Hive-proud Honey Bees

By Amber Morin, Arizona Farm Bureau Field Manager and southern Arizona rancher with her family

With all the talk surrounding honey bee declines, you might be wondering why I would spend any amount of time talking about “hive-proud” honey bees. Or, bees that are simply more hygienic. They keep the hive/house/and others clean, according to an article published by the Journal of Economic Entomology.

Why would these bees be important? Well, common sense tells us that a clean house provides a healthier environment for families which means less sickness. The same applies to bees, and this is significant because of a nasty pest called the Varroa mite (V-mite). The V-mite is a major problem and is far more abundant than previous estimates indicated, per a multi-year study completed by the USDA and the University of Maryland (UMD). V-mites are external parasites that attack and live off the blood of both adult honey bees and their developing larvae. Untreated infestations of V-mites may kill colonies.

The spread of V-mites from colony to colony is due to drifting worker bees, or when bees rob smaller colonies that are already infested. The rapid spread of the pest also is contributing to another problem, viruses. The same study by the USDA and UMD also established clear evidence that V-mites act as transmitters of diseases, like mosquitos and malaria. This is the first study of its kind to study diseases in honey bee hives, and for beekeepers, a crucial tool to maintain their “livestock health.”

There are pesticide recommendations for how to deal with this pesky disease carrying mite, but other options are being looked at. Thanks to advancements in gene-editing, like the CRISPR/Cas9 tool, which lets scientists hack genomes, make precise incisions, and insert desired traits (already existing within the animals), there are some bio-entrepreneurs hoping to tap into the hygiene gene mentioned above to reduce the occurrence of the V-mite and subsequently the viruses it carries.

Can it work? Evidence suggests that some bees are more hive-proud and kick out infested larvae and pick mites off fellow adults, keeping the hive mite light. Breeding for these characteristics could take years of field experiments, but if the genetic sequencing of the hygienic gene could be found, bee colonies could have their saving grace against these pests. Such options should not be ignored, as honey bees are indispensable to the stability of crop production and food security in the USA.


If you liked this blog: Bee Gardens: How you can Become an Active Participant in Agriculture too! 



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Fill Your Plate with Steak

By Sarah LeVesque, Arizona State University Nutrition Student 

For me, steak has always been consumed during special occasions or after a hard workout. But it’s more than just a fancy cut of beef. Meat contains a variety of micronutrients that are essential for the growth and maintenance of our bodies. It’s more than just protein, vitamins, and minerals. Okay…it’s mostly protein, but it also contains some antioxidants that you can’t get from vegetables.

Red meat is one of the most complete dietary sources of quality protein that we can consume. Just like anything else in the world, too much of anything is bad. The same goes for meats. It’s vital to mix up your plate a bit. Varying the protein on your plate can help arm your body with the nutrients and minerals that it might be missing when you consume the same kinds of meats day in and day out.

Why add meat to your diet?

  • It’s good for your muscles

Red meat helps maintain muscle mass and manage weight. Since meats are a reliable source of high-quality, complete proteins, these building blocks helps improve muscle growth and maintenance. Consuming beef, or other sources of high-quality protein, paired with a healthy lifestyle can help keep muscles strong and reduce the risk of sarcopenia.

The complete proteins found in meats are: tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine + cystine, phenylalanine + tyrosine, valine, and histidine.

  • It can prevent anemia


Anemia is when your blood lacks healthy hemoglobin or red blood cells. Hemoglobin binds to oxygen, so without enough healthy red blood cells, other cells in your body won’t get enough oxygen. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia.

Heme-iron is only found in animal-derived foods and beef is a rich source. The heme-iron found in meats also contributes to the absorption of non-heme iron that is obtained from plant foods.


You read that right: if you consume meat and vegetables together, your body is going to absorb more iron from the veggies than if you ate them by themselves.



  • Red meat has antioxidants!

The antioxidants fond in red meat include glutathione, lipoic acid, carsonine, and anserine.


CARNOSINE is an antioxidant that is found only in animal tissue; it is believed to help control brain activity. The health benefits of carnosine are being studied and have shown to prevent or treat diabetes complications.


ANSERINE one of the most abundant antioxidants in meat. It’s been known to reduce fatigue.


LIPOIC ACID reduces oxidative stress in the body; known to improve sugar and fat metabolism; lipoic acid is licensed in Europe for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy.


GLUTATHIONE is a free radical scavenger. This detoxifying agent has been studied for its abilities to improve mental performance, slow down aging, and prevent degenerative diseases.


  • Meats is an excellent source of a variety of vitamins and minerals

A serving of meat is about 3 ounces. A top sirloin steak comes in under 100 calories, for 17g of protein. This top sirloin contains calcium, potassium, sodium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and choline. Although you can get these vitamins and minerals from other sources, pairing them with the antioxidants and essential proteins allows red meat to hold its spot on our plates.

For delicious steak recipes and more blogs on what nutritious foods to add to your plate, visit Fill Your Plate!



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A Message to Moms: Don’t Fear the Fear Tactics in Marketing

By Amber Morin, Arizona Farm Bureau Field Manager and southern Arizona rancher

Hi, moms! In agriculture, we are moms too and we care about you. We understand that being a mom can be very fulfilling, but also very stressful. As a mom, you’ve probably spent countless hours thinking about how to feed your family. “Are my kids getting enough fruits and veggies?” “Should I buy organic?” And, of course, there’s the daily question of what’s for dinner (and who’s making it?)!  Dinner usually falls on your shoulders, although, great dad chefs exist too that I don’t want to forget. So, to help you with what food to buy, let’s first address one marketing tactic you must be aware of – fear!

Fear is a Strong Marketing Tactic that Typically Misleads and Misinforms

Scaring up sales, it’s one of the best ways for marketers to get a product moved! Fears are more easily triggered if you are a parent, as you have the responsibility to care for your children. So, if harm or the potential of harm is detected, parents go on alert! Being practical, most parents wipe counters with Lysol, put covers on electric plugins, keep child locks on cabinet doors, and constantly vacuum to minimize choking hazards. Parents, especially moms, are a marketing goldmine. How aware are you of this? And how does this relate to the food in your home?

According to Forbes Magazine, women alone make up 70 to 80% of all consumer purchases. And women who are mothers are also concerned about their families’ nutrition, per a survey done by the Working Mother Research Institute. However, moms are not even sure what foods off the Choose-My-Plate menu to buy! The image of the Plate depicts fruits, grains, proteins, vegetables, and dairy. Endless choices exist. All of which, can be associated with hyped-up food fears such as GMOs, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics. The list of concerns could go on and on, increasing the feeling that you need to protect your children.

However, according to the American Association of Pediatrics, “Long term, there is currently no direct evidence that consuming an organic diet leads to improved health or lower risk of disease. What’s most important is that children eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, whether those are conventional or organic foods. This type of diet has proven health benefits,” said Janet Silverstein, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Committee on Nutrition.

Food marketing, just like all marketing, employs words that play into emotions and especially the emotions relating to the protection of your family. All businesses are trying to sell you something. So, we encourage research before buying. Do not buy into fear-based marketing schemes. It’s your money, your life, your family, and we trust that you as a mother know what is best for your family!

“There is no illusion greater than fear.” Lao Tzu

For more information, so you don’t have to live in fear of food, check out these websites:

The US Department of Agriculture

The Center for Food Integrity

The Best Food Facts

Choose My Plate

GMO Answers

Find our Common Ground

The Food Dialogues

Food Insight

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Artificial Sweeteners: Good or Bad?

By Tim Nordberg, Arizona State University Nutrition Student

There seems to be a new fad diet every year.  For a while, everyone seemed to be worried about cutting carbohydrates from their diet but now it seems everyone is concerned about sugar. People are looking for alternative ways to get the sweetness in their food or beverages without the detrimental effect of an abundance of sugar.  Overconsumption of sugar has the stigma of potentially leading to diabetes, which has become a growing issue in the United States.  According to the Center for Disease Control: 29.3 million people in the United States have diabetes. That’s a staggering 9.3% of the population. (1) But the question remains, are these artificial sweeteners doing more harm than good?

