Life Times Newsletter

Spring 2007
Vol. 9, No. 2

All for only $3: A grandmother’s story

Elizabeth Reinsch, Ph.D., LCSW/ACSW
uman Development Specialist

    You often hear today how money doesn’t go as far as it used to. This may be true, but let me share a grandmother’s story.

    On a sunny Saturday morning in early spring, a grandmother takes her 2-year-old grandson for a walk across the park to the neighborhood coffeehouse, where they purchase the usual medium decaf coffee and one blueberry muffin costing $3. Coffee is for Grammy, and the blueberry muffin is for the grandson, who quickly picks out all the visible blueberries and gulps down a big bite of muffin.

    Now that’s a pretty good value for $3, yet if we backtrack to the beginning of our journey, those three dollars add up to so much more.

    Consider the chubby cheeks of the 2-year-old, awaking early in the morning, running to Grammy with a smile on his face and in his impish way saying, “Coffeehouse, coffeehouse, Grammy!”

    Grammy knowingly replies, “Yes, we can go to the coffeehouse. Get dressed.”

    We get the red wagon out. My grandson and I are soon off on a journey, heading down the street, into the park. At this time of year, the park explodes with color. The magnolia trees of pink and white are in full bloom, the yellow forsythias are spilling over with abundant flowers, the jonquils and daffodils of various colors are spread throughout the lush green areas to brighten the day.

    Neighbors and strangers walk, run or bike on the paths. Dogs, birds, squirrels are everywhere. The park is full of life. The short 15 minutes it takes to walk across the park to the coffeehouse have instilled memories that hopefully will last a lifetime.

    In our society today, where the value of the dollar has decreased, there are some things that have not been affected. Regardless of the buying power of the dollar, we as grandparents, parents and families can many times get the best for our buck by giving time. How precious it is!

    Remember: The only time we actually have is the present. Not the past, which is gone. Nor the future, which is to come. Only the present is what we have to give. Give it wisely, and enjoy the little things around us.

    Yes, $3 can purchase a lot. Try it sometime!

How to keep fruits and vegetables safe

Mary Schroepfer, MED
Nutrition & Health Education

    Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. Careful handling of these products reduces the risks of foodborne illness.
    Recently there have been cases of fresh melons, prewashed spinach, raspberries, herb mixtures, and green onions being contaminated with germs (bacteria, viruses, and parasites), usually from the intestinal tracts of animals. Harmful bacteria may be in the soil or water where produce grows. Or fresh produce may become contaminated after it is harvested, such as during preparation or storage.

Consumers can take steps to avoid contamination of fruits and vegetables.




Pre-washed produce

Precut, bagged produce items like lettuce are often pre-washed. If so, it will be stated on the packaging. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), pre-washed, bagged produce can be used without further washing. As an extra caution, wash the produce again just before you use it. Precut or pre-washed produce in open bags should be washed before using.

    Avoiding cross contamination

Safe Handling of Raw Produce and Fresh-Squeezed Fruit and Vegetable Juices. (Updated July 12, 2006).  FDA, Center for Food
Safety and Applied Nutrition.

Fruits and Vegetables: Food Safety. (October 2006). FN-JSK.159.
University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

Ah, spring! Ah-choo! Gardening tips for allergy sufferers

Timothy W. Horton, MS
Horticulture Specialist

    With the emergence of flowering plants of spring also comes allergy-causing pollen. If you are a gardener who suffers from
allergies, how do you feel about the arrival of pollen-producing plants? Are you excited to go outside and enjoy the warmth of spring? Or do you dread the suffering of allergies that can come along with it?

 By following a few recommendations, you can get out and enjoy the garden while minimizing your exposure to allergens in the garden.

Types of pollination

Pollen is a powdery substance produced by flowering plants that contains the male reproductive cells of the plant. It is carried by wind and insects to other plants, which it fertilizes.

Insect or self-pollination. Some plants produce pollen grains that are large in size so they can be easily picked up and moved by insects. This heavy, large pollen is not blown by air, so it is hard to inhale. As a result, it is responsible for fewer allergic reactions in people.

Plants that are either self-pollinating or cross-pollinated by insects fit into this category. These include rose, geranium, petunia, pansy and salvia, for example. Generally speaking, plants with bright, showy flowers tend to cause fewer allergy problems because they are insect-pollinated rather than wind-pollinated.

Wind pollination. Wind-pollinated plants produce small, light pollen that is easily picked up by the wind. It can travel great distances in the landscape and is easy to inhale, resulting in more allergic reactions. Weed and grass pollen fit into this category. 

Many trees, including oak, birch, cedar and cottonwood (to name a few) produce wind-blown pollen, but tree pollen generally doesn’t travel great distances. (An oak tree in your yard will expose you to 10 times more pollen than an oak tree one block away, so avoid planting high pollen-producing trees in your landscape to minimize your exposure.)

Tips to avoid allergic reactions

Hopefully, following these tips will help reduce your exposure to pollens causing allergic reactions. Happy gardening!


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University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller