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Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms have become a growing trend in the United States for the past 25 years. CSA’s are a popular way for consumers to receive seasonal fresh produce from a local participating farmer by purchasing a “share” from that farm. By purchasing a share, consumers are investing into that year’s harvest and in turn they receive a box of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs, or meats each week. There are usually several different weekly options for time and location of pick-up of these goods within the community as well as the option of going to the farm itself.

You may have heard the term “CSA” before, but are you aware of the positive effect it can have not only on your health, but the economy as a whole?

Rekindling a sense of community

By participating in a CSA, you are supporting a local farm which may mean higher wages for the farmer and workers. Every dollar spent locally circulates at least seven times; for every $100 you spend locally, $73 stays in your community. By keeping it local, you receive higher quality food with a smaller ecological footprint while instantly boosting the economy. The fewer miles your food has to travel means you receive the full nutritional benefits, enhanced flavor, and fewer carbon emissions which can reduce dependence on oil nationwide. CSA farmers also engage in sustainable agriculture practices such as reduced pesticides, crop rotation, and rotational grazing of meat animals. Many farms host events and invite other CSA participants to tour their farm. They encourage families to attend as they will often engage children in activities that provide education on topics such as harvesting or planting crops. This is a healthy and educational way for families to come together locally while teaching children where their food comes from.

How do I get started?

You can visit http://www.localharvest.org/ or your local farmer’s market to learn about CSA’s offered in your area. After you have identified which farm you would like to invest in, be sure to ask these questions:

  • What are your production practices?
  • Where are your drop-sites?
  • What days and times do you deliver?
  • How much does your full (or half) share cost?
  • What do you produce (meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables) and what is included in my share?
  • Do you offer tours, farm events, or worker shares?

Participating in a CSA is a great way to support local farmers, enjoy organic produce and colorize by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables!

Author: Jaclyn Brice, BS

Jaclyn is a Certified Health Coach with Ministry Medical Group in Crandon


Support Plays an Important Role in a Cancer Patient’s Journey

Support Plays an Important Role in a Cancer Patient’s Journey

A diagnosis of cancer is often received with shock, disbelief or feelings of being overwhelmed.   Each person’s journey is unique and sometimes lonely.  Support to help cope with stress, cancer treatment and family issues are available through individual counseling with an oncology counselor or through attending a cancer support group.

One-to-one support through individual counseling provides an opportunity to share your feelings and to facilitate better communication with your medical team, your family and your friends.  The diagnosis of cancer of a loved one affects the whole family. Learning to communicate with your family about how you feel, both emotionally and physically, will allow them to be able to understand what you are going through, give you support, and help you make informed decisions.  Feelings such as disbelief, shock, fear, and anger are all normal; expressing those feelings in a supportive environment can help you feel more in control rather than overwhelmed by your emotions.  Your counselor can teach you skills to reduce tension, anxiety, fatigue and confusion.

Cancer support groups provide an opportunity to meet with others with similar challenges to share feelings and experiences.  These connections create opportunities to discuss strategies for coping while learning how others are managing or have managed their treatment process.  This can help relieve the stress of isolation, providing a sense of community to both receive and give comfort and strength.  Being able to share your stories or listen as others share their experiences provides the awareness that your reactions and questions are “normal.”  You may hear a new perspective or share practical tips for managing day-to-day challenges.  Talking to someone who has been down the path you are starting on takes much of the fear and uncertainty away.  When you attend a support group there is no pressure to share before you are comfortable enough to do so.

Benefits of participating in a cancer support group may include:

  • Preventing isolation
  • Sharing experiences
  • Gaining a sense of empowerment and control
  • Having an opportunity to talk openly and honestly about your feelings
  • Improved coping skills and adjustment
  • Reduction in distress, depression or anxiety
  • Enhancing self esteem
  • Lending support, encouragement, and hope

The scientific community believes that support groups can enhance quality of life for people who have cancer by providing information and support to overcome feelings of aloneness and helplessness that sometimes result from a cancer diagnosis.  Research has shown that people with cancer are better able to deal with their disease when supported by others in similar situations.

For information on the various support programs available at the James Beck Cancer Center in Rhinelander, please call 715.361.4714


Author: Judy Walton, MSW.

Judy is a Ministry Health Care Counselor at the James Beck Cancer Center in Rhinelander

Varicose veins, not just about vanity

Varicose veins, not just about vanity

They might look like red and blue spider webs subtly tattooed on your legs and thighs. Or they may more resemble the gnarled branches of an old oak tree sculpted in 3D on your calves.

Varicose veins are most often harmless, although their knotted, ropey appearance is a source of embarrassment for many women. In some cases, varicose veins may cause pain and make legs ache and feel heavy and, less often,  they can cause problems that require medical attention.

When the heart pumps blood to the body’s tissues, it sends it streaming through the system of  arteries. As blood is returned to the heart to be re-circulated throughout the body, it travels through veins. Sending blood back to the heart and lungs requires pushing it up against gravity. To do this, veins have valves that open to allow blood to flow through and then close to stop the blood from flowing backwards and pooling in the lower legs.

Varicose veins develop when the valves weaken and blood pools in the veins, making them knot and tangle. The bluish color typical of varicose veins is because the blood is deoxygenated.

Not all veins are created equal. The smaller, superficial veins are more visible because they’re closer to the skin’s surface. They carry blood back to the larger veins deep within the legs that act as the main transport system.

There are a number of causes of varicose veins which affect women twice as often as men.

  • heredity plays a role for some people;
  • age–our veins lose elasticity as we age;
  • pregnancy;
  •  obesity–an enlarged abdomen restricts blood flow to the lower body;
  • standing or sitting for long periods of time.

If varicose veins cause pain or heaviness in your legs to the extent that you feel your quality of life is compromised, you may want to make an appointment with your doctor who will probably be able to diagnose varicose veins with a health history and a physical examination.

Your physician will also evaluate you for risk factors that can be changed. Varicose veins in pregnant women, for example, may improve significantly three to twelve months after delivery. For those who are overweight, losing excess pounds and trying to increase exercise may help.

Compression stockings are usually recommended for relief of varicose veins. The stockings work by compressing the leg, helping move blood up toward the heart.

Another way to decrease pressure on the legs is to raise the legs above the heart for a few minutes several times a day.

Although varicose veins are not usually a serious medical concern, there are signs that urgent medical attention is needed:

  • sudden swelling of the leg which may indicate a blood clot;
  • pain in the leg or calf after sitting or standing;
  • sores (ulcers) on the legs that are difficult to heal;
  • hard or thick skin that develops on the legs and ankles;
  • changes in color of the skin on the legs or ankles.

When self-help measures don’t provide adequate relief or for patients concerned about cosmetic issues, surgical and non-surgical options are available.

Non-surgical out-patient options include:

  • Sclerotherapy uses either injections or a laser to seal off smaller veins.
  • Vein ablation treats larger veins using either radiofrequency or a laser to close off veins with leaky valves.

Surgical options include:

  • Microphlebotomy involves making a number of small incisions close to the damaged vein which is then removed through one of the incisions.
  • Bypass surgery reroutes blood around the varicose vein. Left without a blood supply, the damaged vein will shrink.
  • Angioplasty plus stenting uses a balloon tipped catheter, inserted through a tiny incision, to open up the blocked vein and restore blood flow. A small mesh stent is inserted in the vein to keep it open.

Keeping varicose veins at bay puts us in a constant battle against gravity. To help your feet and legs stay healthy keep your legs moving at regular intervals, maintain a healthy weight and elevate your legs when they feel tired and swollen.

Find a dermatologist near you to help deal with varicose veins.

Healthy eating within the season

Healthy eating within the season

Winters in Wisconsin can be brutal.  It’s cold, snow is everywhere, and somedays the wind hurts your face so much that just walking to your car seems impossible.  So spring arrives and the weather gets warmer we rejoice and hope the snow melts faster than an Olympic sprinter running the 100 meter dash.  With our cold winters and late spring in March or April it seems there are few opportunities to get our hands on fresh produce.  It may seem hard to find a variety of foods grown in Wisconsin, but in actuality there is more than we think.

Meats, chicken and poultry, cheese, eggs, milk, dried beans, and mushrooms can be found year round in our state.  However, while in most areas maple syrup is harvested in the Spring, there are abundant maple trees up north where maple syrup production is going strong almost all year round.  Tomatoes that have been grown in greenhouses are available almost all year round as well.

Vegetables like beets, cabbage, carrots, onions, parsnips, potatoes, spinach, and turnips are available almost year round in Wisconsin, partially due to the extended season as well as their stable shelf life.  Many of these ingredients are great in soups and stews that can keep us warm and full in the winter.  They can also be made into salads or lighter side dishes.

If your goal is to eat locally, then eating seasonally makes sense.  Knowing the availability of Wisconsin produce (apples in the fall, strawberries in early summer) not only will save your wallet but will also assure you are consuming foods in their prime when their nutrient value is the greatest.

Below are two recipes that use many of the fresh vegetables available in Wisconsin in the winter and spring months.

Beef Stew:


6 oz. thick sliced bacon, chopped into 1/4″ wide strips
2 – 2 1/2 lbs. boneless beef chuck or good quality stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2 cups good red wine such as Soft Red, or Pinot Noir (see note above)
1 lb. mushrooms, thickly sliced
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2″ thick pieces
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
4 cups low sodium beef broth or beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1 lb. small potatoes (new potatoes, or fingerling), halved or quartered


  1. In a large, oven-proof pot, sauté bacon over medium heat until golden brown. Place bacon in a separate bowl, set aside.

    2. While bacon is cooking, place beef in a large mixing bowl and season with 1/2 Tbsp. salt and 1 tsp. black pepper. Sprinkle beef with 1/4 cup flour and toss to combine and evenly coat beef. Transfer beef in batches into the hot bacon fat and cook over med/high heat, until beef is browned (3-4 min per side). Cook beef in 2 batches or it won’t sear properly. Transfer browned beef to the bowl with bacon.

    3. Add 2 cups wine to the pot and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom to deglaze the pot. Add sliced mushrooms and simmer over medium heat about 10 min. Return beef and bacon to the pot.

    4. Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium/high heat and add 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Add sliced carrots, diced onion and 4 chopped garlic cloves, and sauté 4 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp. tomato paste and sauté another minute. Transfer veggies to the soup pot.

    5. Add 4 cups beef broth, 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper to the pot. Stir to combine and bring to a low boil.

    6. Add potatoes, making sure they are submerged in liquid then cover and transfer to a 325˚F oven for 1 hour and 45 min. Beef will be very tender. For a healthier stew, you can tilt the pot after it comes out of the oven to allow the liquid to pool to one side, and then skim off any excess fat.

Adapted from:  http://natashaskitchen.com/2015/04/20/beef-stew-recipe/

Roasted Beets and Parsnip Salad:


  • 2 beetroots, peeled and cubed
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • 2-3 cups spinach


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Place the cubed beetroot and parsnip in a large roasting tin. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Spread evenly in one layer across the roasting pan being careful not to overcrowd the pan otherwise the vegetables will steam instead of roast.
  3. Roast the vegetables in the preheated oven until tender and slightly caramelized, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool for 2-5 minutes or until warm, then toss with the crumbled feta. Serve on top of spinach.

Adapted from:  http://allrecipes.com.au/recipe/13884/roasted-beetroot–parsnip-and-feta-salad.aspx

Remember to take advantage of those farmers markets in the summer and fall! Eating local not only helps small business owners and farmers, but also cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, something we should all remember as Earth Day approaches (and something to keep in mind every other day of the year) because without a clean earth we wouldn’t have fresh vegetables, fruits, or healthy animals to sustain us.  Love your Earth, love yourself, and remember to eat healthy whenever possible!

Concussions: more than a bump on the head

Concussions: more than a bump on the head

Brain injuries happen every day – children fall on playgrounds, people are involved in bicycle and car crashes, athletes collide in the course of play. Sometimes though, a nasty bump on the head can turn into something more serious.

A concussion is defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a bump, blow or jolt to the head that changes normal brain functions. An injury to the body that causes the head and brain to move back and forth quickly can also cause concussions, even though there is no direct impact to the head. Shaken baby syndrome is one example of this type of concussive injury.

Concussion is actually a mild form of traumatic brain injury and needs medical attention to prevent it from turning into something more serious.

If you have recently had a blow to the head and experience any of the symptoms below, seek medical attention immediately. You might be suffering from a concussion.

  • Headache pain that increases or will not go away
  • Nausea / vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion / disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Problems concentrating or paying attention
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Disruption of balance / unsteadiness
  • Blurry / fuzzy vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Stumbling / slowed movement
  • Sleepiness, difficulty waking up
  • Lack of energy
  • Irritability, restlessness, agitation or other uncharacteristic behavior
  • Pupil dilation in one eye

If a head injury causes a person to lose consciousness, watch that person carefully for signs of concussion.

Young children may not be able to verbalize what they feel. You should look for the same signs, which may be accompanied by inconsolable crying or an unwillingness to nurse or eat. These serious symptoms require medical attention.

If you have experienced a head injury and you are taking blood thinning medications, such as coumadin, you should seek medical attention immediately even if you do not have any symptoms.

Recovering from a concussion takes time.

If you have experienced a concussion it is important that you give yourself time to heal. Get plenty of rest at night and take rest breaks during the day. Eat well, drink lots of fluids and avoid activities that require concentration or physical activity until you have your health care provider’s permission to do so. Returning to physical or cognitive activity too soon may put you at risk of causing more injury or complications and increase recovery time.

Pre-existing conditions such as depression and anxiety disorders may also delay healing.

According to the American Academy of Neurology, a second concussion is exponentially worse than the first.

If you suspect a concussion, take “A-Head Check*.”

ALERT: Is the person alert? Question him / her:

  • Can you open your eyes?
  • Can you explain to me what happened?
  • If there is no response, immediately call 9-1-1.

ASK: If the person is alert, ask him / her:

  • Do you have a severe headache?
  • Do you feel like you may vomit?
  • Do you have difficulty staying awake?
  • If the answer is “yes,” to any of these questions, call 9-1-1.

AID: All head injuries should be evaluated by a health care professional. A hit on the head can cause brain injury.

  • Brain injuries can range from a mild concussion to a coma.
  • Symptoms may appear hours or days later.

After a brain injury, a person should rest and not engage in activities requiring a lot of concentration or physical activity until symptom-free.

*Source: Centers for Disease Control

For more information on concussion


Author:Julia Pickens, MD

Dr. Pickens is a pediatrician with Ministry Medical Group in Rhinelander

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