Articles from June 2011

You Are What You Eat – How is Grass-Fed Beef Better for You?

Beef has many beneficial nutrients: protein for building strong muscles, B vitamins to turn food into energy, zinc to boost the immune system and iron, which delivers oxygen to cells to produce energy.

Better Nutrients

Pasture PerfectCompared to grain-fed beef, 100 percent grass-fed beef has fewer calories as it is leaner and lower in fat, according to New York Times best-selling author Jo Robinson. She wrote the landmark book, “Pasture Perfect,” and offers the definitive resource on grass-fed meats and dairy,

Grass-fed beef has more beta-carotene, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3s are the good fats linked to blood pressure reduction, healthy brain function and the slowed growth of cancer.  It’s also a source of conjugated lineoleic acid (CLA), which positively affects diabetes, immune function and atherosclerosis.

“What I tell my patients is eating grass-fed beef is what you want to do,” says Waimea’s Vivienne Aronowitz, MPH, RD. The registered dietician, who has a masters degree in public health, adds, “The fat profile of grass-fed beef is healthier than grain-fed beef; it contains beneficial omega 3s.”

No Antibiotics or Hormones

Hawaii Grassfed beef

Grass-fed animals grow at a natural pace. Photo by Mark Thorne.In addition to boasting more nutrients, grass-fed beef is raised without antibiotics. That’s because animals raised and finished on pasture are allowed to grow at a natural pace. They don’t have the diseases and complications associated with cattle that are fed grain or corn in crowded feedlots. Feeding corn, as a quick way to fatten cattle, often results in certain metabolic conditions that require antibiotics. A documentary by Nature, entitled “Holy Cow,” states that more antibiotics are fed to US cattle than are used to treat human illnesses.

When growth hormones are fed to animals to support profitable weight gain, these hormones are passed on to consumers. Fueled by links of cancer in adults and premature sexual development in children, the European Union (EU) not only banned the use of growth hormones in bovine meat, but also prohibited its importation in 1989. The EU is currently accepting beef under the USDA’s Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC) Program. It delivers US meat produced under laboratory-confirmed control methods by approved ranches and feedlots. The NHTC program permits the use of antibiotics.

Justifying the Cost

Vivienne Aronowitz, MPH, RD

Vivienne Aronowitz, MPH, RD

Aronowitz notes that grass-fed beef is more expensive but consumers should take into consideration that its “better for you, has environmental and sustainability benefits and you know where it’s coming from—it’s not mass produced at a distant location.”

Divulging she’s a vegetarian, Aronowitz concedes that beef “does have accessible nutrients” and can be good for you when consumed properly.

“You don’t need a lot of beef on the plate,” she adds, saying a healthy portion is sized similar to a deck of cards. “Think of beef as part of the meal, not the main focus. Use it to top a salad and in stirfrys.”

Aronowitz, a facilitator with InShape, Hawaii, is offering a class, “Cooking for the Health of It” July 10 in Kona. For info, visit


The Master Gardener Program: A Resource for the Community

University of Hawaii Master GardenerThe Hawaii Island Master Gardener Program is based at the CTAHR Komohana Extension Complex and its primary purpose is to assist with gardening questions by homeowners. But many of you have also met these dedicated Master Gardener’s at workshops, the CTAHR annual open house and at plant sales. They provide the public with gardening information to improve and enjoy the caring of our plants. It is another aspect to improving the quality of life on our island and as a part of sustainable agriculture.

Becoming a Master Gardener – Volunteer Requirements

The Worm Bin Project

The Worm Bin Project

The Master Gardener Program (MGP) is a volunteer program that first began in 1972 in Washington State. Currently, it has spread throughout our nation and Canada with more than 1,000 programs and volunteers. The overall MGP focuses on learning about being a responsible gardener that includes scientific knowledge based information. An interested person must attend a series of Master Gardener classes and pass a written exam. Once this is accomplished – the “new” Master Gardener trainee is required to volunteer at least 40-hrs within the year at Extension Service office in their community.

Those who continue beyond the year receive additional training and dedicate their time to further volunteer more hours – providing the community a valuable asset for those seeking gardening information. The MGP also provides a time to malama aina, having fun with other fellow gardeners and providing a service for community members. It is truly a grassroots effort with practicing sustainable agriculture at home.

The Helpline

Circle of Mother Plants Garden Plot

Circle of Mother Plants Garden Plot

Does your plant look wilted and you can’t figure out what it needs or infested with a bug you are not familiar with? Contact the Hawaii Island Master Gardener Helpline at 808-981-5199 on Monday, Tuesday or Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. You may also call and leave a message and a friendly Master Gardener will return your call with reliable gardening advice. They may also refer you to a CTAHR Extension Agent or an upcoming workshop that can help with your garden to sustain itself.

For further info on the Master Gardener Program in East Hawaii, contact CTAHR Extension Agent Andrew Kawabata at 808-981-5199 or via email at In West Hawaii, contact Ty McDonald at 808-322-4884 or via email at Additional information on the Master Gardener’s Program can also be viewed at

Photos by Nancy Hosticka