. Traditionally, they’re propagated asexually. Most often grafted just because it takes a really long time and if you’re growing a fruit tree by seed, then you’re going to have changes in the phenotype. If you want to propagate an avocado by seed, dad, do you know how you do this? 

Chris: You take out the seed and you plant it in the ground. 

Hallie: No, you take out the seed, you rinse it off in the sink and you poke some toothpicks in it and then you put it over a glass of water. Have you ever seen this happen? It’s like a science project that a lot of kids do. 

Chris: Maybe. You kind of make it like a little sea urchin. Oh, is this one of the things where it grows out and then it grows down into the thing and then that becomes a plant or something?

Hallie: That’s how seeds generally operate. It grows out of the seed and then down and then becomes a plant. 

Chris: Well, I’m thinking of the trees where the leaves sort of go down into the ground and then become roots. 

Hallie: Oh, no. Basically, the propagation method, whether you’re doing it at home, in a science class or you’re breeding from seed is pretty much the same where you take out the pit of the avocado, like the seed and you rinse off the outside and then you stick toothpicks in it so that it’s kind of suspended just in or over water like a glass of water. Then the radical pops out of the seed coat and goes down into the water. That’s how you propagate from seed.

Chris: It’s wild.

Hallie: Yeah, it’s very cool. That’s why a lot of science classes do it in like middle school or whenever because the seed is so big and it puts out this enormous radical, so it’s a very visual thing for kids to see and it’s just also super fun.

Chris: It sounds to me like avocado breeding is the pits. That’s it.

Hallie: That was really, really good. I liked that. 

Chris: It was all right.

Hallie: If you would like to grow your own avocado tree from seed, that’s how you do it. It will take a long time though because on account of how long trees take to get big. 

Chris: Then at some point once it’s been growing in the glass, you just transfer it to a pod or the ground or something. 

Hallie: Yeah, pretty much. The leaves of the avocado tree can actually also be used in cooking as like a little spice.

Chris: What? I have no idea. 

Hallie: It’s closely related to the bay laurel, so it makes sense.

Chris: Oh, okay. Even more praise for the avocado.

Hallie: Absolutely.

Chris: Sounds like we’re going to put a cape on it. Maybe. 

Hallie: We’ll see. The claims around the avocado, it stimulates the immune system. It helps with your hair health. Hair can’t be healthy because skin cells are dead. I don’t need to get into that. It can stimulate the immune system. It helps with hair healthiness. Prevents cataracts, maintains regularity.

Chris: Whenever I hear stimulate the immune system, that’s when my bull sprouts meter goes off. 

Hallie: All in all, there’s not a ton of evidence that it’s doing any of these things. It is however, very high in fat.

Chris: How high?

Hallie: 75% fat. 

Chris: To me that’s a wild level like when I was wowed that quinoa was 27% protein or something ridiculous like that. 

Hallie: Yeah, it’s something like that. 

Chris: Or 27 grams of protein. I don’t know. It was a high amount of protein for a little old plant and now we’ve got a plant that has a high amount of fat and I’m like, wow. 

Hallie: It is 75% fat. It’s also very high in fiber and has a good amount of potassium.

Chris: Well, potassium is important.

Hallie: It is. As berries go and fruits in general, this is pretty uncommon. Olives are also a fruit that’s pretty high in fat, but we don’t see a lot of these lovely, good fatty, oily fruits out there that we eat. Avocado oil has a pretty high heat point, so it’s really good for cooking. Generally, people often don’t lack oil/fat in their diet, but as a food, I think it’s pretty cool. I wouldn’t probably put a cape on it because you can get good fats from a lot of places. It’s not super unique as these things go. It is extremely delicious and I am a huge fan. 

Chris: Well as much as I would like for my guacamole to be a superfood, I guess I’ll just have to live with the facts. Again, it’s a decent food, but nothing super special about it except it’s deliciousness.

Hallie: Which is extreme. It’s pretty extreme. 

Chris: Well, you know what happens to tortilla chips when you put them in a good thick guacamole is they break. 

Hallie: Hey, let’s go on a break.

Chris: That’s what we’re about to do right now. 

[Background music].

Hallie: Dad did you know that we had a Facebook group?

Chris: I do because I posted some stuff there just last week and commented on another post and it’s a lot of fun. 

Hallie: Did you know that we also have a Discord group? 

Chris: I do because that too is a place where I interact with listeners much like yourself and we talk about everything and we talk about plant problems and we talk about plant jokes and all kinds of stuff. 

Hallie: Right now, my favorite part of the Discord is the wild flowers channel where I post pictures of the coolest flowers I see on my evening walks after work. 

Chris: That’s only going to last for what? Another couple of weeks? I don’t know. How long do you think we’ll have wild flowers? Not much longer. Go and see some of those pictures people. 

Hallie: It was a warm winter. The flowers came out early in this year. 

Chris: They did indeed.

Hallie: If you’d like to come give us a shout, hang around, say hi, you can find the One to Grow On Facebook group at onetogrowonpod.com/group or by searching, One to Grow On on Facebook and you can find the One to Grow On Discord group at onetogrowonpod.com/discord. That’s onetogrowonpod.com/Facebook and onetogrowonpod.com/discord.

