Monthly Archives: May 2015

An Apple a Day May Not Keep the Doctor Away: What You Need to Know About the Safety of Commercially Grown Apples

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An apple a day keeps the doctor away. As a family owned business, Mopfrog of Danbury heard that phrase from their parents and grandparents as a way to encourage choosing what was once one of the healthiest snacks available – a plump, shiny apple. Now, however, apples are at the top of a frighteningly different list.

This other list is known as the Dirty Dozen, an annual list of fruits and vegetables that contain the highest levels of pesticides, as compiled by one of the leading environment advocacy groups, The Environment Working Group (EWG). In addition to apples, peaches and nectarines, common berries, such as strawberries and vegetables such as celery, kale and cherry tomatoes also make the list. 

Apple Facts

If you are wondering how apples made the leap from healthy and wholesome to pesticide-laden, much of it has to do with the procedures used by non-organic apple producers to maximize the harvest and keep their product attractive and market-worthy both before and after it is grown. In addition to pesticides used to prevent insect infestation in the orchards while the fruit is growing, apple producers and packers commonly apply diphenylamine (DPA) to the apples after harvest to prevent discolorations from occurring during cold storage that would make the apples unsuitable for market. 

Although DPA has been banned from this type of use in Europe, it continues to be used by commercial non-organic apple growers and fruit producers here in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), includes diphenylamine in its NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. Symptoms related to exposure to this chemical are serious and include skin and eye irritation, hematuria (blood in the urine), increases in blood pressure, changes in heart rate and even reproductive issues. 

Sourcing Safe Apples

Apples, applesauce and apple juices have traditionally been favorite foods of kids and adults alike, which provides even more reason to search out and patronize apple sources that grow this fruit using pesticide-free, organic methods. Even if there are no organic orchards in your area, you may be able to source healthy apples through a food coop or even a friend or family member who has surplus apples from their own trees. Apples store easily, making it possible to purchase them in bulk. Most varieties will stay crisp and juicy in the refrigerator crisper or a cool basement for weeks or even months. 

To extend your enjoyment of organic, pesticide free apples (and other fruits), consider learning to make and preserve fresh applesauce and juice and store it in the freezer. Home canning can also provide a way to safely and easily process apples and many other types of fruit for long-term, shelf stable storage. As a bonus, home processing and preservation of fruits and vegetables means that you can control additives, such as sugar. When you are offering healthy, pesticide-free apples to your family, you can smile as you say, “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away”.

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The Great Debate: Can Hybrid Vehicles Lesson Your Family’s Carbon Footprint

Hybrid Car

The debate rages on inside environmentally conscious households about whether or not switching to a hybrid vehicle is the right thing to do. Some feel that purchasing a hybrid vehicle sends the wrong message to the car industry, and could result in delays in the design and production of better options, such as more versatile, longer range all-electric vehicles. Others feel that purchasing a hybrid now offers environmental advantages and an incentive to car companies to produce cars that offer even more eco-friendly qualities in the future. If you are trying to decide what is best for your family, Mopfrog of Atlantic City offers three good points to consider. 

Domestic Energy vs. Imported Oil

Hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, can rely on locally produced electricity for fuel. Families that choose to drive HEVs are effectively making the choice to purchase less gasoline and reduce their dependence on imported oil, often by as much as half. Choosing to utilize locally produced electricity instead of complete reliance on gas not only cuts their use of a non-renewable resource, it also creates benefits for their local communities, such as jobs and increases in tax revenues that support education and social programs in these communities. 

Travel vs. Consumption

Utilizing a hybrid electric vehicle for family travel and daily commutes does not have to result in increased consumption of fossil fuels. Instead, families may actually purchase far fewer gallons of traditional fuel when they choose to drive a hybrid vehicle and make full use of its hybrid nature to maximize fuel efficiency. Because the electric engine takes over for the gas engine during periods when the vehicle is stopped or idling, it is possible to go much farther on each tank of gas. This reduces your cost per mile driven, and removes much of your dependency on the world’s oil resources. 

HEV Emissions vs. Traditional Vehicle Emissions

Emissions are another area where hybrid electric vehicles can really make a difference. Not only are emissions greatly reduced when the electric engine takes over for the gas one while idling or sitting still, but the regenerative braking process helps the vehicle utilize energy that is wasted when driving a traditional vehicle. Kinetic energy formed by the braking process is converted to electricity in the hybrid electric vehicle and then stored in the vehicle’s battery banks to provide fuel for later needs.

Because the electric battery system takes over for one that is gasoline powered each time the car stops or idles, the energy that is captured during the braking process creates a constantly renewed source of power for the vehicle. This constant cycle of producing and storing electricity each time the car brakes decreases the need for gasoline and the emissions that are formed each time the gas engine is used.

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Food Safety Rules For Summer Cookouts

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Food safety is important every single day, but when cooking and eating outside, it should be taken even more seriously. With an entire summer of picnics, barbeques and campfire s’mores ahead, the following tips from Mopfrog of Lunenburg will help ensure that your outing isn’t spoiled by contaminated food or food borne illnesses. 

Keep it Clean 

Cleanliness is just as important in the backyard or camp spot as it is in the kitchen, so make sure to include a small spray bottle of sanitizing spray in your gear, and use it to wipe down your food prep areas and utensils. Make a simple solution by mixing three parts water to one part distilled white vinegar and storing it in a small, portable spray or squirt bottle to use when preparing food outdoors. In addition, remember to never cross-contaminate by using the same cooking utensils on raw and cooked foods, without washing them first.

Take along a bar of castile soap and some extra water to allow kids and adults to wash up carefully before preparing food or eating. It is recommended to vigorously wash your hands for a full 20 seconds to prevent spreading germs. If you can’t see a clock, just sing the Happy Birthday Song through two times. 

Contaminated ice is another way that bacteria are transferred when cooking, storing and eating outside. To avoid this, make sure that ice for drinks is separately bagged and that anyone doling out the ice has washed their hands thoroughly beforehand. 

Heat it Up

Meat that has been insufficiently cooked is a prime source of the type of bacterial growth that is capable of causing serious food borne illnesses. To avoid this risk, pack a food thermometer in your outdoor cooking gear and make sure that all raw meats, such as burgers are cooked until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, and poultry reaches 165 degrees. 

Cool it Down

To avoid food contamination during hot summer weather, make sure that food is kept thoroughly chilled both before and after cooking. Food that has been sitting out for more than two hours should be discarded. However, if the temperature outside is above 90 degrees, food should be thrown away after an hour. In addition, keep cooler lids closed as much as possible and restock them with fresh ice frequently to provide safe food keeping temperatures.

Just following these three basic summer food safety rules will help ensure that your family spends their summer having fun instead of dealing with food borne illness. 

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