Monday, July 29, 2013

Handling Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Safely

This summer, I have had several conversations with Wise County Consumers concerning fresh produce and food safety. It is important to keep in mind that fresh produce may become contaminated with bacteria, viruses, and parasites at any point during its farm to table journey.
      Following are steps and tips to ensure that we as consumers follow correct procedures in order to ensure our food is safe to eat.
  • Wash hands with hot soapy water, for at least 20 seconds, before and after handling fresh produce.
  • Wash all fresh produce under cool, running, drinking water before peeling, cutting or eating.
  • Fragile items and soft fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries can be washed using a sink sprayer or running water from the tap. Place fruit in a colander and gently turn the fruit as you spray or run with water.
  • Scrubbing with a clean brush is only recommended for produce with a tough rind or peel (i.e. carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, and squash) that will not be bruised or scratched by the brush bristles. Fruit/vegetable brushes should be placed in the dishwasher, or washed with hot soapy water, rinsed, and sanitized. Brushes can be sanitized by soaking for one minute in a solution of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach in 1 quart water.
  • Throw away outer leaves of leafy vegetable like lettuces, cabbage before washing.
  • Do not wash fruits and vegetables with bleach or soaps – it can absorb into the product and change the taste.  Detergent was not made to be eaten and is not approved for use on food by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • Wax coatings are used on some produce to keep in the moisture and keep good quality. These are safe to eat or you can cut it off.
  • Leafy green salads in sealed bags labeled "washed", "triple washed", or "ready-to-eat" do not need additional washing at the time of use unless specially directed on the label.
Keep in mind that the health benefits of eating fruit and vegetables outweigh the possible presence of pesticides. The FDA, USDA and EPA strictly control pesticides. If there is any pesticide residue on the fruit or vegetable, it should be under the regulations and safe to eat. A lot of the pesticides are water-soluble and will come off with water, which is another reason to wash fruit and vegetables before you eat them.
Drying produce with a paper towel may further reduce bacteria that may be present. Drying is not necessary for items that will be cooked. Greens like spinach, chard, kale and collards should be cooked wet as drying them may affect the quality of the cooked product.
For additional information on safe handling of fruits and vegetables as well as safe preparation techniques contact the Extension office at 940/627-3341.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Ranchers Gathering

The 2013 Ranchers Gathering has been set for Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at the First Baptist Church in Decatur.  Doors will open around 5:30 p.m. for everyone to visit booths at the trade show.  The trade show will feature many agriculture related businesses, offering the newest in technology for beef cattle producers.  Dinner is set for 6:00 p.m.  The $10.00 registration fee covers the meal and makes you eligible for one of the many door prizes given away during the program.
            John Bradshaw, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, will speak on the “Ranch Theft and How to Take Precautions From It”.   Bary Clower will finish the evening with some “Cowboy Comedy”.
            This year’s event is being sponsored by the Wise County Extension Livestock and Forage Committee.  The registration deadline is Monday, August 16, 2013.  To register, come by the Wise County Extension office at 206 S. State Street.  Checks can be made to:  Extension Livestock Committee.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Local 4-H Members Win Texas 4-H Opportunity Scholarship

Six local students were honored in June to receive scholarships to further their education from the Texas 4-H Foundation. Over 225 scholarships totaling over $2 million were awarded by the Texas 4-H Youth Development Foundation during the 2013 Opportunity Awards Ceremony June 10 in Reed Arena on the campus of Texas A&M University.

The Foundation’s scholarship program has 50 donors including the Houston Livestock Show and  Rodeo, San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo, Fort Worth Stock Show Syndicate, Southwestern Exposition & Livestock Show, Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo, and the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show along with the Richard Wallrath Educational Foundation, individuals, corporations, foundations, producer associations, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service professional associations, individual honorary funds and individual bequests.

These students, due to their outstanding grades and involvement in the 4-H program, were eligible for scholarships ranging from $1,000.00 to $20,000.00 from various donors. Wise County youth brought home a total of $52,000.00 in scholarships.

Alicia Erwin of Bridgeport has won the $1,500.00 Dot Schertz Memorial Scholarship for collegiate students. Erwin, a former member of Wise County 4-H, is currently a student at Texas A&M University at College Station.

Kara Demmitt of Bridgeport has won the $1,000.00 Floyd Lynch Memorial and the $1,000.00 Texas Extension Education Association. Demmitt, a member of Chico 4-H, plans to attend Tarleton State University.

Wesley Meadows of Paradise has won the $2,500.00 Heart of Texas Fair & Rodeo. Meadows, a member of Paradise 4-H, plans to attend Texas A&M University.

Kendall Vawter of Paradise has won the $10,000.00 Richard Wallrath Educational Foundation. Vawter, a member of Bridgeport  4-H, plans to attend Tarleton State University.

Alexandra Martinets of Bridgeport has won the $18,000.00 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. Martinets, a member of Bridgeport 4-H, plans to attend West Texas A&M University.

Bailey Morris of Chico has won the $18,000.00 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. Morris, a member of  Chico 4-H, plans to attend Texas A&M at Corpus Christi.

For these students, the hard work and dedication during their involvement in the 4-H program has truly paid off. With that being said, we would also like to congratulate the parents, siblings, grandparents and all individuals supporting these youth because 4-H does not only involve the child, it is about the family.

More than 65,000 Texas youth are members of 4-H community clubs in the state. The program, part of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, prepares youth to meet the challenges of childhood, adolescence and adulthood, through educational experiences in leadership, citizenship and life skills.

The Texas 4-H Youth Development Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose members promote and support youth development in leadership, vocational skills, social skills and citizenship.  The Foundation’s Board is a diverse group of 41 Trustees who share a common passion for improving the lives of Texas youth.  Trustees work to secure private funding to support scholarships and programs for Texas 4-H youth.

Annual 4-H Awards Banquet

Please make sure to RSVP early!!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Feral Hog Appreciation Day

The common question I have received the last couple of weeks is:  Do you really appreciate wild hogs?  Certainly that is not the case.  However, there is always something we can use them for. For instance, without feral hogs some of our weekend warrior’s wouldn’t have anything to hunt, or for many of you weekend BBQ’s would not be the same.  All of God’s creatures have a purpose. That being said, I bet for many of you the only purpose they pose is a nuisance and very costly to your operation with the damage they cause to your land.  The Feral Hog Appreciation Day will provide education to those who participate on how to control and manage feral hogs on their property.
The Feral Hog Appreciation Day will be held on August 13, 2013 at the Bridgeport Community Center – 1102 Lawdwin Street in Bridgeport, Texas.  The Cost of the meeting will be $25 if you pre-register or $35 at the door.  A pork loin lunch will be included. Registration will begin at 8:00 a.m. and will conclude around 3:15 p.m.
Topics for the day will be: What’s Your Feral Hog IQ, Appreciating Feral Hogs, Feral Hogs in Texas: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Status and Distribution of Feral Hogs in Texas, Feral Hog Biology, Landowner Attitudes on Feral Hogs, Interactions with Native Wildlife, Controlling Feral Hogs, Hunting Feral Hogs, Local Landowner Panel and Laws and Regulations Governing Feral Hogs.  Speakers for the Day will feature Dr. Dale Rollins, Wildlife Extension Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and representatives of the Texas Wildlife Service and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
This event is sponsored by the Wise County Livestock and Forage Committee of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Jack County – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.  Five hours of CEU’s will be provided to applicators that have a TDA pesticide license with 3 hours  General, 1 hour IPM, and 1 hour Laws and Regulations.
To pre-register please call the Wise County Extension office or if you have any questions please call Todd Vineyard, Wise County Extension Agent Agriculture & Natural Resources, Texas AgriLife Extension Service at 940/627-3341.


As the summertime temperatures rise we should take extra precautions to guard against overheating and possibly even heat stroke. Heat stroke is when your body over heats because it no longer has enough water to keep it cool - you stop sweating. You may become dizzy, weak, or unconscious. This is a life threatening condition and 911 should be called.
            During physical activity, your body temperature rises because muscles generate about 20 time more heat when you are active than when you are at rest. As your temperature rises, you begin to sweat. Sweating takes the extra heat and releases it to keep the body cool.
            The more active you are, the more water you lose. It is very important to replace water lost through sweating so you don’t over heat. When water is not replaced, the body temperature goes up. If you notice you are not sweating during physical activity, then you could suffer from heat stroke.
            You can get water many different ways; you don’t always have to drink it. Almost any nonalcoholic fluid will do as well as foods with a high water content. Try not to have too many drinks with caffeine because the caffeine causes your body to lose water faster. Keep plenty of drinks and food that you like around while participating in physical activity.  You will know if you have taken in enough daily fluids by the color of your urine – it should be pale or clear in color.
            Drinks and foods that can help replace lost water include: juice, coffee, and tea (decaffeinated is best), lemonade, sports drinks, soft drinks, soups, milk, smoothies, oranges, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers.
            If you are or anyone else show signs of heatstroke it is best to seek medical attention immediately. Until help arrives, drink about ½ a glass of room temperature water, not cold water, every 15 minutes and lie down in a shaded area.
            For more information contact the Wise County Extension office at 940-627-3341.