Are You Ready? It’s National Preparedness Month

Are You Ready?  National Preparedness Month offers tips on how to be prepared in the event of an emergency. (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Are You Ready? National Preparedness Month offers tips on how to be prepared in the event of an emergency. (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Living in Arizona means we don’t have to worry about most of the natural disasters that plague other parts of the country.  We never need to worry about hurricanes, earthquakes and tornados rarely happen here, and wildfires and flooding sporadically occur.  While we do have to deal with dust storms at certain times during the year, we get off pretty easy when it comes to natural disasters.  Unfortunately, this can make many of us lackadaisical about emergency preparedness.

The fact is, it doesn’t take a natural disaster to cause the kind of emergency for which you and your family must be prepared.  You only need to look at the problems with the water supply in West Virginia earlier this year, where a spill from a chemical plant corrupted the water supply leaving thousands of people without usable water for weeks.  Or to any one of the school or workplace shootings that have occurred in the past year.  The fact is, emergency preparedness means being prepared for all kinds of emergencies, not just those created by Mother Nature.

So, what can you do?  There are two basic things that every family should do to ensure they are ready for the most common situations.

  1. Create and Practice a Fire Prevention and Evacuation Plan

More than 3,000 Americans die in house fires each year and another 17,500 are injured.   Make sure your family is protected from this common danger by taking the following steps:

  • Installing smoke detectors on every floor and in all bedrooms and checking to ensure the batteries are functional twice a year.
  • Creating a fire evacuation plan that identifies at least two ways out of the house from each room.
  • Review this plan with your family.
  • Run fire drills just like your children do at school and you do at work to ensure that everyone understands what to do if there is a fire in the home.

 

  1. Build a Family Evacuation Kit

While the potential to have to evacuate your home may be small, odds are if you ever need to do it, you won’t have much time to think about what you need to take or to get everything you need together.  This is why FEMA recommends creating a 72-hour kit that you can grab quickly if you have to evacuate.  This kit includes everything your family needs to survive for 3 days.  Items is include are:

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

  • A gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • A three day supply of non-perishable food and a can opener
  • A battery-powered or hand crank NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries
  • A flashlight and extra batteries
  • A small first-aid kit
  • Solar cell phone charger
  • Local maps
  • Information about local emergency shelters

For more information on what you can do to be ready, visit Ready.gov’s National Preparedness Month website.

 

Posted in Farm Safety, Food Safety, Life in a Day | Leave a comment

The Cost of Raising Kids

Do you know how much it costs to raise a child today? (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Do you know how much it costs to raise a child today? (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

There is no question that having kids costs money but do you have any idea how much it will take to raise a child born last year through the age of 18?  According to the USDA’s annual Cost of Raising a Child report, for middle income families it will be about $245,340 in today’s dollars or approximately $304,400 when you figure in inflation.  And that doesn’t include the cost of college.   It does include food, housing, childcare, education expenses, and other costs required to raise a child to adulthood.

When you look beyond the averaged amount, there is fluctuation in cost depending on where in the country you live.  The least expensive place to raise a child is in a rural area where the cost is around $193,000.  The most expensive place to raise a child is in the Northeast where the average cost is closer to $282,000.

The amount also differs depending on the family’s income level.  Those families on the lower end of the income spectrum who have a household income of less than $61,530 a year spend less to raise their child.  For these families, the cost to raise a child to age 18 is around $176,000.  While those on the higher end of the income scale who earn more than $106,540 will spend over $400,000 to raise one child.

The top three costs across the board for middle income families are housing at 30%, childcare at 18%, and food at 16%.  In 1960, the first year this report was produced, housing was also the highest cost although the average cost of raising a child is higher today than it was then, even after accounting for inflation.

One reason the cost of raising a child today may be higher than it was 50 years ago is that the average middle income cost of raising a child to 18 of $25,230 ($198,560 in 2013 dollars) rarely included childcare costs.  Another big difference between what it cost to raise a child in 1960 compared to today is health care expenses.  Over that time period, the percentage of the cost of raising a child that accounts for health care expenses has doubled.

The good news for families with more than two children is that the cost of raising each child begins to decrease with each child after the first two.  This is attributed to things like sharing rooms and toys, sibling discounts at schools and lessons, hand me down clothes, and shopping in bulk for food in order to feed a larger family.

This information can be helpful for those who are thinking about having children but it is also beneficial for program planning at the federal, state and local levels and it is used in child support calculations.

If you are looking for cost saving tips or delicious low-dollar recipes for your family, please check out or blog each week. We post recipes and money saving tips!

Posted in Money Saving Tips | Leave a comment

Get Ready to Go Green – It’s National Guacamole Day!!

Guacamole

Celebrate National Guacamole Day by knowing these facts about guacamole! (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

You may think that now that Labor Day has passed, there aren’t any other holidays in September worth celebrating but that’s only because you don’t know it is almost time to celebrate National Guacamole Day.  And we can’t think of a better way to get your green on than by using fresh, creamy avocados to make your guacamole.  To get you in the mood to celebrate, here are some ideas on how to fill your day with delicious homemade guacamole.

Perfect at Every Meal

Guacamole may seem like something you only serve up with chips and salsa but if you limit yourself to only this use, you are missing out.  Guacamole goes great with the flavors in a Southwest Omelet at breakfast.  It is also the perfect complement to any kind of breakfast burrito.

For lunch, it works great as a spread on bread with any sandwich featuring southwest flavors like this Southwest Cilantro Lime Mango Grilled Chicken sandwich.  You might even want to try it in place of plain avocado with turkey and bacon.  But don’t stop there!  Explore the many ways this tasty condiment can add creamy, deliciousness to any lunch entrée like this Tomato, Cucumber and Guacamole sandwich.

