Off topic, two quick things. First, it's delicata squash season! My ex-girlfriend Sara introduced me to this. The aptly named delicata squash is only available for a few weeks every year, but it's a delicacy, tasty and worth seeking out. The Mennonite market up the hill from me has bounteous heaps of it, fresh from the fields. It's great roasted (you can eat the rind too) or made into soup—I'll be making a big batch of delicato squash soup later today. And as a side note, the seeds, toasted, are tastier and less splintery than toasted pumpkin seeds*. A treat all around, highly recommended if you don't already know about it.
Second, on the food-as-medicine front, one word—berries. Just wanted to pass along the emerging idea, possibly spurious but possibly real, that berries are good for brain health. Early studies have shown positive links between consuming blueberries (or other dark berries like blackberries and currants) and a significant lessening of the severity and onset of dementia, as well as improvements in memory and mental clarity. Most studies so far have been done on rodents, and no, I am not calling you a "dirty rat" in a Jimmy Cagney accent. The human studies so far are largely anecdotal or preliminary. But as the science catches up it's likely that we'll be hearing a lot more about this in the coming decade.
I'm a fan of the idea because one of the anecdotal studies is the one I've been conducting on myself—at home I've been either eating 1–2 cups of blueberries or blackberries daily, or, usually on alternate days, drinking eight ounces of pure blueberry, blackberry, black cherry, or black currant (very bitter!) juice—Lakewood Juices and R.W. Knudson are among the companies that market pure berry juice. I acknowledge the possibility of suggestibility, but I notice a distinct improvement in my mentation, and I'm very happy about that—I believe I'm thinking more clearly, and names, increasingly a bugbear for our aging brains, are definitely popping up more readily. Moreover, that thick foggy feeling of mental fuzziness and muzziness, which I hate, is very noticeably ameliorated.
Concord grape juice is also believed to confer benefits, and in the U.S. a traditional drink for many years has been Welch's Grape Juice, which used to be pure Concord grape juice. (Read up on the history of Concord grape juice if you're interested—it's fascinating.) Alas, all I can find from Welch's in the numerous supermarkets I've checked are Concord juice blends. Not good enough. You want to stay away from juice blends in general—one of the (many) great swindles in the modern supermarket is the fact that "100% fruit juice" is very often mostly apple juice, no matter the label on the bottle or the color of the juice, and apple juice is very close to just plain sugar water.
Even pure juices do contain sugar, a dietary liability, but take it from me, a guy can only stand to eat but so many blueberries. (Although if you have a Vitamix, here's a great way to get more. You'll want to pit that date!)
Google "blueberries and dementia" for more. A lot of what you'll find will be echo-chamber stuff, and yes, it's possible that this is just a fad, one of those instances of folk remedies raised high on a great airy cushion of hope. But then again, garlic really does have about the same antibiotic power as early penicillin, so sometimes folk remedies are real. My dear Mom has dementia, and she hates it. So my view is, eating more berries might not help, but it seems to, and, since it sure doesn't hurt, I'm in.
(Thanks to Sara)
*A guilty confession—the delicata at Windy Acres is so cheap that, as the end of the season nears, I'll be buying a basket full just to roast the seeds. Wasting the flesh of this squash is a sin, but less of a sin than letting those heaps of delicata turn to compost!
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