Category Archives: Kale

Two dead, 17 sick across 13 states with another Listeria outbreak due to tainted Lettuce from a Bag

Yet another outbreak due to tainted lettuce salad in the first few months of 2022. At latest report, 17 have been sickened across 13 states and two unfortunate deaths in a recent listeria outbreak according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The salads, which were recalled by Dole in December and are currently under an active investigation by the CDC, include a variety of different mixes. They were sold in either bags or plastic clamshell packaging, according to the agency, which said they include Caesar salads, mixed greens, and garden salads.

The salads that were tainted are sold under several different brand names such as Ahold, Dole, HEB, Kroger, Lidl, Little Salad Bar, Marketside, Naturally Better, Nature’s Promise, President’s Choice, and Simply Nature, the alert said.

The recalled salads have “Best if used by” dates between Nov. 30, 2021, and Jan. 9, 2022, the CDC said. They also have lot codes that start with the letters “B,” “N,” “W” or “Y.”

For those who suspect they may have the salad in their refrigerators, the CDC recommends to “throw them away or return them to where you bought them.” The agency further recommends that people clean their refrigerators, surfaces, or items that might have touched the recalled products as listeria can survive “in the refrigerator and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces.” If you suspect you have this in your refrigerator or have consumed this product, please reach out to the CDC immediately.

This is not the only incident. The CDC said that it is also investigating another listeria outbreak connected to Fresh Express packaged salads, which occurred in December of last year and led to 10 hospitalizations and one death. That recall includes use-by dates with the product codes Z324 through Z350. Affected brands include Bowl & Basket, Giant Eagle, Fresh Express, Marketside, O Organics, Little Salad Bar, Signature Farms, Simply Nature, Weis Fresh from the Field, and Wellsley Farms, said the agency.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a “listeria infection is a food borne bacterial illness that can be very serious for pregnant women, people older than 65 and people with weakened immune systems.” And that “healthy people rarely become ill from listeria infection, but the disease can be fatal to unborn babies, newborns and people with weakened immune systems.” Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, nausea, chills, diarrhea, while more serious symptoms can include stiff neck, headache, convulsions, and a loss of balance, the clinic’s website says. “Symptoms might begin a few days after you’ve eaten contaminated food, but it can take 30 days or more before the first signs and symptoms of infection begin.”

A harvest of hydroponic greens grown on a Tower Garden

This is not the first time outbreaks that result in the loss of life have been cause by those eating bagged salad or greens purchased from big box retailers. In the busyness of life, we trade food security and nutrition for convenience.

I didn’t learn until about five years ago, that most of our lettuce comes from Salinas, California. For those of us living on the East Coast, that means our greens have to travel approximately 3,000 miles which takes on average about 10 days to go from field to our table. When you think about nutrients lost for every day post-harvest, we are simply eating old food.

Here’s the thing… it doesn’t need to be this way. With changing a few habits, we can have greens at home in a number of ways, but the easiest by far that I have found is growing greens in my hydroponic / aeroponic growing system, the Tower Garden. I can start seeds for greens every couple of weeks and have a constant supply of greens, right in my home, 365 days a year. And when I harvest the greens, I can simply go from my vertical garden growing system to my table within literally minutes with a quick wash and spin dry if I wanted to do so! (Normally I harvest my greens in the morning when they are at their peak nutrition and the chill them after cleaning the leaves and spinning the leaves dry before fixing a salad.)

Hydroponic Aeroponic Tower Garden
Plate of greens with dandelion

I’ve heard it time and time again when people balk at the price of a hydroponic / aeroponic Tower Garden. I don’t blame them. I know I did the same thing at first. And then my husband had a heart attack and suddenly the price of that tool to grow food seemed to PALE in comparison to the medical bills that piled up and the new life of treatment we faced post-heart attack.

I remember, one of THE BEST decisions I made following his heart attack was to purchase three Tower Garden vertical garden growing systems (we got the three Family Pack). We opted for the payment plan and paid on them for only a year. We looked at it as if we were paying for insurance but instead investing in the health of our family. Boy were we right! Now, we are going into our fifth year of growing food in these full- paid-for vertical garden growing systems. They have easily paid for themselves over and again; I cannot begin to describe how many fresh greens we have eaten off of these Tower Gardens!

We learned that roots of Swiss chard match the color of the stalk!
We learned in growing our own food hydroponically, that our Rainbow Swiss Chard roots were the same color as the stalks! How cool is that?!
Green Bibb Lettuce growing in a hydroponic aeroponic Tower Garden
Bibb Lettuce greens growing on hydroponic Tower Garden.
Spinach Leaf from spinach plant grown on the Tower Garden vertical garden hydroponic aeroponic growing system,
Growing basil indoors on a hydroponic aeroponic Tower Garden
Basil growing on indoor hydroponic Tower Garden growing system.

If you aren’t willing or able to invest in a growing system like this, at least start with something smaller, like an Aerogarden that can sit on your kitchen counter. There are outdoor options you can cover as well if you prefer that use soil, but I’ve found that using a growing system that circulates the same water and nutrients not only saves water, but it frees me up from having to babysit watering something growing in soil every day. I’m a busy homeschooling mom of five — I need things automated as much as possible. I simply add checking on the Towers 1 – 2x a week to my work flow at home and smile big when I have the food and herbs at my fingertips when it comes time to make dinner. You can learn more here if you’re interested or send us a message and we will reach out to you to answer any questions.

And if you’re buying salad kits…. Stop. Stop trading what seems to be a convenience for what you think is healthy. They are not healthy. You’re eating old food. Unless it says right on the packaging that it was grown locally, do not buy it. Grow it at home. And be careful of anything that had to be processed (ie: cut and assembled). You’re putting a lot of faith into someone else.

Learn how easy it is to grow your own greens at home. Let us help you on that path of discovery. Just ask in the comments below and we will be happy to answer any question or click on the pictures below which will take you to further information.

Both of these systems can grow food indoors. The Flex system on the right can ADD additional sections on top and grow higher (more food per square foot) with the proper pump. Be sure to reach out to us at hello@growyourhealthgardening and we’d be happy to answer any questions about growing food the EASY WAY hydroponically in a vertical garden like the Tower Garden growing system.

Full disclosure: I am a Tower Garden Rep (Erin Castillo). Helping families lead healthier lives using modern tools and hydroponic / aeroponic organic growing methods.

Warning to those purchasing kale from Kroger

I just read this announcement (which I will also share with you, because it could affect anyone purchasing these items from the produce aisle…), but before I share, let me just say that there is no reason in my opinion on why individuals cannot grow their own greens. Enlighten me — tell me in the comments below why greens cannot be grown. My inquiring mind wants to know.

I literally just planted a tray of kale seeds yesterday to grow out into our cool fall days. In fact, fall and winter here in Zone 7B is a fantastic time to grow kale, because there is less pest pressure.

If you have never grown kale, you are missing out on one of the most convenient and easiest plants you can grow. You just harvest leaf-by-leaf from the bottom of the stem upwards as it grows and it keeps giving more-and-more leaves to nourish you week-after-week through the cool season.

When we get down to freezing temps, just cover with a row cover material of some sort or if in a planter, roll it in at night into the garage and back out in the day time. Some kale actually tastes sweeter it seems with frost. Or, like me, you could invest in a Hydroponic vertical garden growing system with grow lights like the Tower Garden and grow kale or greens 24/7/365.

Self-sufficiency is not only the healthiest option for you and those you love, but it’s a wonderful feeling to just enjoy the work of your hands. If you have a moment, check out EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. Notice what is on it? And if you’ve been purchasing produce from Kroger — specifically kale — take note of this important announcement just released moments ago from the Georgia Department of Agriculture Food Recall:


The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) is recalling its 16-ounce Kroger bagged kale product, produced by Baker Farms, due to possible listeria monocytogenes contamination. This action is being taken in cooperation with the US FDA. To date, no illnesses related to this product have been reported.

This recall includes 16-ounce bags of Kroger branded Kale (see picture below), with the UPC 11110-18170 with a best by date of 09-18-2021, which is printed on the front of the package below the light blue bar. All affected products were pulled from the Produce departments on Sept. 16, 2021.

Baker Farms is recalling their Baker Farms, Kroger & SEG Grocers brand names of Kale, 1 lb plastic bags with BEST BY 09-18-2021107020-21832 due to contamination of Listeria monocytogenes. Products affected by this recall can be found here

On 9-15-2021 the firm was notified by a customer that the product test positive for Listeria monocytogenes. The products were distributed between 8/30/2021 – 9/1/2021. These products were packaged in clear plastic and sold primarily in retail stores located in the States of: AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MO, MS, NC, NY & VA. No illnesses have been reported to date. 


So in summary, grow kale. Especially now. And eat what you grow. You might just fall in love with growing your health gardening in the process.

Kale harvest from kale grown in our hydroponic/Aeroponic TowerGarden growing system.

Happy growing,

—Erin

Recipe | Egg White Breakfast Scramble

Egg White Scramble with Kale + Sweet Peppers + Chicken Sausage + Goat Cheese

If you’re working on losing weight or lowering cholesterol, an easy way to win in both these areas is to simply remove the yolk of the egg from your scrambled eggs. For convenience sake, you can purchase in carton form egg whites and measure out however much you need using a liquid measuring cup.

We added a protein source to our scramble here (chicken sausage), but feel free to substitute any protein source you have on hand. It’s also a good idea to add veggies and greens — in this case we used sweet peppers and kale because they were readily available.

Top off with goat cheese or feta and add while the cooked eggs are still hot so it softens a bit. I’m all about convenience these days and have been purchasing the squeezable ready to go guacamole from the grocery aisle refrigerator section and it is great when you want just a little bit of avocado without cutting into a whole one. No more worrying if the avocado is ripe and trying to time things right — just take out of the fridge and squeeze onto your food. Win!

Egg White Scramble

Low calorie breakfast tasty option
Prep Time10 mins
Course: Breakfast
Keyword: bell pepper, chicken, goat cheese, kale, keto, low carb, pcos, quick, recipe, weight watchers
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 259kcal
Author: Erin Castillo | Grow Your Health Gardening Owner & Certified Hydroponic Grower

Equipment

  • non-stick frying pan
  • large wooden spoon or spatula

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Egg Whites 100 calories
  • 2 small Snacking Peppers, diced and sautéed 27 calories
  • 1 TBSP Goat Cheese, crumbled 20 calories
  • 1 patty Al Fresco Chicken Sausage 80 calories
  • 1 medium leaf Kale, torn and sautéed (about a 1/4 cup) 9 calories
  • 1 TBSP Guacamole / Avocado 23 calories

Instructions

  • On medium heat, place a non-stick frying pan and add 1/2 tsp of Olive Oil or non-stick spray
  • Add chopped sweet peppers and diced/torn bite size pieces of kale to hot pan and cook for 3 minutes stirring occasionally
  • Cut chicken patty into bite size pieces and then warm chicken patty in Microwave for 40 seconds.
  • Pour egg whites into hot pan with warmed sweet peppers and kale. Stir occasionally until all egg whites are cooked and turn off heat source. Place in bowl
  • Add goat cheese crumbles to top of scrambled egg whites. Top off with a small squeeze of ready-to-serve guacamole.