Friday, June 08, 2007

Relaxation and Self Awareness

When we relax the parasympathetic system has an opportunity to function fully.
The hormones activated by the sympathetic are deactivated
by the parasympathetic, and so the system slows down body processes except those that are suppressed by the sympathetic i.e. the digestive system, the skin functions. The following changes occur when a person totally relaxes;

  • Blood to the heart and skeletal muscles decreases and is redistributed to inactive organs such as the gut and skin
  • Metabolism slows
  • Respiration slows
  • Pupils constrict
  • Digestion speeds up
  • Blood coagulation time is lengthened
  • The inflammation response is restored ---- immune system
  • The central nervous system is taken out of the arousal state

Our societies set norms of behaviour and standards to which some individuals perceive they are expected to adhere. In this competitive atmosphere of increased activity, and the accumulation of wealth and consumer goods, the wellbeing of the individual can be completely overlooked.

Lowering standards of living and simplifying life is not something that individuals are encouraged to do. Gaining material wealth becomes a priority that distracts the individual mind away from simplicity and whole health.

The importance of relaxation in our society is vital to health and well being and body "ease". A body in a constant state of arousal eventually becomes exhausted and "dis-eased".

The digestive system is unable to do it's job and people suffer from heart burn, stomach and duodenal ulcers, constipation, haemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis etc etc. The thickened blood with extra cholesterol and overworked heart leads to heart disease stroke heart attacks and blood clots. People are more vulnerable to infection, the healing process is prolonged, and cancer increases all the time.

Knowing what is happening to our bodies can greatly improve our awareness of the harm that occurs when we ignore our need to switch off the "fight or flight" response and regain balance.

Activities for Relaxation and Self Awareness
Becoming aware of our attitudes, behaviours, feelings and thoughts brings more choice into our lives. Becoming aware of our bodies and how stress manifests physically enables us to counteract the effects of stress. Knowing ourselves leads to understanding our needs. At differing times we will need different solutions here are some you might like to try. Give your whole self to these activities and observe yourself before, during and after.
J A warm / hot bath with bubbles or oils. Listen to music or read a book or just lie, feeling the luxury.
Breathing deeply, consciously, feel that on each inward breath you breath in calm, on each outward breath you breath out tension.
J Sit and look out of a window at something in the distance let your attention relax.
J Stretch out from toes to finger tips feel that you are stretching out the tension in your muscles.
J SMILE inside and out
J Put on loud energetic music and dance about or do the "wood chopper"
J Sing along to a record, or on your own at the top of your voice ( this is good on a long journey in the car)
J Go for a walk alone and notice everything, walk somewhere of beauty and stop and stare frequently, slow down inside and out.
J Perform a simple movement very, very slowly with your eyes closed, repeat and each time become slower.
J Sit in candle light and watch the flame with a soft focus
J Be aware of a mundane activity, e.g. washing the dishes. Give the activity all your attention as you would a complicated procedure.
J Have a therapeutic massage
J Spend time looking at an item e.g. a flower, a piece of fruit, concentrate with effort close your eyes and visualise the object.
J Repeat a word over and over to yourself; e.g. calm, strong, relax, smile, or whatever you need.
J Be aware of how people respond when you ask for / take time out for yourself, and observe your own internal and external reaction to this response
J Write a poem / story / paint a picture / bake a cake. Create something for the sake of the activity and not for the end result.
J Write a list of things you would like to do in the next; month, quarter, 6mths, year.
J Start a new hobby / interest
J Be aware of your posture when standing and walking
J Start responding to people as you would prefer to do rather than your habitual response
J Say yes to something you would normally say no to.
J Be aware of being defensive to peoples opinions, experiment with being open and accepting possibilities. "you could be right"
J Look in the mirror and say "I love you"

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Simple Ways to Add Years to Your Life

If flipping the calendar to a new year (or counting off another birthday) makes you anxious, stop fighting Father Time and start working with him. Add 20-plus great years to your life—and help celebrate Health’s 20-year anniversary—by making simple lifestyle changes, like joining an aerobics class or even having sex more often. Ready to start?

Get moving
Adds 2 to 4 years
Dutch and Australian researchers found that women who do moderate- to high-intensity cardiovascular exercise—like running for 30 minutes, 5 days a week—can live 2 to 4 years longer and live 1 to 3 more years free of heart disease. Running seems to strengthen your heart, as well as other muscles, and lower cholesterol. (A great way to start: Join the Health Girls Gotta Move Running Club.) But if you don’t think running is the right exercise for you, just walking 30 minutes a day will lower your heart attack risk by half, says Carol Rosenberg, MD, director of Preventative Health Initiatives for Evanston Northwestern Healthcare in Illinois and lead investigator of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). “Exercise is the closest thing to a magic bullet,” she says.

Eat power foods
Adds 4 years or more
A daily handful of dark chocolate and almonds, plus fruits, vegetables, garlic, fish, and even a glass of wine can increase a woman’s life by 4.8 years (6.6 for men), according to research in the British Medical Journal. The foods are rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and other nutrients that can lower your heart disease risk by 76 percent. The age gains also come from a 22 percent drop in breast-cancer risk linked to consuming less fat and fewer calories as you eat more fruit, veggies, and whole grains, the WHI found.

People in other cultures who live to 100 always eat this way, according to John Robbins, son of the Baskin Robbins founder and author of Healthy at 100. “These people,” Robbins says, “wouldn’t recognize a doughnut.”

Quit smoking
Adds 2 to 8 years
The younger you are when you quit, the better. Period. A study in the American Journal of Public Health found that female smokers who quit by age 35 could extend their lifespan by 6.1 to 7.7 years.

Lose the flab
Adds 3 to 4 years
Shed those extra holiday pounds, and you’ll celebrate more holidays. Recent National Cancer Institute research shows that being overweight can increase the risk of death by 20 to 40 percent. Other research links being obese to high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. The reasons are unclear, but obesity can shave 3 to 4 years off your life, says Robert Butler, MD, president of the nonprofit International Longevity Center-USA, an affiliate of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Check your body mass index; 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal, 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and 30 or higher is considered obese.

Play head games
Adds 2 years or more
Many experts believe that mental exercises can keep your brain cells active and more efficient as you age. And they say lifelong learning combined with other healthy-lifestyle habits can prolong your life by at least 2 years. Even one mental boost a week can equal a 7 percent gain in mental sharpness. And the more you do, the greater the percentage, says Gary Small, MD, author of The Longevity Bible. Read regularly, toil over a Sudoku grid, or connect a 1,000-piece puzzle to lower your risk for Alzheimer’s by nearly a third, adds Small, chief of the University of California, Los Angeles, Memory and Aging Research Center.

Get frisky
Adds 3 to 8 years (seriously!)
Having sex two to three times a week can boost your longevity by halving your risk for heart disease and stroke. The trick: Intercourse burns about 200 calories—the same as running for 30 minutes. And it may lower your blood pressure (which offers a 2- to 3-year gain), help you sleep better, boost your immunity, and release heart-protective hormones. Oh, and if the sex is part of a happy marriage, census research shows you’ll get another 5 years. Whoopee!


Sunday, December 31, 2006

Essentials of Health and Well Being

Well-being, which is another way of saying good health, can be enhanced in small, easy and pleasant ways. Well-being is a state of mind as well as body. Achieving it can be a simple, joyful experience. Try the following suggestions to enhance your health and well-being.

1.Take a walk

  • One 40 minute walk can dramatically lower levels of tension and anxiety. If you're interested in losing weight or keeping weight off, try brisk walking. Studies have proven time and time again that walking is a safe, effective way to shed pounds. Walking is also easy on the joints, and whether you do it alone or with a friend, it's a great way to take a long, appreciative look at the world around you


  • Stretching feels so good! Stretching also keeps your body flexible so it will do what you want, when you want. Studies show us that regular stretching can also lead to weight loss! Here is how it works: When we stretch, we engage muscles that become more developed over time. Muscles take up less space in our bodies than fat, and they also burn a lot of calories to survive. So, stretching effectively turns our bodies into fat-burning machines. Stretching is also a stress reliever. A little stretching tidbit: Regular stretching can actually increase your height!

3.Drink a Glass of Water

  • Water is free, it has no calories, it keeps your joints working smoothly and your intestines doing what they're supposed to do. Water also keeps you feeling full so you won't overeat. If you supply your body with fresh water continously, you can purge your system of impurities and keep your skin youthful. Water will even diminish or possibly eliminate monthly water retention. In addtion to all of this, when you're drinking enough water (about eight glasses a day), you will notice the return of real, appropriate thirst. In short, water is a good friend to make and keep.

4.Take a Nap

  • Before there was electrical lighting, people actually slept on average, ten hours a night. These days we barely average seven hours and, as a result, we are a sleep-deprived nation. Sleep-deprived brains make mistakes. Studies show that if you shortchange your night's sleep by an hour and a half, you can lose as much as one third of your alertness the next day. And contrary to popular belief, lost sleep cannot be "made up for". A nap can improve your mood and your mental sharpness.

5.Take the Stairs

  • Yes, you've heard this one before, but the advantages of regularly walking up several flights of stairs are considerable. Gluteus maximus and quadricep muscles can become noticeably toned in a matter of days. (Bigger muscles burn more calories). Eventually, heart and lungs strengthen and resting heart rate lowers. Don't be afraid to get a little bit tired! It goes away faster with every flight.

7.Jump in a Puddle

  • Remember how much fun jumping used to be? It can still be just as much fun! Besides, you're a grown-up now; no one can tell you not to jump! Technically speaking, the hopping motion of jumping is good for your leg muscles, and that laughing motion is great exercise for your facial muscles. So jump in that puddle, get wet and get exhilarated.


  • A smile can subtract years from your face and say more about you than hours of conversation. Smiling can also tone three groups of facial muscles, and firm, supple muscles make for a healthier complexion. Smiling can stimulate glands, hair follicles and blood, all of which nourish and revitalize your skin. And a smile is a wonderful thing to behold. Be generous with your smiles! Smiling is contagious, in an oh-so-healthy way; you'll do others a health favor!


  • Skipping elevates your heart rate, gets your blood pumping and does wonders for your metabolism. Plus, it gets you where you're going faster. It has a magical way of putting smile on your face, too. Remember when you were a child and you skipped when you were feeling happy? That really doesn't change with age. In addtion, athletes often use skipping to boost muscle strength and endurance. If a 30 minute walk lowers tension and anxiety, just think what a 30 minute skip can do.

10.Do Nothing

  • Just sit and be alone, in total quiet. Turn off the television and/or radio. Ignore the telephone. do not try to solve anything. Don't make plans for anything. Just let your mind go blank and your body go limp. Become reacquainted with that still, silent place that is your essence. Visit this remarkable place as often as you like. Stay as long as you can. Few activities are more refreshing.


  • Whistling can be good for your heart and lungs and it's also a great tension reliever. A little upbeat, pleasant, inspiring music via a whistle can lighten even the heaviest of moods, help lower your blood pressure and reduce the release of stress hormones. Whistling a familiar tune can take our mind off your troubles. And even the smallest shift toward positive thinking can change your body in powerful ways. Whistle while you work...and walk, play, bake, cook -- whenver!

12.Eat an Apple

  • Just one apple gives you much more than a refreshing, crisp snack! Apples are an excellent source of carbohydrate energy, and they contain antioxidants that may help protect against cancer, heart disease and strokes. one medium apple gives you five grams of fiber in the form of pectin, a great cholesterol reducer. Eating one after a meal can eliminate 95 percent of the bacteria that causes tooth decay.

