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> POPs are being rereleased

Air pollutants emitted decades ago are coming back to haunt us. As the Arctic warms, persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, trapped in snow and ice are being rereleased. This unwelcome return has been suspected for some time but is now confirmed by 16 years' worth of data.

POPs travel around the globe on winds, build up in food and water supplies and accumulate in animal body fat. They've also been linked to serious human health problems, including cancer, and can be passed from mother to fetus. POPs have been banned under the Stockholm convention since 2004.

The new study looked at air concentrations of POPs up to 2009 in Svalbard, Norway, and in Canada's Nunavut province, and found an increase since 2000 (Nature Climate Change).

> The finer side of fennel

The Folklore. The ancient lore of fennel is as notable as its influence on the cuisine of the Mediterranean, where it originates. In Greek mythology, a fennel stalk carried the gods' gift of knowledge to man. The ancient Greek word for fennel, "marathon," was awarded to the runner who ran 26 miles to deliver news of the invasion which led to victory at the Battle of Marathon. Through the ages. this plant has been used to build courage before battle, ward off evil spirits in medieval times, stave off hunger during long Puritan church meetings, serve as a digestive tonic, and even cure bad breath.

The Facts. Related to parsley, dill and cumin, fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) has a white or pale green bulb with green, celerylike stalks, topped with a delicate fringe of leaves. Fennel is an excellent source of vitamin C, the body's primary water-soluble antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals. The vitamin C found in fennel also contributes to its antimicrobial and immune function properties. One cup of fennel has 11 percent of the daily value for dietary fiber, 10 percent DV for potassium, and 6 percent DV for folate.

The Findings. Fennel's phytonutrients further contribute to its antioxidant activity. One in particular, anethole, has been shown to reduce inflammation and help prevent cancer in animal studies. Fennel's essential oil also has demonstrated liver protection from toxic chemical injury in experimental animals, according to a study published in the scientific journal Fitoterapia in 2003. Fennel is rich in dietary fiber, which can aid in reducing cholesterol levels and protect against colon cancer, as well as potassium -- an important nutrient that promotes normal blood pressure levels, thus, reducing risk of stroke.

The Finer Points. Every part of fennel -- seed, bulb, stalk and leaves -- is edible. Fresh fennel has a firm, healthy bulb with straight, upward stalks, is lightly fragrant and shows no sign of flowering. Its top fronds look similar to dill and it is often confused with anise for its lightly licorice scent and flavor. To prepare fennel, cut the stalks where they meet the bulb and slice the bulb thinly for salads and sandwiches. Sauteed or braised, bulbs are traditionally paired with seafood or veal, while the stalks add subtle flavor and texture to soups, stews and stock. Feathery fennel leaves lend subtle flavor and enhance a dish beautifully as a garnish.

Compiled from News wire sources

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