Tag Archive: Good

Why 4-H is a Good Investment

Photo credit: National 4-H Council

September 1st marks the new 4-H year in Florida, and many families are enrolling their kids this week. There are several different ways that youth can participate in 4-H.  The most traditional delivery mode is community clubs, but youth can also participate through their school or afterschool program, military youth center, camp, or even as a short-term special interest member.

Last year, Florida 4-H introduced a membership fee for community club members ages 8-18 of $ 20.00.  Many parents have asked me, “Why is Florida 4-H charging community clubs?  Many club kids are enrolled in projects where parents have already invested money into animals or equipment (shooting sports, robotics, sewing machines).  I am one of those parents- my own children are enrolled in the poultry project and would like to advance to a rabbit, pig or steer.  As a parent who has paid the fee, I see it as an investment.

Photo credit: Paula Davis, UF IFAS Bay County

Although every 4-H delivery mode incorporates positive youth development methods to benefit youth, research shows that the club delivery mode has the greatest benefit to youth.  A few years ago, Tufts University did a groundbreaking study on Positive Youth Development.  They studied youth engaged in a variety of youth programs (including 4-H) and they tracked the youth from 5th grade until graduation.  Florida participated in this study and the results were exciting for 4-H!  You can read the full report here.  Based on this research, compared to youth in other youth programs, 4-Hers engaged in 4-H clubs are:

  • Four times more likely to contribute to their communities
  • Two times more likely to be civically active
  • Two times more likely to participate in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities during out-of-school time
  • 4-H girls are two times more likely to take part in science programs compare to girls in other youth programs
  • 4-Hers are two times more likely to make healthier choices

So as a parent, I see the club membership fee as an investment.  Twenty dollars is way less than what I pay so that my kids can play soccer for a couple of months each year (and depending on the coach- my kids may or may not learn sportsmanship and teambuilding).  There isn’t anything on the list above that I don’t want for my children.  But these outcomes are all tied to long term involvement with a 4-H club.  Clubs are the most effective delivery mode for positive youth development because they focus on three very important areas:

  • Positive and sustained relationships between youth and adults
  • Activities that build important life skills
  • Opportunities for youth to use these skills as participants and leaders in valued community activities

Photo credit: Julie Dillard, UF IFAS Washington County

So if 4-H sounds like a good investment to you, here’s how to enroll (if you are a member of more than one club, you pay the membership only one time per year):

NEW 4-H Members:

  1. Log onto https://florida.4honline.com
  2. Create a family profile.
  3. Enroll individual youth.
  4. Each youth must have a club and project. For a list of clubs and projects, see page 3.
  5. You will receive an email with a link to pay the Florida 4-H Membership Fee after enrolling.
  6. Pay the Florida 4-H Membership Fee.
  7. Membership will be set to active after fee is paid. Until
    membership fee is paid, youth cannot attend 4-H club meetings, events or activities.

RETURNING 4-H Members:

  1. Log onto https://florida.4honline.com
  2. Enter your email address and password.
  3. Update contact, medical, club and project information for each member.
  4. Each youth must have a club and project. For a list of clubs and projects, see page 3.
  5. You will receive an email with a link to pay the Florida 4-H Membership Fee after enrolling.
  6. Pay the Florida 4-H Membership Fee.
  7. Membership will be set to active after fee is paid. Until membership fee is paid, youth cannot attend 4-H club meetings, events or activities.

Many counties are planning 4-H kickoffs this time of year, and those events are great to learn

about the different clubs available in your community.  If the fee is a hardship for your family, contact the 4-H agent for possible scholarships.  For more information about 4-H, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.

 

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Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/28/why-4-h-is-a-good-investment/

So What’s Good with Local Seafood?

So What’s Good with Local Seafood?

Shrimping in the Gulf of Mexico.
Photo: NOAA

Actually, if you like seafood – it’s all good! However, not everyone does and sometimes when this question is asked they are interested in not how it taste but where the seafood came from.

 

In recent years, there has been a move across the country to learn more about where their food comes from. Whether that is because they are concerned what the livestock and chickens have been fed, their living conditions, or whether they came outside the United States – more people are asking and it is affecting how they purchase their food.  Is it the same for seafood?

 

In some cases, yes. Several years ago, I ran the marine science program at Washington High School.  We were discussing whether, with a growing human population, the ocean could sustain the demand for seafood.  Would we need to focus our production on aquaculture?  We decided to survey locals to see whether (a) they liked seafood, and (b) if so, would it matter whether the product came from the ocean or a farm.  Over a 10-year period, we found that (a) the percentage of locals who did not like seafood increased. (b) Those who did like seafood did not have strong feelings whether it was from a farm or from the sea.   Curious as to why those who did not like seafood felt that way, we followed up with those questions and found it was not as much a concern with seafood safety in that they just did not like the taste of it.  Of course, this was a high school science project and not a formal science investigation, but they did a good job with it and the results were interesting.

 

That was almost 20 years ago, do people feel the same?  According to Dr. George Baker (Florida Sea Grant), yes… things are about the same.  If they can get access to wild harvested seafood at a good price, they will buy.  If it is not available, or to expensive, they will, purchase farm raised. Moreover, more people do not like seafood.

 

What about the local issue? In California, there is a program that allows you to find out which boat captain caught your fish.  In Florida, there are studies going on to determine what type of filet you are actually buying.  As with produce and livestock, people seem to be interested in where their seafood comes from – and for many, if effects where and how they buy seafood.

Commercial seafood in Pensacola has a long history.
Photo: Rick O’Connor

 

So what is local?

 

Well, we call any seafood product harvested or cultured within 250 miles local. For Pensacola, that would include Alabama, Mississippi, and eastern Louisiana.  We know that between 80-90% of the seafood you currently purchase is imported from both commercial fishing and aquaculture overseas.  That said, local seafood is still here and available.

 

The commercial fishing in Pensacola goes WAY back. It was one of the first industries to get off the ground shortly after Florida became a U.S. territory.  According to Dr. Jack E. Davis, in his book The Gulf; The Making of an American Sea, Cuban fishermen harvested seafood from the Gulf coast of peninsula Florida prior to our becoming a territory.  Shortly after becoming a U.S. territory, New England fishermen came to harvest the Gulf, including one by the name of Leonard Destin.  Soon a fishing industry was operating in Pensacola.  They sold a variety of species but in 1840 they found red snapper – and the boom was on.  Shrimp followed but water quality, habitat loss, and overharvesting have plagued the industry over the years.  Fishermen did well for a time, then the landings decreased, the fishermen believed the fish had moved, and so the fleet would move.  This continued until they have literally moved all over the Gulf of Mexico seeking fish.  At this point quotas had to be initiated and regulation has been the norm ever since.  Add to this an increase interest in recreational fishing, increasing the number of fishermen, and increased regulation with this sector.  Today we can include the introduction of invasive species as another stressor.

 

All that said, local seafood is still available. Some species have become quite pricey, but they are still available.  The Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation created a Gulf Coast Seafood Species Chart.  This chart indicates when selected species are in peak season for commercial harvest.  This chart suggests they are in season year round but there are peak months.  It varies from one state to another, but the list below includes Florida and Alabama.

 

Species Months in Peak Season Comments
Blue crab No peak season
Blue crab

Soft shell

Mar – Jun
Black drum No peak season
Red drum No peak season Subject to quotas and closures
Clams All year – FL only Clams are now cultured in FL and are available year round
Crawfish Apr – Jun – LA only LA only, but close to us
Flounder Jul – Aug; Oct-Nov Subject to quotas and closures
Grouper No peak season Subject to quotas and closures
King mackerel Jan – Feb; Jul-Sep; Dec Subject to quotas and closures
Mahi-Mahi May – Jun
Mullet Jan; Sep – Dec
Oysters Jan – Apr; Sep – Dec
Pompano Jan – Apr;
Sheepshead No peak season
Brown shrimp May – Sep
Pink shrimp Jan – Jul
Rock shrimp Jun – Sep
White shrimp May – Nov
Snapper Peak season year round Subject to quotas and closures
Yellowtail snapper Mar – Jun
Spanish mackerel Jan – May; Aug – Sep; Dec Subject to quotas and closures
Spiny lobster Aug – Sep; Oct – Nov
Spotted seatrout No peak season Subject to quotas and closures
Stone crab Oct – Dec
Swordfish Sep – Nov
Yellowfin tuna Jun – Oct

 

The health benefits from consuming seafood are understood. We certainly think it should be part of your of weekly dinner menu.  There are concerns for safety in some seafood products, as in mercury and king mackerel, and we will address that in another article – but the lack of consuming seafood can create health issues as well.  We hope you enjoy local Gulf seafood.

Commercial crab boats docked on Escambia Bay.
Photo: Rick O’Connor

 

References

 

Baker, G. 2017. personal communication.

 

Davis, J.E. 2017. The Gulf; Making of an American Sea.  Liveright Publishing. New York NY. Pp. 530.

 

Gulf & South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation. 2013. Gulf Coast Seafood. www.eatgulfseafood.com

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Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/19/so-whats-good-with-local-seafood/

Cool Good Bug

Cool Good Bug

Blue Mud Dauber 2With all the media discussion of “bad” insects, like mosquitoes, many of the good guys are forgotten. One that has been very active this summer is the blue mud dauber, Chalybion californicum. These wasps are metallic blue, blue-green or blackish in color with very short narrow waists.  During the summer, female blue mud daubers build nests by bringing water to abandoned mud nests made by other species of mud dauber wasps.  They form new mud chambers, stock them with paralyzed spiders and a single egg, then seal the chambers with more mud.  Their offspring stay in the chamber, feeding on the spiders, and then pupate in a thin silk cocoon.  They spend the winter in the nest, emerging the following spring as adults.

 

Blue mud daubers are solitary wasps and not known to be aggressive. When the females have carried water to an old black and yellow mud dauber’s nest, she softens it and remolds it to her needs.  The result is a very lumpy version of the originally smooth nest.  Next she must fill the nest with food for her future offspring.  The blue mud dauber prays on spiders.chalybnest1a

Female-Black-WidowIf orb weavers, lynx or crab spiders are plentiful, the blue mud dauber is able to land on their web without getting entangled and pluck the web to simulate an insect in distress. When the spider rushes to capture its prey, the poor arachnid becomes the victim of the wasp’s paralyzing sting and is quickly flown to the mud nest.  However, the preferred host of the blue mud dauber is the southern black widow. Even without the elaborate web game, this wasp can control a dangerous nuisance.  Once at the nest with her spider victim, the blue mud dauber stores the paralyzed arachnid at the bottom of a mud cell and lays a single egg onto its body.  When the wasp larva hatches it consumes the remaining body of the spider.  With a full belly, the mature larva spins a papery silken cocoon within the mud nest and begins to pupate.  The following spring an adult wasp chews a round hole in the end of the mud cell and exits it’s winter home.muddauber_l-300x226

 

As adults, the blue mud dauber feeds on nectar from flowers and honeydew secreted by insects. Should you encounter a large congregation of this normally solitary wasp, don’t be alarmed.  It is probably just a bunch of male blue mud daubers gathering together to sleep it off, after a heavy day of “drinking.”

 

So, rather than having to cover yourself in DEET just to spend the evening on the patio, brave the heat (with water bottle in hand, of course) and spend the daytime hours watching the blue mud daubers prepare their nest for next year’s young. Maybe the media will pick up on wasp that are reducing black widow populations, rather than the dangers of mosquitoes.

 

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Author: Sheila Dunning – sdunning@ufl.edu


http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu

Sheila Dunning

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/08/19/cool-good-bug/

Volunteering Makes Good Sense

Nate Grimsley is known for teaching crafts at 4-H camp each year.

Nate Grimsley is known for teaching crafts at 4-H camp each year.

In a world where so many things don’t make sense, Nate Grimsley has discovered something that does.  Ten years ago, Nate’s daughter won 1st place at the Leon County 4-H Tropicana Public Speaking Program and was awarded a full scholarship to Camp Cherry Lake.  Nate had attended camp at Cherry Lake as a camper decades earlier and after being asked 9 years ago by 4-H agent Marcus Boston to consider attending camp as a volunteer he said “Yes!” and has never looked back. Today, Nate still serves as a chaperone for camp, but he also teaches art and crafts classes during the week.  He has taught hundreds of youth how to make paracord bracelets and to weave fans and insect models out of native palmetto leaves.  He is so good at his volunteer role that he is often asked to volunteer at other county camp weeks and even the State Shooting Sports Camp.

“Volunteering is rewarding- I love teaching and it is so fulfilling to give back and to set a positive example for kids.   I had a learning disability when I was growing up, so I have a different perspective on how kids learn.  I have one rule- they are never allowed to say ‘I can’t.’ They can say they don’t understand, but never ‘I can’t’.  It is so rewarding to see them succeed.”

Nate teaches youth to use palmetto branches to weave fans, baskets and even 3-dimensional insect models.

Nate teaches youth to use palmetto branches to weave fans, baskets and even 3-dimensional insect models.

Nate’s example has had a huge impact on his own children.  Both of his children served as teen leaders for 4-H.  His son’s cabin always won “cleanest cabin” and his daughter was such a good counselor that he was invited to intern at a camp in Maine.  “The leadership skills that my kids learned at camp helped both of them land their first jobs.  It is a great program and parents and teens should take advantage of it.”  Marcus Boston and Stefanie Prevatt, 4-H faculty at the Leon County UF/IFAS Extension Office, have developed a strenuous but highly effective camp counselor leadership program.  Even though it is a volunteer position, teens must complete an application, screening, interview and 30-hour training program in order to serve.

Even though Nate’s kids have graduated out of the 4-H program, he continues to serve.  In addition to being a certified chaperone, he is also certified to teach archery through the 4-H Shooting Sports program.  Erlier this year, he taught workshops for teens at adults at the Northwest Teen Retreat and 4-H State Volunteer Leader’s Forum.

“I am still involved because I just love kids and I love seeing them learn.  I have always volunteered in different ways- school boosters, organized sports, but I love volunteering in 4-H so much that my wife and I are starting a 4-H club this fall- the ‘Good Sense 4-H Club.’  Our goal is to help kids learn how to problem solve and make good decisions now and later in life.”

Nate's palmetto-leaf grasshoppers are a popular camp craft.

Nate’s palmetto-leaf grasshoppers are a popular camp craft and are extremely realistic looking.

Nate encourages everyone he knows to volunteer.  He holds down a full-time job, but has always been able to work with his supervisor to make time for volunteering.  “Being a volunteer is a great means of networking.  I have met so many interesting people through my volunteer work.  I find joy in giving back to others.  God has given so much to me- I want to pay it forward.  Also, we need solid role models to teach kids how to be independent.  4-H is a great way to do just that.”

4-H offers a wide range of volunteer positions to fit various schedules, interests and abilities.  To find out more about volunteering and what is available in your community, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org/volunteers.

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Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/06/24/volunteering-makes-good-sense/

Surprise… Good Nutrition is “In the Can”!

Canned goodsSometimes canned foods get a bad rap. Often, concerns are valid because canned foods tend to be high in unwanted salt and/or sugar. The good news is that you can buy fruits canned in their own juice and vegetables or beans labeled “low-sodium or” no salt added”. By draining and rinsing your canned produce with water, you can also lower the sodium or sugar content and have a healthful – and inexpensive – solution to balancing your child’s nutritional needs. For example, draining and rinsing canned beans lowers their sodium levels by as much as 41 percent.

We know that buying local fresh fruits and vegetables in season is a smart idea but kids can be picky. The Brussels sprouts or turnips that are available in the winter might not appeal to a child who only wants peaches. Benefits of buying canned foods include:

  • Most canned fruits and vegetables are packaged within hours of being picked. This means the foods keep their peak flavor and nutrients.
  • Canned fruits and vegetables are peeled, cut and ready to use in recipes. They “get you there” quicker and easier, usually with the same or even more nutrition than fresh or frozen. For example, did you know that canned pumpkin has three times more Vitamin A than fresh pumpkin?
  • Canned fruit and vegetable selections are available year-round. Canned foods can offer reliable, great-tasting ingredients when fresh produce is not in season.
  • Canned foods can be used in recipe “hacks” to improve nutrition. (“Hacks” are tricks that aid in the preparation or reduce the cooking time in recipes.) For example, soups can be thickened with a combination of pureed canned white beans and low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock instead of the traditional – and fattening – flour and butter. Canned evaporated skim milk can be used in equal amounts to replace cream in recipes for a fraction of the fat content.

All in all, canned foods can be used in any season to create a healthy plate. Just watch the sugar and salt content to create inexpensive, healthful and tasty meals your kids will love!