Chris: Thank you very much to our starfruit patrons, Lindsay, Vikram, Mama Casey, Patrick and Shianne. 

Hallie: Thank you guys so much. Your support means so much to us and we really appreciate it.

Chris: Well, I’m about out of guac. I don’t know about you. I’m ready to get back to the episode.

[Background music].

Hallie: Dad, do you have a nature of fact for us today? 

Chris: I do have a nature fact for us. Our next superfood candidate is bee pollen. 

Hallie: Yes. 

Chris: Bee pollen comes from bees as the name suggests.

Hallie: Correct again. 

Chris: In the DC universe, there was a superhero who was a member of the Teen Titans in the early seventies called Bumblebee and she was DC comics’ first black female superhero. 

Hallie: Oh, that’s cool. Is that the one that’s married to Paul Rudd in the movies? 

Chris: No. 

Hallie: Oh, that’s Marvel. 

Chris: Totally different universe. Listener, on Easter we were having a discussion. 

Hallie: Oh my gosh, I cannot believe you’re bringing this up on the podcast right now.

Chris: If me and Mama Casey had finished our Millennium Falcon. Me and Mama Casey have been working on a Lego Enterprise, not Millennium Falcon. Starship Enterprise, completely different universe. Once again, here we are completely different universe, getting our universes crossed. 

Hallie: Oh my God. Listen, we all have our different talents, different skill sets. This is [inaudible].

Chris: Okay. I don’t know. I think it’s something you were pretty good at once in your life.

Hallie: The plants have overrun my mind. It’s only plants up there. 

Chris: That’s true. It’s all vegetable matter.

Hallie: Are you ready for some bee pollen?

Chris: Yeah, but I can’t believe you didn’t react to that sick pan.

Hallie: Was it a joke on gray matter? It would have been funny if you said it’s all organic matter. See there you get a soil joke a little bit too.

Chris: Oh, I guess. Now I know what plant people think is funny and they will burn. Oh well, okay. Yes, bee pollen. Give us the low down on the bee pollen, which is, all that comes from bees. 

Hallie: Yes, what else do you know about bee pollen generally?

Chris: I said it’s pollen that comes from bees kind of as a joke, but obviously the pollen comes from plants and then the bees fly around and they get the pollen on their little legs and mix it with other plants or something, correct?

Hallie: Yes, what do you know about how it is marketed/consumed? 

Chris: What? 

Hallie: We’re doing a superfood episode.

Chris: It has never really been on my radar. Maybe now that I think about it, it’s something I’ve seen at a smoothie place, which gives me low hopes for its superfood status, but I don’t really know that much about it. Wait. Let me talk to you this.

If it’s just plant pollen then why does it matter if it comes from bees or not, I guess is kind of where my head is at right now?

Hallie: It’s a very good question. Bee pollen, I guess you could put it in smoothies. Usually, I think you put it over like yogurt or a granola or something like that. I think it’s crunchy. I’ve honestly never eaten it. Pollen itself is a gametophyte, which as you mentioned comes from plants. The bee pollen is like a dusty little pellet of field gathered like you mentioned. Flower pollen that bees go and get pollen has a lot of nitrogen and this pollen serves as the bee’s primary source of protein whereas honey serves as the hives source of sugar. 

Chris: I had no idea pollen was a source of protein for bees. That’s awesome.

Hallie: It is as you mentioned gathered as opposed to something like bees wax, which is also a byproduct of bees. But bees wax is actually secreted by the bees themselves. They just go and pick up and collect into pellet shapes. I could not find a lot of info about the agricultural significance of this. I looked all over the place to find how to start farming bee pollen. There was very little information, so I think it’s pretty niche. It’s like a specialty crop that not a lot of people are growing right now. Business Insider actually in an article about bee pollen credited the popularity of it as a product to a Victoria Beckham tweet.

Chris: Oh bull sprouts. I’m just going to start using that for everything. Can I make an anti-claim?

Hallie: Sure. Is it an anti-Victoria Beckham because if so, I will not hear it?

Chris: No, it’s just an anti-claim. It’s speculation on my part to be sure. But I bet the bees don’t even really come into the mix. I bet they just get some pollen from some plants that the bees probably would’ve liked just fine and say, “Hey, look. Bee pollen.”

Hallie: Pretty much. This is just a dusty little ball of pollen and there’s not bee gunk on there or anything. It’s just pollen, so it’s just plant stuff. The claims around pollen are, again, similar to what we’ve heard before, it protects from cancer, it boosts liver function, it’s anti-inflammatory, it helps with hot flashes, helps with allergies, which we hear with honey. However, bee pollen is field gathered, right? The bees are just doing their own thing. The actual makeup of the pollen itself can vary from hive to hive. It can vary from bee to bee. It can vary from hour to hour on the same bee within the same hive because the bees are just going about their business and so you can have all kinds of stuff up in there in terms of pollen. There’s not really any clear evidence that it can treat or prevent any ailment because it’s harvested by bees. There are a lot of variables that are extremely difficult to control because you know the bees go where the bees go, so it can be contaminated and it can be dangerous if you have serious allergies because the bee goes where the bee goes.

