Attend These Festivals to Show Support for AZ Wine Makers

Arizona’s wine industry is growing, and if you haven’t tried it yet you are missing out!

Closeup of a glass of wine and a bottle pouring. Out of focus wi

We have a list of upcoming festivals that will offer you an opportunity to try some of Arizona’s finest.


Patagonia Fall Festival
October 9 – 11

The Town of Patagonia held its first fall festival 27 years ago. The purpose of the festival is to showcase extraordinary talent and artistry against the beautiful backdrop of the Patagonia community, which is nestled at over 4000 feet in the mountains of Southeast Arizona.

The festival hosts top-of-the-line entertainment on each day of the event. Entertainers represent a great mix of styles sure to please every taste. The arts and crafts exhibitors bring you the most unique and unusual high quality desirables, produced with excellent care, creativity and craftsmanship. There will also be a special area set aside for not-for-profit and information booths as well as the famed Patagonia Library book sale.

This festival also features food and beverage vendors for every taste along with the offerings of Patagonia’s well-known eateries such as the Velvet Elvis, Gathering Grounds, Wild Horse, Mercedes, Ovens of Patagonia, and the Wagon Wheel Saloon. The Beer and Wine Garden will have booths set up from the Arizona Wine Growers Association, Coronado Vineyards, Page Springs Cellars, Golden Rule Vineyards, Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Su Vino, Wilhelm Vineyards, and more.

The festival helps support the activities of the Patagonia Area Business Association (PABA) such as their new Visitor’s Center. It also helps support the Park Preservation Fund of the Town of Patagonia. Funds will be utilized to preserve, maintain and improve the park’s trees and landscaping as well as its facilities.


Willcox Wine Country Fall Festival
October 17 – 18

The Willcox Wine Country Festival is a two-day fun-filled event at historic Railroad Park in downtown Willcox. Just an hour’s drive east of Tucson on I-10 – the Willcox Wine Country Festival is a perfect getaway for Phoenix & Tucson residents. It’s not too far, but feels a world away.

Admission to the festival is FREE – listen to music, browse vendors featuring locally grown and made products, and browse wine booths without charge. There are several downtown shops and cooperative events within walking distance. Tasting glasses and tickets may be purchased for $20-$25.

Choose from over 50 wines from 15 Arizona wineries! Participating wineries (subject to change): Aridus Wine Company, Bodega Pierce, Carlson Creek Vineyard, Cellar 433, Coronado Vineyards, Deep Sky Vineyard, Golden Rule Vineyards, Keeling Schaefer Vineyards, Kief-Joshua Vineyards, Page Springs Cellars, Passion Cellars, Pillsbury Wine Company, Sand-Reckoner Vineyards, Sierra Bonita Vineyards and Zarpara Vineyard.


The Arizona Wine Growers Grand Wine Festival
November 21 – 22

This year’s wine festival (Formally the Festival at the Farm) will be held at the historic Crowne Plaza Phoenix Chandler Golf Resort. They are still in the works on this one and more details and ticket information will be released over the next two weeks. Check in with their website posted above or their Facebook page,, for more information.


Tempe Festival of the Arts
December 4 – 6

As many as 400 artist booths line Mill Avenue and the surrounding streets presenting unique, and hand-made artwork that offers visitors a distinctive shopping experience.

While the Tempe Festival of the Arts focuses on visual art and the artists who create it, there also is a wide variety of other activity for guests to enjoy. Live entertainment provides fun for festival-goers. Performances throughout the venue keep audiences in high spirits throughout the day. In addition to the Festival Stage, street performers, food and beverage vendors, sponsor exhibits, and entertainment booths are set up for the amusement of Festival visitors.

You can enjoy The Art of Beer featuring local microbrewery sampling and sales or visit the Arizona Wine Festival for tastings and sales by the glass, bottle, or case. The Arizona Wine Festival partners with eight of Arizona’s best wineries to complement the ambiance of a fine arts festival environment! Wine Tasting is $12 for six tasting tickets and a commemorative tasting glass. The Arizona Wine Festival is located on 7th Street, just West of Mill Avenue.


