Important food safety tips to follow at local farmer's markets




Finney County Extension agents

The Finney County Extension Office welcomes Lehisa de Fornoza as the new family and consumer science agent. Lehisa comes to Garden City from Wichita. Lehisa previously worked in the Family Nutrition Program at the Sedgwick County Extension Office. Come by the Extension office and welcome Lehisa to the county.

Food safety at farmer's markets

From spring into fall, farmer's markets provide a variety of fresh produce, as well as many other foods. Most people think that food safety problems occur solely from eating tainted meat, dairy and processed food products. Many people believe locally grown fruits and vegetables are completely safe. Unfortunately, several cases of foodborne illness have been connected with fruits and vegetables.

Being a "locavore" and eating foods grown near where you live have become a popular practice, as many people want to support their local farmers. Here are some tips to keep in mind the next time you buy produce at your local farmer's market.

* Get to know your growers: Buying local doesn't eliminate opportunities for contamination, which is why it's good to get to know your local farmers. Ask your growers about what kind of pesticides they use and how they keep their products free from bacteria and other contaminants. You can also ask them about how to store produce, how to test for ripeness and even for new ways to prepare your favorite fruits and vegetables.

* Get to know your seasons: Pay attention to when your favorite fruits and vegetables are in season, that way you can eat local foods when they are at their peak taste, most abundant and least expensive. Although it's great to eat local, it's not always possible, so don't rule out including frozen fruits and veggies in your diet. Fruits and vegetables chosen for freezing tend to be processed at their peak ripeness, a time when — as a general rule — they are most nutrient-packed. With that in mind, experts say that it is more important for your health to eat a varied diet, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains no matter where they are grown.

* Don't forget to wash: No matter where your produce was grown, always wash it thoroughly before serving or consuming. All produce is subject to dirt, dust and other pathogens. While most fruits and vegetables need to be washed thoroughly in cold water, some types of produce require a little more attention.

* Salad greens: When washing spinach or lettuce, experts recommend filling a bowl with water and rinsing them gently to remove dirt particles and other contaminants.

* Apples, pears, peaches: Fruits with stems are known to trap dirt and bacteria more easily that other produce, so be sure to always wash and rub them under cold water.

* Oranges, avocados, melons: When preparing to eat fruit with a rind, it's important to wash the item even if you don't plan to eat the outside. Rinse the skin under cold water and rub it with a brush or a cloth to loosen bacteria and dirt.

Bacteria can get stuck in the fruit's crevices and transfer to your hands, or to the knife you're using to cut the fruit, so make sure to wash your hands and utensils after cutting.

* Carrots: When cleaning carrots, rinse with running water before peeling. Even if you aren't eating the skin, it may contain bacteria that can transfer to the edible parts during preparation. If you are eating the skin, scrub it lightly with a brush or cloth before cooking

Source: Institute of Food Technologists.

For more information on food safety at farmer's markets and roadside stands, see Farmer's Market Guidelines — Kansas Department of Agriculture

Finney County Fair 4-H, FFA and Open Class Livestock

County fair livestock entries (beef, sheep, swine and goats) are due Monday to the Finney County Extension Office. Entry forms are available at the Finney County Extension Office, at and

For more information on the Finney County Fair, please go to the website at

Finney County Fair photography entries

Photography entries to the Finney County Fair need to be mounted on photo mat board. Photo mat board is available at the Finney County Extension Office for a fee. Information on how to mount the photo available in the Finney County Fair Book.

Liquid assets

Water is necessary to protect the body's health. Some critical functions of water within the body include:

* Transportation: Blood, which is 83 percent water, is the body's transportation system for oxygen, nutrients, hormones, enzymes and other life-sustaining materials to the cells. Blood also carries waste products to organs for removal.

* Lubrication: Water is present in the mucous linings of organs and in the fluids between internal organs. These fluids make movement easier and reduce friction within the body. Water also lubricates joints, making it easier for our bodies to move.

* Digestion: In the digestive tract, water is present in mucus, salivary juices and digestive juices. These help break down certain foods and transport food through the digestive system.

* Temperature control: It's important for good health that the body's temperature stays within a narrow range. Since water changes temperature slowly, the water in our bodies is able to store heat and help regulate temperature. Water also helps regulate body temperature through perspiration. Heat leaves our bodies as we sweat, and the water evaporates off the skin.

* Waste removal: Our bodies produce wastes in many ways. Water plays a key role in removing them through our urine and bowel movements. Wastes also leave our bodies through perspiration and in the air we exhale. Water plays an incredible role in keeping your bodily systems functioning properly.

Dehydration may lead to migraine headaches. Muscles are weakened when they are slightly dehydrated. Dehydration can cause muscle cramping and loss of muscle coordination. Dehydration can damage your kidneys because they have to work too hard to remove toxins and waste products.

Water contains no calories. Drinking water may help reduce appetite. Water assists the body in metabolizing fats. When you feel hungry, your body is often only dehydrated. Fluids are the most important foods consumed during the day.

For more information on your "Liquid Assets," contact the Finney County Extension Office.

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