Chris: You can’t control the bee.

Hallie: Perhaps one day we can control the bee, but should we control the bee?

Chris: That’s a good question, but if we could, maybe we could save them from extinction because of our modern cultures and such things.

Hallie: Who knows?

Chris: I don’t know.

Hallie: Probably it wise, if I have learned anything from movies, it’s not a good idea.

Chris: That’s probably true. That probably would lead to a bee revolt and then we’d all be in real trouble.

Hallie: Honestly, the bees can rule me.

Chris: Now we’re just getting political.

Hallie: Is it political to say the bees can rule me?

Chris: Yes, because it implies that you’re not happy with the current administration.

Hallie: I’m not happy with the current humanity.

Chris: Fair enough. All right, so in bee pollen, maybe it’s fine, but nothing special.

Hallie: Yeah, nothing special. There’s not a lot of nutrition associated with it. It is some I think crunchy guys. If you are looking for crunchy guys, this seems to be an option, but it doesn’t really seem like they have a lot to bring to the table according to current science.

Chris: That’s kind of a bummer. But bees make honey and pollinate our plants so it’s not their fault.

Hallie: More like a buzzer.

Chris: Nice one.

Hallie: Thank you. Should we talk about spelt?

Chris: Let’s talk about spelt.

Hallie: The scientific name for spelt is Triticum spelta. It’s in the same genus as wheat. Another common name for spelt is actually dinkel wheat.

Chris: That sounds like a derogatory term for wheat. No, it’s just some dinkel wheat.

Hallie: Interestingly in Greek mythology, spelt was actually given by Demeter to humans and humans have been eating spelt for thousands of years. This is something we have been eating for a long time.

Chris: Nice. Thanks Demeter. I know on the Spirits Podcast produced by Catherine was talking about Demeter as one of her favorite goddesses.

Hallie: Demeter is great. Demeter is extremely good and for more information on how great Demeter is, you can find our episode where we guested on the Spirits Podcast and gushed about Demeter for like 25 minutes.

Chris: All right.

Hallie: Spelt has been eaten in the US for a long time, but it got replaced by wheat just because wheat is easier to grow and a little bit more delicious. However, the biodynamic/organic farming movement of the 1970s revived the popularity of spelt because it requires less added soil nutrition than wheat.

Chris: Oh, it’s easier to grow.

Hallie: Yeah, it can be easier to grow. It’s arguably less delicious. I don’t want to drag spelt here. I’m not that much of a fan, but it can be a bit hardier and it can just stand up to a bit more. Today, we eat some spelts in America. It’s much more popular in Germany than most other places. It’s more in the cuisine in Germany, but people eat it in different places, in small amounts. It’s not terribly common. We do also use it for a feed grain for the cows and horses and stuff like that.

Chris: It’s popular in Germany. It’s coming back here so maybe for just a time here, we miss spelt. I miss spelt.

Hallie: No, I got it dad. I did get the joke.

Chris: All right. I’m glad.

Hallie: The claims around spelt are that it lowers the risk of stroke. It lowers the risk of heart attack. It can help with diabetes and cancer. There’s not really a lot of evidence here. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to have any cape worthy foods in this episode. Sorry to bum you guys out. It is high in protein, has some good fiber, and has some good phosphorus. It has gluten, so it’s not great if you are trying to avoid gluten, but generally whole grains are good for you. This is kind of similar to a whole grain oat or a whole grain wheat or something like that. It’s good to have whole grains.

Chris: If you want some spelt, eat some spelt, it’ll be good for you, but don’t expect all the big stuff.

Hallie: Don’t expect some big stuff. Do eat avocados on account of how delicious they are. Perhaps enjoy you some wheatgrass or other small little friends. Have a lovely afternoon perhaps including some avocados.

Chris: Have a lovely afternoon. Thanks for listening to this episode of One to Grow On.

Hallie: This show is hosted by me, Hallie Casey and Chris Casey.

Chris: It is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey.

Hallie: Our music is Something Elated by Broke For Free.

Chris: Connect with us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at One to Grow On Pod.

Hallie: You can find all of our episodes as well as more information about the show and the team on our website onetogrowonpod.com.

Chris: Join our community and learn more about each episode at patreon.com/onetogrowonpod. There you can get access to audio extras, fascinating follow-ups and even custom art created just for you.

Hallie: If you like the show, please share it with your friends. Sharing is the best way to help us reach more ears.

Chris: Be sure to check out the next episode in two weeks.

Hallie: But until then, keep on growing.

Chris: Bye everybody.

[Background music].

34: Super Foods V – Wheatgrass, Avocado, Bee Pollen and Spelt

It’s super foods time again! This week, Hallie and Chris discuss the health claims and realities of wheatgrass, avocado, bee pollen and spelt. We learn where these foods come from and how they’re used, as well as some choice vintage Teen Titan’s trivia.

Read the transcript.

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About us
One to Grow On is a podcast that digs into the questions you have about agriculture and tries to understand the impacts of food production on us and our world. We explore fascinating topics including food, gardening, and plant sciences. One to Grow On is hosted by Hallie Casey and Chris Casey, and is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey. Show art is by Ashe Walker. Music is “Something Elated” by Broke For Free licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

statue of Chinese cabbage

29: Superfoods IV – Bok Choy, Wheat Germ, Ginger and Seaweed Transcript

Listen to the full episode.

Hallie: Hello and welcome to One to Grow On. A show where we dig into questions about agriculture and try to understand how food production impacts us and our world. My name is Hallie Casey and I studied and currently work in agriculture.

Chris: I’m Chris Casey, Hallie’s dad. Each episode we pick an area of agriculture or food production that confuses a lot of people and try to get Hallie to explain it. This week we’re focusing on superfoods and we got a song.

[Superfoods song playing].

Hallie: I love it.


Chris: Hallie just knocked her mic over.

Hallie: That’s how much I love it.

Chris: It’s such a great song. We’re so happy.

Hallie: I’m so excited for this song. It was made for us by a friend of mine, KC, who is an incredible scientist and science communicator out of Nashville. You can find more info about where to hire her in the show notes of this show and I am just so excited for this new song we have.

Chris: It is great. Usually, when you get a song by someone out of Nashville, you think, oh they are a musician. I want to go live in Nashville and play music. You don’t think, oh, they must be a scientist which I didn’t know.

Hallie: Yeah, she works in astronomy.

Chris: Oh, that’s so cool.

Hallie: I remember one time you were taking an astronomy class at UT when I was a child and I was a pretty young child and one time you came home and I was, dad, how was your astrology class? You got so mad at me. [Laughs].

Chris: That sounds like something I would be mad about for sure.

Hallie: Should we start the episode?

Chris: Yes, what are we talking about today?

Hallie: We’re talking about superfoods. You already said so.

Chris: I know that, which foods? Okay. I’m looking at the list now.

I see bok choy and I see note about China.

Hallie: Actually before recording this, I ran these foods by producer Catherine and spoiler alert, one of them is an actual probably cape worthy food and I asked Catherine for her perspective on which one she thought would be cape worthy and I’m gonna tell you right now, she got it wrong.

Chris: Oh, okay. What does that have to do with China?

Hallie: Oh, I forgot to put that in the outline.

Chris: [Laughs].

Hallie: You can probably cut all that stuff out.

Chris: Not going to happen.

Hallie: I wanted to quickly note. I noticed after I did all this research that three of the four foods we’re talking about today are from China and have been eaten in Eastern Asia for thousands of years and I think that’s just important to remember and notice when we talk about things that are like “superfoods”, oftentimes they are Orientalized or for some reason, exotic in ways that have a lot of racial undertones and we should think about that when we think about our food system.

Chris: Or even romanticized in some way that’s completely unrealistic.

Hallie: Yeah.

Chris: These are just foods that people eat. So people eat bok choy.

Hallie: People do eat bok choy. It’s also called Chinese cabbage. Technically, it’s a kind of Chinese cabbage. There’s other kinds of Chinese cabbage. This is one kind.

Chris: Are they all related to the cabbage that we know?

Hallie: Yeah, they are. Bok choy is Brassica rapa. The cabbage we eat is a different kind of brassica. What?

Chris: The Brassica is a rapa. Got to be some cabbage. Eat too much, you’re going to do some damage.


Hallie: Keep going.

Chris: That’s all I got right now.

Hallie: That’s all you got?

Chris: Yeah.

Hallie: [Laughs].

Chris: Does it taste bad or does it taste good? I don’t know. Maybe it’s a superfood.

Hallie: That is not even a straight line.

Chris: [Laughs]. Food and good that’s [inaudible].

Hallie: Absolutely not in New Orleans.

Chris: It’s even spelled the same. They both have ood except one of them is odd, food, good. I don’t know. Whatever. They’re close enough, come on.


Hallie: You’ve knocked my wheels off of the track. Where were we?

Chris: Brassica rapa.

Hallie: So other Brassicas are in the Brassica genus.

Chris: Go on. You can do it. I believe in you.

Hallie: There is broccoli and brussels sprouts and cabbage are all a different kind of Brassica. Brassica rapa also is home to turnips. They are also basically the same species as bok choy as are rapeseed, which I think is where rapa comes from. It’s from rapeseed.

Chris: The unfortunately named.

Hallie: Yes, it’s also called canola. Technically, canola is a subset of rapeseed, but we generally call all things canola now because no one wants to put rapeseed on a can. Chinese cabbage is similar to mustard greens, both physiologically nutritionally, generally closely related, very similar to mustard greens. Originally, Brassica rapa was actually classified by the big doc himself, Carl Linnaeus.

Chris: Oh, I remember that name from plant taxonomy.

Hallie: Well, you should and also all taxonomy of all species.

Chris: Okay. Cool.

Hallie: Yeah, he’s great and he’s a big doc. We talked about him in an episode called plant taxonomy.

Chris: Right.

Hallie: He got a portrait commission of himself and his favorite flower.

Chris: That’s nice.

Hallie: No, he was just a big doc. I love talking about Carl Linnaeus, but anyways, it’s been cultivated for more than 5,000 years. Originally, it is from the China region from Eastern Asia. Nutritionally in 2014, there was a CDC study that scored 47 different vegetables on nutritional density and bok choy came number two after watercress, which is the worst. I hate watercress so much.

Chris: But bok choy is high in nutrition.

Hallie: I mean, after watercress, it was a lot of different leafy vegetables. It is quite nutrient dense as is every other leafy green vegetables. It’s certainly good for you, but not as good for you as watercress.

Chris: Well, hey. Do we know of the claims around it?

Hallie: I mean, it’s a superfood, so there’s a lot of different claims. A lot of them are around like heart, which it is. All leafy greens are going to be good for your heart.

There are some claims around anti-arthritic benefits. It’s generally a superfood. We’ve seen a lot of the similar claims throughout all of the superfoods.

Chris: Anti-inflammatory.

Hallie: Yes, anticarcinogenic. It is a food that is good for you and that’s what we know.

Chris: Like all other leafy greens, moral of the story eat your salad, eat your leafy greens.

Hallie: Eat some vegetables. They have good nutrients, good minerals, lots of good folic acid.

Chris: Like all of the leafy greens, a good part of your diet not necessarily cape worthy.

Hallie: That’s what I would say.

Chris: Okay. Cool. Eat some bok choy or some spinach or some mustard greens. Go crazy or kale. That’s in the promo.

Hallie: [Laughs].

Chris: Alright. So bok choy sounds good. It’s good in stir fry. What about wheat germ? I like that in my yogurt with fruit and chia.

Hallie: Do you know what wheat germ is?

Chris: It’s the germ of the wheat.

Hallie: Can you be more specific?

Chris: It’s the part that the wheat grows from.

Hallie: Yeah, kind of.

Chris: That’s what I got.

Hallie: [Laughs]. A wheat seed is technically called a caryopsis in differentiations of what a fruit is and caryopsis have different parts, so there is the brush, the bran, the germ and the endosperm.

Chris: That was a lot of words.

Hallie: The brush is the outside bit. Usually, brushes are developed to help carry a seed in the wind or to have it stick to an animal or something like that. Usually, we don’t really ever eat those or deal with them. They’re just kind of like hairs on the outside of the seed that carry it through so it can be planted somewhere else.

Chris: Alright.

Hallie: We have the bran, which we also do eat wheat bran. The bran itself is the outer seed coat.

Chris: Okay.

Hallie: We then have the endosperm. That’s mostly what we eat, right? That’s the starchy goodness and then we have the wheat germ, which is the embryo. So that’s what a wheat germ is.

Chris: Alright. It’s baby wheat.

Hallie: We eat bran. You can buy a raisin bran. You can buy a bread with bran in it. You can buy whole grain bread, which is all of the three. We take the brush off, but it’s the other three components are all included. White bread is just made with just the endosperm. So the germ and the bran are not included.

Chris: Oh, okay.

Hallie: Is this news?

Chris: Yes, I didn’t know that.

Hallie: What did you think white bread was?

Chris: I don’t know. Just not whole grain bread. I didn’t know what whole grain bread meant necessarily. I just thought white bread was made from flour that was crushed up more than wheat bread.

Hallie: The different parts of the seed have different things in them. Right? The bran has lots of fiber. That’s why it’s good for things like raisin bran, which is touted for keeping you regular because it’s got lots of good fiber and that’s because that bran, that outer stuff, it needs a lot of fiber to protect the endosperm and to protect the germ. What? You give me a face. What is that?

Chris: Sorry. I’m thinking about wrapping vegetables.

Hallie: Oh my God.

Chris: [Laughs].

Hallie: Do you want to continue talking about that?

Chris: I don’t, but I’m just thinking of a guy in a jacket with a microphone saying, yo, I’m wheat germ.

Hallie: [Laughs]. That’s nothing. That’s not even anything. The wheat germ is the embryo of the wheat seed.

Chris: Okay. Why do people think it’s a superfood?

Hallie: I mean, seeds are good for you. It’s got lots of fatty acids. People will say the things that we’ve heard. They say that it’s anti-inflammatory, they say that it’ll help protect your heart. All the things that we hear in every superfood episode. It’s got fatty acids. It’s got zinc, magnesium, folic acid, lots of nutrients all that stuff as do other seeds. Seeds generally, nut seeds, vegetables, they’re all good for you.

Chris: Seeds are good for you.

Hallie: Eat seeds. Wheat germ is part of a seed and it has some things in there that are not bad for you.

Chris: Are we going to put a cape on them?

Hallie: Personally, I wouldn’t. I mean, it’s good food, but you can eat sunflower seeds. You eat pumpkin seeds. There’s lots of things that you can get zinc from. Folic acid is in spinach. It’s really not bringing extra stuff. It’s definitely healthy. Go for it. Eat it. Eat as much as you want. Maybe not as much as you want, but eat it.