At dinner, guacamole can help cool the heat of something spicy like Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos with Grilled Red Pepper Tomato Sauce or Red Pork Posole.  It is also the perfect accompaniment to any kind of Mexican, Southwest, or Spicy cuisine.

Picking the Perfect Avocado

It isn’t always easy to tell by looking if an avocado is ripe or not.  For the best result, pick it up and squeeze lightly.  If the avocado yields a little when you squeeze, it is ripe and ready to make great guacamole.    Unripe avocados will take about 4-5 days to ripen, so if you are shopping ahead, keep that in mind.   The experts at Hass Avocados recommend putting your unripened avocado in a paper bag with a banana if you want it to ripen more quickly.

Prepping Avocados for Guacamole

When making homemade guacamole, the first step is to get the creamy flesh out of the tough skin and away from the hard seed.  The easiest way to do this is to cut the avocado lengthwise all the way around.  Then twist the two halves in opposite directions to separate the two halves.  Use a spoon to gently remove the seed.  Next, use the spoon to gently scrape the light green flesh out of the dark green skin.

 Keeping Your Guacamole

If you love guacamole, you know that one of the biggest challenges is it’s propensity to rapidly turn brown once it is exposed to the air.  This happens with the avocados themselves and with the finished guacamole.  You can keep this from happening by adding additional lemon or lime juice to your guacamole and storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Great Guacamole Recipes

Posted in Food Facts | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Contest Time! Send in Photos of Your Beloved Farm Dog

Farm Dog Contest

Photo as posted on social media. Please follow directions below to enter contest.

The Arizona Farm Bureau knows that a dog is man’s best friend… and a farm boy’s best buddy. We would love to see photos of your beloved dog on the farm or ranch! So, we are running a contest, asking you to submit a photo of your farm dog. It can be a photo just of your dog on the farm or a picture of your dog with its best buddy. All photos will be judged by a panel from the Arizona Farm Bureau and prizes will be awarded to the best three submissions.

The first place winner will receive an iPod, provided courtesy of Farm Credit Services Southwest!  The winners of the second and third place submissions will each win a $25 Visa Gift Card!

The contest deadline is October 24th, so go through your old photo albums or head out and snap a picture of your beloved dog on your farm today! We look forward to seeing your photos!

 

Contest Rules:

  1. Submit your photo to juliemurphree@azfb.org.
  2. Only one submission per person. Only one prize will be awarded per household.
  3. Submission deadline is 11:59 p.m. on October 24, 2014.
  4. Photos will be judged by panelists from the Arizona Farm Bureau.
  5. Photos will be judged based on creativity and quality of image.
  6. Photographer name should be submitted with photo. Photo credit will be given to the photographer.
  7. By submitting a photo, user gives Arizona Farm Bureau permission to use this photo to promote Arizona agriculture via online or print media.

 

Posted in Contests | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

B is for Breakfast

Breakfast

Find out why breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

It shouldn’t be news that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and yet many of us are still skipping breakfast.  So we wanted to take this opportunity to talk about why breakfast is so important since September is National All-American Breakfast Month.

According to the USDA, the benefits of breakfast are clear, especially when it comes to our kids.  Eating a balanced breakfast:

  • Helps improve standardized scores
  • Helps improve reading and math abilities
  • Improves behavior and memory
  • Increases the ability to pay attention and solve problems
  • Decreases the chances of being overweight

Basically, breakfast gives your body the nutritional boost you need to jumpstart your day.  Here are a few other reasons to make breakfast a priority.

 

  1. Eating Breakfast Helps Manage Your Weight

Research indicates that skipping breakfast increases your likelihood of becoming overweight or obese.  Experts believe that when we don’t start our day off properly, we end up eating more calories over the course of the day by choosing high calorie lunches and lots of snacks.  Additionally, when you skip meals you send the message to your body that you are starving.  You body then goes into starvation mode which means it holds on to any extra fat and converts extra calories into fat because it thinks you are starving and wants to conserve resources to ensure your survival.

 

  1. Eating Breakfast Makes You Smarter

As the benefits listed above show, there are real, lasting benefits in our ability to learn, solve problems, remember, and perform other cognitive tasks.  Simply eating breakfast everyday can boost test scores and improve grades in kids.  By giving our brain the fuel it needs to function right at the start of the day, we are better able to concentrate and use our memory.

 

  1. Eating Breakfast Helps Manage Your Mood

Another benefit of breakfast that many people overlook is the affect it can have on our mood.  When our body gets hungry, it causes shifts in our mood.  Many people get grumpy when they are hungry and it isn’t unusual to find that you are quicker to anger when you need to eat.   But giving your body the boost it needs right out of the gate can do more than just make you better to be around, it can also improve your attitude and make you more motivated to accomplish the tasks you need to tackle.

 

  1. Eating Breakfast Elevates Your Energy Level

One other big benefit of giving yourself the breakfast boost is that it also elevates your energy level.  This means you will have the energy to tackle those tasks and all that extra motivation won’t wind up going to waste.

Of course, not all breakfast choices are created equally.    It is important to remember that a hasty meal packed with sugar won’t provide the same benefits as a breakfast high in protein and complex carbohydrates.  Focusing on a breakfast that is high in both fiber and protein and low in sugar is the best bet.

To fill your plate with some delicious breakfast choices, try one of these breakfast recipes from FillYourPlate.org.

 

Posted in Food Facts | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment