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There are a lot of things going on in this world right now that can make us feel anxious, worrisome, sad, upset, angry, and even defeated. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t felt any of those feelings in the last several months. Maybe you’ve experienced one of the following scenarios.

Pepperoni pizza in takeout box
  1. Showered a few minutes extra to cry so no one would see or hear you.
  2. Locked yourself in the bathroom to get a few extra minutes of tranquility.
  3. Felt like you can’t continue and just want to feel like yourself again.
  4. Cried in your room for a quick minute when everyone left just to let go.
  5. Ordered pizza for dinner because time escaped and you’re just too tired and emotionally drained to cook anything.
  6. Felt alone, even with others around you.
  7. Felt upset that something you were looking forward to was canceled.

The truth; I have done/felt all of those things over the last several months and I am here to tell you that you can find joy and even build hope. Once I wiped my tears away I began to use positive self-talk to tell myself that I am enough and that I can overcome any obstacle in my way. I wasn’t going to let my stress control me. The Mayo Clinic reports that if we continue to not deal with our stress then it can contribute to many health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Some of the strategies I have used to help me has been to:

Letter blocks spelling “rest”
  • Take a walk
  • Listen to a mediation
  • Take some deep breaths
  • Laugh- a lot
  • Talk with friends and family
  • Read a book
  • Listen to positive, uplifting songs
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Eat healthier foods
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Practice yoga

Please know that if your symptoms continue then you need to seek professional help. A healthcare provider may want to look into other causes or refer you to a counselor who can help you identify your stress and offer new coping tools. Several years ago I was in a very stressful job situation.  I let this stress go untreated. My personality changed and I needed to seek medical help. I felt defeated but my healthcare provider was very supportive and encouraging. She was able to prescribe me a medication to help me through that situation. It’s okay to ask for help, and pizza for dinner again is okay too.

You have worth.

You are important.

You are wonderful.

You are enough.

Bohlen, A. (2019, July 22). Finding joy Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/07/22/finding-joy/

Mayo Clinic . (2019, April 4). Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

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Flu or COVID-19?

The flu season is fast approaching.  If you are sick can you tell if it’s COVID-19 or the seasonal flu?  What is the difference?

Symptoms of the flu and COVID-19: 

Woman coughing and has warm clothes on and looks cold and not feeling well.

Flu (Influenza) Symptoms:

  • Dry cough
  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Headache  
  • Fatigue

COVID-19 Symptoms:

  • Dry cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing (in severe cases)
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Body or muscle aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Congestion or runny nose

Many of the symptoms are similar, as both have a dry cough, fever, headaches, body aches, and fatigue.  However, with COVID-19 you may have shortness of breath which usually does not happen with the flu.   Another common COVID-19 symptom is loss of taste or smell.  In some people the fatigue can be so bad they do not get up to drink or eat, which increases the risk of dehydration. 

When unsure what you have, you should consult with your health care professional.  If you have any of these symptoms:

  • difficulty breathing
  • confused
  • bluish lips or face
  • persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • may be dehydrated

Please go to the emergency room and get check out.  These symptoms can have severe complications or lead to them. 

What about the flu?  Influenza can be serious in certain people such as young children, older adults, and those with immunocompromised conditions as they are more at risk for serious complications. For anyone over the age of 6 months the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the annual flu shot.   You may think why bother getting the flu shot this year.  However, any time we can reduce our risk of serious complications and problems we should take our health care providers advice.  If you are unsure if you should take the flu shot, please talk it over with your health care provider as they have better knowledge of your health status.  

Person giving a shot to someone in the arm.

Don’t put off getting the flu shot.  It may take two weeks before it’s effective.  Many pharmacies are offering it free, so there is no excuse.  With getting the flu shot you increase your chances of avoiding the flu. 

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Fayette County

Reviewer: Lorrisssa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Belmont County

References: 

Center for Disease Control and Prevention, (2020).  Seasonal Flu Shot. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/flushot.htm.

Mayo Clinic, (2020).  Flu Shot: Your Beat Bet for Avoiding Influenza, Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/in-depth/flu-shots/art-20048000?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=heart-health

Tolliver, S. (2020). A Cold, the Flu or COVID-19:  What’s the difference? The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center,  Available at https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/cold-flu-or-covid19?utm_source=osuwmc_marketing_allpatient&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=202009_corp_covidemails

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I bet you remember to charge your phone, tablet, computer, or even electric car — but when was the last time you recharged yourself? Recharging includes getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals and snacks, and taking a vacation or sick day when you need it. But it also includes finding time to do a hobby or something that relaxes you, which will reduce your stress and can provide a mental escape. When you do not take time to recharge, you are just like your phone, operating on low power. During COVID we may have had to stop doing some of our favorite stress relieving activities. I know I miss concerts, college football, and movies with my friends. If this is you, or if you have gotten so busy with work or family that you have forgotten to make and take time for yourself, you may have allowed the stress in your life to build. Hobbies provide physical and mental health benefits by giving us an alternative place to focus our time and mental energy, reinvigorating us. Other benefits from hobbies may include:camera, drink, book

  • A Sense of Accomplishment – You will gain satisfaction by completing a project like a quilt, a painting, a book, or a faster time on your jog or bike ride.
  • Build Your Creative Side – Especially for people who cannot be creative at work, having a creative hobby is great for your brain. Studies have found that employees who have creative hobbies are more satisfied with their jobs and are often more creative with work projects too.
  • Prevent Burnout and Provide Balance – A hobby may provide fun and something to look forward to after a hard day at work or a stressful time taking care of family members.
  • Improved Physical Health and Even Immunity– Studies show that when you engage in enjoyable free time activities you have lower blood pressure and a lower Body Mass Index (or BMI) even if the hobby isn’t necessarily active. Stress weakens the immune system and by recharging you can help keep yourself well.

Children benefit from hobbies too, by having a higher self-esteem, learning patience and social skills, and developing critical thinking skills and creativity. Remember that children who are involved in hobbies are not spending time on negative activities. Encourage younger children to try several activities as hobbies – something physical, something creative, and something mental (geocaching, crafting, music, cooking, or even magic). While some children may consider gaming to be a hobby, promote other hobbies that do not use a screen. Hobbies may be especially important to children who are missing social interaction and organized sports activities right now.

Hobbies provide both physical and mental health benefits to adults and children. In fact, companies report looking for employees who have hobbies. They feel these employees are more balanced, less stressed, and more creative. What hobby is your favorite? Respond with a comment. Personally, I’m a reader, reading is food for my soul. When I miss more than a day or two of reading I may actually tell my family “give me 30 minutes to read, I need it”.

While I wrap up, remember that part of recharging may be talking to someone. This could be a friend, family member, co-worker, counselor, or helpline. One example is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). This service is available to anyone who needs to talk; you don’t have to be thinking about suicide. Services may also be available from your employer, through your employee assistance program.man playing guitar

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Reviewers: Laura Stanton, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60@osu.edu and Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Sources:

Cornell Cooperative Extension, http://cceclinton.org/home-family/parent-pages/leisure-time/childrens-hobbies-have-big-payoff.

Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/joop.12064.

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I love any type of juice in the morning- grape, orange, apple, cranberry, punch. It gives me that quick energy that I need to jump start my day. Juice is naturally high in carbohydrates and calories, and also some antioxidant vitamins such as C and A which help the immune system, promote heart health, and prevent cancers. Citrus juice has B vitamins and minerals such as potassium which promote nerve and muscle health. Some juice products are fortified with calcium and vitamin D which are helpful to bones and teeth. Juices such as grape juice have other antioxidants and phytochemicals which are anti-inflammatory and can also promote healthy cardiovascular systems and prevent some cancers.

As someone who lives with type 1 diabetes, juice can also be helpful to have around in case I have a low blood sugar. With that in mind, I have to be especially mindful of serving sizes when I drink juice because it could also cause a spike in my blood sugar if I don’t take enough insulin. Most juice has about 30-40 grams of carbohydrate per 8 oz serving. 8 oz doesn’t look like much in today’s mega-glasses, many of which can easily hold 32 ounces! I normally will try to use an 8 oz glass when pouring juice. In addition to being high in carbohydrates, juice is also acidic, which is especially problematic for tooth decay. Experts recommend not brushing teeth until at least an hour after consuming acidic products.

Not all juice is created equal. Most experts recommend drinking 100% juice because vitamins and minerals are higher. However 100% juice is also high in fructose, naturally found in fruit. Many juice cocktails on the market have fewer carbohydrates since they contain added sweeteners and are still fortified with vitamins. Be sure to read labels when shopping for juice.

Fruit juice lacks an important nutrient found in whole fruit- fiber. Fiber helps the digestive system, lowers cholesterol, promotes a healthy colon, lowers blood sugar spikes, just to name a few benefits. Eating an orange or an apple will give you the fiber and also the juice!

Parents should be careful not to introduce juice too early to their children. The sugar in juice can be harmful to teeth, and too much can contribute to childhood obesity. Kids should get used to drinking water, low-fat milk, and other low-calorie products. Parents can also look for lower calories juice products.

Consider other alternatives to juice such as:

Fruit infused water or herbs

A splash of juice in a spritzer

Lemon infused water, with some honey or sweetner

Tea

Author:  Dan Remley, MSPH, PhD, Associate Professor and Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Reviewer: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

Sources:

WebMD: Juices, the Best and Worst for Your Health. Retrieved on 9/8/20 from https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-juice-wars

WebMD: Choose Fruit Wisely. Retrieved on 9/8/20 from https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/features/fruit-diabetes-sugar

Remley, D. Nutrition and Dental Hygiene: Myths versus Facts. Retrieved on 9/8/20 from https://livehealthyosu.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=12050&action=edit

Photo by PhotoMIX Company on Pexels.com

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Everything changes immediately after hearing the words, “you have cancer.”  The world seems to stop in that moment and you are paralyzed by fear.   Be patient with yourself and allow yourself time to adjust.  There are many important decisions to make, do not make them in haste.  Carefully consider your options as you choose your healthcare team, manage prescriptions and treatment options and navigate financial and insurance concerns.  Focus on what you can control and create an action plan that includes the following steps to live your best life with cancer.   

  • Communicate with your healthcare team.  Learn as much as you can about your diagnosis.   If you are experiencing short- or long-term side effects, let them know.  Do not suffer in silence.
  •  Eat well.   Recognize that cancer and its treatment may cause side effects that make it difficult to eat.  Aim for 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables daily.  Include citrus, dark green and yellow vegetables. Whole grains, beans and lentils helps to fuel the body.  Limit high fat foods and snack frequently through out the day with power snacks.
  • Hydrate.  Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Hydration helps regulate body temperature, aids in the absorption of vitamins and nutrients and  promotes optimal organ function.
  • Stay active.  Walking to the mailbox, lifting soup-can-weights or hitting the gym, physical activity is important. When you exercise, you are present in the moment and less focused on worries. Discuss  physical activity options with your doctor for an approved exercise plan.
  • Get enough sleep.   Insufficient sleep makes coping with challenges difficult.  Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per night for optimal function.
  • Practice gratitude.   People who approach life with a positive attitude are less stressed.  Make a mental list of the things you are grateful for every night before you sleep.
  •  Get Organized: Feeling out of control is driven by disorganization. Which adds to general stress.  Reduce clutter and get organized.  You will focus on more important things.
  • Learn relaxation techniques.   Studies show that people who meditate regularly (even just three minutes!) feel calmer and more in control. Try yoga. Take a walk-in nature. Sit quietly. Spend time with your pet.  Try mindfulness.
  • Say “No” When Necessary: Boundaries are important. Do not feel bad when you feel like you need to say no. Avoid taking on more than you can commit to and do not feel guilty about it.
  • Lean on Your Support System: Stay connected with family and friends.  This leads to less stress and better coping ability. Do not be afraid to ask for support during these times.

Written by: Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County  lobb.3@osu.edu

References:

https://cancer.osu.edu

https://www.cancer.org

https://www.cancer.gov

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As the world finds its way through the uncharted waters of this pandemic, you may find yourself navigating your own course. With stay-at-home orders, canceled events and limited gatherings, we are all experiencing isolation and loss on some level. Perhaps you have even suffered from depression at some point this year. You’re not alone.

Person sitting with hands folded, displaying stress symptoms

A mid-summer poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation reported over half of US adults indicated the pandemic has affected their mental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the stress from pandemics can bring about these responses:

  • Fear and worry about health (your own and loved ones’)
  • Fear and worry about your job or finances
  • Concern about loss of support services you depend upon
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Decline of chronic health conditions
  • Increase of mental health problems
  • Increased use of tobacco, alcohol and other substances

With all of these stressful thoughts, it’s no wonder we may be feeling anxious, which can lead to depression. And while there is so much that is out of our control, there are some things we can do to take care of ourselves and those around us.

Cope with stress

  • Learn the facts about COVID-19. Just knowing the facts can reduce stress and help you feel more empowered.
  • Learn what to do if you are sick. The first step is to contact your healthcare professional.
  • Find out where to get treatment, support services and resources, including counseling or therapy (in person or through telehealth services).
  • Take a break from news and social media. Constantly hearing news of the pandemic adds to your stress.
  • Distract yourself from the stress of the pandemic by taking up a new hobby or something that adds purpose or joy to your life.
person walking on road near woods

Take care of yourself

Connect with others

  • Talk with people you trust about your feelings and concerns.
  • Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, consider connecting in different ways: online, social media, phone or mail.

This pandemic won’t last forever, even though it may feel endless at times. Until then, use these tips to take care of yourself and to live healthy AND well!

Sources:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html  

Robinson, L. and Smith, M. “Dealing with Depression During Coronavirus.” HelpGuide.org. Last updated: May 2020. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/dealing-with-depression-during-coronavirus.htm

Panchal, N. et. al. “The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use.” The Kaiser Family Foundation. August 2020.  https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

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In July  I set an out of office message.

“I am out of the office on vacation. I will be seeing national parks, family, friends, and the Rocky Mountains; I will not be seeing emails.”

And I left.  For two whole weeks! It was glorious and much needed.  

My daughters enjoying the North Rim of the Grand Canyon July 2020

According to research done by the U.S. Travel Association, Americans left 768 MILLION vacations days unused in 2018. That statistic surprised me given how often a friend, neighbor, or colleague says, “I need a vacation!” in conversation.

Allow me to persuade you on why you should use your vacation days:

Are looking for better physical or mental health? Want to achieve a goal you’ve set? Take a vacation!!!

Several studies have shown that taking time away from your job can have physical and psychological health benefits. People who use their vacation time have lower stress and less risk of heart disease.

You may be familiar with stress when it comes to your job. Vacation helps with that too! Stress contributes to heart disease and high blood pressure. Chronic exposure to the stress hormone cortisol can alter our brain structure. This can contribute to anxiety and depression.  Time away from work can increase feelings of calm and relieve stress.   This allows our brains to heal in ways it can’t when it is under pressure.

Physically, the benefits are positive too.   For both men and women, the New York Times reported, taking a vacation every two years compared to every six will lessen the risk of coronary heart disease or heart attacks.

People who vacation also have a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve their goals. One study three days after vacation found subjects’ physical complaints, quality of sleep, and mood had improved as compared to before vacation found.  These gains were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacation. Returning to work can increase mental focus, creativity, and productivity. 

If you are thinking that your current budget or financial situation does not allow a vacation at this time, allow me to point out none of this research says WHERE or WHAT you have to do for these benefits. Those benefits are available when you take a break from work! A Caribbean island may sound relaxing, but there is plenty of relaxation to be found close to home. Recently the popularity of staycations has grown.  You may be missing some great destinations right in your backyard.  Stay close and get creative if you have to, just don’t add your vacation days to that 768 million. 

Wherever your vacation takes you, we hope it is relaxing!

Author: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewer: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Resources:

COVID 19: Staycation. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://dhr.delaware.gov/benefits/covid-19/documents/eap-staycation-ideas.pdf

Harmon, M. (2020). It’s Vacation Time. Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Scienceshttps://livehealthyosu.com/2020/06/29/its-vacation-time/

Importance of taking vacation. (n.d.). Retrieved August 25, 2020, from https://www.allinahealth.org/healthysetgo/thrive/importance-of-taking-vacation

Kim, A. (2019, August 16). A record 768 million US vacation days went to waste last year, a study says. Retrieved August 25, 2020, from https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/unused-vacation-days-trnd/index.html

US TravelAssociation (2019). PAID TIME OFF TRENDS IN THE U.S. Retrieved from https://www.ustravel.org/sites/default/files/media_root/document/Paid%20Time%20Off%20Trends%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf?utm_source=MagnetMail&utm_medium=email&utm_content=8%2E15%2E19%2DPress%2DVacation%20Days%20Release&utm_campaign=pr

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By April, the writing was on the wall. More people were gearing up to plant vegetable gardens than we’d seen in quite a while. That meant that more people were planning how to preserve their abundance of produce.

Apparently as people were stocking up on toilet paper, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, they were also purchasing canning jars and lids. I actually don’t know all the reasons why there is a shortage, as it doesn’t seem to be very newsworthy material. But it is true that canning lids, or flats, are very difficult to find right now.

It may remind some of you of a similar incident in 1975. A shortage of raw materials that year caused a great reduction in production. Lid manufacturers were even asked to testify before Congress about the reasons for the nationwide shortage.

Instead of focusing on what we can’t change, let’s focus on what we can. (No pun intended there.) Here are some things to consider.

How old are the lids you are using?

When I called every store I could think of within a 20 mile radius and learned they were all out of lids, I then sent a text to the first hopeful source that popped in my mind – my aunt. I knew that she was freezing a lot more than canning these days, so I hoped she might have some. Sure enough, she had a variety on hand. Regular lids. Wide mouth lids. Ball lids. Completely unbranded lids.

I laughed when I looked at one of the price tags. It was a small ziptop bag with three dozen lids from a bulk food store for $2.89. I had just been on Amazon a few hours earlier to see prices like $13.25 for one dozen.  There were some cheaper options, but delivery dates are about a month out.

According to the Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet “Canning Basics”, lids will last for about 5 years. After that time, the gasket compound may fail to seal on jars. It is recommended to only buy what you will use within one year.

Are you thinking of reusing lids?

The National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP) is a trusted site for research-based recipes and processing best practices. According to NCHFP, “Lids should not be used a second time since the sealing compound becomes indented by the first use, preventing another airtight seal. Screw bands may be reused unless they are badly rusted or the top edge is pried up which would prevent a proper seal.”

It is simply not safe to reuse a lid that has already been processed.

Are you screwing those bands on too tight?

The last thing you want to do now is to process your jars and get a bad seal, resulting in a lost lid and the need to reprocess. So, once you have filled the jars to proper headspace, release any air bubbles with a flat plastic spatula. Then be sure to wipe the jar rims with a dampened paper towel. A clean jar surface is key for ensuring a good seal. The next important step is to screw on the metal band only until it is fingertip tight. This is critical so air can escape from the jar. Over tightening can cause lids to buckle and jars to break, especially with raw-packed, pressure processed foods like green beans.  

Have you considered freezing instead?

If you are short on lids, freezing is an excellent, alternate method of food preservation. The “Food Preservation: Freezing Vegetables” fact sheet has all kinds of tips and recommendations for freezing.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Ross County

Sources:

Ohio State University Extension Ohioline (2015) Canning Basics. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5338

National Center for Home Food Preservation. The University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences (2020) https://nchfp.uga.edu/

Ohio State University Extension Ohioline (2015) Food Preservation: Freezing Vegetables https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5333

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"Fake news" on wooden game tiles.

Misinformation, disinformation, fake news…. All these terms, in general, describe the same thing: information that is out of context, missing details, lacking reputable sources, or is just plain false. We hear about misinformation within the context of world or political news a lot, but misleading information can appear elsewhere. Misleading and incorrect information shared about health and wellness and can lead to health decisions that could put you at risk. If something seems suspicious, it might be worth a fact check!

Mediawise, a branch of the fact-checking site Poynter suggests these three questions when looking to discover if something is factual or missing the mark.

  1. Who published the information?
    • By answering this question, you may uncover a potential bias by the author or agency. For example, a company selling a weight loss supplement may not be the best place to learn about a new “miracle” vitamin that the company is selling. A good place to begin this step of the fact-check is to look at who is sharing the information and how they will benefit from such a claim.
  2. What is the evidence?
    • Looking more into the evidence behind the claim can shed light on information that supports or discounts the claim. This article claims, “Teenager left ‘blind’ from diet of Pringles, chips and bread”.  When reading this headline alone, it is easy to be skeptical of the information presented. Looking at the evidence, it is a BBC article and they are a reputable news source without a bias for reporting the story. They interview experts familiar to the case in question and share the science behind what happened. The article also cites a case study from a reputable medical journal that shows further evidence to support the headline’s claim.
  3. What do other sources say?
    • A search of keywords in the suspicious article is a good way to find out what other sources say about the topic. When investigating a “miracle” vitamin or fact checking another claim, look for trustworthy, evidence-based sources. Depending on the topic, a reputable fact checking site may have already done the work for you!

Doing a fact-check only takes a few moments, it can help you make evidence-based decisions. A fact check might just prevent you from sharing misleading or false information on your social media feed.


Author: Courtney Woelfl, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Cuyahoga County

Reviewer: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Miami County         


Sources:

Roberts, M. BBC. (2019). Teenager ‘blind’ from living off crisps and chips. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-49551337

WBUR. (2020). ‘Everything’s Worth A Fact-Check’: Network Teaches Teens To Debunk Online Myths. https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2020/08/11/mediawise-teen-fact-checking-network

World Health Organization (2020). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Mythbusters.  https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters#pepper

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If you are out and about at farmers markets this summer, don’t be afraid of the monster zucchini! Finding fresh and unique food for a bargain is always exciting.  This weekend at the market I found a zucchini the size of Texas for .50 cents!  I hesitated to buy it because I was taught that they “aren’t as tender and have more seeds.” But I wanted to find out for myself if this were true, plus I was really curious how many dishes I could make from one large zucchini.

Traditional harvesting instruction for zucchini says to pick when they are young and tender, bright green, about 6-8 inches long and with no signs of bruising or softness.

While experimenting with this monster zucchini I learned:

  1. The inside was not tough. The inside was very edible and tasted almost as good as smaller ones. However, it did have a giant seed pocket that I removed.
  2. Large zucchini have longer shelf lives.  While smaller zucchinis have skin that is softer, large zucchinis skin may be tougher (think of it like a pumpkin shell) to protect the flesh for a long time and allow it to continue to grow inside without getting soft quickly.  This tougher skin can help keep large zucchini fresh for at least a month after harvesting instead of 3-5 days. If you find that the skin is too tough to eat, just peel it! Then use the inside to cook and eat as you would normally.
  3. You can save the big seeds inside for planting next year. One large zucchini could have hundreds of seeds in it! Just like pumpkin seeds you just need to dry them out, then you can save them and plant next year…free food!
  • You can make baked goods with zucchini that can be frozen for later use.  Making zucchini bread is one of my favorite things to do to use up zucchini! If you need some inspiration, try this Zucchini Cheddar Bread recipe that won first place for quick breads at last year’s Ohio State Fair. If you don’t want to freeze baked bread, you can also grate and freeze zucchini, then thaw and use it to bake with later.
  • You can use large zucchini slices to make zucchini lasagna. Simply follow your regular lasagna recipes but use zucchini in place of lasagna noodles.  Cutting the zucchini lengthwise lends itself to the perfect lasagna “noodle” and softens as it cooks. How perfect is that! No mess with boiling a noodle first, and you get extra veggies in your meal. 

In the end, my .50 cent monster zucchini experiment paid off!   I made lasagna that served 10 nurses on my son’s cardiac unit, 2 loaves of zucchini bread, and baked zucchini rounds rolled in egg, bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. PLUS, I even saved some of the big seeds to plant for next year!

Author: Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Licking County

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County         

Sources:

University of Minnesota Extension (2018). Growing Summer Squash and Zucchini in Home Gardens. https://extension.umn.edu/vegetables/growing-summer-squash-and-zucchini-home-gardens#harvest-and-storage-341015

Homegrown & Healthy (2020). What to do with overgrown zucchini. https://homegrownandhealthy.com/what-to-do-with-overgrown-zucchini/

Ohio State University Extension (2015). Food Preservation: Freezing Vegetables. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5333

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