13.Write a Letter

  • Share your thoughts and feelings with a friend, and you've forged an intimate connection to better health. The simple act of writing can be inspiring and uplifting, plus it helps you organize your thoughts, which leads to action. What better way to reconnect with someone you care about? So boost your spirits -- and give a loved one the joy of finding a hand written letter in the mailbox for a change.

14.Go Bowling

  • Swing the bowling ball back, and you stretch your biceps and contract your triceps. Bend forward, knee almost to the ground, and let the bowling ball roll. Your heart rate will increase, your blood circulates faster and you just did a deep knee bend. Bowling is a fun way to get a little exercise...while enjoying the healthful benefits of laughter and good company.

15.Call Mom

  • You'll feel great; she'll feel even better. Mom is probably still the one who knows you best and has the smartest advice for you. And in the cycle of life there will come a day when you want to call her and cannot. So look around -- do you see a telephone? You know what to do.

16.Ride a Bike

  • Indoors on a stationary bike or outdoors, cycling can be one of the best aerobic exercises there is. A 30 minute ride helps condition heart muscle, lower blood pressure and boost levels of healthy HDL cholesterol. Make your outing fun by cycling with friends or picking a scenic spot. And don't forget to warm up and cool down by stretching, walking with your bike or pedaling slowly.


  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, those chemicals in the brain that induce feelings of euphoria. A good giggle can also suppress the production of corticol, a hormone released when you're under stress and one that can influence blood pressure, causing your body to retain salt. Laughter is legal, moral and non-fattening. Laughter, and better yet a good giggle, is also contagious, and engaging in laughter frequently will contribute to a happier world around you.


  • Fresh air can be one of the best health tonics available, plus it's free. Breathing revitalizes every part of your body. Breathe the right way -- inhaling and exhaling fully from your diaphragm -- and you'll send oxygen zipping through your bloodstream. And the relaxed, rhythmic sensations of correct breathing can reduce tension and anxiety.

19.Make Something

  • Create, or draw a picture, redecorate a room, make a flower arrangement, write a poem, cook a meal, bake some cookies -- the genuine feeling of accomplishment you get from creating something can be a great secret of health and longevity. Plus the act of creation is inherently empowering. Transfer that take-charge feeling to other areas of your life and you've got a great recipe for success.

20.Be Happy for Others

  • Sharing somebody else's success brings us back to a feeling of community, and celebrating as a community is one of life's finest pleasures. Take a moment to call and say congratulations, or "I'm so happy for you", and mean it! Jealousy should have no place in your life. Jealousy is a useless, destructive emotion with no positive outcome.

21.Eat Tomatoes

  • Tomatoes have been linked to a 40 percent lower incidence of stomach, colon and bladder cancer. And tomato eaters often have higher blood levels of lycopene, an antioxidant that protects cells from damage. Although these red beauties are wonderful fresh off the vine, cooking tomatoes with fat, such as olive oil and cheese, seems to release lycopene in a form more easily absorbed by the body. And don't forget...the tomato is actually a fruit, not a vegetable!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Feel Good & Be Well with Massage
Massage in America has ‘suddenly’ become quite mainstream and acceptable. Indeed, one of America’s fastest growing service industries is the day spa, which among other services commonly features massage. Massage schools have proliferated across the country. Twenty years ago, who in their right mind would have predicted that massage schools would be in places like Huntington, West Virginia or Fayetteville, Arkansas. Even more amazing is that more and more insurance companies are re-imbursing patients for massage services.

For the majority of Americans, a massage is simply a massage: techniques for rubbing the body for relaxation and stress relief. Practitioners and students of massage and those individuals who have become connoisseurs of massage know that a massage is not simply a massage. Massage encompasses a wide range of techniques. Some massage procedures are not very relaxing, even painful at times. Certain types of massage can be more invigorating and stimulating than relaxing. Various forms of massage utilize hot stones, cold and hot packs and other forms of tools that function to facilitate the therapeutic effects. Other types of massage use no oils or lotions and are given with the client fully clothed. Some massage practitioners apply techniques with their feet, elbows and knees in addition to their hands. Clearly, massage is a many faceted phenomenon.

The bodywork techniques commonly referred to as Thai Massage are an important component of an entire traditional medical system. Traditional Thai Medicine is a 2500-year-old system of natural healing developed in the ancient kingdom of Siam (modern Thailand). Traditional Thai Medicine is composed of four major branches. These four components are herbal medicine, food cures and nutrition, spiritual practices and the manual therapies ‘Nuad Bo’Rarn", also commonly referred to as Thai Massage. Examining the Thai name for their hands-on healing work is helpful in developing an understanding of this type of work from the Thai perspective. The Thai word ‘Nuad’ means to touch with the intention of imparting healing. The word ‘Bo’Rarn’, derived from the Sanskrit language, means something that is ancient, sacred and revered. Clearly, the intention is to describe something that encompasses a Western notion of massage, but extends far beyond a description of a series of techniques applied to the surface of the body.

The medical knowledge of ancient Siam was transmitted orally from teacher to student in the same way the treasured texts (sutras) of Buddhism were transmitted. This medical knowledge was highly revered by the recipients and the practitioners of the medical arts. Historically, the practitioners of medicine were the Therevada Buddhist monks and the sites where healing was provided was primarily at the monasteries (known as Wats).

Traditional Thai Massage is based on an energetic paradigm of the human body/mind. This bio-energy travels on pathways throughout the body that are designated as ‘Sen’. Specific locations (points) of energy are called ‘nadis’. Traditional Thai Medicine has been informed historically by the rich, ancient traditions of India and China. Thai medicine has evolved within the cultural context of Thai Therevada Buddhism and its development and history are woven into the fabric of the spiritual tenets of Buddhism.

A key aspect of Buddhist philosophy that is expressed through Thai Massage is the concept of ‘Metta’. Metta, which is translated as ‘loving kindness’, is a core component of daily life for each individual seeking awareness on the path described by the Buddha. The practice of Thai massage and other healing work is understood to be a practical application of Metta. Thai massage demonstrates the Four Divine States of Mind as taught in Buddhism: Loving-Kindness, Compassion, Vicarious Joy, and Mental Equanimity. In Thai Therevada Buddhist philosophy significant emphasis is placed on the practical application of spiritual philosophy; that higher ideals should be brought into everyday life activities and decisions.

Additionally, many components of the traditional massage have been developed and utilized to facilitate seated meditation and yoga practice. In Thailand, (as in India), yoga is considered to be a science that links the individual self with the Universal Self. Furthermore, yoga can expand the narrow constricted egoistic personality to an all-pervasive, eternal and blissful state of reality.

There are certain key aspects of Thai massage that make it markedly different from what is typically considered to be massage. Thai massage is usually performed with the recipient wearing loose fitting clothing while laying on a cotton mat on the floor. No oils or lotions are utilized in Thai massage, and the session usually lasts a minimum of 90 minutes. In Thailand, it is common for sessions to last up to three hours!

Whereas most massage instruction begins with technical procedures and specific anatomical information, Thai Massage instruction begins with the imperative that the student works in a concentrated and meditative state of mind. Students are encouraged to work in a state of mindfulness, concentrated and fully present in each moment. This level of consciousness can be imparted to the recipient through the practitioner’s touch and actually foster a meditative state of mind in the recipient. Students are instructed to seek clear intention and purpose in their work and to maintain a focus on their breathing.

The techniques of Thai massage are applied very, very slowly. Students are encouraged to realize that it is impossible to be working too slowly as long as there is some movement. The slowness of practice facilitates the tendency toward mindfulness. Additionally, because many of the techniques require heightened flexibility of both the practitioner and recipient, the slowness significantly diminishes the chance for injury. With the practitioner working in a state of mental mindfulness and working very slowly, they become acutely aware of resistance and any discomfort for the client immediately and are able to stop or amend the procedure before injury occurs.

Proper body mechanics are emphasized in the teaching and application of Thai Massage. Many aspects of a Thai massage session are equivalent to having yoga asanas (postures) done to you. People often refer to Thai massage as a type of dual yoga. While anyone can receive Thai massage, certain procedures can be eliminated if they are not appropriate for the recipient: i.e. certain stretches of the back and legs would be avoided for individuals with lumbar disc problems. Thai massage has been utilized for centuries as an important healing tool in the treatment of a wide variety of ailments. These can include, but are not limited to, musculo-skeletal problems, internal medical problems, neurological complaints, and emotional distress.

A final aspect of Thai Massage that further establishes its uniqueness from Western massage is the emphasis on deep abdominal procedures. In Thai medical theory, all the major energy pathways of the body (the Sen) have their origins in the abdomen in the vicinity of the navel. In addition, the health and vitality of the primary sensory orifices (eyes, ears, nose, and mouth) are dependent on the health of the abdominal organs and the unobstructed flow of bio-energy through and away from the abdomen.

Traditional Thai massage is a unique and wonderful form of hands-on healing work. Although it has many elements that are quite ‘foreign’ to Westerners, it’s many attributes and benefits can make it a marvelous healing experience and a joy to learn as well as to receive. Additionally, Thai Massage can provide a good opportunity (even for a novice) of achieving a state of deep mental and emotional equanimity, profound stress relief and moments of sweet bliss.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

International Horticultural Exposition for His Majesty the King

“Royal Flora Ratchaphruek 2006” is the first ever International Horticultural Exposition receiving recognition from The Association of International Horticulture Producers (AIPH) to be held in Thailand.

In 2006, the Thai nation comes together to celebrate the most auspicious occasions of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 60th Anniversary or the Diamond Jubilee of His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne together with His Majesty’s 80th Birthday Anniversary.

To mark this momentous occasion, “Royal Flora Ratchaphruek” is one of the grand celebrations being hosted by the Royal Thai Government in honor of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), the ninth ruler of the illustrious Chakri Dynasty and the world’s longest reigning monarch. His Majesty is ‘Father of the Nation’ and ‘Beloved King’ to the Thai people.

Royal Flora Ratchaphruek 2006 represents a concerted effort of the Thai people to create one of the world’s most beautiful international horticultural expositions as an expression of deep love and respect for their Beloved King who has won the hearts of Thai people across the Kingdom through His Majesty’s tireless dedication to bringing about a better quality of life of for the Thai people through His Majesty’s gifts in agricultural projects as well as valuable lessons in life.

Through Royal Flora Ratchaphruek 2006 -- International Horticultural Exposition for His Majesty the King, the Thai people come together to express their utmost gratitude for His Majesty’s benevolence, care and concern. Time-honored traditions will be observed; only the very finest available will be presented to the ‘Devaraja’ or ‘Divine King’. This will be an exposition that deserves the name “International Horticultural Exposition for His Majesty the King.


In Thailand, ‘Ratchaphruek’ -- the Golden Shower Tree (Cassia fistula L.), is considered to be an auspicious tree.

The dazzling yellow flowers signify two out of the three most important institutions of the Thai nation – the national religion, Buddhism, and His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej who was born on Monday. Yellow is the color associated with Monday.

The shape of the pollen resembles the Thai numeral for nine; another fascinating characteristic that is symbolic of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, the ninth ruler of the illustrious Chakri dynasty.

Given these many auspicious associations, the bright and cheerful yellow blossoms of the Ratchaphruek tree have been the inspiration for the name and logo of Thailand’s first International Horticultural Exposition for His Majesty the King -- Royal Flora Ratchaphruek 2006.

Thai name: Ratchaphruek
Common name: The Golden Shower Tree Scientific name: Cassia fistula L.
The Golden Shower Tree is also known by its less
familiar common names including “purging cassia”, “pudding pipe tree” and “Indian laburnam”.

  • Path of Wisdom
    His Majesty the King’s care and concern for the lives of the people, combined with His intimate knowledge and expertise in agriculture have resulted in the introduction and successful implementation of thousands of Royal Projects which have improved the quality of life for millions.

    “Gardens for the King” which comprises “International Gardens” and “Corporate Gardens” will not only nourish the visitors’ eyes with cultural and horticultural beauty but will also enrich their minds with exotic cultures and knowledge of agricultural Royal Projects.

    This area is allocated for exhibitions of national blossoms, blooms, and horticulture as well as the cultural arts and architecture of 30 countries from around the world.

    Each garden will reflect a historic diplomatic, cultural and trade ties between nations, people or, where possible, royal families of the two countries.

    Participating Countries
    Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Indonesia, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, China, Brunei, Turkey, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Mauritania, Kenya, Nigeria, Gabon, Sudan, Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa, Burundi, Qatar, Iran, Yemen, Trinidad & Tobago, Canada

    Each of the 80 gardens from state enterprises and domestic and international major corporations will utilize creative garden design to visually illustrate and commend a range of concepts, theories and ‘best practices’ behind Royal Projects initiated by His Majesty the King and which reflect His Majesty’s tremendous insight and ingenuity.
  • The Way of Life
    Encompassing an area of over a hundred thousands square meters, the “Thai Tropical Garden” is a colossal classroom that showcases the vast diversity in the way of life of tropical lands. Visitors will be able to witness first-hand an extensive variety of tropical horticulture encompassing fruits, plants, flowers and herbs.

    As visitors stroll down the path away from the leisurely ambience of the Expo Plaza, the center point of the exposition activities, amenities and services, they find themselves being drawn towards the Royal Pavilion.

    The Way of Light
    The majestic Royal Pavilion, constructed in the exquisite Lanna architectural style, is located right in the heart of the event site.

1 – 12 November 2006
Royal Flora Ratchaphreuk 2006 Opening Ceremony
International Flower Expo

5 November 2006
‘Loi Krathong – Festival of Light’

10 – 16 November 2006
Flower Universe

17 – 27 November 2006
Aquatic Plants and Lotus

1 – 11 December 2006
Rare Species and Novelties

5 December 2006
King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s Birthday

29 December 2006 – 7 January 2007
Fruits and Vegetables

31 December 2006 – 1 January 2007
New Year Countdown

11– 14 January 2007
HortiAsia 2007

20 – 31 January 2007
International Green Pot Plants

31 January 2007
Closing Ceremony

Please click to select
International Horticultural Exposition
for His Majesty the King
At the Royal Agricultural Research Center, Chiang Mai, Thailand
1 November 2006 – 31 January 2007

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Everything You Need to Know About Organic Foods

What is organic food?

Organic refers to an "earth friendly" and health-supportive method of farming and processing foods. Weeds and pests are controlled using environmentally sound practices that sustain our personal health and the health of our planet. The term "organic" applies to both animal and plant foods.

Organic farmers do not use chemicals (pesticides, fungicides or fertilizers) in an environmentally harmful manner. They utilize a blend of old and new technologies and scientific research to balance the earth's natural ecosystem. Examples of organic farming methods include:

  • Rotating crops between fields. This helps keep pests from building up and improves soil fertility.
  • Planting select bushes and flowers to attract beneficial insects which ward off unwanted pests.
Organic farming produces nutrient-rich, fertile soil which nourishes the plants, and it keeps chemicals off the land to protect water quality and wild life. Organic farming also gives us food that is safer to eat and much more likely to keep us healthy.

What You Should Know About Organic Foods

Organic Foods Just what does it mean when a food is labeled organic? The U.S. Department of Agriculture finally issued a new national seal designed to bring clarity and assurance to consumers that foods bearing the seal are certified organic following USDA standards which were 10 years in the making.

Organic LabelBeginning Oct. 21, only foods certified as at least 95 percent organic - that is, produced without most pesticides, toxic fertilizers, growth hormones and antibiotics - will be allowed to carry the official "USDA organic" seal.

One caveat: The new rules apply only to food produced on or after Oct. 21, so it may be several months before the seal becomes commonplace in grocery aisles, particularly on packaged foods where the turnover is slower.

The new USDA national standards replace what had been a mishmash of certification systems run by individual states and private groups. The USDA seal will ensure consumers are actually purchasing a product that is truly organic rather than a creatively worded package that advertises itself as organic when only a few ingredients actually are.

Under the new rules, foods will be labeled as belonging to one of four categories:

  1. Food that is 100 percent organic may carry the new "USDA organic" label and say "100% organic."
  2. Food that is at least 95 percent organic may carry the new seal.
  3. Food that is at least 70 percent organic will list the organic ingredients on the front of the package.
  4. If a product is less than 70 percent organic, the organic ingredients may be listed on the side of the package but cannot say "organic" on the front.

The national organic program rules prohibit the use of conventional pesticides, petroleum- or sewage-sludge-based fertilizers, bioengineering or ionizing radiation and synthetic substances. Foods certified as organic must be produced using growing methods that minimize soil erosion and that maintain or enhance the fertility of the soil. Organic farms need to prove that these materials have not been used for at least three years. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones, must be fed organic feed and have access to the outdoors. Before a product can be labeled "organic," an inspector visits the farm where the food is produced to make sure the farm meets USDA standards.

Look for the word "organic" and a small sticker version of the USDA organic seal on vegetables or pieces of fruit or on the sign above the organic produce display. The word "organic" and the seal may also appear on packages of meat, cartons of milk or eggs, cheese and other single-ingredient foods. Use of the seal is voluntary.

The federal government's stamp of approval is an important step toward mainstream acceptance for the rapidly growing industry. Organic food sales in the U.S. are increasing by about 20 percent a year and are expected to surpass $11 billion in 2002 and $20 billion in 2005.

The new USDA's national criteria for labeling are aimed at enabling consumers to make an educated choice among the foods they purchase and also include the safeguard of fines for misrepresentation. New federal laws for organic certification assess penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation of selling or labeling products "organic" when they are not or when organic food is contaminated with non-organic compounds. This means that the organic grapes can.t be contaminated by the non-organic apples. Separate tubs and wash water are used to trim and clean produce and if there is an organic display in a place where non-organics have been, it is required that the nonskid mats be replaced and the area cleaned with a mild, bleach solution.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Healthy, Tasty Seasonings for Bland Vegetables

Research shows that many of the vegetables Americans least like to eat are rich sources of phytochemicals that reduce the risk of a variety of illnesses, including heart disease and cancer. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower are among our most unpopular vegetables because of their assertive flavors. However, they may offer many protective health benefits.

Cruciferous vegetables are members of the cabbage family; they get their name from their four-petaled flowers, which look like a 'crucifer", or cross. Other cruciferous vegetables include:
  1. arugula
  2. bok choy
  3. collards
  4. kale
  5. mustard greens
  6. rutabaga
  7. turnip greens
  8. watercress

You can smooth out the strong flavors of cruciferous vegetables by serving them with an assertive garnish, such as a few drops of toasted sesame seed oil or extra-virgin olive oil that can be plain or flavored with lemon, garlic, herbs or chili pepper. Or, try sprinkling of balsamic vinegar, citrus juice, low-sodium soy sauce, or other seasonings such as garlic, cumin, coriander, ginger or anise.

You can also make a simple glaze by mixing together in a blender :
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1-tablespoon honey
  • 1-teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1-teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1-teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • One small seeded, chopped tomato
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
Bring the mixture to a boil in a saucepan and cook until it is slightly syrupy, about three to four minutes. One tablespoon of the glaze contains 22 calories, less than 1 gram of total fat (0 saturated), 4 grams carbohydrate, no protein or fiber and 2 milligrams of sodium and is a free food exchange.

Use the vegetables within three to four days of purchase. Long storage makes assertive flavors stronger. Until then, store them unwashed in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator, loosely wrapped in perforated plastic bags.

Buck the trend and dig into those cruciferous vegetables!