Anyone may enter. Patrons 21 years of age and older can sample, be served by the glass, and purchase bottles or cases of wine made from grapes grown exclusively in Arizona. Please drink responsibly.



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Desert to Dish at Omni Scottsdale Resort

Omni Scottsdale Resort invites you to enjoy a weekend crafted specifically for the “foodie” in you this October 22 – 24, 2015.


In partnership with the James Beard Foundation, Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia will be hosting their 1st annul Desert to Dish Event.

With Camelback Mountain as its backdrop, this food and wine weekend offers an unmatched foodie experience.
“Desert to Dish” festivities will offer guests a range of true farm-to-table culinary dining experiences including a tour of Arizona farms, interactive chef-led cooking classes, exclusive pairing dinners, and one-of-a-kind interactive opportunities with six renowned chefs from across the country. The weekend is capped off with a live culinary competition featuring an indigenous secret ingredient, with the final vote resting in the hands of the guests.
Proceeds from Desert to Dish will support the James Beard Foundation’s scholarship program and other educational initiatives.
For a schedule of events and additional information you can visit Follow Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to experience more #DesertToDish.
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Protecting Pollinators

Without pollinators, there wouldn’t be much to look at or eat. Pollinators are responsible for aiding the growth of over 80% of the world’s 1,400 crop plants (the plants that produce all of our food and plant-based industrial products). According to the USDA, without pollinators, the human race and all of earth’s terrestrial ecosystems would not survive.

A Bee covered in pollen

The USDA goes on to say that bees and other pollinators help produce more flavorful, larger fruits and vegetables and produces higher crop yields. In the United States alone, pollination of agricultural crops is valued at 10 billion dollars annually. Pollination services are likely worth more than 3 trillion dollars globally.


Who are the pollinators? The pollinators are animals that assist plants in their reproduction and include species of ants, bats, bees, beetles, birds, butterflies, flies, moths, wasps, as well as other unusual animals.
What is pollination? Pollination is the act of transferring pollen grains from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma. A pollinator will eat or collect pollen for its nutrition or sip nectar from a flower and the pollen grains will attach to the animal’s body. When the animal moves on to another flower, pollen will fall off the animal onto the flower’s stigma and could result in successful reproduction of the flower.
Why is pollination important? As it was stated above, without pollinators, the human race and all of earth’s terrestrial ecosystems would not survive. They aid in the growth of more than 150 food crops in the US, including almost all of the fruit and grain crops. They also help with the reproduction of flowering plants which produce breathable oxygen by utilizing the carbon dioxide produced by plants and animals as they respire.


On June 20, 2014, the White House released a “Presidential Memorandum—Creating a Federal Strategy To Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators” which states, “Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, from the environment. The problem is serious and requires immediate attention to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impact on the agricultural sector, and protect the health of the environment.” It goes on to say that, “Given the breadth, severity, and persistence of pollinator losses, it is critical to expand Federal efforts and take new steps to reverse pollinator losses and help restore populations to healthy levels.”

On the agricultural level, the Arizona Farm Bureau is currently communicating with the EPA on the steps they take to protect their crops from harmful pests while at the same time minimalizing the harm to bees. For more detailed information on this, you can click here.

Fortunately there are also things we can do on an individual level to help maintain pollinator populations.

1. Plant a Garden

Planting nectar and pollen-rich flowers is probably the best step you can take to help maintain pollinator populations. Wildflowers and old fashioned flower varieties are the best for this. According to, a sequence of blooming annuals, perennials and shrubs is best so that pollen and nectar are available throughout the growing season. They say you should also include plants like dill, fennel, and milkweed for the butterfly larvae to feed on. To protect pollinators, do not use pesticides on open blossoms or when bees or other pollinators are present.
Any size garden will attract and help the pollinators. It could be anything from a meadow or yard full of wildflowers down to a window-box. states that just a patchwork of pollinator gardens in neighborhoods, cities, and rural areas around the country could provide enough habitat to restore healthy communities of beneficial insects and pollinators.

• Plants that attract Butterflies
Alyssum, Aster, Bee balm, Butterfly bush, Calendula, Cosmos, Daylily, Delphinium, Dianthus, Fennel, Globe thistle, Goldenrod, Hollyhock, Lavender, Liatris, Marigold, Musk mallow, Nasturtium, Oregano, Phlox, Purple coneflower, Queen Anne’s lace, Sage, Scabiosa, Shasta daisy, Stonecrop, Verbena, Yarrow, Zinnia
• Plants that attract caterpillars
Borage, Fennel, Grasses, Hollyhocks, Lupine, Milkweed, Nettle, Thistle, Willow
• Plants that attract hummingbirds
Ajuga, Bee balm, Begonia, Bleeding heart, Butterfly weed, Canna, Cardinal flower, Century plant, Columbine, Coral bells, Cleome, Crapemyrtle, Dahlia, Dame’s rocket, Delphinium, Fire pink, Four o’ clocks, Foxglove, Fuchsia, Gilia, Geranium, Gladiolus, Glossy abelia, Hollyhocks, Impatiens, Iris, Lantana, Liatris, Lily, Lupine, Nasturtium, Nicotiana, Paintbrush, Penstemon, Petunia, Phlox, Sage, Salvia, Scabiosa, Scarlet sage, Sweet William, Verbena, Yucca, Zinnia
• Plants that attract bees
Perennials and Annuals: Allium, Aster, Basil, Bee balm, Bee plant, Bergamot, Blanket flower, Borage, Cosmos, Flax, Four o’clock, Gaillardia, Geranium, Giant hyssop, Globe thistle, Goldenrod, Helianthus, Hyssop, Joe-pye weed, Lavender, Lupine, Marjoram, Mint, Mullein, Paint brush, Poppy, Rosemary, Sage, Skullcap, Sunflower, Thyme, Verbena, Wallflower, Wild rose, Zinnia
Trees, Shrubs and Fruit: Almond, Apple, Cherry, Gooseberry, Hawthorn, Linden, Pear, Plum, Raspberry, Strawberry, Wild lilac, Willow

2. Have Food and Water Available

Your pollinator garden/landscape will provide pollen and nectar, but bees, birds, and butterflies also need water. Set up a bird bath or a catch basin to collect rain water. Butterflies like muddy puddles, they flock to them for salts and nutrients as well as water. To provide further nutrients, and to help attract more hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden you should consider adding some of those special feeders (like the pretty glass blossom feeders found at many garden supply locations) to your garden/landscape.

3. Provide Shelter for Pollinators

Pollinators need shelter to get out of the elements, tend to their young, and hide from predators. To help with this you could let a part of your yard, like a hedgerow, grow wild for ground-nesting bees. A perfectly clean yard does not provide the raw materials that wild bees and birds need to construct nests. Even a small area with dry grasses and reeds and dead wood will help. You could allow a dead tree to stand to create nooks for solitary bees and butterflies. Or, you could even provide nesting boxes to help increase the population of pollinators. Bat boxes are a great place for the bats to raise their young, and having some bats around could help you eliminate pests.

4. Become a Beekeeper

If you want to go all out, you could consider becoming a backyard beekeeper. According to the Pollinator Partnership, the U.S. has lost over 50 percent of its managed honeybee colonies in the past 10 years. This sharp decline has been dubbed colony collapse disorder (CCD), which is defined as a series of symptoms, whose causes are still not fully understood.

At one point in time, keeping a beehive or two in the yard was common practice. Why not bring it back? All you need is to be willing to learn, a little bit of space, plenty of nearby flowers, and a source of water. For detailed information on getting started, the article Beekeeping: A Hobby with Sweet Rewards found on is a good place to start. The Pollinator Partnership also provides good beekeeping information on their webpage.

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The Phenomenal Potato

September is National Potato Month!

Over the last decade in the US, with the emergence of the “superfood” craze, the humble tuber has taken a backseat to many other vegetables. This is a shame, because the potato is actually a very healthy vegetable, and you should be eating it!


The potato is now the fifth most important crop worldwide after wheat, corn, rice and sugar cane. So how did this come to be?

According to the National Potato Council, the potato was first domesticated as early as 500 BC by the Andeans of South America. The Inca grew many varieties of potato and held it in high esteem. After the Spaniards arrived in the region in 1532 AD, they introduced the potato to Europe. The Spanish sailors appreciated the tubers for the protection they offered from scurvy (later found to be due to their significant vitamin C content). European rulers championed the potato for their famine-starved public.

As farmers discovered that they could grow potatoes on a large scale on fallow grain land, they grew in popularity across Europe. Ireland relied so heavily on the potato for food that when a rapidly spreading blight devastated the potato crop it caused one of the deadliest famines in history.

The American colonies were introduced to the potato in 1621 when the Governor of Bermuda, Nathaniel Butler, sent potatoes and other vegetables to Francis Wyatt, the Governor of Virginia. They were not widely grown in the US until 1719, when they were first planted in New Hampshire, then later the rest of the country.

Potatoes were being planted in Idaho as early as 1838. By 1900 the state’s production was over a million bushels (around 27,000 tons). Before 1910, the crop was stored in barns or root cellars, but by the 1920’s farmers began using potato cellars or barns.



Potatoes are grown in all 50 states (producing over 30 billion pounds of potatoes each year) and in around 125 countries worldwide. Two-thirds of the US potato crop comes from Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Maine. The potato is the second most consumed food in the U.S. following only milk products.

Every year Americans consume about 110 pounds of potatoes per person. However, Europeans have us beat. In Europe twice as many spuds are consumed per person annually.

There are more than 100 varieties of potatoes sold throughout the United States. Each of these varieties fit into one of seven potato type categories: russet, red, white, yellow, blue/purple, fingerling and petite. Go to for detailed information on each category of potato.

For a list of Arizona potato growers click here.


Health Benefits and Nutritional Information

• One medium sized potato contains 110 calories, a one-cup serving of rice has 225 calories and a cup of pasta has 155.
• A medium-sized potato has no fat or cholesterol and is sodium free.
• Potatoes contain a generous amount of vitamin C. When you eat one medium sized potato you get 45% of the DRV of vitamin C. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant by stabilizing free radicals which helps prevent cellular damage.
• Potatoes are a good source of potassium. In fact, they contain more potassium than bananas! One potato supplies 610 mg of potassium while a banana contains 450 mg. Potassium is essential for maintaining proper muscle function.
• One medium potato with skin contains 3 grams, or 12% of the DRV of fiber. Fiber helps with the body’s digestive health.
• There is a wealth of vitamins; minerals and fiber are found in the peel – so eat your potatoes with the peel on. The peel contains the flavonoids, quercitin, and chlorogenic acid, which are antioxidants that may protect the body against certain types of cancer and heart disease.
• Potatoes contain less than 10% of the DRV of carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are a great source of energy for the body.
• They also contain vitamin B, calcium, thiamin, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, riboflavin, zinc and iron.


Selection and Storage

When purchasing potatoes look for clean, smooth, firm-textured potatoes with no cuts, bruises, discoloration or sprouts. Avoid “green” potatoes. They have been exposed to light and have a bitter taste. Potatoes can be safely stored in a dry, dark place for up to three months at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Buy only a week or two’s supply if you must store them at higher temperatures.
Proper Potato Storage:
• Store potatoes in a cool, well-ventilated place.
• You should not store potatoes in a refrigerator. Temperatures lower than 50 degrees can cause a potato’s starch to convert to sugar, resulting in a sweet taste and discoloration when cooked.
• Avoid areas that reach high temperatures (beside large appliances) or receive too much sunlight (on the countertop).
• Perforated plastic bags and paper bags offer the best environment for extending shelf life.
• Keep potatoes out of the light. A pantry is a good storage option.
• Don’t wash potatoes (or any produce, for that matter) before storing. Dampness promotes early spoilage.
If your potatoes green or sprout:
• A build-up of the chemical Solanine caused the potato to green. This is a natural reaction to the potato being exposed to too much light. Solanine produces a bitter taste and, if eaten in large quantity, can cause illness.
• If there is slight greening, cut away the green portions of the potato skin before cooking and eating.
• Sprouting is a sign that a potato is trying to grow. Storing potatoes in a cool, dry and dark location that is well ventilated will reduce sprouting.
• Cut the sprouts away before cooking or eating the potato.