References:

  1. Kendall, A.R. and Dahl, W.J. (2015). Shopping for Health: Vegetables. University of Florida/IFAS electronic publication: edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fs165.
  2. Jones, J.B., and J.R. Mount. (2009). Sodium Reduction in Canned Bean Varieties by Draining and Rinsing. 209. Institute of Food Technologists Conference Poster. Anaheim, California.
  3. Tavoletti, R. (2015). The Time is “Ripe” for Canned Food. Canned Food Alliance. http://www.mealtime.org/article/the-time-is-ripe-for-canned-food.aspx?siteLocation=c8e9a60a-8e4d-45ef-9434-624be5cbf61b
  4. Lydon, K. (2015). It’s No Trick, Treat Yourself to Better Nutrition with These Recipe Hacks. Canned Food Alliance. http://www.mealtime.org/article/its-no-trick-canned-food-recipe-hacks.aspx?siteLocation=c8e9a60a-8e4d-45ef-9434-624be5cbf61b .
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Author: Ginny Hinton – ghinton@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent with UF/IFAS. Focus areas include nutrition, food safety, injury prevention, and healthy families. Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from University of West Florida. Master’s degree in Public Health/Health Education from University of South Florida.
http://santarosa.ifas.ufl.edu

Ginny Hinton

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/02/10/surprise-good-nutrition-is-in-the-can/

Cold Weather is a Good Thing for Fruit Trees

Cold Weather is a Good Thing for Fruit Trees

We may be suffering from the recent low temperatures, but temperate fruit trees such as peaches and apples require a period of cold weather in order to become cold hardy and produce a good crop.

What is Cold Hardiness?

Cold hardiness is the ability of a plant to survive low temperatures.  However, every cold event is fairly unique with variables such as when the low temperatures occur (early vs. late winter), how quickly the temperature drops, the temperatures in the days leading up to the event, and the length of time the low temperatures are sustained.

Cold Acclimation

Cold acclimation is the development of freezing tolerance in plants.  Three fall environmental factors contribute to cold acclimation in fruit trees.  Plant will develop 10 to 15 degrees of cold tolerance when the leaves sense shorter day lengths.  Metabolic activity is increased when days are short and temperatures are between 60°F days and 40°F nights.  The second factor occurs when lows reach the 20s, which can make trees up to 10 degrees hardier.  The final factor occurs when temperatures dip to near zero, which fortunately for us does not occur very often.

Trees remain hardy during the winter as long as temperatures remain fairly stable.  However, de-acclimation occurs in reaction to warm temperatures.  This explains the winter flowering which occurred this past December.  A cold snap may not injure trees unless it immediately follows a period of mild temperatures.

Florida Average Chill Hours Map

Florida Average Chill Hours Map – UF/IFAS Extension

Chilling Requirement

The cold weather and gradual cold acclimation are necessary to a tree’s accumulation of chill hours which is necessary for steady fruit yields.  Chill hours are the accumulation of hours when temperatures are between 32°F and 45°F.  The yearly average chill hour accumulation in Northwest Florida is between 660 and 700 hours.  The apple varieties recommended for our area (‘Anna’, ‘Dorsett Golden’, and ‘TropicSweet’) have a chilling requirement of 250 to 300 hours.  Some of the peach varieties recommended for our area (‘Flordacreast’, ‘Flordaking’, and ‘Gulfsnow’) have a chilling requirement of 350 to 400 hours.  Please note the risk of planting these varieties because their chilling requirements are lower than our average chill hour accumulation.  The varieties listed are for example, but other available varieties are suitable for our area.

Whether you like winter weather or not, just remember the satisfaction of eating fresh fruit in the summer.  To track this year’s chill hours from the warmth of your home, please visit the AgroClimate tool at http://agroclimate.org/tools/Chill-Hours-Calculator/.

 

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Author: Matt Lollar – mlollar@ufl.edu

Matt Lollar is the Jackson County Horticulture Agent. He has 5 years of experience with University of Florida/IFAS Extension and he began his career in Sanford, FL as the Seminole County Horticulture Agent. Matt is originally from Belle Fontaine, AL. He earned his MS and BS degrees in Horticulture Production from Auburn University.

Matt Lollar

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/01/27/cold-weather-is-a-good-thing-for-fruit-trees/

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Information on gardening practices is freely shared between gardeners and many times the good advice is helpful in plant selection and improving plant growth. There are some passed along practices that are not always suitable for every situation and gardeners may need to investigate a little deeper before implementing the good advice.

Soil test kit available form your local Extension office. Photo: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS.

Soil test kit available form your local Extension office. Photo: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS.

One common recommendation from gardeners is to apply Epsom salts to the soil to improve plant growth. Gardeners may have used Epsom salts for various plants in the garden and viewed plants that appear to grow better or have improved leaf color. Therefore a general recommendation to help others who have some general plant problems or off color leaves is to apply Epsom salts.

Before you apply Epsom salts to your garden, understand that it is an inorganic fertilizer, specifically magnesium sulfate. Plants make their own food but they derive most of their nutrients needed for important functions form the soil. Magnesium is one of the nutrients that is essential in photosynthesis. At times, our sandy soils may be lacking in nutrients but there may be plenty of nutrients available for plants.

The recommendation to apply Epsom salts may sound like a good idea but gardeners should always make sure that magnesium is needed before any applications. Too much magnesium in the soil can interfere with the uptake of other nutrients by plants. You could create more of a problem by indiscriminately applying Epsom salts when magnesium is not needed.

As you hear often from the University of Florida Extension, conduct a soil test before applying fertilizer to determine the major nutrient levels available in your soil. This $ 7.00 test will help you better manage plant nutrition. If you need assistance interpreting soil test results, contact your local county Extension office.

 

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Author: Beth Bolles – bbolles@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Escambia County

Beth Bolles

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/12/30/too-much-of-a-good-thing/

Be a Good Roll Model

Be a Good Roll Model

MyPlate "Roll Model"

MyPlate “Roll Model”

Set a good example for your family and friends by eating whole grains in meals and snacks. Whole grain rolls, tortillas, hot and cold cereals, breads, pastas, crackers, and brown rice are excellent foods that boast health benefits and add a variety of tastes and textures into your diet.

What is a whole grain?

There are two categories of grains, Whole Grains and Refined Grains. Whole grains include all the parts of the grain kernel – the bran, germ, and endosperm. These different parts add numerous vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Whole-wheat flour, brown rice, and oatmeal are examples of whole grains. Refined grains have been processed to remove the bran and germ, which removes vitamins, minerals, and fiber. White flour and white rice are examples. Most refined grains are enriched so some of the vitamins are added back in after processing.

How do you know if it is a whole grain?

Just because it is brown does not make it whole. Look for the word “whole” to be listed first in the ingredients. Also, look for 100% whole grain. (100% wheat on the front label is usually not the same as 100% whole wheat.)  Look for brown rice instead of white.

Why should half your grains be whole grains?

People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet have reduced risk of some chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Consuming fiber-rich whole grains may reduce constipation. Also, eating whole grain foods every day may help with management of weight.

How can your family eat more whole grains?

Try swapping a whole grain like whole-wheat tortillas for refined-flour tortillas. For a little something different, give brown rice or whole-wheat pasta a try or even a whole grain pizza crust. Add whole grains like brown rice or barley to vegetable soups and add bulgur or whole-wheat pasta to casseroles. Whole grain crackers, unsweetened whole grain cereal, or rolled oats add a nice coating to baked meats and vegetables. Whole-wheat bread or cracker crumbs are great in a meatloaf. Make a whole grain cereal snack mix by combining three or four different whole grain cereals. Snack on popcorn – it’s a whole grain (just remember to limit the addition of salt and butter.)

For more information and ways to eat healthy from all the food groups, check out  http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/index.html or contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office http://directory.ifas.ufl.edu/Dir/searchdir?pageID=3&pl=05

When you eat the “model” whole grain roll (and other whole grain foods), you’re being a good “roll” model for those around you.  Try a variety of whole grain foods starting today.

 

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Author: Angela Hinkle – ahinkle@ufl.edu

Angela Hinkle is the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) Agent in Escambia County.

Angela Hinkle

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/05/01/be-a-good-roll-model/

Insectary Meadows Provide Food for Pollinators and Homes for Good Bugs

Insectary Meadows Provide Food for Pollinators and Homes for Good Bugs

European Honey Bees  Photo: Ashley N. Mortensen; University of Florida

European Honey Bees
Photo: Ashley N. Mortensen; University of Florida

Bees have been disappearing at an alarming rate and continue to vanish without a trace. Why should anyone care? Well, they matter a lot more than most people think. Bees are the overwhelmingly dominant pollinator for most food crops. Native bees in the United States are responsible for pollinating over $ 15 billion worth of agricultural commodities annually. However, native bee populations are in decline due to habitat loss. At the same time, managed colonies of European honey bees have suffered a 50% decline over the past few decades. Numerous other pollinating insects are facing the same fate.

 

As the spring planting season is upon us, it’s exciting to think about all the wonderful produce we will have this summer. But, without pollinators many of these crops would not be available. The majority of fruit and vegetable food sources we eat are dependent on insect pollinators. One of every three bites of food Americans consume comes from a plant visited by bees or other pollinators.

 

As declining numbers of farmers work to meet the needs of an increasing population, they are forced to make choices on alternative to chemicals for pest control. “Good bug blends” of flowers can help attract pollinators as well as beneficial insects that suppress harmful pests. Establishment of these meadows can be done on a small or large scale and in any habitat. One approach to “bringing back the pollinators” is to intercrop with blooming plants that attract insects. Selecting a diversity of plants with different flower sizes, shapes and colors, as well as various plant heights and growth habits, will encourage the greatest numbers of pollinators. It is important to provide a continuous source of pollen and nectar throughout the growing season. At minimum, strive for three species to be blooming at any one time; the greater the diversity the better.

 

To enhance the garden, choose flowering plants that also provide shelter for beneficial insects. Many companion plants are suitable habitat for predators and parasitoids. Research in Florida has demonstrated that predatory minute pirate bugs can build to high numbers in sunflowers. The favorite food of minute pirate bugs is Western flower thrips. So, planting sunflowers on the perimeter of vegetable crops, such as peppers, can greatly reduce the damage caused by the thrips. Similar results were found with the planting of sorghum to attract beneficial mites and intercropping with buckwheat to house syrphid flies and parasitoid wasps. The garden vegetables experienced fewer spider mite, whitefly and aphid problems. Crimson clover, Hairy vetch and cosmos are other annual seed crops that can aid in attracting pollinators and harboring beneficial insects.

 

Insectary meadows can be created in the landscape and along roadways, not just in the garden. For more permanently planted areas, native wildflowers, grasses and woody plants serve as larval host plants for butterflies, and also provide nesting and overwintering sites for bumble bees, predacious beetles and other beneficial insects. Native perennial wildflowers such as blanketflower, tickseed, black-eyed Susan, partridge pea, narrowleaf sunflower, milkweed, beebalm, goldenrod and silkgrass can be installed in the spring as potted plants or seeded in the fall. Seeds require exposure to cold temperatures and damp conditions before germination can occur. In Florida, the best time is November to February.

 

Though grasses do not offer nectar or high-quality pollen, it is often useful to include at least one native bunch grass or sedge. Short, clump-forming grasses are preferable to large, spreading grasses. Hedgerow planting of woody species is a way to provide winter-blooming plants vital for supporting pollinators. Woody plants and grasses provide more than forage for pollinators, as many native bee species nest in the stems of plants or in the undisturbed ground underneath plantings. Suitable grasses include: beaked panicgrass, purple lovegrass, Muhly grass, broomsedge,little bluestem, wiregrass and toothache grass. Favored woody species that make good “beetle banks” include: fetterbush, American beautyberry, saw palmetto, Chickasaw plum, red maple, sparkleberry, Dahoon holly, redbud, blackgum, magnolia, buttonwood and sourwood.

 

Regardless of whether the objective is to establish herbaceous or woody vegetation, the time and effort spent on eradicating undesirable plants prior to planting will result in higher success rates in establishing the targeted plant community. Choose level, open sites that receive full sunlight and have limited weed populations.   If perennial weeds are a problem, the use of herbicides that have no soil residual (e.g. glyphosate) may be necessary.

 

For more information on establishing planting for pollinators visit: www.xerces.org/pollinator.

 

PG

Author: Sheila Dunning – sdunning@ufl.edu


http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu

Sheila Dunning

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/05/01/insectary-meadows-provide-food-for-pollinators-and-homes-for-good-bugs-2/

Insectary Meadows Provide Food for Pollinators and Homes for Good Bugs

Insectary Meadows Provide Food for Pollinators and Homes for Good Bugs

Bees have been disappearing at an alarming rate and continue to vanish without a trace. Why should anyone care? Well, they matter a lot more than most people think. Bees are the overwhelmingly dominant pollinator for most food crops. Native bees in the United States are responsible for pollinating over $ 15 billion worth of agricultural commodities annually. However, native bee populations are in decline due to habitat loss. At the same time, managed colonies of European honey bees have suffered a 50% decline over the past few decades. Numerous other pollinating insects are facing the same fate.

European honey bee. Photo credit: UF/IFAS.

European honey bee. Photo credit: UF/IFAS.

As the spring planting season is upon us, it’s exciting to think about all the wonderful produce we will have this summer. But, without pollinators many of these crops would not be available. The majority of fruit and vegetable food sources we eat are dependent on insect pollinators. One of every three bites of food Americans consume comes from a plant visited by bees or other pollinators.

As declining numbers of farmers work to meets the need of increasing populations, they are forced to make choices on alternative to chemicals for pest control. “Good bug blends” of flowers can help attract pollinators as well as beneficial insects that suppress harmful pests. Establishment of these meadows can be done on a small or large scale and in any habitat. One approach to “bring back the pollinators” is to intercrop with blooming plants that attract insects. Selecting a diversity of plants with different flower sizes, shapes and colors, as well as various plant heights and growth habits, will encourage the greatest numbers of pollinators. It is important to provide a continuous source of pollen and nectar throughout the growing season. At minimum, strive for three species to be blooming at any one time; the greater the diversity the better.

To enhance the garden, choose flowering plants that also provide shelter for beneficial insects. Many companion plants are suitable habitat for predators and parasitoids. Research in Florida has demonstrated that predatory minute pirate bugs can build to high numbers in sunflowers. The favorite food of minute pirate bugs is Western flower thrips. So, planting sunflowers on the perimeter of vegetable crops, such as peppers, can greatly reduce the damage caused by the thrips. Similar results were found with the planting of sorghum to attract beneficial mites and intercropping with buckwheat to house syrphid flies and parasitoid wasps. The garden vegetables experienced fewer spider mite, whitefly and aphid problems. Crimson clover, Hairy vetch and cosmos are other annual seed crops that can aid in attracting pollinators and harboring beneficial insects.

Blue Mistflower. Photo Credit Mary Derrick, UF / IFAS Extension.

Blue Mistflower. Photo Credit Mary Derrick, UF / IFAS Extension.

Insectary meadows can be created in the landscape and along roadways, not just in the garden. For more permanently planted areas, native wildflowers, grasses and woody plants serve as larval host plants for butterflies, and also provide nesting and overwintering sites for bumble bees, predacious beetles and other beneficial insects. Native perennial wildflowers such as blanketflower, tickseed, black-eyed Susan, partridge pea, narrowleaf sunflower, milkweed, beebalm, goldenrod and silkgrass can be installed in the spring as potted plants or seeded in the fall. Seeds require exposure to cold temperatures and damp conditions before germination can occur. In Florida, the best time is November to February.

Though grasses do not offer nectar or high-quality pollen, it is often useful to include at least one native bunch grass or sedge. Short, clump-forming grasses are preferable to large, spreading grasses. Hedgerow planting of woody species is a way to provide winter-blooming plants vital for supporting pollinators. Woody plants and grasses provide more than forage for pollinators, as many native bee species nest in the stems of plants or in the undisturbed ground underneath plantings. Suitable grasses include: beaked panicgrass, purple lovegrass, Muhly grass, broomsedge,little bluestem, wiregrass and toothache grass. Favored woody species that make good “beetle banks” include: fetterbush, American beautyberry, saw palmetto, Chickasaw plum, red maple, sparkleberry, Dahoon holly, redbud, blackgum, magnolia, buttonwood and sourwood.

Regardless of whether the objective is to establish herbaceous or woody vegetation, the time and effort spent on eradicating undesirable plants prior to planting will result in higher success rates in establishing the targeted plant community. Choose level, open sites that receive full sunlight and have limited weed populations.  If perennial weeds are a problem, the use of herbicides that have no soil residual (e.g. glyphosate) may be necessary.

For more information on establishing planting for pollinators visit: www.xerces.org/pollinator.

 

PG

Author: Sheila Dunning – sdunning@ufl.edu


http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu

Sheila Dunning

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/04/28/insectary-meadows-provide-food-for-pollinators-and-homes-for-good-bugs/

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