Upcoming Events



‘Fall Gardening Extravaganza’ Coming September 29th

We are pleased to announce that our ‘Fall Gardening Extravaganza’ will return in September!

After much success in 2014 and 2015, the Tallapoosa County Extension Office and Tallapoosa County Master Gardener Association have decided to host another grand event.  The 2017 event will be on Friday, September 29th at Central Alabama Community College in Alexander City.

We are very excited to offer another slate of well-known horticulturists and gardeners that have all agreed to come to Alexander City to speak at our 2017 “Fall Gardening Extravaganza.”  Get ready for this amazing 2017 all-star lineup of speakers as featured in the “2017 Fall Gardening Extravaganza” Event Pamphlet:

butterfly adorns the brochure cover for the "Fall Gardening Extravaganza" September 27, 2017 in Alexander City, ALChris VanCleave, speakers at the "Fall Gardening Extravaganza," Chris Van Cleave, Sara L. Van Beck, Felder Rushing, and Carol Reese“The Redneck Rosarian”, is passionate about gardening and growing roses. He was a contributor to the 2015 Southern Living Gardening Book, has appeared on P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home television show and was featured in the June 2015 issue of Southern Living Magazine. His writing is seen at HomeDepot.com and on his popular website, RedneckRosarian.com.

Sara L. Van Beck currently serves as a Corresponding Member of the Royal Horticulture Narcissus Classification Advisory Group. She has recently published Daffodils in American Gardens, 1733-1940 (2015), co-authored, with her mother Linda, Daffodils in Florida: A Field Guide to the Coastal South (2003), and has written articles for numerous other publications.

Felder Rushing is the international founder of Slow Gardening, a highly satisfying approach that focuses on finding and following personal garden bliss. He is author or co-author of 18 gardening books and a former Extension Service urban horticulture specialist who actually started the Master Gardener program in his home state of Mississippi. Felder has written thousands of gardening columns in syndicated newspapers and has had hundreds of articles and photographs published in regional and national garden magazines.

Carol Reese is an Ornamental Horticulture Specialist with UT Extension. She is a contributor to several garden magazines and writes a weekly gardening and nature column for the Jackson Sun in Jackson TN. Her talk – Take a Walk on the Wild Side –  will discuss how to create fabulous habitat and wildlife garden alive with birds, bees, and butterflies, yet have a sense of strong design and year-round appeal for the humans and other critters that enrich and entertain.

The 2017 ‘Fall Gardening Extravaganza’ will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Betty Carol Graham Technology Center located on the Central Alabama Community College campus.  Cost is only $25 per person and includes a lunch. Seating is limited and reservations are required.

“2017 Fall Gardening Extravaganza” Event Pamphlet


Must Register by calling the Tallapoosa County Extension office at 256-825-1050!

NO ONLINE REGISTRATION or PAYMENT BY CREDIT CARD

Registration Deadline is Friday, September 22, 2017

Master Naturalist Course Returns in October

After a well received and highly successful initial program last year, the Tallapoosa County Extension office will again offer the Alabama Master Naturalist Course beginning October 5, 2017.  The eight session course will be hosted by the Alabama Cooperative Extension and be held on Thursdays either once or twice a month.  Classes will be held at Wind Creek State Park in Alexander City from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Alabama Master Naturalist (AMN) program is a statewide program whose goal is to help promote awareness, understanding, and respect for Alabama’s natural world among Alabama’s citizens and visitors.  In addition, the AMN program will also develop a statewide corps of well-informed volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.

To become a fully certified Alabama Master Naturalist typically takes 1 full year, but it may take longer depending on the training regiment and track each participant chooses to follow.  A participant starts by completing a 40-basic training course that is offered through Extension.

In addition to the 40-hours of basic training, participants are also required to complete 30 hours of volunteer service during the first year (these hours will be split between a class project and other volunteer opportunities that meet the programs requirements). Once the basic training and the volunteer hours are completed during the first year, each participant will be identified as an Alabama Master Naturalist in Training.

During the next three years, an additional 30 hours of advanced training will also be required to become a fully certified Alabama Master Naturalist.  In addition, each AMN will be encouraged to complete a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer service as described in the AMN program per year.  AMN’s that complete and report their 40 hours of volunteer service per year will be eligible for special benefits associated with the AMN Program.

Classes topics will include:

  1. Taxonomy, Botany and Native Plants
  2. Freshwater Ecosystems and Living Streams
  3. Invertebrates (including Insects)
  4. Birds and Mammals
  5. Amphibians and Reptiles
  6. Alabama’s Cultural Landscape
  7. Geology, Soils and Weather
  8. Forests and Ecosystems

More details can be found in the 2017-18 East Central Alabama Master Naturalist Course Pamphlet. Cost of this course is $30 per day or $200 for all 8 sessions.

Alabama full or part-time residents who are interested in nature, enjoy the outdoors, and have a desire to help with natural resource management and conservation in Alabama are the perfect candidates to become Alabama Master Naturalists.  The AMN Program is open to adults who reside or work in Alabama for at least part of the year.  It is open to all adults regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status.

If you are interested in participating in the 2017-18 Master Naturalist Program, participants should call the Tallapoosa County Extension office at (256) 825-1050.  Space is limited.

RCS Alabama Announces Drought Funding

 

Eligible Landowners with Grazing Lands Encouraged to Apply

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2017 – USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist for Alabama Ben Malone announced that the agency is providing funding to assist landowners impacted by last year’s extreme drought. Agricultural producers statewide suffered losses from months with low rainfall. Eligible landowners are encouraged to apply by July 28, 2017. Alabama landowners living in counties identified as high priority will be assigned the highest priority for financial assistance because they were impacted the most by the drought.

Funding will be provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and will address fencing, water troughs, pasture, hay land re-establishment, wells, and prescribed grazing. In addition to others, these practices will not only help landowners recover losses from the drought, they will serve as a proactive step to help landowners in the event of future drought situations. Measures such as planting drought affected cool season grasses such as fescue and installing water tanks and fencing will make lands more sustainable.

“Landowners across the state have weathered the drought for months and these funds will assist them in replenishing losses and doing what they can to help their grazing lands recover,” said State Conservationist Ben Malone.

During the worst of the drought, USDA reported more than $30 million in disaster funds were distributed nationally for livestock feed programs and non-insured disaster support. In addition, because livestock feed was in short supply, cattle sales were 19% ahead of 2015. This impacted the value of livestock that was sold.

Alabama landowners who are interested in applying for drought funding should contact their local USDA NRCS service center in Tallapoosa County at 256-329-3084, Ext 2, Monday-Friday 7:30 – 4:00 and in Coosa County at 256-377-4750, Monday, Wednesday & Friday, 7:30 – 4:30 to learn more.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to:  USDA Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).

Youth Kayaking Lessons Top 4-H Summer Activities

Kayaking continues to be one of the fastest growing outdoor recreational activities.  It has always been very popular with adults but has increasingly become a great way to introduce youth to water sports and experience the outdoors.  The demand for kayaking programs is so great that the Tallapoosa County 4-H Team will host and teach multiple 4-H RiverKids kayaking lessons this summer across Tallapoosa County.

Kayaking Kamp

Our 3rd Annual 4-H RiverKids Kayaking Kamp returns on June 27-28th. This fun filled event is designed to introduce youth to the world of paddle sports. The half day program in Dadeville will teach water safety, how to paddle a kayak, and include a fun 2 mile float trip down Sandy Creek. Kayaks, life jackets, and shuttle service are provided. Cost is $10 for 4-H youth ages 9 to 18 (includes lunch).  Registration deadline is Friday, June 23, 2017 and spots will fill up quickly.

Schedule

4-Her’s will participate in a ½ Day Camp. Date and time preference will be assigned upon received registration.

River Kids_LOGO_COLOR copyJune 27th   –    Session A   –   8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

June 27th   –    Session B   –   12 noon – 5 p.m.

June 28th   –    Session C   –   8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

June 28th   –    Session D   –   12 noon – 5 p.m.

Review this Kayaking Kamp promotional flyer & agenda for more details and schedule.


Kayaking 101

Tallapoosa County 4-H will also host youth 4-H RiverKids Kayaking Lessons at Wind Creek State Park and Willow Point Cabana in Alexander City this summer.  One event will be Tuesday, June 2oth @ Wind Creek State Park and another event will be on Thursday, July 27th at Willow Point Cabana.The program will teach water safety, how to paddle a kayak, and include a fun 2 mile float trip along Lake Martin.  Kayaks and life jackets are provided.

Review these flyers for more details and schedule:

June 20th – Wind Creek State Park – Kayaking 101

July 27th – Willow Point Cabana – Kayaking 101


To participate in any 4-H RiverKids Event, a parent or guardian of each youth participant must complete and sign the:

Completed forms must be turned in to the Tallapoosa County  Extension Office prior to the event. Space is limited. Contact the Tallapoosa County Extension office at 256-825-1050 to sign up or for more details.

What did the Drought do to my Calving Season?

Memories of the fall of 2016 and its impacts on pasture availability and cow nutritional status are still fresh on most every Alabama cattle producer’s mind.  As fall calving programs move past the breeding season and spring programs focus on this important time, many producers are likely scratching their heads as to what impacts the drought may have on their cowherd’s breeding season success. This is rightly so, as lowered grazing availability likely led to some loss of body condition in many herds, and stand loss may leave some producers without adequate summer forage emergence.

The drought’s effects on your herd’s breeding season can be closely tied to the nutrition you were able to provide your animals to maintain their body condition score (BCS) throughout the calving and breeding season. Cows that calved at BCS lower than five could have experienced poor performance in the breeding season for two reasons:

1. Cows that calve at a BCS lower than five take more time to return to cycling than their BCS 5+ herdmates. Expect thin animals at calving to take an added 20+ days to return to cycling past their appropriately conditioned herdmates.

2.Animals that have a BCS lower than five during the breeding season experience lower pregnancy rates per breeding. Animals of BCS 4 or lower may experience a conception rate 10-30% lower than their BCS 5+ pasture mates.

Follow these two links (link 1, link 2) to learn more about BCS and its impact on pregnancy outcomes in your herd.

These facts are helpful in managing cattle to have a successful breeding season, but if the season has passed and you are questioning exactly what impact the drought had on your operation’s reproductive success, keep this factor in mind:  

You can know the pregnancy status of your herd quickly and economically. It is extremely important to perform annual pregnancy examination in your herd to identify and cull open cows. However if you are resistant to pregnancy check your herd, keep in mind that this year may be the most important year to implement this management practice. If cows became thin during the breeding season and you move forward on “faith alone” until calving time, there is a very high chance that you will experience lower calving rates than you had hoped for or seen in previous years. Pregnancy check cows 60 days after the conclusion of the breeding season or at calf weaning time to gain a true perspective on your herd’s reproductive status. With no pregnancy exam, you may feed open cows for 6-7 months before realizing that there is a problem. Without this information, you cannot manage your herd for profit potential as you look into the near future. Click here to read more about pregnancy exam options and how such knowledge can impact your herd.

Once you know your herd’s pregnancy status, you can make management decisions to increase your profitability outlook. You will also have tools to help you cull appropriate animals if the drought returns.

1. You will know which cows are not doing their job. Regardless of your breeding season existence or length, cows that are not pregnant by the time of traditional  calf weaning are not performing up to par. These animals are keeping you from reaching your profit potential and are consuming resources away from their herdmates. They need to go – even if they may become pregnant after weaning. Keeping such animals will only lower your herd’s overall reproductive performance and slowly suck dollars from you bottom line.

2.You will know what to expect for the upcoming calving season. If the drought led to thin cows at calving and breeding, you may have a higher percentage of late calving animals. Knowing your expected calving distribution will help you divide your manpower at calving time and begin thinking of a plan for calf marketing and how to manage cows to calve earlier in subsequent years.

3. You can combine body condition scoring with pregnancy examination to help identify thin, pregnant cows that may need additional supplementation to improve their condition before calving. Remember, we want cows to calve at a BCS 5-6. Post weaning is the best time to improve condition on thin cows. Evaluate your pasture availability and consider your ability to get weight on thin cows. Keep in mind that cows should gain about 80 pounds to improve one BCS. It is critical to return thin cows to an acceptable BCS before calving to limit the negative impacts of last year’s drought on your herd. If you do not have adequate pasture for such gains, you will need to supplement feed. Thin, pregnant cows with low production records may be a logical culling option if pasture availability is low and you do not have the resources to supplement feed.

If you have a large number of open cows at pregnancy check, you may be faced with hard decisions. There are several options to successfully move past this disheartening news:

1. Evaluate your cowherd. Discover possible reasons for the very low pregnancy rates. What is the herd average BCS? Were many cows of all ages open, or just your 2-3 year olds? What is the bull’s BCS and age? What was your bull:cow ratio? Did the bulls pass a breeding soundness exam before the breeding season?

2.Thin cows can be expected to gain weight at calf weaning if adequate grazing or supplement is available. If calves are still nursing and you are early in the breeding season, consider early weaning to allow cows to gain weight and hopefully avoid the low pregnancy rates we are currently discussing. Follow these two links to learn more about early weaning options (link 1, link 2)

3. If your breeding season is well over, consider the advantages and disadvantages of converting to a spring and fall calving season. In some herds, this management scheme works extremely well. Thin, open cows at this year’s pregnancy check can be moved to the opposite breeding season to reduce culling rates and still maintain a defined calving season. It is important to maintain a strict culling of animals in subsequent years to avoid creating a “reproductively lazy” herd. Using this second breeding season to strategically produce bred cows for sale versus open cull cows is also a viable option.

4.Retain your high standards. If your pasture availability is very low and you need lower stocking rates for your fields to recover, these open cows may be just your ticket. Culling of higher than normal numbers of open cows will lead to an increase in immediate monetary intake while decreasing your stocking rates for the near future as your pasture recovers. Rebuild your herd as your forages recover.

If the drought wreaked havoc on your breeding season, remember that it may take a few years to return to an ideal breeding season length. However, through proper management strategies of correct nutrition, strict culling, and replacing open or late calving animals with early calving heifers or purchased cows you can recover your herd from possible impacts of the 2016 drought.

If you have questions about determining and improving your herd’s reproductive performance, contact myself or other members of the ACES Animal Science and Forages Team.

Sarah Dickinson, M.S.

Regional Extension Agent I – Animal Science & Forages

Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Ph.D. Student – Reproductive Physiology / Molecular Genomics

Cell: 256-537-0024

Office: 256-825-1050

Email:sed0029@auburn.edu

Serving Chambers, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Lee, Randolph, Shelby, Talladega, and Tallapoosa Counties

10 Facts to Know About Dogwood Trees


Loved for early spring blooms, dogwood trees are features in many Alabama landscapes and celebrated in festivals throughout the South.  The white flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), plentiful across Alabama, is an ornamental deciduous tree native to the eastern half of the United States.

10 Dogwood Facts to Know

1. Dogwood trees sport white or pink flowers. However, the true petals are not the four showy blossoms. The tightly packed cluster in the center form the real blooms. What appears to be petals are actually bracts, which is a type of leaf.

2. Flower color of the native dogwood is a creamy white. A naturally occurring variety of the native dogwood, Cornus florida rubra, has pink blooms. Many cultivated varieties are available in nurseries and landscape centers. Dogwood trees often appear in brilliant shades ranging from soft pink to deeper cherry reds. As a result, these showy bracts can attract pollinating insects to the flowers.1. Dogwood trees sport white or pink flowers. However, the true petals are not the four showy blossoms. The tightly packed cluster in the center form the real blooms. What appears to be petals are actually bracts, which is a type of leaf.

3. In addition, there are 17 species of dogwood native to North America. Gardeners are most familiar with the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). According to Kerry Smith,  Master Gardener program coordinator for Alabama Extension, another common species is the Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa), or Chinese Dogwood. Kousa thrives in either full sun or shade and is much tougher than the flowering dogwood.

4. Many towns enjoy dogwood trees so much, they host annual parades or dogwood tours once the trees open their blooms in the early spring. North Carolina, Texas and Atlanta each host popular Dogwood Festivals each year. Vestavia Hills celebrates Alabama’s oldest Dogwood Festival and Trail.

5. Dogwood trees are often a preferred choice for planting because they are  low maintenance. Depending on the species planted, you might have a short, stout bush or a 25-foot tall tree. If carefully treated, a mature dogwood tree species may reach up to 30 feet in height as a result.

6. Since dogwoods grow in nature as understory trees, they prefer afternoon shade to shield them from blazing sunlight. According to Alabama Extension regional agent Sallie Lee, dogwoods are pretty versatile as a small tree. “It can be planted where larger-maturing trees would be a nuisance or a hazard,” said Lee. However, dogwoods still need room to grow. Lee advises planting dogwood trees at least 25 feet from structures to give the roots plenty of room to grow.

7. In the Southeast, the dogwood typically begins blooming in early March in the southern portion of Alabama and two to three weeks later in northern areas of the state. The bloom duration can last from two to four weeks.

8. Dogwood branches droop as the tree grows, and may need pruning to clear pedestrian or vehicle traffic. Pruning dogwoods can help shape them and improve their health. Prune if needed anytime after blooming. Alabama Extension regional Agent Mike McQueen said “since dogwoods bloom in early spring before May, wait until after they bloom to prune.”7. In the Southeast, the dogwood typically begins blooming in early March in the southern portion of Alabama and two to three weeks later in northern areas of the state. The bloom duration can last from two to four weeks.

9. Dogwoods have been used medicinally for generations. Since the bark is a rich source of bitter-tasting tannins, dogwood leaves often treated pain, fevers, backaches, dizziness, or weakness. According to McQueen, “dogwood bark was one of many barks used as a fever medicine before quinine came into general use.” Tea made from the bark was used to treat pain or fever.

10. Blooming by Easter, the tree and its flowers have inspired legends of their part in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Legend says that the bracts of the dogwood are set in the shape of a cross and bear nail marks of the Crucifixion, while the red leaves in autumn point to Jesus’s blood on Calvary.

To learn more about dogwoods, see Alabama Extension’s Selection and Care of Dogwoods at http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-1077/ANR-1077.pdf.

From Extension Daily

4-H Indoor and Outdoor Roundup – May 6th

It’s time for the next round of 4-H contests! Our 2017 Tallapoosa County 4-H Indoor and Outdoor Roundup will be on Saturday, May 6, 2017 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Dadeville Rec Center.

This county contest includes the following projects (rules and descriptions can be found by clicking on the link for each one):

Blocks Rock*, eXtreme Birdhouse*, Nature Craft*, The World I See*, What Wood U Build?*, The World I Imagine, Present it with Power, $15 Challenge, Chicken Que, Lawn Tractor, Project Green Thumb, and Freestyle Demonstration.

(Rules for Nature Craft, What Wood U Build? and Present it with Power can be provided upon request.)

4-H’ers may participate in up to 3 contests. Contests with an * are for club winners advancement only, however 4-H’ers may enter these contests if it was not offered to their club. (Ex. Nature Craft was a 5th Grade club contest, so 5th Grade Nature Craft club winners and anyone NOT in 5th Grade may enter at the county level.)

All members wishing to participate must register with our office no later than Friday, May 5 by calling us at 256-825-1050.

Trying New Vegetable Seeds Can Be Fun

Have you ever given much thought to the vegetable seeds you plant? Why do you plant them? Taste? Production? Disease resistance? Recommended from a friend? Many people plant the same cultivars each year and never think of planting anything else. The Extension System has taught many tomato workshops over the years and have a tomato taste test as part of the program. Many gardeners bring in some of their favorite tomatoes. We assign the tomato a number, then slice it up for tasting. Participants eat the tomatoes, not even knowing which one they brought. It is very interesting to see the participants who have grown a particular tomato for years because they thought it was the best, only to actually like several others that they have never grown. There are actually thousands of different tomato cultivars to choose from, and I do not know if someone would ever eat fruit from all of them but they can certainly have fun trying.

One question is where would someone find different tomato cultivars? Nurseries and farm supply stores have many cultivars ready for transplanting, and growing your own transplants is an option as well. Seed starting can be fun, and this opens the door to thousands of cultivars. The Extension System can help you if you have questions about growing transplants.

Tomato plants get several diseases that lower production, and cultivar selection could help decrease some of those diseases. Some of the common problems you can find resistance to include fusarium wilt and nematodes. However, resistance to verticillium wilt, alternaria stem canker, bacterial speck, gray leaf spot, tobacco mosaic wilt virus, and others are available. Tomato spotted wilt virus is common, and cultivars such as Bella Rosa, Amelia, BHN 640, Christa, Primo Red, and others are resistant. Growers can even find heat set tomatoes. Many tomatoes do not set fruit well with temperatures in the 90’s. While tomatoes do not perform well with high temperatures, the heat set tomatoes do better than others. Some of the heat set tomato cultivars include Phoenix, Red Bounty, Redline, Solar Fire, and others. Some tomatoes are more suitable for greenhouse production or high tunnel production than others, and choosing the right cultivar for those locations is very important.

Just check the tags where you purchase plants or seeds, and it will list the plant resistance. Tomatoes are not the only crop in which you can find disease resistant cultivars. If you have questions about disease resistance, seed starting, or most anything else, just call your local Extension office for additional information.

by Dr. Chip East, Regional Extension Agent for Commercial Horticulture

Dead Trees Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

Have you looked up lately? Many times after a long winter, people fail to look up and notice that something is wrong with their tree. If and when people do, they are surprised to find that a tree on their property is not doing well or has died. By mid spring, every deciduous tree that is healthy has at least shown some type of sign that it is alive by either blooming or putting on new leaves. Trees with no leaves, when they should have some, are either declining, dying, or dead. Any tree that you see that has yet to become green should raise a red flag and be labeled as a hazard.

A hazardous tree is defined as any tree that might fall and cause property damage and/or bodily harm and should be removed immediately.  This includes all trees that have dead branches, dieback in the top of the tree, extensive damaged or diseased areas, hollowed out, and/or are completely lacking foliage when they should not.

There are numerous reasons that cause trees to decline or die. Any time the most sensitive area of the tree, the roots, are attacked directly or indirectly, the tree will be harmed. Building construction near the tree, digging within the root zone, old age, and insects are the most common reasons. The traffic of heavy equipment during house construction causes soil compaction and limits the tree ability to take up nutrients and water.  Digging, for whatever reason, ultimately always severs trees roots and limits the tree’s longevity.  There is really no way to know how long a tree will live and bugs always manage to go undetected until the damage has been done.

Although the reason why a tree is unhealthy is important, your main concern should be removing that tree.  Once trees begin showing symptoms like that above, they may live several more years or could come tumbling down at any moment. Leaving them is very risky. Get rid of it and go buy yourself a new and better tree.

Regulating Salt Intake for a Healthy Lifestyle

Choosing to eat smart with a balanced diet is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle and lose weight.  One of the most overlooked ways to do this is to reduce your sodium intake.

Sheree Taylor, an Alabama Extension regional  agent in Human Nutrition, Diet and Health, said the average American adult consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, which exceeds the recommendations to have no more than 2,300 mgs. Additionally, those who have hypertension and diabetes are recommended to consume no more than 1,500 mgs per day.

What’s so Bad About it?

Consuming excessive amounts of sodium can cause your body to hold onto excess water. Taylor said it can lead to increased blood pressure. The American Heart Association says that excess levels of sodium can put people at increased risk for heart failure, stroke, stomach cancer, osteoporosis and kidney disease.

Step Away From the Processed Food Aisle 

One of the main sources of excess sodium is processed food which use it to enhance flavor.  “Most of the foods high in sodium are processed foods, fast foods and ready to eat foods. They usually come in cans, boxes, packages and jars,” said Taylor.  She recommends making a shift to preparing meals at home using more whole foods, such as fresh or frozen vegetables, and no salt added canned goods if you do use canned vegetables.” She said that when you prepare food at home, you have the ability to control the amount of sodium you take in, unlike when you eat out.

Fake Healthy

A common misconception is that diet focused frozen meals are a healthy alternative.

“On the food label, you will find these provide more than the salt recommendation per serving. This is usually due to reducing the amount of fat in foods. Fat provides flavor in our foods, so when you remove the fat, you have to get it from another source, such as salt or sugar.”  As a result of reducing the fat content, companies may raise the sodium levels, thus making your healthy option merely a less fatty option, Taylor added.

What Can You Do?

The most efficient ways to reduce sodium intake are to avoid eating processed foods, to reduce how often you eat out and to cook at home using whole foods.

Taylor suggests for those people wanting to reduce their sodium intake, “Learn to read food labels. To be low in sodium, a food should be 140 mgs or 5 percent or less per serving. Learn to cook more meals, increase fruit and vegetable intake, do not eat after 7:00 p.m., and consume more whole foods and less processed quick foods.”

Source: Extension Daily