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Learn how to use summer fruits and vegetables all year long

Agent

Toi Degree

By Toi Degree

Rowan Cooperative Extension

I’m sure by now you all are aware that each month has a theme or highlight of a particular disease and/or cause.  This is also true in the food world. June is a very popular month and has a lot of days with food highlights. The following are all “National Food Days:”

  • Egg Day (June 3)
  • Cheese Day (June 4)
  • Chocolate Ice Cream Day (June 7)
  • Herbs & Spices Day (June 10)
  • Kitchen Klutzes of America Day (June 13)
  • Eat Your Vegetables Day (June 17)
  • International Picnic Day (June 18)
  • First Day of Summer (June 21)

June also devotes the entire month to the following:

  • Beef Steak Month
  • Dairy Month
  • Ice Tea Month
  • Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month
  • Men’s Health Month
  • Papaya Month
  • Turkey Lovers Month

I have no idea who thought up these days or why they chose the months they did. But I do enjoy sharing them with you, and I like programming around the themed month. June is the peak of the summer; farmers’ markets begin to bustle, and produce stands pop up along the roadside, celebrating National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable month.

A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect on blood sugar which can help keep your appetite in check.

Eat a variety of types and colors of produce in order to give your body the mix of nutrients it needs. Try dark leafy greens, brightly colored red, yellow and orange vegetables and fruits, and cooked tomatoes.

Try these pointers to get more in your day:

  1. Keep fruit where you can see itThat way you’ll be more likely to eat it.
  2. Explore the produce aisle and choose something new. Variety is the key to a healthy diet.
  3. Skip the potatoes. Choose vegetables that are packed with more nutrients and more slowly digested carbohydrates.
  4. Make it a meal.Try cooking new recipes that include more vegetables. Salads and stir-fries are two ideas for getting tasty vegetables on your plate.

Getting your needed fruits and veggies is quite easy when they are in season, but what about when they aren’t?  Some people begin to think about how they can preserve nature’s bounty for later.  This is where I come in. I have had several conversations, and it is clear that some want to learn more about freezing and other food preservation methods.

So I have planned a series of classes to address those needs.  Join me for the following:

Wednesday, July 25 – Freezing 101 (fruits and vegetables)

Wednesday, Aug. 1 – Water Bath Canning (jams, jellies, tomatoes, etc.)

The classes will be held at Rowan County Agriculture Center, located at 2727 Old Concord Road.  Participants will learn the basics of food preservation and gain hands-on experience. I will be the instructor. There is a limit of 20 people per session and once that limit has been reached, all others will be placed on a waiting list for future sessions.

There is a $10 charge for each workshop. Pre-registration is required, and each session will be held from 6-9 p.m.  Please pre-register by 5 p.m., one week prior to the class by calling 704-216-8970 or emailingtoi_degree@ncsu.edu.

Also, if you would like to have your pressure canner tested, I will test lids every Monday through Aug. 13 during the hours of 2-4 p.m.

Toi Degree is the Family & Consumer Education agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension, Rowan County Center.

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