For maximum nutritional benefits you should leave the peel on while cooking. Wash in cool water and scrub with a produce or nail brush (that has been designated for cooking) to remove the trace amounts of dirt that can be stuck in the potatoes pores or eyes. Potatoes can be prepared and served in a variety of ways, including boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, French fries, hash browns and more.
Julie’s Oven Roasted Red Potatoes & Asparagus
• 1 1/2 pounds Red Potatoes, cut into chunks
• 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 8 Cloves garlic, thinly sliced
• 4 Teaspoons Dried Rosemary
• 4 Teaspoons Dried Thyme
• 2 Teaspoons Salt
• 1 bunch Asparagus
• Pinch Black Pepper to Taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut up the fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces. In a large baking dish, toss the red potatoes with 1/2 the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and 1/2 the kosher salt. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Mix in the asparagus, remaining olive oil (add more olive oil if needed), and remaining salt. Cover, and continue cooking 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Remove foil and continue cooking 5 to 10 minutes, until potatoes are lightly browned. Season with pepper and serve. A blend of various colored, small potatoes makes the dish very colorful.
You can find more potato recipes on Fill Your Plate. Click on recipes and search for “potatoes” to view a list of delicious potato dishes.


Fun Facts

In October 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space. That collaborative project between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the University of Wisconsin, Madison was conducted with the goal of feeding astronauts on long space voyages and, perhaps, eventually feeding future colonies in space.
• The average American eats over 4 pounds potato chips each year. In 2011, Americans ate 1.5 billion pounds of potato chips.
• The Incas had many uses for potatoes other than dinner like placing raw slices on broken bones to promote healing and carrying them to prevent rheumatism.
• During the 18th century, potatoes were served as a dessert, hot and salted, in a napkin.
• Insects such as bumblebees usually pollinate potato plants.
• To boost their popularity in France, both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were said to have worn potato blossoms as accessories.

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Fantastic Fennel

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a highly versatile plant. Its seeds are commonly used as a seasoning, but every bit of the plant can be used including the leaves, stalk and root.

Fennel, in all of its forms, is often an overlooked plant in the United States. As it has several culinary and health benefits, we thought it would be worth giving fennel a closer look.


The history of fennel dates back to ancient times as it was easily accessible in the Mediterranean Basin. Greek myths state that fennel was closely associated with the Greek god of food and wine, Dionysus, and that a fennel stalk carried the coal that passed down knowledge from the gods to men. Ancient Greeks called fennel “marathon.” The town of Marathon was the site of the famous battle between the Athenians and the Persians and its name means “place of fennel”.
In AD 812, Charlemagne declared that fennel had healing properties and was essential to every garden. He even had it grown in the imperial gardens. Fennel (along with anise and wormwood) became one of the ingredients in absinthe in the late 1700’s. Absinthe became a popular drink in post WWI Europe and the United States.
Today fennel (the bulb especially) is most popular in Europe, though its seeds are often found in spice racks around the world.


Fennel is a member of the Umbellifereae family and is closely related to carrots, coriander, dill and parsley. It has a pale green or white bulb around which tightly overlaid stalks are positioned. The stalks are topped with feathery green leaves. The flowers of the plant produce the fennel seeds. As mentioned above, all of these are edible. Fennel is much like anise in taste and is often mistakenly referred to as anise in markets.
Since ancient times fennel has been grown throughout Europe, mainly in the areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Today, France, the United States, Russia, and India are some of the leading growers of fennel. Fennel plays an important role in the culinary practices of much of Europe, however it is most strongly present in France and Italy.
Fennel is easy to grow. It does best in mild climates and in full sun. Fennel is a perennial and can be grown from root division or seed.

For a list of farms that produce fennel in Arizona you can click here.

Health Benefits and Nutritional Information

• According to, fennel contains the flavonoids rutin, quercitin, and various kaempferol glycosides—that give it strong antioxidant activity.
• Fennel is good for immune support, as the fennel bulb is an excellent source of vitamin C. One cup of diced, raw fennel contains 14% of the Daily Recommended Value (DRV) of vitamin C.
• Fennel contains fiber which supports digestion. As a very good source of fiber (11% of the DRV), fennel bulb may also help to reduce elevated cholesterol levels.
• Fennel contains 6% of the DRV of the B vitamin, folate, which is beneficial to women whom are expecting or trying to conceive.
• It is high in potassium (10% of the DRV). Potassium is a mineral that can lower high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for stroke and heart attack.
• Manganese (9%), copper (7%), and phosphorus (6%) are all found in fennel.
• Fennel also contains 4% of the DRV for calcium, magnesium, and iron.
• Anethol and cineole, contained in fennel, have antibacterial properties that could help prevent diarrhea.

Selection and Storage

Select fennel with bulbs that are clean and are firm and solid. There should be no signs of bruising, spotting, or splitting. The bulb should be pale green or whitish in color. Stalks should be moderately straight and superimposed around the bulb without splaying out to the sides much. The leaves and stalks should be green in color. Avoid plants that show signs of flowering, as this means it is past maturity. Fresh fennel will be quite fragrant, smelling of anise, or licorice. Fresh fennel is available in most places from autumn through the early spring.
It is best to consume fresh fennel quickly after purchase because as it ages it loses flavor. However, it will keep in the refrigerator crisper for about four or five days. You can also freeze fresh fennel after it has been blanched, though this tends to cause the plant to lose a lot of its flavor. Dried seeds are best stored in a cool, dry location in an airtight container. The seeds’ flavor is best when consumed within six months, though they can be stored for longer.

Cooking with Fennel

Fennel is considered both an herb and a vegetable, depending on how it is prepared. The bulb of the plant can be fried, pickled, baked and more. The seeds are often used as an herb for flavoring foods. The leaves are sometimes used in salads, and the flower is used as a garnish.

Seeds – The flavor is similar to that of anise, which is the main flavoring of licorice. The seeds are often found in sausages, soups, and stews.
Leaves – The leaves are not only found in salads, but are sometimes used to flavor fish as well. They are also a great addition to tomato soups and sauces. Use sparingly, as a little bit of licorice flavor goes a long way.
Bulb/Stalks – As with the rest of the plant, they have a slight licorice flavor. They can be cut raw for salads and are also good in stir fries. They can also be roasted or grilled. When cooked, the taste mellows.

You can find recipes including fennel on our website by clicking here.


To help you get started, we have included this recipe using fennel bulbs, provided to us by Kelly Saxer of Desert Roots Farm:
Golden Beet, Fennel & Avocado Salad
• 2 fennel bulbs
• 4 small golden beets
• 1 avocado
• 1 shallot
• 4 tbsp. lemon juice
• 4 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
• 4 oz. goat cheese
• broccoli sprouts
• olive oil
• salt and pepper
Roast beets in a 400-degree oven (leaves removed) for an hour or until tender throughout. Fine dice the shallot and soak in lemon juice and vinegar for about 30 minutes. This will help the shallots mellow. Thinly shave fennel and then mix with the shallot mixture. Thinly slice avocado and sprinkle with lemon juice to keep from browning. Once beets are tender, let cool down and then slice thin. To plate, make a small base of golden beets on each dish, pile fennel on top of the beets, then crumble goat cheese on top of the fennel, arrange the avocado and garish with broccoli sprouts, salt and pepper to taste and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Fun Facts

Fennel is used as a flavoring in some natural toothpastes.
• The texture of fennel is similar to celery. It is striated and crunchy.
• Powdered fennel can be used to repel fleas around kennels and stables.
• Fennel contains aspartic acid, which may reduce flatulence.
• In many places around the world, like India, fennel is chewed after a meal to improve digestion and to freshen breath.
• During the Shakespearian times the root of fennel was one of the ingredients in Sack, an alcoholic drink featuring mead.
• In the Middle Ages fennel was hung over doorways to ward off evil spirits.

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