What People Wonder About Water

We're getting so used to use-by dates that sometimes we hesitate to make decisions without them. For example, when has an unopened bottle of water hung around too long?  Other questions come to mind: Where does bottled water come from? Which is better, bottled water or tap (municipal)?

Farmers' Markets: Why They're So Popular; How to Find One Near Your Home

Farmers' Market

In 1994, when the Department of Agriculture first began publishing a list of farmers' markets in the U.S., the figure was 1,755. By 2011, it was 7,175, and, by August 2012, the number of markets had increased an additional 9.6% to 7,864.  The August 2013 figure was 8,144, a 3.6% increase  above the preceding year.   Growth in the number of markets is slowing down, but it's still ongoing. In 2015, the total was 8,476. 

What Foods are Sold with Restrictions at a Farmers’ Market?

Farmers' MarketRestrictions and prohibitions on what foods can be sold and how they must be handled vary from state to state and from community to community.  You might find the rules  in your state and community listed online.

 

Regulations about foods commonly differentiate between those that are potentially hazardous  and those that are not.  Some farmers’ markets may prohibit all potentially hazardous ones, but most prohibit only some of these and stipulate how those they allow must be handled.  Some foods classified as potentially hazardous include dairy products, meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, sliced melons, raw sprouts, cut tomatoes, tofu, and garlic-in-oil mixtures.   All of these must be kept at the proper cool temperatures to avoid a dangerous level of pathogens.

How To Grill Safely

Grilling

Outdoor cooking was once mainly a summer activity, but now more than 50% of Americans say they do it year round.   Still, the number of grillers dramatically increases in the summer.  So does the amount of food-borne illness.  There is probably some connection between cooking and eating outside and contamination of food.  Perhaps the risk is greater for those cooking and eating away from home (picnicking or camping out) because they may not have access to refrigeration and clean, hot water for washing utensils and hands well.  However, even those grilling and dining in their backyards can benefit from tips on how to produce a safe and healthy meal.  In the U.S., outdoor grills are the cause of 19,000 emergency-room visits and 7,900 home fires every year.  

Summer Party Tips: Baby Carrots (Using for Dips) Hot Dogs (Ditching the Guilt), and Watermelon (Finding a Ripe One)

watermelon, carrotsSummer parties often involve dipping, grilling, and happily biting into fresh fruit. Here are some useful things to know about those mini-carrots perfect for dipping into guacamole or hummus, those hot dogs sizzling invitingly on the grill, and that giant watermelon waiting to be sliced. Nothing shouts summer quite as loudly as these foods.  Let's answer some FAQs about these ubiquitous treats.  Note: some questions express concerns about harmful substances in these beloved edibles. 

How do summer squash and winter squash differ?

Winter squash--also known as hard squash--comes in round, elongated, scalloped, and pear- shaped varieties with flesh that ranges from golden-yellow to brilliant orange. Most winter squashes, including acorn, butternut, and buttercup varieties, are vine plants whose fruits are harvested when fully mature. They take longer to mature than summer squash--3 months or more--and are best harvested once the cool weather of fall sets in. Winter squash can be stored for a month or more in a cool basement--hence the name winter squash.

Hot Dogs: What You Should Know about Them

hot dogDoug Sohn owned a Chicago restaurant named Hot Doug's, a popular spot celebrated for its sausage sandwiches.

What Americans Will Be Eating in 2017

Last night, for the first time, my neighborhood Mexican restaurant served me a side dish of   cauliflower rice (sometimes called riced cauliflower).  No, this dish doesn't contain rice; it's grated or chopped cauliflower that  could pass for rice. It's often mixed with other veggies (peas, corn, or diced carrots) and sometimes perked up with seasonings or lime. Cauliflower rice recipes are rampant on the Internet.

 

New Year’s Resolutions For a Safer Kitchen

Rinsing Food Can’t think of any new year’s resolutions because you’re already just about perfect? Shelf Life Advice to the rescue!  Here are some resolutions to obey and even post in your kitchen.  You may already have these posted in your brain if you’ve been an attentive Shelf Life Advice reader for the past few years.  In that case, post them for others who may be preparing food in your kitchen.  These pieces come from indisputably reliable sources—our Advisory Board scientists, government sites, and other food safety experts who have provided content for Shelf Life Advice.

How Long Will They REALLY last? Part II: Perishables

perishable foodPart II: Perishable Foods

 

Perishable foods--the ones kept in the fridge--are the ones consumers are most afraid of.  They worry that expired perishables might make them sick.  It's an almost wasted worry. In general, refrigeration keeps bacteria from growing to sufficient numbers to cause illness. Moreover, the bacteria scientists call "spoilage bacteria"--the ones that ruin the taste, looks, texture, and/or smell of food--grow faster than those that cause illness, so food usually turns yucky and gets discarded before it becomes a menace. 

 
 

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