Spring is on its way and now is the time to plan what produce you may want to plant in your garden. In order to get the most out of your garden space, it’s important to plan what to put in the ground, and also plan how to preserve the bountiful harvest. Careful planning and careful attention throughout the growing season can provide your family with delicious home grown fruits and vegetables throughout the year.
Two resources can help with your planning. The first is the Alabama Extension publication “The Alabama Vegetable Gardner”. It gives vegetable yields per 100 feet of land – an essential planning tool for the home food producer. For example, 100 feet of tomatoes should yield 100 pounds of tomatoes. The publication also contains information about planting, soil fertility, weed control, disease control, and insect control.
A "Sell-By" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. For best quality, you should buy the product before this date.
These dates cannot be relied upon as an indicator of food safety because there are too many variations in transportation and storage conditions. If foods are mishandled, foodborne bacteria can grow and cause foodborne illness — before or after the date on the package. For example, if hot dogs are taken to a picnic and left out several hours, they will not be safe to use later, even if the date hasn't expired.
· Purchase the product before the date expires.
· If perishable, take the food home immediately after purchase and refrigerate it promptly. Freeze it if you can't use it within the recommended timeframe.
· Consult the Alabama Cooperative Extension System publication “Better-Safe-Than-Sorry Food Storage Chart” for a detailed list of food storage times.
in Northwestern Alabama: Contact Susan Hill at 205-489-5376
12, 2014 Morning
Class 10AM to 12:00 PM and an Evening Class 5:00PM to 7:00 PM Franklin County Extension Office;
Franklin County Courthouse Room 1; Russellville AL 35653 August 13, 2014 11:00 AM to 1:00PM; Colbert County Extension
Office; Tuscumbia, AL 35674 August 27,
2014 10:00 AM to 12:00PM; Marion County Extension Office ; Hamilton, AL
35570 September 9, 2014 Morning
Class 10:00AM to 12:00; Evening Class 5:00 to 7:00PM Fayette County Extension Office;
Fayette/Lamar County; Fayette AL September 25, 2014 10:00 AM to 12:00PM;
Lawrence County Extension Office; 13075 ALA-157, Suite 6; Moulton, AL 35650
October 2, 2014 6:00PM to 7:30PM;Lawrence County
Extension Office; 13075 ALA-157, Suite 6; Moulton, AL 35650
in Northeastern Alabama: Contact Christiana Mendoza at 256-547-7936.
July 25, 2014 10-12 am Etowah County Extension
Office, 3200A W. Meighan Blvd, Gadsden, AL
Classes in Central Western Counties: Contact Kristin
Woods at 251-753-1164
August 1, 2014
6:00 to 8:00 pm Alabama Fish Farming Center In Greensboro, AL
August 19, 2014 6:00 to 8:00 pm Marengo County
Extension Office in Linden, AL September 18, 2014 6:30
to 8:30 pm Tuscaloosa County Extension Office, Tuscaloosa, AL
in Central Counties: Contact Janice Hall at 334-361-7273
23, 2014 9:00 am to 11:00 am
Wilcox County Health Department;
August 12, 2014 8:30 am to
10:30 am Alagasco Building Hwy 80W; Selma, AL August 26, 2014 8:00 am to 10 am
Chilton County Extension Office; Clanton, AL
Classes in Central Eastern Counties:
Contact Patti West at 334-750-1251
August 21, 2014 1:00
pm to 3:00 pm; Calhoun County Extension Office; 1702 Noble St., Anniston, AL
in Central Eastern Counties: Contact Janet Johnson at 334-703-2237
1, 2014, 10 am – 12
noon, Montgomery County Extension Office, Montgomery, AL
7, 2014 from 10 am –
12 noon EST: Russell County Extension Office, Phenix City, AL
15, 2014 from 10 am –
12 noon CST: Lee County Extension Office, Opelika, AL
20, 2014 from 10 am –
12 noon CST: Elmore County Extension Office, Wetumpkia, AL
in Southeastern Alabama: Contact Bridgette Brannon at 334-714-1248
August 5, 2014 1-3 pm Geneva County Farm Center, 2765 East State Hwy 52,
Hartford, AL August 21, 2014 1-3 pm Dale County Extension Office, 202 South Hwy
123, Ozark, AL 36361 September 3, 2014
1-3 pm Henry County Extension Office,
101 North Doswell Street, Abbeville, AL 36310.
in Southwestern Alabama: Contact Amelia McGrew at 251-574-8445
August 6, 2014,
6-8 pm; Mobile County Extension Office, Mobile AL
August 13, 2014,
1 to 3 pm, Gulf Coast Research and Extension Office, Fairhope, AL
August 21, 2014,
10 to noon, Escambia County Extension Office, Brewton, AL
you do not see a class in your county,
your local Extension Office and ask them to schedule one!
The Alabama Farmer’s Market program provides a way for farmers to provide locally grown produce, baked goods, flowers, and other agricultural products to the public. The program helps assure the consumer a high quality product at a reasonable price and a fair profit for the producer. There are a million good reasons to shop Alabama Farmer’s Markets. Here are the top 4 that we came up with:
Homemade ice cream is a fabulous summertime treat, but beware that some ice cream recipes contain a potentially deadly ingredient – raw eggs. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 2200 illness were reported from Salmonella in eggs in 2009 and 2010. Salmonella can be transmitted from the hen to the egg yolk before the shell forms. For this reason, you should not use raw, unpasteurized eggs in recipes that will not be cooked, like homemade ice cream.
What can you do?
In addition to handling eggs safely, here are some general rules to help keep homemade ice cream safe from bacteria and viruses that can cause illness.
Because pregnancy affects the immune system, pregnant women and their unborn babies are more susceptible to the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause foodborne illnesses. Even if you don't feel sick, some microorganisms like Listeria and Toxoplasma can infect your baby and cause serious health problems. Your baby is also sensitive to toxins from the food that you eat, such as mercury in certain kinds of fish.
SOFT cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, including Brie, Feta, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, and queso fresco may contain E. coli or Listeria. Listeria is a bacterium which grows at refrigeration temperatures and can cause miscarriages.
Homemade RAW cookie dough and cake batter may contain Salmonella because of the eggs in the recipes.
Raw or undercooked fish (sushi) may contain parasites or bacteria.
Certain kinds of fish, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish (golden or white snapper) contain high levels of mercury.
Unpasteurized juice or cider (including fresh squeezed) may contain E. coli. Unpasteurized milk may contain bacteria such as Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria, or Salmonella. Drink pasteurized milk only.
Salads containing potentially hazardous foods (foods which have to be temperature and time controlled for safety) are often made and sold in delis. These are the salads such as ham salad, chicken salad, macaroni salad and seafood salads. They may contain Listeria, and remember, it can grow at cold temperatures all the way down to 32°F.
Raw shellfish, such as oysters and clams may contain Vibrio bacteria. Cook shellfish to 145° F.
Raw or undercooked sprouts, such as alfalfa, clover, mung bean, and radish sprouts may contain E. coli or Salmonella. Cook sprouts thoroughly.
Hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, fermented or dry sausage, and other deli-style meat and poultry may contain Listeria. Heat thoroughly before eating.
Eggs and pasteurized egg products which are undercooked may contain Salmonella. Cook eggs until yolks are firm.
Homemade Ice Cream or Eggnog may contain uncooked eggs, which may contain Salmonella. Make eggnog and ice cream with a pasteurized egg product or buy pasteurized eggnog.
Fish may contain parasites or bacteria. Cook fish to 145° F as measured with a food thermometer.
Undercooked beef, veal, lamb, and pork (including ground meat) may contain E. coli. Cook beef, veal, and lamb steaks and roasts to 145° F. Cook pork and ground meats to 160° F.
Unpasteurized meat spreads or refrigerated pates or meat spreads may contain Listeria. Eat canned versions, which are safe.
Undercooked poultry (including ground poultry) and stuffing (dressing) made with poultry products such as stock and giblets may contain bacteria such as Campylobacter or Salmonella. Cook poultry and/or interior of stuffing to 165° F.
Refrigerated versions of smoked seafood are not safe, unless they have been cooked to 165° F. Eat canned versions, which are safe, or cook to 165° F.
There is NO amount of alcohol that is known to be safe for a developing fetus. Caffeine acts as a diuretic and depletes calcium and so it is advisable to avoid caffeine during pregnancy.
With the USDA's most recent push for us to consume more produce (www.Choose My Plate.gov) we are encouraged to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, to shoot for a goal of covering one half of our plates with fruits and vegetables, and then eating them up of course.
But with increased intake of produce, especially raw produce, it is inevitable that there will be accompanying increases in foodborne illness incidents caused by harmful bacteria that are naturally present on agricultural products.
Consumers must follow safe handling guidelines for produce at home (www.fda.gov/food/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm114299) but first, at the market consumers need to become more vigilant about the conditions and surroundings of the produce they purchase.
The Buy Fresh and Local movement is a good one. We are supporting local growers of produce while reaping the benefits of consuming produce that has been recently harvested at closer to the peak of ripeness and has not been exposed to extended travel conditions and the accompanying increased likelihood of contamination. But consumers should not be naive. Any produce, organically or conventionally grown, can be contaminated if it is not handled properly while in the field, during harvest and packaging, or on the way from the farm to market.
Growers or processors are responsible for preventing bacteria in the soil or water from contaminating fresh fruits or vegetables where they're grown or processed. Consumers should ask some common sense questions of the seller/grower (likely the same person in local markets).
Whether at a local farmer's market or a supermarket, be choosey.
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