“Research suggests that they may prevent us from associating sweetness with caloric intake. As a result, we may crave more sweets, tend to choose sweet food over nutritious food, and gain weight. Participants in the San Antonio Heart Study who drank more than 21 diet drinks per week were twice as likely to become overweight or obese as people who didn’t drink diet soda.” (2)

Having worked in the food service industry for almost four years, I have noticed that a lot of people depend on artificial sweeteners.  Just like anything else though, moderation is key. Too much of anything can be a bad thing.  There was a 10-week study done on mice where scientists were able to determine that the artificial sweetener saccharin caused glucose intolerance because it changed the way the gut micro biota of the mice worked. (3)  If it is having this effect on the gut micro biota and giving the mice a glucose intolerance, one has to consider what effect this is having on humans who are consuming multiple servings of artificial sweeteners each day.

I was reliant on artificial sweeteners on one of my first quests to lose weight and found that by having them, my sweet tooth increased ten fold.  I was always looking for something to satisfy my cravings and in turn did not lose weight nor gain weight but maintained my weight. I think that people should use sugar, but use it in smaller amounts. Obviously, people with diabetes don’t really have an option, as they have to watch their sugar intake at all times. Natural sugar is present in fruit, so not only are you having a healthy snack but you are giving your body the energy it needs. I always have a banana before I go workout so I have the carbohydrates. Also, a single banana contains roughly 14g of sugar, which is enough to power me through my workout or my morning.

In conclusion, be aware of  “added sugar” but don’t be afraid of sugar. Just like anything, it’s only bad in large amounts.  Artificial sweeteners may have that glamorous appeal because you get the sweetness without the sugar but the case is still open on the negative effects aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose have on the human body.






  1. “2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 May 2015. Web.
  2. Strawbridge, Holly. “Artificial sweeteners: sugar-free, but at what cost?” Harvard Health Blog. N.p., 12 Dec. 2016. Web. <>.
  3. Suez, Jotham, Tal Korem, David Zeevi, Gili Zilberman-Schapira, Christoph A. Thaiss, Ori Maza, David Israeli, Niv Zmora, Shlomit Gilad, Adina Weinberger, Yael Kuperman, Alon Harmelin, Ilana Kolodkin-Gal, Hagit Shapiro, Zamir Halpern, Eran Segal, and Eran Elinav. “Artificial Sweeteners Induce Glucose Intolerance by Altering the Gut Microbiota.” Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey1 (2015): 31-32. Web.


Meet the Author

My name is Tim Nordberg and I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am currently pursuing a career in the field of nutrition. My calling is to make the world a better place through the healing of the body, mind, and soul. I currently attend Arizona State University.

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Quick and Easy Applesauce

By Emily Carver, Arizona State University Nutrition Student 

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes thinking about making something I normally buy at the grocery store seems daunting. Making applesauce seemed daunting. Prior to making it, I thought there were several tedious steps and it would be too time-consuming and laborious to do myself.

Despite those thoughts, I thought I’d give it a try. There are a lot of different ways one can make applesauce: peeled, unpeeled, with the core, without a core, varying types of apples; not to mention all the different spices!


For this recipe, however, I kept it simple and delicious: un-peeled gala apples with cinnamon. Leaving the skins on is definitely a personal preference, but one to consider the next time you make applesauce, because of the added nutrients they give.


Applesauce with skins on will give you twice the amount of fiber with each serving, compared to when you use apples without the skins. Fiber does wonders for our digestive system and helps keep everything flowing (something I know we all want). The skins also contain a lot of the vitamins like A, which help our skin and eyes stay healthy; and C which helps our bones, skin, and blood vessels stay in good shape.


When you think about the skins, it’s really a win-win situation. The health benefits are higher, and leaving them on saves you a lot of time in the kitchen when prepping your applesauce. If you’re still not sold on the idea because you don’t want to taste them, blend them in a food processor. Your sauce will have a nice and smooth texture, and no one will know they were even there!


Easy Homemade Applesauce


Prep time
10 minutes
Cook time
3-4 hours
8 servings


9 Apples, chopped (preferably a sweeter apple like Gala or Honey Crisp)

2 tsp cinnamon

1/3-1/2 C water (more or less depending on desired thickness)

Splash of lemon juice


Wash and chop nine apples and dump in a slow cooker. Add cinnamon, water, and lemon juice, and stir to combine. Turn on high for 3-4 hours. Once cooked completely, mash with a masher, or blend in a food processor until desired texture. Store in fridge in sealed container for up to five days. Serve warm or cold.


For more easy recipes to make at home visit Fill Your Plate!



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