September 26, 2011

Have You Ordered Your 4-H Apples and Pecans?

Jean Rogalsky, 4-H Youth Development Agent

Time is running out to order your 4-H apples and pecans. The last day to order is October 4.

This fund raiser of the Pinellas County 4-H Foundation benefits those who purchase the apples and pecans as well as the Pinellas County 4-H program. The buyers of the delicious apples receive a nutritious product fresh from the tree. The pecan buyers receive a versatile nutritious product guaranteed to be this year's crop. Did you know that store pecans are sometimes stored from the year before?

Benefiting from the purchase of the apples and pecans are the 4-H members. Each year $6,000.00 is allocated to assist 4-H members to attend Camp Ocala, 4-H Congress, weekend leadership workshops, compete at regional and national level, and other educational opportunities. As one 4-H member wrote, "At camp I made the best new friends and learned how important communication and respect is. Without the scholarship, my parents couldn't afford to send me and I wouldn't have had these great friends or learned so much!"

There are two kinds of apples offered in full or half bushels. A bushel of apples, in case you've forgotten, is approximately 40-42 pounds.

EMPIRE - This is a cross between a Red Delicious and McIntosh. They are medium sized fruit with dark red skin with a sweet tangy flavor that resembles McIntosh though with better color, flavor and keeping ability.

CRISPIN/MUTSU- This apple is a cross between Golden Delicious and Indo made in 1930 in Japan and introduced in 1948. It was renamed Crispin in England, a name that still persists in the US. The large to extra-large fruit has a yellow green skin with flesh similar to Golden Delicious though, slightly coarser in texture and tarter in flavor. This is an excellent all-purpose apple (baking, freezing, apple jelly/apple butter) that keeps well.

Whichever type of apple you buy, you will be purchasing one of the most nutritious fundraising items. While an apple a day may not keep the doctor away, apples are one of the best snack choices to make.

A medium sized apple contains 81 calories and zero grams of fat. Eating one apple will supply you with 3 grams of dietary fiber (12% of Daily Value) and surprisingly, 13% of the Daily Value of vitamin C. (National Dairy Council)
A full bushel of apples sells for $34.00 and half bushel for $20.00.
The plain Georgia pecans are sold in 16 ounce bags in halves or pieces. They sell for $10.00 a bag.

The chocolate covered, cinnamon glazed, and cluster pecans come in a decorative 12 ounce bag. They also sell for $10.00.

A one-ounce serving of plain pecans (approximately 20 halves) contains 196 calories, 20.4 grams total fat (1.8 saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 2.7 grams dietary fiber and over 19 vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, potassium and zinc. One ounce of pecans provides 10 percent of the recommended Daily Value for fiber. Pecans are also a natural, high-quality source of protein. Pecans are also naturally sodium-free.

The apples and pecans are due to arrive the last week of October. Pickup dates for the apples and pecans are Oct. 26, 27, 28 and 29th at the Chester Ochs 4-H Educational Center better known as the Ochs 4-H Garden located at 14644 113th Ave. N. Largo. The parking lot is located off of 146th Street (Hamlin).

What better way to start your holiday shopping than to order plain pecans for holiday recipes and beautiful bags of covered pecans for gifts?
For more information on the apples and pecans, and to order, click here.

September 19, 2011

A Global Food Crisis

Ramona Madhosingh-Hector, Urban Sustainability Agent, Pinellas County Extension

On October 16 2011, the United Nations will recognize World Food Day under the theme of Food Prices – From crisis to Stability. Since 1979, the United Nations has celebrated World Food Day as an opportunity to build awareness of the problem of hunger in the world encourage technological and economic cooperation amongst countries strengthen international and national agricultural efforts, and focus attention on food security.