Chris: Just don’t expect miracles.

Hallie: That’s not miracles.

Chris: Okay.

Hallie: It’s not bringing anything really revolutionary to the table.

Chris: What you should do is put some yogurt in a bowl, put your chia and your wheat germ and leave it overnight, along with some fruit and that’s good stuff.

Hallie: It’s such good stuff.

Chris: We know some superfoods are kind of fake, but you know what? It’s time to go into the break.

Hallie: [Laughs].

[Background music].

Chris: That was a better rap than some of the presents that I got.

Hallie: Oh my gosh. Well, today is New Year’s Eve. It’s a new year, new friend.

Chris: New year, new friend that you can share the podcast with.

Hallie: If you can think of someone, anyone in your life that you think would enjoy the things that we talk about here, the things that we do, the raps that dad makes.

Chris: Just say, hey, check out this one podcast. I think you’re really like it. Maybe you’re talking about podcasts anyway and it’s more organic and you’re talking about all the ones you love like reply all or science versus or whatever that you listen and you’re like, oh, also there’s this one called One to Grow on. I think you’ll really like it, especially if you care about where your food comes from and you’re really interested in the history of the chestnut.

Hallie: We would also like to very much think our starfruit level patrons, Lindsay, Vikram, Mama Casey and Shianne.

Chris: Thank you all so much and to all of our other patrons for all of your support, we really appreciate it. There’s so much we can do with your support, like hosting and we’re going to do transcripts soon and all this great stuff, so thank you very much.

Hallie: We’ve got a lot coming up and your support really has meant the absolute world to us. Back to the episode.

[Background music].

Hallie: Okay. Dad, do you have a nature fact for us?

Chris: Yes.

Hallie: Hit me with it.

Chris: As we all know, there is a rapper named M&M.

Hallie: This is really showing a peek behind the curtain because we broke for the break and then I said, dad, do you have a nature fact? You said, no, I forgot. I said, okay, why don’t you look one up real fast before we record the second half of the episode?

Chris: There’s also a candy called M&M’s. M&M’s originally came in cardboard tubes. You knew that?

Hallie: Yeah.

Chris: How did you know that?

Hallie: We talked about it on the podcast.

Chris: On our podcast?

Hallie: Yes.

Chris: Wait, was this a Catherine episode?

Hallie: Yeah, we talked about it in the process food episode because we talked about how the military invented M&M’s.

Chris: I mean, they were popular with the soldiers.

Hallie: No, they were invented for the soldiers because the soldiers wanted chocolate. No, for the soldiers because they needed the candy coating for the chocolate.

Chris: Tara-tarara, nature fact. Behind the curtain nature fact. But next on the list is one of my favorite Gilligan’s Island characters ever, Ginger.

Hallie: Is that a show?

Chris: Gilligan’s Island? What do you mean is that a show?

Hallie: Is it a book?

Chris: Yes, it’s a show. I’m like 90% positive we showed it to you when you were a child.

Hallie: Why?

Chris: It’s a TV show.

Hallie: No, I mean, why do you have that memory? I don’t have that memory.

Chris: I don’t know. Maybe we didn’t.

Hallie: I don’t think so.

Chris: It’s just one of those things that I assume everyone knows about because it’s such a thing.

Hallie: I don’t know about it.

Chris: Wow. Okay. We got to fix that.

Hallie: How do you feel about ginger as a food?

Chris: I love it. I load it in my cookies. I love it in my bread. I love it in my stir fry and I love candy ginger. Ginger is good stuff.

Hallie: Do you know what ginger is?

Chris: It’s a root.

Hallie: Yes.

Chris: Buying it fresh is kind of a pain because I got to peel it or cut the peel off somehow and cut it up, but that’s all I know about it.

Hallie: Technically, it’s a specialized modified stem that is underground. It’s a storage tissue called a rhizome. The most famous rhizomes are in grasses. Grasses have rhizome. If you ever have a grass in your yard and you can go in and pull it up and it pulls up the whole little line of grass pulls up, you know what I’m talking about? That’s a rhizome.

Chris: I had no idea that it was a rhizome. I thought that was grass.

Hallie: It’s like these little runners that run along the top of the ground and this is what ginger is. We eat it. It contains gingerol.

Chris: That’s very cleverly named.

Hallie: I know. I’m assuming they named it because Ginger is the thing it appears in, but maybe the ginger name came second. Probably not. There’s several gingerols in ginger. I think there’s three. There might be more than that. I don’t know, but Gingerol-[6] or [6]-Gingerol. I don’t know the naming convention for the gingerols. It’s the main one that I was reading about. There’s a lot of different claims. Again, similar to what we’ve read in the past, anticarcinogenic, stimulates brain function, anti-inflammatory, protects your heart from heart disease.

Chris: The one I always heard about ginger was it’s good for an upset stomach.

Hallie: Yes, I’ve definitely heard that it’s good for an upset stomach. I’ve heard that it boosts your immune system.

Chris: Which is nonsense. Those are nonsense words. Do not ever believe those words unless you’re taking steroids.

Hallie: In 2014, there was a paper that was a review of [6]-Gingerol. This is where I got a lot of the information. It was a very highly cited paper and it was basically just a literature review going through and summarizing a lot of the different things that people have found with [6]-Gingerol. It has been found definitely to help soothe upset stomachs.

Chris: Really?

Hallie: Yes, it has been shown to have some small anticancer benefits that said these were animal studies, not in humans, so there is no evidence in humans. It is also known more generally to have anti-inflammatory benefits and anti-oxidation properties. The paper also had this lovely sentence that said it was a potential therapeutic agent for the prevention and or treatment of various diseases.

Chris: That sounds pretty broad though.

Hallie: I mean, the paper specifically talks about this has been an herbal medicine in East Asia for thousands of years and we’re now finding that it does in fact have general benefits for anti-inflammation. That’s generally helpful for a lot of different diseases like maladies, whatever is going on. If you’re less inflamed, it’s generally helpful. It seems quite conclusive that like, this is not a medicine. To be clear, it’s not a medicine, but it does seem like it is a food that does help the human body in ways that we don’t really have anything else with this gingerol in it that has these properties that’s able to do these things.

Chris: It’s something that normal foods don’t do. I guess that makes it cape worthy.

Hallie: I would say so.

Chris: You know what? We got a song for that too.

[Superfoods song playing].

Chris: I love that song too.

Hallie: She’s so good. Everyone should go follow KC on Instagram because she does science song Mondays where she does Instagram questions and you can send your question to her and then she’ll write a little song about the answer and it’s the cutest thing ever. It’s really, really, really, really good. Best content out there. You guys should definitely go follow KC on Instagram.

Chris: I’m going to do that.

Hallie: It’s so good, dad.

Chris: Also, Joanna, if you’re listening, start cooking with more ginger. Take care of your arthritis.

Hallie: That’s my sister.

Chris: [Laughs]. Alright. Seaweed, which is one of those things I’ve heard about being generally healthy.

Hallie: Do you know what it is?

Chris: It’s seaweed. It’s weed that comes out of the sea and maybe lakes I don’t know. I’m going to make a prediction here and say that we’re going to say it’s roughly about as healthy as bok choy.

Hallie: So seaweed is an algae.

Chris: Wait, what? Seaweed is an algae?

Hallie: Yeah.

Chris: That can’t be right.

Hallie: Why?

Chris: Because algae is the stuff that blooms on the top, not the stuff that grows from the bottom that you wrap around your sushi.

Hallie: That’s green algae that you’re thinking of. I’m speaking of brown algae.

Chris: Mind blown.

Hallie: There’s green algae, brown algae and red algae. There’s a lot of different subspecies of these three algaes. I mean, we eat all three of them. The one that we eat the most of, I would say is brown algae. It was really hard for me to find disassociated data that talked about brown algae versus green algae, which is wild because they are not that closely related. They’re quite different, but generally the seaweed green, red, and brown have all been eaten in East Asia for millennia for a long time. There are generally very broad claims that they are good for you in all the similar ways we’ve been talking about. Good for your heart, anti-cancer benefits. There are some specific claims that it helps your thyroid to function.

Chris: Interesting.

Hallie: What I found and again, I could not find a lot of desegregated data, so there might be a species or a type of seaweed out there that really is a superfood. I was not able to find one. I did find generally they have lots of good iodine as does salt, so not really very special there. No offense to seaweed.

Chris: Or salt.

Hallie: The seaweed generally also does have tyrosine, which is good for your thyroid. True. It is an amino acid that you do find in most dairy products.

Chris: So if you eat what? Cheese.

Hallie: Yeah, cheese has a lot of tyrosine. So seaweed’s not going to be bringing a ton to the table on that one.

Chris: Okay. Maybe it’s a healthier alternative for tyrosines than some other things or it sounds fine.

Hallie: Maybe. I couldn’t find any data that was confirming that the seaweed that you buy would definitely have tyrosine because there are so many different like sub species and species and genuses and families of seaweed between the three different types.

So I don’t know if all seaweed has tyrosine. I don’t know if the seaweed you’re buying definitely does have tyrosine. It seems like it’s generally healthy. It’s got lots of good minerals in it because of being in the ocean, it’s got good vitamins. It’s pretty good for you. It’s got the yummy antioxidants, which everybody is all about. They’re great, great for you.

Chris: So go eat some seaweed. Unless it’s really expensive, in which case eat some cheese.

Hallie: There was something called fucoidans, I think is how you pronounce it. It’s F-U-C-O-I-D-A-N-S. That was something on some specific species of brown algae that looked quite promising, but there was not a ton of evidence, but it looked generally promising similar to what we were talking about with ginger, where it looked like it was generally like a healthier option for specific things in terms of feeding this human flesh body that we carry around with us. Honestly, there’s not a ton of very specific data on seaweeds, so maybe possibly a cape pending, but most of it is not desegregated by species or even by genus.

Chris: We don’t get to use the song again.

Hallie: I know. Definitely not on seaweed. Seems like it’s generally a good food.

Chris: That’s super. Okay.

Hallie: I mean, it might be super, but we don’t have a lot of info talking specifically about the different kinds of seaweed and what’s in them.

Chris: Bok choy, wheat germ seaweed, all good foods, nothing super special about them, but good stuff nonetheless and ginger.

Hallie: Get you some.

Chris: Going to go get me some ginger.

Hallie: Get you some of that good stuff.

Chris: Put it in my everything.

Hallie: Some tea. Get you some in like a stir fry. That would be good. Just get it all over the place.

Chris: Play a little song. Alright. Well, that wraps it up for this superfoods.

Hallie: Send us on a rap, dad.

Chris: Okay. Yeah, Ginger, see we got German bok choy. You can eat them if you’re a girl or a boy. Going to have a salad. Going to have a stir fry. I don’t know. I’m a burger kind of guy.

Hallie: [Laughs].

Chris: That’s going into the outtakes.

Hallie: No, absolutely not. That’s the end of the episode. Absolutely, that has to be the end of the episode.

Chris: Bye everybody.

[Background music].

Chris: Thanks for listening to this episode of One to Grow On.

Hallie: This show is hosted by me, Hallie Casey and Chris Casey.

Chris: It is produced by Katherine Arjet and Hallie Cassie.

Hallie: Our music is Something Elated by Broke for Free.

Chris: Connect with us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at One to Grow On Pod.

Hallie: You can find all of our episodes as well as more information about the show and the team on our website, onetogrowonpod.com.

Chris: Join our community and learn more about each episode at patreon.com/onetogrowonpod. There you can get access to audio extras, fascinating follow-ups, and even custom art created just for you.

Hallie: If you liked the show, please share it with your friends. Sharing is the best way to help us reach more ears.

Chris: Be sure to check out the next episode in two weeks.

Hallie: But until then, keep on growing.

Chris: Bye everybody.

[Background music].

statue of Chinese cabbage

29: Superfoods IV – Bok Choy, Wheat Germ, Ginger and Seaweed

In our latest superfoods episode (and last episode of the decade), Hallie and Chris take on bok choy, wheat germ, ginger and seaweed. The stakes are a little bit higher this week though because there’s a brand new original song for cape-worthy foods. We also get to hear Chris rap.

Find out more about KC’s work at her website kckatalbas.com, or follow her on instagram @kckatalbas or on twitter @kaitlynceline

Read the transcript for this episode.

Connect with us!

Tweet with #AskOnetoGrowOn


About us
One to Grow On is a podcast that digs into the questions you have about agriculture and tries to understand the impacts of food production on us and our world. We explore fascinating topics including food, gardening, and plant sciences. One to Grow On is hosted by Hallie Casey and Chris Casey, and is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey. Show art is by Ashe Walker. Music is “Something Elated” by Broke For Free licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

22: Superfoods III – Microgreens, Steal-cut Oats, Mangosteen, Ginko

Who’s ready for more superfoods? We sure are! This week Hallie and Chris evaluate microgreens, steel-cut oats, mangosteen and ginko. We learn which fruit is the “queen of fruit”, which plant is highly nutritious, and which is kind of regular. And of course, which are cape-worthy.

Connect with us!

Tweet with #AskOnetoGrowOn


About us
One to Grow On is a podcast that digs into the questions you have about agriculture and tries to understand the impacts of food production on us and our world. We explore fascinating topics including food, gardening, and plant sciences. One to Grow On is hosted by Hallie Casey and Chris Casey, and is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey. Show art is by Ashe Walker. Music is “Something Elated” by Broke For Free licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

15: Superfoods II – Flax, Charcoal, Cocoa and Moringa

We’re back with more superfoods! This time Hallie and Chris tackle flax, charcoal, cocoa and moringa. We learn which foods are connected to a decreased risk of cancer, which are mostly useless, and what to do if you’ve been poisoned in the Harry Potter universe.

Connect with us!

Tweet with #AskOnetoGrowOn


About us
One to Grow On is a podcast where we dig into questions about agriculture and try to understand how food production impacts us and our world. One to Grow On is hosted by Hallie Casey and Chris Casey, and is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey. Music is “Something Elated” by Broke For Free licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

6: Superfoods I – Quinoa, Acai, Goji Berries, Chia seed and Kefir

What makes a superfood so special? Are they actually good for you? Is it worth the hype? Hallie and Chris answer all these questions (and more) in this episode’s discussion of superfoods. Do you know which superfood has a history straight out of a romance novel and which one makes a mean dairy-free pudding? We do! And if you listen to this episode, so will you. Quinoa, acai, goji berries, chia seed and kefir are featured in this episode.

Connect with us!

Tweet with #AskOnetoGrowOn


About us
One to Grow On is a podcast that digs into the questions you have about agriculture and tries to understand the impacts of food production on us and our world. One to Grow On is hosted by Hallie Casey and Chris Casey, and is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey. Music is “Something Elated” by Broke For Free licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Show art is by Mariah Coley.