Locally Sourced, Locally Made

At Upcycle & Company, we believe that sustainability starts at home. And that doing it right means doing it locally. That’s why we’re rabid fans of the “Grow Food, Not Lawns” movement. It’s also the primary reason Native Soil is sourced 100% locally in Southern California. We’re adamant about giving the 38 billion gallons of waste water the United States produces daily new life and new opportunity as part of the Future Friendly Fertilizer, Native Soil.



Tell us, what can you do today in your local community to promote sustainability?

Surfrider and San Diego Wastewater Birthed Native Soil

If you follow us on Instagram (and you should), you may have noticed our good friend and mentor @BrianSnow  is featuring our CEO and Founder, Jared Criscuolo, in his 10 x 10 Founders series. San Diego wastewater is the reason we’re here.

How it All Began

You may not know the story behind Upcycle and Company. Why it came to be. Well, that’s unless you’ve spent more than five minutes together with Jared or myself. If the elevator is going more than 6 floors, you’re going to hear about the genesis of the company.

See, Jared isn’t from San Diego while I am. Local San Diegans know to stay out of the surf for a few days after any rainstorm. A normal rainstorm will produce some significant runoff from the city. That, unto itself, is a shame since we’re in such an arid climate, but we’ll visit that topic later. Now, a heavy regional rainstorm will produce not only runoff from San Diego but from our neighbor to the south, Tijuana.

Who Puts the Waste in San Diego Wastewater?

Tijuana’s wastewater treatment plant is notoriously awful. It is old, and it is seriously overworked. The Tijuana River Valley has been a regional issue for at least the last 30 years. More than likely longer, but that’s about as far back as I can remember. Now we love our brethren to the south, but this is one gift San Diego could probably do without. They’re doing a good deal too, but that’s a long time off.

wastewater photo
Photo by Sustainable sanitation

So, after this rainstorm, Jared, not being a local, paddled out. He thought it was amazing to have the surf to himself. Not that he is greedy, but anyone who surfs knows it is always nice to be able to drop in on any wave you wish. That’s a luxury. Or so he thought.

Long story short, Jared got sick. Of course he did. He paddled out after a storm. This was the birth of Jared’s infatuation with wastewater issues and local ocean sustainability.

The Solution

As Jared explained in his speech at #GetStartedSD, there are really only two ways to address San Diego wastewater issues. The first, fee-based litigation. It can be effective. Just ask Erin Brockovich, but it can also be expensive. The expensive fee, and the need to hang together as a class are the angst points of the story. The second, good old-fashioned capitalism.

Jared’s work with Surfrider lead him to start a consulting firm, Rising Tide Partners, which focused on regional wastewater issues. Water is a precious resource in San Diego, and because of that, the wastewater agencies and treatment facilities are integral to the region’s sustainability.

Satisfied with promoting the laudable work the local wastewater treatment facilities were doing, Jared knew he wanted to do more. He had to do more.

The New Vision

Native Soil was the soilutionJared’s vision was to push waste further. Inspired by the local food movement, Jared knew he was onto something. How do we ensure food is produced not only locally, but sustainably. Native Soil was the answer to the San Diego wastewater problem.

Through his work with one of the local wastewater agencies, Jared discovered biosolids. The leftover waste product when water is treated from waste to potable and released back into the local reservoir system. These come in a few classes, B, A, and Grade A, Exceptional Quality. It is this latter product that was the missing component to the Native Soil vision.

Native Soil is a blend of spent beer grains from San Diego’s booming craft brew industry, algae cell walls left over from carbon recapture and biofuel production, and Grade AEQ biosolids.

Native Soil then is a product that just makes sense. Food should be grown locally, not shipped halfway around the world. We can grow our own food, in our own backyards using fertilizer sustainably sourced in that same backyard.

What Native Soil Is

Native Soil is a local, sustainably sourced fertilizer using nothing but three upcycled waste products from right here in Southern California. Further, it is at least, if not more, effective than Certified Organic fertilizers at 25% less cost per pound to the consumer. In short, you get sustainable local plants for less money. That what is called a win-win in good old-fashioned capitalism.

If you’re ready to be friendlier to our future and truly find your soil mate, give us a go. We’re proud to be in several local nurseries here in Southern California. Native Soil is also available on Amazon.com via Prime for free shipping.

If you’re not quite ready, sign up for our email list on the left hand column of this page, or join us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, to receive exclusive discounts, offers, and giveaways just for our fans.

Let us know what you think about Native Soil. We’re proud of what we’ve produced and are always ecstatic to discuss it. Just remember that if you ever find yourself in an elevator with an Upcycle member. We’re going to tell you about how we #PutWastetoWork


Certified Organic is a Marketing Campaign


No two ways about it. The market for “Certified Organic” is enormous. The worldwide market has grown from $27 Billion in 2011 to more than $50 Billion today. Unfortunately, there is little to suggest that that term is little more than a well orchestrated organic marketing campaign.

Mythbusting the Organic Marketing Campaign

Now, there’s nothing intrinsically nefarious about the process of organic farming. It is okay, but organic farming practices are presented as the gold standard of healthy of agriculture practices. Unfortunately, there’s not much to support that claim.

A blog post that appeared in Scientific American in 2011 went through and busted so many of the widely held, but errant beliefs the general public holds when it comes to organic food production.

In fact, when studies were conducted in the UK about the efficacy of organic food, the results were pretty underwhelming.

Strong organic proponents also argue that organic food tastes better. In the same poll where 95% of UK organic consumers said they buy organic to avoid pesticides, over two-thirds of respondents said organic produce and meats taste better than non-organic ones. But when researchers had people put their mouths to the test, they found that people couldn’t tell the difference between the two in blind taste tests.

