Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Making this summer matter

Kari Lewis

Do you want to make this summer matter for your family? One simple routine that can have profound effects on kids’ academic success and health is eating together as a family. In reading an article from the American College of Pediatricians, teens who have dinner with their families seven times a week are almost 40% likelier to say they receive mostly A’s and B’s in school compared to teens who have dinner with their families just two or less times/week. Children ages 9 to 14 who have more regular dinners with their families are 35% less likely to engage in disordered eating and 24% more likely to eat healthier foods.

The article also shared that teens who have less than 3 family dinners per week are 2.5x more likely to use marijuana, twice as likely to use alcohol, and four times more likely to use tobacco. In addition, they are more likely to experience depression and more likely to engage in dangerous activities.

So, knowing the importance of family meals, how do families make it possible when family members are heading in multiple directions? Here’s a few tips:

· Eating together as a family is the main thing. Family meals can mean family breakfasts or a simple
Family meals don't have to be a five course meal, they can be breakfasts or even
sandwiches on the back of a pickup too!  Photo by Kari Lewis.
dinner of sandwiches or grilled hot dogs, it doesn’t have to mean a five-course meal.

· At the beginning of the week, spend a few minutes to jot on a calendar everyone’s activities and plan a few nights when there can be a dinner as a family. Ask your kids if there is anything they would like to try for dinner and involve them in the meal planning. Meal planning will also help with grocery shopping as well!

· Allow kids to pick out fruits and vegetables in the grocery store. To help make the right choice the easy choice, give them two equally good options. For example, instead of asking what they want for a snack, ask if you should get apples or bananas, both good options. They are still involved in the decision making and picking out healthy items.

· Involve the kids in the process of family mealtimes. Kids can help set the table, prepare a salad, shuck corn on the cob, mix ingredients, and clean up afterwards. In fact, you may even pick one night a week when it’s the kids’ responsibility to choose the menu and cook. This is great training and helps the entire family take ownership of the family meal.

Summer is a great time to work on making a dinnertime routine to carry over into the school year. Teens with frequent family dinners are one and half times more likely to have an excellent relationship with their mother and twice as likely to have an excellent relationship with their family and siblings, so if you desire peace and harmony in the family, eating together is a great place to start!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Water Hardness Wreaking Havoc with Pesticide Applications?

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

At a time of the season when there are plenty of times when spraying is an ongoing practice, let’s take a couple of minutes to talk about something that might make your pesticide applications less effective: water hardness.
According to an MSU Extension MontGuide titled, “Pesticide Performance and Water Quality,” the term water ‘hardness’ refers to presence of metals with a positive charge of more than 1, such as calcium, magnesium, and iron.  Total hardness is measured in parts per million (ppm) or in grains per gallon and labs typically report results in terms of calcium for simplicity, even though other metals are making up part of the hardness.  One grain (per gallon) equals 17.1 ppm.

These cations, or positively charged elements, can further reduce the effectiveness of weak acid pesticides, especially if the pH of the water is above the ideal range, which is so often true in our area.  The effect happens because of the pesticide dissociating into positively and negatively charged parts and the elements, such as calcium, magnesium and iron in the water, binding with the negatively charged portion of the pesticide.  This results in molecules that either can’t be absorbed by the target pest, enter at a slower rate, or form insoluble salts.  Hardness can range anywhere from 0 to over 800 ppm.  Water with a hardness between 0 and 114 ppm is considered soft, 114-342 ppm, moderately hard, 342-800, hard, and anything above 800 ppm is considered extremely hard.
Consider the following guidelines regarding hard water:

•Always read and follow precautions regarding hardness on the pesticide product label.
•Weak acid pesticides such as clopyralid, 2,4-D amine, glyphosate and dicamba may lose efficacy if hardness exceeds 150 ppm, especially if pH is greater than 7.0.

•2,4-D amine formulations can be totally deactivated if the hardness is greater than 600 ppm.

•Many other herbicides will lose efficacy if hardness is greater than 400 ppm, if iron is present.
Hardness can be reduced with the addition of dry ammonium sulfate at 8.5 to 17.5 lbs. per 100 gallons of water, or liquid fertilizers (such as 28 percent N, 32 percent N, or 10-34-0) at a rate of 1.25 – 2.5 percent per 100 gallons.  It works by reducing the pH and also through sulfate combining with hard water cations.  Performance might be enhanced further by the addition of a non-ionic surfactant.

If you have questions regarding your water hardness, please consider visiting with your local county Extension office about water testing options.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Avoid a Bummer Summer and Grill Foods Safely

by Wendy Wedum, MSU Extension Pondera County 

Today is the first World Food Safety Day. It was adopted by the United Nations last December.  Food Safety is everyone’s responsibility from how food is grown to how it is processed to delivery and how we each handle food at home.

Last week I talked about getting your grill ready for the summer and today I’m going to talk about food safety practices to make sure you can avoid food borne illnesses and not have a bummer summer.
Grilled food is hard to beat for family meals, camping, tailgating and more. It is also important to avoid any unwelcome guests such as bacteria that cause food borne illness. 

Start these simple food safety rules:
It is important to keep everything clean.  Wash hands before and after handling raw meats because harmful bacteria may be present in raw meat and poultry and the raw juices can contaminate cooked or ready to eat food. Have plenty of clean utensils, serving dishes and cutting boards ready for moving raw meats to the grill and clean plates to put the cooked foods on for serving.

It is important store ready to eat foods separately from raw meats.  Ready to eat foods are usually not cooked or reheated and raw meat juices can contaminate them. Examples of ready to eat foods include salads, side dishes, fried chicken and raw fruit or vegetables.

On the grill, meat needs to be cooked to a safe internal temperature to destroy bacteria. Use a food thermometer to check. The correct internal temperature for Poultry is 165°F, ground meat is 160°F, steaks, chops and roasts are 145°F. Remember to let steaks, burgers and chicken pieces rest 3-5 minutes before eating.  Roasts or a whole chicken may need 10-15 minutes to rest.  Resting helps finish the cooking process and lets the juices be reabsorbed for tender and juicy meat.

As you plan and prepare summer barbecues, remember to keep in mind loved ones who are most at risk for food borne illness. This includes children under 9 years old and adults over 65 years, pregnant women and nursing mothers, and people with weakened immune systems from chronic or short-term illness.

They are the why we keep things clean, why we separate raw and ready to eat foods, why we cook raw food to proper internal temperatures and why we keep all foods at safe temperatures.  Be sure to not take chances with your family’s or friends’ health. Keep hot foods hot, cold foods cold and when in doubt, throw it out.

For more information you can call me at 271-4054 or your own local Extension office. 

World Food Safety Day: 
Five Keys to Safer Food:
Summer Food Safety: