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Keep food safe with advice from UC CalFresh

Always be mindful of the time when food is outside a refrigerator or freezer. Typically, it should be no longer than two hours, and just one hour in the summertime, according to UC Cooperative Extension UC CalFresh nutrition program coordinator Elizabeth Lopez in an appearance on the Valley Pubic Television program Valley's Gold. (The food safety segment begins at the 18:30 mark.)

Lopez recommends using an insulated grocery bag with a frozen ice pack for the trip home from the store, and refrigerating leftovers in sealed containers soon after finishing a meal to maintain food safety.

The UC Cooperative Extension nutrition educator also provided cooking tips with program host Ryan Jacobson, the director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau. Lopez noted:

  • Before beginning, wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds.
  • Make sure the food preparation area is clean.
  • Designate certain cutting boards for fruit and vegetables, and others for meat and poultry.
  • Wash fruit and vegetables under cool running water. No detergent is needed. Read the labels on pre-bagged produce. Some are ready to use, some need to be washed.
  • Use a meat thermometer. Cook beef, pork and lamb to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Ground meats should be cooked to 160 degrees F. Poultry, whole or ground, should be cooked to 165 degrees F.

For more information, Lopez suggested consumers consult the USDA's Food Safety.gov website or Food Keeper app, available free in the app store.

UC Cooperative Extension UC CalFresh nutrition program coordinator Elizabeth Lopez spoke about food safety on the Valley PBS program 'Valley's Gold.'
Posted on Monday, December 10, 2018 at 9:28 AM
Focus Area Tags: Food

Congratulations to UC Davis Pollinator Ecologist Neal Williams

A yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenkii, heading toward a California golden poppy. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

With all the increasing--and alarming--global concern about declining pollinators, it's great to see some good news: pollination ecologist Neal Williams of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is one of the Highly Cited Researchers in the...

A yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenkii, heading toward a California golden poppy. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenkii, heading toward a California golden poppy. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenkii, heading toward a California golden poppy. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Neal Williams working on his native bee research at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Neal Williams working on his native bee research at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Neal Williams working on his native bee research at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Lemon water tasting at UC research center kicks off an 18-month citrus sensory study

What flavors do you detect in a sip of lemon water? Are there notes of sweetness, sour, off flavors or fresh citrus taste? Scientists at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center and the USDA want to know every subtle taste sensation for a research project continuing over the next 18 months.

Participants will taste the major types of citrus to confirm that treatments used to eliminate pests in overseas shipments don't have an impact on fruit enjoyment. Lemon tasting will be followed by mandarins, navel and Valencia oranges, and grapefruit.

USDA plant physiologist David Oberland, left, and UC Cooperative Extension subtropical specialist Mary Lu Arpaia prepare lemons for tasting in the sensory laboratory.

“This work is critical for the citrus industry,” said Mary Lu Arpaia, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in subtropical fruit. “A huge amount of California citrus is exported, but if there are quarantined pests in the shipment, that triggers treatments with a fumigant.”

In the past, importers treated citrus with methyl bromide. However, the pesticide has been phased out because it depletes the ozone layer. An alternative fumigant, phosphine, kills the insects, but scientists don't yet know what impact the chemical will have on the fruit.

“We're hoping there's no taste difference,” Arpaia said. “But we don't know. That's why we're doing the testing.”

USDA technician Paul Neipp presents a tray for lemon water tasting in one of the sensory lab booths.

USDA plant physiologist David Obenland, based at the USDA office across the street from Kearney in Parlier, is working with Arpaia to conduct the study at Kearney's sensory laboratory. The 1,100-square-foot laboratory features neutral white paint and broad-spectrum lighting; the ventilation system minimizes distracting odors. Six tasting booths each have small windows that open to the kitchen area, where samples are prepared.

“Previous research has resolved residue issues and determined phosphine is effective in killing the pests,” Obenland said. “But they didn't fully determine whether the process would hurt the fruit.”

The current project compares fruit treated with methyl bromide, phosphine and a cold temperature protocol in which the fruit is held just above freezing for three weeks. In addition to tasting the fruit, volunteers evaluate the fruit's appearance.

The visual component of the testing session allows scientists to determine whether subtle impacts of treatment will deter buyers from selecting the fruit.

“People buy with their eyes,” Arpaia said. “We're asking our participants to compare the fruit visually to see if they detect any differences.”

The research is funded by the California Citrus Quality Council through a grant from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

Posted on Friday, December 7, 2018 at 8:06 AM
Tags: citrus (28), Mary Lu Arpaia (10)
Focus Area Tags: Food

When Queen Bees Get Permanents: Calendar That!

A UC Davis student wrote:

"Drones are male bees that contribute only in the perm production for the queen." So wrote an undergraduate student in one of Lynn Kimsey's entomology classes at the University of California, Davis. The student meant "sperm." But it came out...

A UC Davis student wrote:
A UC Davis student wrote: "Drones are male bees that contribute only in the perm production for the queen." That inspired Karissa Merritt to create this for the newly published Bohart Museum of Entomology calendar, now available for purchase.

A UC Davis student wrote: "Drones are male bees that contribute only in the perm production for the queen." That inspired Karissa Merritt to create this for the newly published Bohart Museum of Entomology calendar, now available for purchase.

“The swarmers are attracted to lights and tend to expose themselves in the evenings,
“The swarmers are attracted to lights and tend to expose themselves in the evenings," a UC Davis student wrote about mayflies. The result: this illustration by Karissa Merritt for the Bohart Museum of Entomology's innovative calendar.

“The swarmers are attracted to lights and tend to expose themselves in the evenings," a UC Davis student wrote about mayflies. The result: this illustration by Karissa Merritt for the Bohart Museum of Entomology's innovative calendar.


"The infected fleas can harbor rats, ground squirrels, rabbits, and occasionally, even house cats," wrote a UC Davis student. The result: this illustration by Karissa Merritt for the Bohart Museum of Entomology calendar.

"The infected fleas can harbor rats, ground squirrels, rabbits, and occasionally, even house cats," wrote a UC Davis student. The result: this illustration by Karissa Merritt for the Bohart Museum of Entomology calendar.

Displaying the innovative Bohart Museum calendars are museum associates and the director. From left are UC Davis entomology student Abram Estrada; intern Sophia Lonchar of The Met High School, Sacramento; Bohart Museum director Lynn Kimsey; UC Davis entomology student Wade Spencer, and Bohart scientist Brennen Dyer, a recent entomology graduate. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Displaying the innovative Bohart Museum calendars are museum associates and the director. From left are UC Davis entomology student Abram Estrada; intern Sophia Lonchar of The Met High School, Sacramento; Bohart Museum director Lynn Kimsey; UC Davis entomology student Wade Spencer, and Bohart scientist Brennen Dyer, a recent entomology graduate. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Displaying the innovative Bohart Museum calendars are museum associates and the director. From left are UC Davis entomology student Abram Estrada; intern Sophia Lonchar of The Met High School, Sacramento; Bohart Museum director Lynn Kimsey; UC Davis entomology student Wade Spencer, and Bohart scientist Brennen Dyer, a recent entomology graduate. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 5:45 PM

Can harvesting Christmas trees help the forest?

California forests are overstocked with conifers, and California residents want to decorate their homes during the holiday season with Christmas trees. The smart harvest of Christmas trees can kill two birds with one stone, according to UC Cooperative Extension forestry advisor Susie Kocher. Kocher spoke to Capital Public Radio reporter Ezra David Romero about the prospect of thinning the forest by taking home trees.

Smart harvest of Christmas trees can help thin the forest. (Photo: USDA)

"It's a great win-win solution," Kocher said. "You get the public out in the forest, you do good work reducing the density of trees."

Kocher, who lives in Lake Tahoe, holds a family Christmas tree harvest party every year. With $10 permits from the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, they trek through snow to select their trees. This year the management unit sold 2,000 permits. Kocher believes the program could be ramped up to further benefit forests.

“By removing some of the smaller trees, we are doing some of the work,” Kocher said. If left in place, the small trees grow larger, and more human resources, equipment and funds are needed to remove them. Moreover, the income from permit sales can be used for other forest-thinning projects.

However, some foresters are skeptical that harvesting Christmas trees is a realistic solution to management of California forests.

“It's great to have the masses come up during the holiday season full of mirth and cheer,” said Joseph Flannery with the Tahoe National Forest. “But I don't think there's the infrastructure in place to really make a dent in the hazardous fuels reduction needed.”

This story was also covered for KTVU Fox Channel 2 in the Bay Area by Lisa Fernandez. 

“You need a 4-wheel drive, and yes, you trudge through snow,” Kocher said. “It's not for everyone. But for those who want that adventure, it's super fun. I do it because I don't think there's a substitute for a real tree in the house. And we always turn it into a family party.”

Besides, she said, “I feel good about removing excess small trees.”

Posted on Thursday, December 6, 2018 at 3:05 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment

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