When they pushed further, experts weighed in.

“Any consumers who buy organic food because they believe that it contains more healthful nutrients than conventional food are wasting their money.” – Joseph D. Rosen (Professor Emeritus in Food Toxicology at Rutgers University)

The Organic Marketing Campaign

It isn’t that we detest organic farming or organic food production. All things considered, there’s nothing inherently wrong with organic farming. What we have a problem with is the organic marketing campaign that is feeding consumers falsehoods that make it seem as though organic food is some kind of panacea.

That simply isn’t the case. Organic farming and organic production methods are but one of many responsible, healthy, and sustainable production methods. When it seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Marketing is marketing. This is little different than “Where’s the Beef?” or “I’d like to buy the world a coke.”

When we say “we’re better than organic, and that’s on purpose.” This is what we mean.

Come find your soil mate.

4 Facts You May Not Know about Certified Organic

It seems like everyone has fallen in love with all things “organic.” But why? The organic industry has convinced the average consumer that if a product is stamped with that “USDA Certified Organic” label, it implies that the product is healthy. That the product is somehow free of factory farming practices, chemicals, pesticides, and carcinogens. Is that really the case though?

It’s not that certified organic farming is bad. But its just not as pure as they’d like consumers to believe. We aren’t saying certified organic is a conspiracy theory, but marketers are marketers and in a 50 billion dollar premium based industry, facts are going to be presented in the best light possible.organic fruit photo

Here are 4 little secrets the “Certified Organic” industry doesn’t want to get out.

1. Certified Organic Food Production can Include a Ton of Pesticides

Guess what? Even plants that are “certified organic” need pesticides. The impression that organic crops don’t require pesticides is entirely false. Organic production allows for the inclusion of more than 40 different pesticides. The purpose of pesticides is to kill. Doesn’t matter if it is applied in organic or non-organic farming. Obviously, they’re not designed to kill people, there’s really no guarantee they are any safer than their non-organic brethren.

You can find a list of what’s allowed here.

2. Food Labeled as Organic May Not Even Be Organic

Yep. You read that right. In short, most sizable organic producers also produce non-organic crops. Often of the same foodstuff.  This can lead to sloppy record keeping and the unintentional blending or mixing of those organic and non-organic crops. You’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between an organic orange and a non-organic by sight alone. Good thing they have that sticker saying they’re “certified organic.” Right…

certified organic is visually difficult to seeWhat’s more, the official definition of “certified organic” by the USDA seems to acknowledge some of this unintentional blending. After all, only 95% of contents must be organically produced to carry the certified organic label. 95% is pretty good, but even if the realistic blend is only 70% organic, it can be labeled “made with organic ingredients.” And again, you can’t tell just by looking at a piece of fruit or a bag of nuts and definitively tell which are organic and which are conventionally produced.

3. Organic Food Can Contain Non-Organic Ingredients

So, number two doesn’t really matter. Organic food production allows for the inclusion of 43 synthetic substances.  In addition, there are 34 non-synthetic, but also non-organic, substances allowed in the production of something labeled “certified organic.”

The organic industry likes to imply that their food is pure, justifying the higher cost, but, that isn’t strictly true. It’s not as though all of these substances are nefarious, but when you’re paying a premium for organic cheese, you probably would like it to be free of wood pulp filler. Check the ingredient list. Take a look and see if there’s cellulose in that cheese. That’s wood pulp.

4. Certified Organic Food is Healthier

If a consumer is paying a 20% premium for certified organic food, ought it not be healthier? One of the central tenants of Native Soil is that it helps restore the soil nutrients. Those nutrients are then transferred to the plant and then to the food. If certified organic practices produced healthier food, we’d be on board. Problem is there is no evidence to show that certified organic is really any better.

When the UK produced a study between organic and non-organic food, the nutrient density was nearly indistinguishable.

“Any consumers who buy organic food because they believe that it contains more healthful nutrients than conventional food are wasting their money.” – Joseph P. Rosen (Professor Emeritus of Food Toxicology at Rutgers University)

So if it isn’t any healthier, why do consumers continue to throw money into the certified organic system with such enthusiasm? Marketing.


At the end of the day, just because something isn’t “certified organic” doesn’t mean that it isn’t an outstanding product. Certified organic is basically a marketing scam. Why buy certified organic fertilizer when all you’re paying for is someone’s enormous marketing budget. Kudos to that industry for getting their message out in such a successful way, but its just a marketing message.

Give Native Soil a whirl. Come find your soil mate.


Wastewater Facts

Native Soil by Upcycle is fairly novel in the fertilizer space since it uses nothing but upcycled waste materials to create the potent blend of nutrients. One of the largest waste sources comes from wastewater treatment facilities. Every drop of water that goes down the drain ends up at one of these facilities. The general public doesn’t have a clear picture of what takes place at wastewater facilities. Here are some wastewater facts to stoke the conversation.

Interesting Wastewater Facts

  • In San Diego, a single wastewater facility on Point Loma processes more than 175 million gallons of wastewater each and every day.
  • California has more than 900 wastewater facilities operating 7 days a week.
  • Californians produce 4 Billion gallons of wastewater every day.
  • 20% of the planet’s wastewater is treated properly at present. As low as 8% in the poorest nations.
  • American’s produce 34 billion gallons of wastewater daily.

Wastewater facts allow Upcycle to tackle the wastewater issueThe world produces a tremendous amount of wastewater. The numbers are really quite staggering. Most of this wastewater is treated, separated from solids and then released back into the local watershed.

Upcycle believes in putting waste to work. We take Grade A (Exceptional Quality) biosolids that would otherwise end up in landfills out of state as the basis of the Native Soil fertilizer blend. At Upcycle, we believe in knowing the proper wastewater facts. We know that many people remain uninformed when it comes to wastewater treatment.

Help us put waste to work. Find your soil mate.

How We Save the World with Poop

Outside efficacy, my favorite benefit of Native Soil is that it is 100% local upcycled waste. Sustainability is extremely important to the team at Upcycle. If it wasn’t sustainable, we wouldn’t do it.

One of the first questions I get asked is how you found your way to making fertilizer. Our friend Rob Greenfield helped make that abundantly clear. Join us and Find Your Soil Mate.


The next question is almost universally is, why’d you get on board? Simply put the message is simple. Efficacy married with sustainability. That’s a rare combination when environmental benefits line up so squarely with an ability to work in private enterprise… so we jumped.

We thought this waste, going hundreds of miles away to sit in landfills was a shame. We know that certified organic is a scam. We think you will as well. We are on a nutrient revolution. One to replace the nutrients lost after the last century of factory farming. We are proud to be standing amongst those who don’t believe the certified organic hype.

No kidding. We’re trying to save the world with poop. Email us. Message us. Harass us on social media. We’re proud of the fertilizer we made here and we sincerely believe that products like this are going to save the world in the next few decades. Join us. Help us put waste to work and find your soil mate.

What’s the Downside?

This comic by artist Joel Pett has been making the rounds lately, but its message underscores the philosophy behind what we’re doing at Upcycle. While we’re certain the science is in and has been spoken, there are still those out there, in alarmingly powerful positions, that don’t “believe” in climate change. That said, whether they “believe” it or not, climate change is happeExplain to me the downside?ning. Ask the residents of Houston or any Floridian.

Moving from coal to solar, or wind doesn’t hurt anyone, and is potentially extremely valuable in the world of energy production. Similarly, we produce a tremendous amount of waste. It’s not sustainable. The local water plant here in San Diego processes 175 million gallons of waste water per day. Per day! And, ask any San Diegan about their beach habits the days and weeks following a slight drizzle. The amount of pollution and general garbage that wash out into the Pacific Ocean after any kind of precipitation is as staggering as it is toxic.

And so that leads us to this weeks #ThursdayThoughts. Seriously, what’s the potential downside in treating a problem that actually exists… even if you aren’t sure of the cause?

Just because we don’t know exactly what causes cancer doesn’t mean that we don’t treat people for the symptoms and physical realities of cancer right? So, why wouldn’t we treat the planet’s illness even if we don’t understand exactly where that disease came from?

Keep helping us put waste to work. Growing local food, reducing carbon and making landfills against our religion.

What do you guys think? Sign up to our newsletter to learn more about how we put waste to work. Or join us on Facebook or Twitter to engage in the discussion.


Grow A 6 Foot Tomato Plant With A Garden Infrastructure Plan

While Upcycle and Company creates sustainably sourced fertilizer from upcycled waste that is dynamite, we know it isn’t the only piece to the puzzle. One of the most popular vegetables to grow in any backyard or patio garden is the humble, yet versatile, tomato. With its lycopene density, not only is it one of the easiest plants to start with, it is also extremely healthy. As a vining plant, it needs more direction than a toddler, so garden infrastructure is an important part of garden planning.

Garden Infrastructure

The guys over at Grow It Now Garden Products have some of the easiest to implement garden infrastructure that we have seen. This is obviously a step or two above building your own raised garden bed in an hour. While we support the DIY ethic, we also understand it isn’t for everyone.

If growing is really your ultimate goal outcome, you might consider ordering a prefabricated kit. Watch the video below to learn how to grow a six foot tomato plant using the right technique. Native Soil Fertilizer is essentially the afterburner in this engine. While we are focused primarily on tomatoes here, a more comprehensive infrastructure plan might be the next step.

How to Get Started

Hello this is Russel Smith with Grow it Now Garden Products. I am here with you today in my backyard garden to talk about how to grow a six foot tall tomato plant. In one of my previous episodes I planted this tomato plant. What I did was I buried it deep. I dug a hole about two feet deep. I buried my tomato plant in there so that only about six inches was sticking up out of the ground. And then I put an eleven inch miniature greenhouse over that. Staked it down. And then I put the eighteen inch miniature greenhouse over that.

Add a Little Sun

What those do is they add heat to the plant so it stimulates plant growth. And since I’ve done that video and shared it with the gardening community I have had a lot of questions come back and the questions are what do I do with the plant when it grows out of the eleven inch miniature greenhouse? Do I take both of them off? And the answer to that is no. Only take the eleven inch miniature greenhouse off and then leave the eighteen inch miniature greenhouse over top of it, until it grows out of the eighteen inch miniature greenhouse.

In this case, that was as far as I went. On some of my other tomato plants I actually went to a thirty-six inch miniature greenhouse and added even more growth and plant stimulation to the plant. In that case you are going to have to make sure you come in and shake the plant in order to get the pollination. So with this one, that was the secret sauce.

mini greenhouses are an integral part of any garden infrastructure plan that yields enormous results
Photo by raludwick

I dug the hole, buried it deep so that only six inches were sticking out of the ground, put my eleven inch miniature greenhouse over it and then the eighteen inch miniature greenhouse over that. Since that video I have also had the question well what do you do for fertilizer? So here’s my secret to fertilizing. Since I’m getting in the ground early, I’m planting my tomatoes early and I’m trying to push the season with the miniature greenhouses.

I like to prepare my garden in the fall for spring planting. So what I’ll do every fall is I put four to six inches of cow manure overtop of the garden and then I till it in really deep. So that is one of the things that I use to fertilize.

#NOrganic Fertilizer

[Editor’s Note] This next section Russel discusses the fertilizer blends he used to achieve this result. Native Soil is an off the shelf fertilizer that meets these criteria. We firmly believe that our sustainably sourced blend is better than “certified organic.”  Our future friendly fertilizer blend is as important as any physical garden infrastructure.

The other thing I use to fertilize is I’ll use a dilute solution of fertilizer. Off the shelf fertilizer. So that is a nonorganic way, and then I mix it with other organic fertilizers. So I experiment both ways. If you are a new gardener I would recommend starting out with an off the shelf all-purpose fertilizer and then weaning yourself off of that to a more organic fertilizer. So on this six foot tall tomato plant you can see I have a lot of tomatoes growing. I probably have fifty or so tomatoes on this plant, just going like crazy. And the other thing is that you can see the stems on these up high. Look how thick that stem is.

It is about one inch thick. Down low there is only one stem coming out of the ground and that is feeding off of a massive root base in order to support this whole tomato plant. So tip and trick, burry it deep, put the eleven inch miniature greenhouse overtop of it, eighteen inch overtop of that..

As found on Youtube

Add Native Soil to the Mix

How to test soil structure

Let’s talk about soil quality for a moment. It’s actually quite an exciting subject since, without healthy soil, you aren’t going to produce the quality food that you’re aiming for. In urban environments, there are extra pollution sources that not only erode the soil but deposit unhealthy chemicals. Therefore it is important that every home gardener is as keen about the health of their soil as they are the size of their plants. Below is a video showing how to test the soil stability. Stable soil is healthy soil.

Today, we’re going to talking about the soil stability and how we can test for this in the field. Soil stability is really important because it gives us an indication of the soil’s resilience, its ability to resist erosion and impact from machinery, the amount of organic matter that we’ve got in the soil, and the potential management strategies that are required for management of this soil. The first thing that we do, we’ve already saw sampled our paddock, as shown in the first video of this series.

Testing Surface Soil

Taking some surface soil, first, we’re going to test for how the soil performs in water. We take a nice little piece of soil like this, and what I’ve done is trying to just take away the edges, so they’re nice fresh edges to the soil clod, and I just place it into some deionized water. This is important that you use deionized water, so you can purchase that from your local supermarket or from a hardware store or something like that.

garden soil photo
Photo by Sustainable sanitation

It’s the same sort of water you use for your batteries, but it has had all of the salts taken out of it so it doesn’t impact on the reaction here. I’ve placed the soil into the water and we’re just watching to see how it behaves. What happens when a soil slicks is that the water fills in where the air was within the soil particle, and can push it apart if there’s not enough organic matter present. Here on this soil we have plenty of organic matter sitting on the soil surface, and we’re seeing that when we’ve placed that surface soil in the water that it’s actually holding together well.

Look for Organic Material

It’s an indicator that there’s good organic matter in the topsoil. However, if try down a little bit further in the soil profile, we may find that it reacts a little bit differently. Let’s try that. I’m just taking away the dry sides of the soil and just popping that into water. We see little bubbles of air coming to the surface as the water displaces the air. But thankfully for this soil, it looks like there’s still quite a lot of organic matter and roots down into that area and it’s holding together well in the soil.

From this point of the soil structure of stability is quite good. But, there’s one other thing that we need to check in terms of soil stability, and that’s whether the soil is sodic or not. Sodic soil is one that has a lot of sodium ions in the soil and they’re replacing the calcium that’s bound to the clay particles normally.garden soil photo

What Poor Soil Quality Yields

When water is added to this situation it just falls apart in solution and can cause really bad effects in your paddock such as surface sealing where you get a bare soil surface, poor seed germination, sick plants and those sorts of things, and you often get quite severe erosion on the soil surface. For this we do a similar thing. We place the soil into the deionized water and we watch to see how it reacts.

If you get a cloudy reaction in the water, that’s an indication that you’ve got a sodic soil. Here’s one that I have prepared earlier, and here we see that the surface soil that was placed in here has reacted quite normally and there isn’t any indication of sodicity, but when I’ve mimicked some stock going across the paddock or some machinery, which is causing some fracture of the soil in some disturbance, then we’re getting this dreadful cloudiness in the water which you see in this petri dish.


That’s indicating that it’s a very unstable when it is worked or when there is an impact from stock or machinery. The main important things to take away from today’s video. First, that we take some soil from the surface soil. We place it into deionized water. And remember to clear that fresh face so that you’ve got a piece of soil that hasn’t touched the air, place it into the water and leave it.

Don’t touch it for 10 minutes and watch how it reacts in the water. A soil that falls apart and creates a very cloudy solution in the water is indicative of a soil that is very unstable. You need to be trying to incorporate a lot of organic matter into your system, improve the soil microbes so that is also providing a binding effect to your soil, providing some soil resilience in helping to hold it together as it’s impacted by water, rain and also by machinery and stock. Captions by GetTranscribed.com.

As found on Youtube

Put Waste to Work – What Does that Really Mean?

Recycle, Reduce, Reuse

What do we mean when we say “put waste to work?” Making waste work for all of us is at the core of our operating philosophy at Upcycle & Co. Let’s face it, human beings create a lot of waste. Be that food waste, regular garbage, yard waste or, well, waste waste, we create a tremendous amount. Human beings, world-wide, create upwards of 5 billion tons of refuse annually. 5 BILLION! And that all ends up in landfills. That’s just the normal, every day, throw it in the garbage can kind of waste.


While recycling trends have been increasing steadily since the 1980s, (recycle, reduce, reuse and close the loop anyone?) traditional recycling is just one tiny aspect of what reducing humanity’s ecological input is all about.

Going With the Flow

we put waste to work starting right in your kitchen sink
Photo by Sustainable sanitation

At Upcycle & Co we’ve decided to start with our focus on the waste-waste problem first. We’re working with the portions of human consumption that go discarded and have been ending up in landfills, adding to an already unsustainable problem. Did you know in our home town of San Diego, one waste water facility alone treats approximately 175 million gallons of waste water every single day? That’s one plant for just one portion of the city. And while the water is purified and returned to local waterways, the remaining biosolid matter is discarded as waste. That wasted material is then trucked across the state and dumped into landfills. From both an ecological standpoint and an efficiency standpoint, we have a problem with that.

Imagine a world where we could capture that wasted energy, eliminate the trucking emissions, and do something phenomenally productive with it right here in our own community. Well, that’s exactly what we did.

Finding Your Soilmate

In creating Native Soil, Upcycle & Co has created a patent-pending process to create our natural organic fertilizer that has better than 25% more nutrients than run of the mill organic fertilizer at half the price. That means juicier fruit, larger vegetables, and more nutrient dense food in general

That’s how we are putting waste to work. We keep costs low and consistent for our customers through our local business model. It’s not just good for the environment, it’s good business.

We’ve been toiling (and soiling) behind the scenes to make Native Soil the best bang for your buck, from a nutrient standpoint, and an environmental standpoint. At Upcycle & Co, we don’t believe in wasting waste for wasting’s sake. We put waste to work, in your garden, on our farms and for our community.

We hope you’ll join us in our nutrient revolution. Join our mailing list below, or like us on Facebook to learn more about what we mean when we put waste to work.

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10 Superfoods That Will Save Your Life

What are so called “Superfoods?”

Superfoods are nutrient dense, almost magically so, foods that have so many health benefits, they take on a mystical status. Not all superfoods are created equal. Some are grains, berries, nuts, or fish. So while you can’t grow all of your own superfoods, there are plenty that you can get right out of your own soil.

This curly lettuce may not seem like much, but its health boosting aspects have earned it a place on our Superfood list. Kale regulates the body’s pH level which leads to overall improved health and well-being. It also helps absorption, regulates value, and can even thwart disease due to its immune boost and anti-inflammatory assets. As a vegetable rich in the essential phytonutrients, it protects against a wide array of cancers, with studies showing its ability to help the liver raise cancer-fighting enzymes. A rich source of potassium and phytonutrients a humble container of yogurt contains all sorts of superhuman health benefits. Oats have a special type of fiber that helps to lower cholesterol and thwart heart disease. Since oats also contain magnesium, which works to regulate blood sugar levels, studies suggests that munching whole oats may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.


Grow Your Own Superfoods

Tomatoes – the delicious red-faced vegetable which isn’t actually a veggie. Yet, did you know that its red-faced shade comes from lycopene, a strong antioxidant rarely found in other fruits. Studies have found that this fantastic nutrient could protect the skin against dangerous UV lights, slowing the development of certain types of cancers. If that isn’t enough, tomatoes also help to lower cholesterol. Astonishingly, the most difficult health help comes from tomatoes which have been cooked, as the heating process increases the amount of lycopene our bodies are able to absorb. Kefir, the centuries-old fermented milk product, makes “good feeling” in Turkish offering a clue as to why it has compiled this top 10 inventory.

Containing high levels of vitamin B12, calcium magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folic battery-acid, enzymes and probiotics, kefir indeed is a SUPER food. Acclaimed as mending digestion-related illness and cankers including IBS and Crohn’s disease this sour tasting and elixir even cures those suffering with lactose intolerance.

Broccoli is a superfood much hated by kids everywhere. This tree like lettuce is actually one of the greatest Superfoods.

The humble Avacado, one of nature's greatest superfoods
Photo by DesultoryMe

An enormous source of vitamin C and folic acid, it also contains vitamins A and K, as well as calcium fiber, beta-carotene and many other antioxidants. All of this means that broccoli boosts the immune system, lowers the incidence of cataracts, encourages cardiovascular health, and builds bones.

Superfoods May Help in the Fight Against Cancer

What is more, in 1992 a researcher at John Hopkins University announced the detection of a combination found in broccoli that not only slowed growth by 60%. They found further shrinking of the pre-existing tumors by 75%. Another lettuce meditate is the avocado.

A few of its little healthy properties. It contains all 18 essential amino acids, omega 3, vitamins B-complex, C, E and K. Avocados also contain fiber necessary to bunker excess cholesterol and remove it from the body. Avocado is also an good sidekick, helping us to suck essential nutrients when eaten in conjunction with other Superfoods.

The humble avacado’s Superfood status spreads further when studies noted that a lipid in avocados, may be helping to fight leukemia.

How about Some Small Superfoods

All berries are full of cancer-fighting phytonutrients. Famous is the blueberry; nonetheless, pitch-black raspberries are worthy of more consideration. Containing the highest concentrations of certain phytochemicals these juicy shields help to slow the expansion of pre-cancerous cells and stop brand-new blood vessels from assembling which would potentially feed a cancerous tumor.

Several large studies have found that those who ingested more garlic are less likely to develop various kinds of cancer.  Especially cancers relating to digestive organs such as the esophagus, belly and colon.

This is because the nutrients found in these fragrant bulbs help to prevent cancerous elements in your body from forming. For this superfood to really sing, you have to eat it fresh. So warn your neighbors. A member of the ginger family, turmeric can be used for much more than merely flavoring curries. This orange-colored spice has been identified by the American Cancer Society as containing curcumin. Curcumin is an incredible ingredient capable of stopping specific types of cancer cells from growing, and even shrinking pre-existing tumors.