In the past, we may have thought that only developing countries were facing food shortages, increased food prices and food safety concerns. The new reality is that global trade has left many nations struggling with food production and distribution issues. Food prices are continuously increasing caused either by climatic events that affect crop production or spurred by higher food transportation costs caused by increases in other commodities e.g. petroleum. Given these circumstances, it’s easy to understand how food security becomes a national security issue.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) refers to the increased food price phenomenon as food price volatility. According to FAO, food price volatility is here to stay and presents a major threat to food security. Population increases, biofuel fervor, and protectionary agriculture measures contribute to the difficulty of stable food prices. The FAO Food Price Index was 231 points in August 2011, a 26 percent increase for the same period last year. Cereal, oils/fats, dairy and sugar price indices all reflected increases compared with the same period last year. Only the price of meat appeared to be stable with a 1% total increase over July 2011. To combat food price volatility, the FAO supports increased investment in agriculture. Investment options include infrastructure upgrades, marketing systems, extension and communication services, education, and research and development.

At home in the United States, we are well aware that food security is an important issue. Local food movements like community gardens and urban farms are one mechanism by which residents are taking hold of food production and distribution and minimizing food safety concerns. These new food ventures are likely here to stay as consumer concerns revolve not just around the price of the agricultural commodity and its point of origin but also around the inputs that are used in the production process and the food safety laws that govern international products. The nutritional value of our agricultural goods is also at stake.

With one billion hungry people worldwide, it is important to remember the definition of sustainability which pledges to “meet the needs of the present”. As we celebrate World Food Day in October, let us all do our part to ensure that the residents in our communities have access to food in sufficient quantities and of a high nutritional value.

Overview World Food Day 2011
Food and Agricultural Organization
Get Involved – World Food Day
EDIS factsheets on Food Safety
Pinellas County Food Donations

September 12, 2011

Streamline Your Finances

Nan Jensen RD, LD/N Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, Pinellas County Extension

Do you ever feel like there are too many things to do and never enough time? Most of us could probably answer yes to this question. By investing some time and effort into organizing your financial life, you can save many hours and even a significant amount of money. The Financial Deposit Insurance Corporation offers some tips to help

1. Use direct deposit. Make sure to have your pay, pension or Social Security benefits automatically deposited into your bank account. It is easy, convenient and a much safer option. It may even help you avoid bank fees. Direct deposit also gives you access to your money sooner than with a paper check.

2. Automate recurring bills. Often merchants like insurance companies, or utilities, will allow you to pay recurring bills with an automatic withdrawal from your checking account or through a charge to your credit card. However, be sure to record these transactions in your check register to avoid overdrawing your account. And if you charge the bills to a credit card, pay the balance in full by the due date to avoid interest charges.

3. Consider online banking. This service allows you to review deposits and withdrawals, keep track of your balance, and move funds between accounts.

4. Save money automatically. Arrange with your bank or employer to automatically transfer a certain amount into savings accounts or investments on a regular schedule.

5. Consolidate accounts. By consolidating accounts you can reduce mail and paperwork, avoid certain fees and may even get better deals. This step makes it easier to monitor your entire portfolio and ensure that your money is properly diversified. If you plan to consolidate your deposits at one institution make sure the combined funds don't exceed the FDIC's deposit insurance limitations.

6. Look into money-management tools. Software that you download to your computer or Web services managed by your bank or another third-party can give you an updated snapshot of all your account information from multiple institutions, in one place. The programs also can help you organize your finances, understand how you spend your money, and spot a potential fraud or theft.
Do your homework and choose a known and trusted organization, as most of these services collect account numbers and passwords along with other confidential and personally identifiable information

7. Update your legal documents. In addition to reviewing your will, check the beneficiaries listed on life insurance policies and retirement accounts. Update documents that would enable someone to handle your finances or other personal matters if you lose the ability to do so. Be sure to let loved ones know where copies of all legal documents can be found.

8. Get your papers under control. Set up a central filing system at home for your financial records and designate one place for gathering your bills.

9. Don't let a disaster catch you off guard. If an emergency were to occur and you had only few moments to evacuate your home, perhaps for several days or even weeks, would you have access to cash, banking services and the personal identification you need to conduct your day-to-day financial life? Make sure you have all your family's records and valuable documents in one place so you can easily pick them up and take them with you. For information on what types of records to take, check out Disaster Planning: Important Papers and Documents.

10. Learn more about managing your finances. There are many on-line resources and classes to help you learn more about managing your financial life. Pinellas County Extension is offering a Focus on Your Finances series October 11, 18 and 25. To register go to Pinellas County Extension and click on the registration button.

September 6, 2011

First Annual Pinellas Home Energy Symposium September 24th

On September 24th UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension will host the first annual Pinellas Home Energy Symposium. This year’s theme is retro-fitting your older Pinellas County home.

Pinellas County was developed most extensively in the 50s-70s and the homes built then did not have the energy efficient components that today’s homes have. As a result, most residents live in homes that can waste electricity— creating higher power bills and putting a greater demand on the power company to produce more energy. Register today for this free, 3-hour symposium online at

A keynote address and a panel discussion will answer participants’ questions on what the best retro-fits are for Pinellas County homes, and what incentives/financing is available for making those improvements.

The keynote address will be from Dr. Jennifer Languell, Founder and President of Trifecta Construction Solutions. Dr. Languell has been a champion for green building and sustainable design for nearly two decades. Dr. Languell is one of the country’s leading sustainability consultants and is currently on the National Governors Association Policy Academy on Advanced Energy Solutions. Dr. Languell is based in Ft. Meyers Florida, and certainly knows the challenges of energy efficiency in a hot, humid climate.

Confirmed panelists include:

Dr. Randall Cantrell, University of Florida Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in Housing and Community Development. Dr. Cantrell has recently completed a 7-year stint at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center where he served as Manager of Innovation Research. His appointment at UF is 60 percent extension education and 40 percent research. His main area of focus is on educating homeowners about how to increase the performance of their home.

John Ferrari, LEED AP, BD+C, Vice President of Business Development at EcoAsset Solutions, a subsidiary of Lykes Bros. With over 20 years of global business development experience, John most recently served as a co-founder and CEO of DwellGreen, a leading franchisor in the building performance management sector. John is also a LEED Accredited Professional and a Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker. John currently serves on the boards of DwellGreen, the US Green Building Council’s Gulf Coast Chapter, Myakka River Branch, and the Florida House Institute.

Gary Cook, Account Executive for Progress Energy-Florida. Gary oversees Progress Energy’s “Home Advantage” program in the Pinellas County area. The “Home Advantage” program is an incentive program designed to encourage builders to build up to the ENERGYSTAR level. After serving twenty-one years in the United States Marine Corps, Gary began his career with Progress Energy in 1997. He worked in the Energy Management department until 2002. Gary transferred into the “Energy Efficiency” department where he works today with several builders in the Tampa Bay area.

Jeremiah Rohr, Lead Instructor, Solar Source Institute, Largo. Jeremiah took his background in industrial technology and construction management and married that with his interest in solar technology and today provides education in solar thermal and photo-voltaic principles at the Solar Source Institute. Jeremiah’s interest in solar dates back to the energy crisis in the ‘70s. Jeremiah’s vast knowledge of manufacturing, engineering, construction and project management makes him a valuable “one-stop-shop” for questions about solar devices for saving energy.

Richard Duncan, Pinellas homeowner, recent Sustainable Floridian Graduate and alternative energy practitioner. Richard has installed both solar water heating and solar photovoltaic energy production systems at his home. Richard will be able to address the ins-and-outs of pursuing and obtaining alternative energy upgrades to the home. Would he do it all over again? Ask him on the 24th!

Other panelists will cover financing for energy efficiency upgrades.

Registration for this free symposium is available online Space is limited, so sign-up today. Registered participants will receive a free LED replacement light bulb. This lighting-for-the-future today replaces a traditional 60 watt incandescent light bulb, but uses 80% less energy and lasts 50 times longer. These LEDs were made in Florida, and are being provided by a grant from the US Department of Energy.

Refreshments will be provided by Solar Source Institute.

What: Pinellas Home Energy Symposium

When: Saturday, September 24, 9:00 am – noon

Where: UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension, 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo, 33774

How register: visit and select the Extension Service under the Registration tab on the main page. Follow the easy instructions and you are in!

See you on the 24th.