County Extension

  • Keeping bagged lettuce safe

     I eat lettuce right out of the bag. Since people know I teach and write about food safety, quite often they ask me about re-washing pre-washed bagged lettuce. I don’t and neither does Dr. Ben Chapman, the NCSU state specialist in food safety.

    Chapman said in a recent post to barfblog.com, a daily food safety blog he writes with Dr. Doug Powell, there’s really not much you can do, safety-wise, to bagged lettuce once it’s in your home. If there’s pathogenic E. coli, Listeria or Salmonella there (or others) you’re stuck with it.

  • Think fall: Consider a fall vegetable garden

     By Sam Marshall


    Fall is an exciting time in southeastern North Carolina. We finally get a reprieve from the heat and humidity and the bugs are more tolerable, which means you can begin to reclaim the outdoors and get back in the garden; and now is the time to start a fall vegetable garden. If you typically grow a summer garden — tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, squash — and no fall garden, you are only getting half the production potential from your beds and are missing out on some tasty cool-season veggies.


  • Garden honey-do’s

     My mother always said idle hands were the devil’s workshop, among other things I tried to ignore as a kid. If you are looking for ways to avoid becoming a conduit for Old Scratch, I have several garden honey-do’s that will pay off handsomely.

  • Shift to healthier fats

     The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015 edition) are recommending we shift to healthier fats. Specifically, the recommendation is to avoid saturated fats and trans-fats and consume more unsaturated fats. We also hear about omega-3 fatty acids, oleic, linoleic and other types of fats. If you start digging down into the nitty-gritty of oils and fats, information about fatty acids can get very complex very quickly.

  • Gardens reflect people, personalities

     A garden always reflects the person charged with managing it. I get bored rather easily and love to try new things. That’s why I have a garden of “onesies,” one of this cool plant and one of that cool plant. It might frustrate the hardcore landscape designer, but it’s OK with me.

    Trying new plants is one of my favorite things to do each year, even if it requires moving or removing another plant. Based on my experience over the last couple of years, you should consider adding African lily and firecracker plant to your garden.

  • Avoid those vacation pounds

     “Oh well, I’m on vacation and I’m going to eat everything I want.” Or, “I deserve to eat it, I’m on vacation.” You’ve probably heard people say this, or possibly said it yourself.

    Not gaining weight while on vacation is usually easier said than done, but you can still focus on a healthy diet and still have a good time.

  • Food safety and pregnancy

     When I teach food safety classes, we talk about highly susceptible populations. This means people who have a higher risk of getting sick from a foodborne illness (sometimes called food poisoning). People with weaker immune systems can get sick from a smaller number of pathogens than the general population. Highly susceptible populations include older adults whose immune systems are weakening due to because of age, preschool-aged children whose immune systems are still developing and people whose immune systems are weakened because of medication or a medical condition.

  • Bird baths enhance gardens

     Elly May Clampett from the 1960’s hit sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies” would be the first to tell you nothing’s better than having lots of critters around. While you might not have enough wealth borne of “Texas tea” to invite all of Elly’s exotic animals into your garden, it’s relatively easy to create a great space that’s for the birds. 

    Just like the Clampetts with their cement pond, birds like and need water for drinking and bathing. 

  • Home canning may be deadly

     I’m not just being dramatic when I say home canning may be deadly. A scary example of this happened last year. There were two deaths in Ohio linked to home-canned foods. These were potatoes processed using the wrong method and then served in potato salad at a potluck dinner. One woman died shortly after the dinner from the effects of botulism. Another woman died later in the year of complications of the foodborne illness. Please don’t take risks by not following tested and researched recipes and procedures.

  • Grilling burgers on July 4

     I bet there will be lots of burgers cooked over the upcoming long holiday weekend. On the upside, grilling burgers is a great way to spend time with family and friends. On the downside, grilling burgers can also lead to vomiting, diarrhea and all the other health effects associated with foodborne illness.