Don’t Forget the Grains

brown rice photo
Photo by Arria Belli

Brown rice is known for being healthier than white, but black rice, its darker cousin is far superior. Known as “Forbidden Rice” in Ancient China when it was only eaten by royals, pitch-black rice differ from other rice as it has the highest iron and zinc content. As with black raspberries and other vibrant colored foods, pitch-black rice contains more antioxidants than lighter colored grains. Black rice is rich in anthocyanins which are accredited as preventing DNA damage that can cause cancer. So, looks like there should always be a few colors on the plate.

Want to learn more about growing your own superfoods at home? Sign up for our email updates in the box below!

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Why We Should Be Urban Farming

If you’ve heard us say it once, you’ve heard us say it a thousand times. At Upcycle, we believe in producing locally. While we have created Native Soil, in part, to help individuals create their own healthy food in their own homes using locally sourced material, deep down, we  know this idea is good for the world. Urban Farming is the idea that we can use unused land, roof tops, front yards, balconies, and generally just about any underutilized space to be creating food for inhabitants that isn’t traveling thousands of miles before it reaches the dinner table.

How Native Soil Helps Urban Farming

And that’s where Native Soil comes in. As we know, urban soil is, by in large, terrible. Traffic, aircraft, municipal runoff, pavement, and overdevelopment, just to name a few, have robbed the urban landscape of the necessary nutrients to produce healthy food. At Upcycle, we use locally sourced waste to revitalize that barren soil and make it nutrient rich, so that urban farming can be a locally sourced reality.

We believe that its just the right way to tackle this problem. And, being the nerds we are, we think that PBS has done a great job outlining the importance of urban farming and the techniques that can really make urban farming a viable option for the 21st century and beyond.


A Population Explosion Requires Urban Farming

All the cities of the world contain over half of the population of this world. And do you know how much land that requires to feed that half of that? Half of South America. Half of South America. That’s how much land, when you add it all up the around the world, that’s how much land is put together to feed the cities. OK, so that means the amount of land needed to grow food for the entire world is about the size of South America. Right. And that’s just for crops. The amount of land used for livestock is actually way more than that, about the size of Africa. And the global population is supposed to hit 9 billion in the next 40 years. And that means we’re just going to have to keep using up more and more land. Yep. And keep in mind that 57% of Earth’s land is uninhabitable. And about 3% is developed urban areas.

So we hit 9 billion. That’s a 25% increase. And if we continue to grow our food in the same way– We’re going to run out of space real fast.

Even in a sprawling metropolis like San Diego, urban farming can help reduce the need for population to source food from so far away. Even when food is sourced, what happens to it?

And roughly one third of the food we do produce is wasted. [BLEEP] What would you say is the future of food? Well, the future of food is recognizing what Malthus knew years ago. We eventually are going to run into a food problem. I think we’re already there. So we’re going to have to use possibly future discovered techniques, but definitely we have to use all of the techniques that have worked wonderful for centuries. This is Ken Dunn, president of the Resource Center and founder of City Farm, where they’re reclaiming vacant lots in Chicago and turning them into farms. In the Amazon they learned thousands of years ago to put food waste back on poor soil, and you’ve got rich soil. That’s what we do here. We seal the vacant lot, which has contamination from this being an industrial city. And we put food waste compost two feet deep.

How Much Food Is Wasted Now?

Ken Dunn and the fine people at City Farm create this compost by picking up discarded food from grocery stores and restaurants and other places around the city.

How much food waste is in here? Well, this bin has two ton now. Its capacity is three ton. Giant pile of packaged bagels and gallons of milk. This is just one small example of the waste that happened, what, yesterday? Yeah. And so I get two of these truckloads every day.  I have a bigger truck that can haul 15 tons at a load. We get several truckloads of that every week. So you’re going to compost this and use it to enrich the soil. Yeah. Yeah. This is just a fraction of the food waste that happens every day. Grocery stores and food suppliers will often throw out fruits and vegetables that they don’t think can sell based on appearance or quality, even though they might still be edible.

Or in this case, two tons of bagels and milk that were over-purchased by a convention center, and this weird bag of egg and cheese mix thing.

Let’s Take it Back to the Way We Used to Grow

spoiled food photo
Photo by stevendepolo

We’ve lost a lot of preservation techniques that people used to know. You know, everybody used to know instinctively how to can things, how to make cheese, etc. And because we’ve given up access to our food system, we’ve lost a lot of those skills. CRAIG: This is David Durstewitz, sales manager at City Farm. So either that needs to be done, you know, more completely on an industrial level, or the more stable solution is just return to a local food system that’s more interconnected. CRAIG: And our food’s often shipped long distances reducing freshness by days and using more fossil fuels. And bringing the farm into the city eliminates those problems. Agriculture is, of course, one of the oldest professions. But it’s not simple. A lot of farming is subsistence, or even losing it. You put in so much labor, you can barely eke out a living. But if you have very rich soil, that tips it in favor of supporting a family and producing good food.

Poor Soil Makes Poor Food

It takes the same amount of time to plant and harvest a tomato in poor soil as it does in good soil.

In poor soil, you get a one-pound tomato. In great soil, rich with compost, you get a two-pound tomato. And its flavor, and thus its nutrition, is excellent. What about the climate? Isn’t a city too dirty to grow crops in? The climate of a city can be beneficial for growing, and it can also be detrimental. Generally, a city is hotter than the surrounding areas.

And so in a northern city that really helps. In Louisiana that might not help. What makes a city hotter? Pollution. CRAIG: Pollution. Well, yeah. Pollution. And just the amount of energy that’s being expended here and then giving off heat. CRAIG: So you’re saying the heat that comes from waste and pollution is useful for growing food. I am saying that, yeah. CRAIG: Well, that’s cool. I’m not advocating– CRAIG: No, I know. Huh. That’s interesting. But realistically, though, how many vacant lots could there be in a developed city like Chicago? The city has mentioned they have 12,000 vacant acres. And they would like them cleaned up, as we have here, and producing jobs with the local neighborhood. But we need to just keep the priorities that a resource should as much as possible be an asset to the local community.

Growing the Right Food or the Wrong Food?

90% of the farms in the United States produce commodity crops that are then converted into processed foods.

And that’s not how to best utilize our space for growing for human health. We need a production system that has as its goal the health of a local community. So local control of a food system is absolutely something that we’ve lost and that we need to regain as quickly as we can for a lot of different reasons. More than one-third of adults and 17% of children in the United States suffer from obesity, while at the same time, 49 million Americans live in food insecure households, either going hungry or lacking proper nutrition.

So at the same time we’re eating too much food, but not enough good food. Right. And part of the solution might be to grow more nutritious food locally to benefit the surrounding community. The resources in the devastated communities of Chicago, a lot of vacant land, a lot of unemployed people, and then a lot of waste.

Where Products Like Native Soil Come In

What if we ingeniously enriched that vacant land with waste wood products, waste food products, and had a rich farm, employed local people to produce the healthy foods that community needs.

[In our case at Upcycle we are using waste from the booming local beer brewing industry, but the concept applies across the board in urban farming. San Diego’s unique waste happens to be beer, but that’s not the case in every city around the world. Urban farming requires a certain level of unique application to apply the local waste as the solution to its own problem!]

Let’s find ways of exploiting the value in a neighborhood for that neighborhood. So this is our model. So maybe if we stop wasting a third of our food to feed those 9 billion people in 2050.

Yeah. Maybe if we start focusing on maximizing our nutrition rather than maximizing our calories we won’t need land the size of South America and Africa for food.

The world is changing fast. If we’re going to keep up with the pace of the changes around us, we’re also going to have to change the way we produce food. MATT: We’re going to have to employ new farming techniques and return to some of the older ones. CRAIG: Maybe we could build up instead of wide, focus more on quality over quantity, keep things local and fresh, maybe even a little lower on the food chain. MATT: There’s not going to be an easy silver bullet solution for upcoming food problems. Every place is different, with their own unique food challenges.

CRAIG: But there’s plenty of improvements that can be made.

Tailoring the SOILution for Urban Farming

And there’s plenty that we can do to help. Living in Chicago, and obviously being surrounded by so many high-rises, I think it’s important to be connected to nature, because it’s something that’s important to me. Are you going to teach me how to plant things? Yeah, we’re going to teach you a few things today. OK. Let’s do it. What’s more important than growing food? Nothing. Nothing’s more important than growing food.

CRAIG: Food is something that a lot of us take for granted. Most of us have only a vague idea of where it comes from or how it’s produced. But our very well-being depends on a healthy, sustainable, and plentiful food supply. So we shouldn’t let it go to waste, because the future of food is the future of us. And done. I farmed.

See ya. So I’m quite hopeful that we will make progress, and civility will return to the planet. So that’s the end of the Future of Food playlist, but hopefully not the end of the future of food. Am I right? Got to fill that belly. Thanks for watching and for all your great comments and questions. If you guys like the show, and you want to help us continue making the show, consider becoming a supporter of patreon, right up there. And we’re always looking for people to help promote the show. So if that sounds like something you’d like to do, sign up for our digital street team.

And if you’re interested in learning more or helping out Ken Dunn in the Resource Center, you can go to resourcecenterchicago.org.

Great Food and Food Waste Reduction go Hand in Hand

I have some exciting upcoming projects to help combat food waste. You should keep a lookout. OK, last week we asked you guys if you thought vertical farms were the future of agriculture. This is what you had to say. Well, they didn’t actually say anything. They typed. Well, they said it with their fingers. You know when you talk, you know, finger talk, into the computer. No, it’s typing, it’s different. Jack Linton so astutely pointed out that mushroom protein can be grown in an urban environment and not use a lot of resources. And they produce CO2, which can be cycled into plant rooms. And Benjamin Shaw thoroughly explained the process of aquaponics, which is basically incorporating fish into the hydroponic plants growth cycle.

Funny story, we already talked about that when we went to a place called The Plant in Chicago, where they do just that. You should check it out. It’s in our Recycling playlist, linked in the doodly-doo. Tyler Cooper, Stephen Gubkin, and a number of you pointed out that vertical farms require a lot of energy and big upfront costs.

It’s true that electric grow-lights cost money and fossil fuels. But by using energy-efficient LEDs, vertical farms can minimize the amount of energy used. A lot of indoor farms use inefficient grow lights that use a lot of electricity and create a lot of heat that were require power-hungry air conditioning units to keep the plants cool.

urban garden photoLEDs give out very little heat, which means you can have them closer to the plants, you don’t have to pay as much to cool them, and you can have more vertical rows closer together. Also, LEDs can be up to 75% more energy-efficient than conventional fluorescent bulbs. Still comes out to a lot of energy usage compared to sunlight, which is free. But these energy costs could be offset by using renewable energy sources, like the anaerobic digester they have at The Plant, linked in the doodly-doo.

And as the technology improves over time, you’d expect the energy efficiency to increase as well.

Paul Cristo asked if Green Sense Farms was actually profitable. How much do you make, Paul Cristo? Huh? Huh? None of your business. Well, we weren’t able to get specific numbers. So I guess time will tell. But there’s definitely been a trend in new vertical farms investment and construction, which could be an indication that it’s working.

Vertical Farming and the Urban Farming Revolution

The world’s largest vertical farm is currently being built in Newark, New Jersey. When it’s done, it will grow up to 2 million pounds of kale, arugula, and Romaine lettuce per year. Got to get that Jersey green! Thanks again for all your great comments and questions. We’ll see you guys next week for the first part of our Thrill Seeking playlist. Pretty excited. Thrilling. What’s going to happen? Who knows? Well, we do. We know. We’ve already shot it.

With so many people living in such tight quarters, is urban farming the real solution to they myriad of associated problems? Yeah, we think it is. Urban farming uses locally sourced materials to create food locally, thus reducing the double whammy of waste of creation and the waste of transportation. With a little work and a with products like Native Soil, we really do believe that our food can be created locally, even in harsh urban environments through sound urban gardening practices like those outlined in the piece.

We’re in for quite a ride here friends.

The Amazing Health Benefits of Superfood Kale Grown with Native Soil

What is the Superfood Kale?

One of our favorite plants to grow with Native Soil in San Diego is the superfood kale.

Kale has some amazing health benefits and is relatively easy to grow in most of the San Diego microclimates year round. Now, while we’re crazy about digging in the dirt, science and manufacturing, I’m not going to pretend that we are the best fitness experts. So here is Mitch from Fitness Radar to tell us about just a few of the health benefits of the superfood kale.

And remember, if you’re in San Diego and want to get seriously health crazy? Try mixing a superfood kale and local seaweed salad. Come to think of it I know what’s going on the plate tonight. Nothing says a warm holiday like a little superfood.



Health Benefits of Kale

Did you know that Kale is probably the king of all greens? Kale is loaded with Vitamins such as B6, Vitamin a, c, k manganese, calcium, copper, potassium magnesium iron..I could go on for days it’s like a living breathing vitamin store lol This green leafy vegetable sometimes comes in purple can have a smooth or curly appearance is a part of the cabbage family. and is related to broccoli collard greens and Brussels sprouts they must have very steamy family reunions lol! Kale contains very little fat is low in calories and has a bitter taste when eaten raw. (Don’t worry, you get used to it. We did!)

Doesn't superfood kale look delicious?The benefits of kale are high in antioxidants Lowers cholesterol helps eyesight is 4 and a half times the amount of vitamin c than in spinach and A single cup of raw kale actually contains more vitamin C than an orange. There are many ways to eat kale You can sauté it or add it to salads you can bake it with some and salt for some kale chips and you can definitely add it to a smoothie so it is very versatile Click the card up here or the link in the description for the playlist of all of the other fruits, vegetables, and vitamins that we are going to be covering.

Don’t forget to subscribe then hit the bell next to it to receive updates when we post new videos. Until next time, stay focused stay fit please hit the like button show your support. I’m Meech with the Fitness Radar salute! .

Want to learn more about how to grow superfood like kale in your own home using Native Soil? Sign up below for more tips, tricks and discounts!

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Seeds, Shade And Other Perfect Gardening Ideas

In the world of healthy gardening, there are plenty of great resources available to both new and experienced healthy gardeners alike. There are many e-guides, books, videos, and other resources available. This set of perfect gardening ideas contain some of the best advice for helping a good healthy gardener become a great healthy gardener.

Don’t Let Pests Stall Your Garden

perfect gardening idea number one, don't let pests kill your garden
Photo by jhfearless

When gardening, be watchful of stink bugs, particularly in the fall. They enjoy tomatoes, peppers, beans, and many different varieties of fruits. If they are left in the garden, they can do great damage to your plants, so you should do whatever you can to eliminate them.

Both cat grass and wheat grass are good for giving your errant feline pause. Another option is to place something smelly, like citrus peels or mothballs, on the soil surrounding the plants that have previously been eaten.

An Ounce of Planning Saves a Pound of…

Before you start planting your garden, plan it! One of the easiest perfect gardening ideas that can save you a tremendous amount of effort is doing a little pre-planning. Doing this makes it easier to keep track of where you planted what when you first start to see sprouts. This is important, because different plants require different care.

Do you like mint, but not how they ruin your garden? Control their expansion by confining them to a large pot. Bury the container so that your plant does not stand out. The container will keep the roots from spreading too far.

Pest control can be very difficult when dealing with a vegetable garden. Do not spray harsh chemicals on the vegetables you are going to eat. Frequently check your garden for pests. In many cases, you can simply remove the pests from your plants by picking them off.

Did you remember to plan your soil? Make sure that your soil chemistry is correct for what you are growing. Use plant food and the right fertilizer, like Native Soil, to ensure that you’ve got the best soil you can have.

You can attract the insects you need by planting heather. Bees are drawn to heather, as heather is an early provider of spring nectar. Heather beds are also attractive to bugs such as spiders and ground beetles that will kill pests. Because of this, don’t forget to protect your hands when pruning heather beds.

Work with Nature, Not Against it

If you’re working to build a sustainable healthy garden, try leaving a portion of your garden untouched so that the wildlife will be able to thrive. This is a great natural way to allow the insects and animals found in nature to assist with the growth of your garden.

Before planting your favorite perennials, you must first prepare the ground. Use a spade to dig into the turf, turn the turf over, then spread the area with approximately three inches of wood chips. Allow for at least 10 days to pass, then plant the perennials that you just purchased.Perfect gardening idea number three, use wood chips to add ground cover

Take your seedlings and saplings to a cooler spot once they are established. As they begin growing you can move them farther away from heat sources. If you have plastic films on your containers, remove them. Keep a close watch on your seeds to know when to do this.

With the above information in hand, you now know a little bit about what is needed to succeed as an healthy gardener. There is much information on the subject; you only need to know what to do with it. When you keep this in mind, you can go about planting and growing a garden in your own way.

Photo by kckellner