Citrus Color as Biomarker for Seasonal Health Status Indicator

As organic beings, biomarkers are always within, on and around us in everyday life. The biomarkers that I pay attention to most outside of my own body-system are often related to season/soil and agricultural biomarkers.

One such system that I care for is a Lemon-citrus tree. I transplanted this tree 5 years ago as a youngling and have maintained, monitored and pruned this tree to produce lemons of distinct and useful flavor. The breed is known as Sorrento as it is from the family of Italian lemons that of which produce the world’s tastiest Limoncelo (a refreshing, alcoholic beverage) enjoyed traditionally off the Amalfi Coast of Italy –http://www.alcademics.com/2015/03/distillery-visit-limoncello-di-capri-in-italy.html.

limoncello

Each fall and spring, I attend to trimming and preparing the tree when it shows signs of adaptation to the next harvest season. Being as the “fall” and “spring” in an arid, temperate, desert climate can vary greatly from year to year, the timing for watering, fertilizing and pruning an tree or shrub can make the difference between a healthy and high volume fruit generation each season and/or a low volume and struggled fruit bearing.

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Identifying with the seasonal biomarker (the sun) and it’s movement on the horizon as well as it’s intensity has suggested to me a change from the summer season to the fall. Additionally, temperatures, both in the evening as well as the afternoons have dropped significantly and are indicative of a good time for tending to the fall citrus season.

The most identifiable biomarker for citrus health and growth is the skin coloration of the fruit. The color tone ultimately provides a cue regarding it’s water allocation, soil condition and sun exposure.

In the below example, you can see where the discoloration of the fruit is suggesting a ripening fruit, it is also showing pale signs of yellow vs. a vibrant and healthy “lemony”  yellow. This is a biomarker for early(pre season) fruit development.

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Ripened lemon fruit, too early and appearance is thin and underdeveloped.
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Unripened lemon fruit looking healthy and plump

A green lemon suggests it is unripened. The vibrancy, and plumpness of this fruit suggests a future ideal lemon is possible here.  These visual “biomarkers” are critical for my ability to maintain and harvest a healthy batch of lemons this year. Albeit, not for Limoncelo (this time), rather for a nice fat lemon cake (see Food Science experiment).

Additionally, I have discovered that the current interest is in respect to identifying diseases in trees using biomarker, genetic and scientific methods:

1) Report of Suggestions on Florida’s Asymptomatic infected trees – http://www.nap.edu/read/12880/chapter/6#104

2) Point-of-use nanosensor for detection of citrus greening disease (Huanglongbing) – http://vivo.usda.gov/display/NIFA-1001907-PROJ

It would appear as though some technology exists for identifying citrus health by using computer vision as well as other technologies. Perhaps one could be developed for home gardening use? I also like the idea of designing an infographic for citrus health monitoring as in: http://www.saferbrand.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/why-are-my-plants-yellow-safer-brand.jpg

Perhaps one is needed for citrus in AZ?

Experimenting “Kiribath”

“Kiribath” (kiri = milk, bath = rice, hence milk rice) is a traditional Sri Lankan dish made from a special kind of rice called “Kekulu”. Be it rich or poor, Kiribath is an essential dish for any special moment in Sri Lanka, specially in celebrating the Sinhalese New Year. Kiribath is cooked and served as the first meal after the dawn of the new year.

Sri Lankan traditional new year dining table featuring "Kiribath".
Sri Lankan traditional new year dining table featuring “Kiribath”.

To cook a proper kiribath dish we need following essential items; Kekulu rice, coconut milk with right amount of thickness, clay pot and firewood hearth. Since, it is hard to find these exact items in this part of the world, I did an experiment on cooking kiribath using Basmathi rice, canned concentrated coconut milk and a rice cooker.

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Even though, basmathi rice is somewhat  similar to Sri Lanka kekulu rice in physical shape, kekulu contain higher amount of water in them. Therefore I made a (kind of) calculated adjustment to the recipe increasing the amount of water per cup of rice. Despite of not having the perfect conditions such as controllable temperature, clay pots, correct kind of rice and fresh coconut milk I was able to cook a kiribath dish which is somewhat similar to what my mom makes back home.

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A feature of a correctly cooked kiribath dish is the ability to cut them into trademark diamond shaped smooth pieces. My kiribath pieces wasn’t the best when it comes to shape, but they were almost there.

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Through this experiment I realised that the correct conditions, right materials and equipment are key requirements for making a perfect kiribath. Anyway, the kiribath made with the stuff we have here wasn’t too bad both in shape and taste. It was an attempt to be proud of, at least until I hit an authentic Sri Lankan kitchen again!

Sugarless

I don’t know much about food or cooking, so I am doubtful that I could create anything new or interesting in regards to a food experiment. Instead, I will be documenting my attempt to give up sugar (which I love), in the form of all desserts, sweets, and items containing processed sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

Tuesday 10-13
Doing pretty good, might have over snacked on salty stuff since I can’t have sugar. Went to the convenience store at Memorial Union, very saddened by all the delicious things I couldn’t have (and what a large percentage of the store’s content they made up).
Had a slight stomach ache later in the day.

Wednesday 10-14
In my dream last night I ate some chocolate chip cookies. I felt bad about it when I woke up.
I feel hungrier than normal. Which is weird, since sugar is supposed to make you hungry, right? Slight stomach ache mid-morning, felt sort of like hunger and an overly-full stomach at the same time. Energy level seems about normal, though I feel like I might be a little more on edge than usual.
Facebook says that today is national dessert day. Humpf.
evening: slight stomach ache seems to pop up whenever I eat. I also have a slight headache, though that might be from staring at computer screens all day.

Thursday 10-15
packaged candy in dream last night. Did not eat any.
Woke up in the middle of the night and had trouble getting back to sleep.
Also, it seems like I’m having a minor acne breakout.
headache through morning, slight sore stomach after breakfast. No stomach problems after lunch (I had a banana as part of lunch, and that does have some sugar (I have decided include fruit in my new diet)).
I think I might be getting dehydrated… or sick… I’m having trouble concentrating when I’m staring at my computer screen.

Friday 10-16
I’ve been getting more tired in the evening, so I’ve been going to bed earlier. Also been waking up earlier, so that’s good. No sugary stuff in my dream. Also, it’s worth noting that I’ve been having dreams for the past 3 days, since usually I do not remember my dreams.
I ate some peanut butter spread on sliced banana. Does that count as sugar? I saw peanut butter on a list of low-sugar alternatives, but it still has some sugar in it… hmm…
I was hoping one side effect of this would be some weight loss, but I’m pretty sure my increased fat-intake is going to undo any weight I would have lost.
Went to a birthday party, didn’t eat cake.

Saturday 10-17
Doing well physically, though morale is low. I probably would have started snacking on something if I hadn’t already cleared all the sugary stuff out of my apartment. Not sure if I have a stomach ache or am hungry.
went to the grocery store, stared at sugary baked goods, had a deep sense at both craving and revulsion and disappointment in myself for craving. Halloween = chocolate displays everywhere. Bought some dried apricots and figs (no sugar added).

Sunday 10-18
Feeling better. Overall not hungry and not craving.
Wasn’t too hungry. Ate a few dried apricots. Became more hungry. Ugh.
I think the hardest thing isn’t that I can’t have sweets RIGHT NOW, but that I know for the foreseeable future this is what my life is going to be like, as long as I stick to this diet. I guess it’s easier to just take it a day at a time.
Had my first non-sugar-related craving this evening (for salmon, cream cheese, and avocado sushi rolls). Might get that for lunch tomorrow.

Monday 10-19
Got a little sad this morning thinking about all the delicious sugary stuff I’m not eating. Oh well.