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  • Sun Safety

    Whether you are staying home, working outside, or on vacation, safe sun practices need to be a daily priority this summer. According to the CDC, 15 minutes are all that’s required for UV (ultraviolet) rays to damage your skin. Most people don’t realize that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US, according to the CDC. Fortunately, it is also very preventable.

    Staying safe requires more than just throwing on sunscreen. Follow these important guidelines to significantly reduce your risk and your children’s risk of developing skin cancer.

    1. Always use sunscreen: Always apply sunscreen with an SPF between 15 and 50 to any skin that might be exposed. Pick a sunscreen higher in this range if you have fair skin, tend to burn easily, or are vacationing closer to the equator or at high altitudes.

    2. Reapply: Most sunscreens start to become ineffective after 2 hours. As a result, make sure to reapply sunscreen early and often, especially if you’re out in the middle of the day, spending time in the water, or sweating.

    3. Avoid direct sunlight: Even if you have sunscreen on, UV rays can still cause acute and lasting skin damage, particularly when the sun is strongest. The CDC and the FDA say to avoid the sun between 10 am and 2 pm. Also keep in mind that UV rays can penetrate the clouds even when it’s cloudy.
    4. Dress wisely: Cover up with long-sleeves, pants, and hats to further decrease your risk of sun damage. Adding this extra barrier is important because sunscreen, even when used correctly, does not block the entire spectrum of UV rays.

    4. Don’t forget the eyes! Because UV rays are a real threat to our eyes, as well as our skin, the CDC recommends picking up a pair of sunglasses that offers 99-100% protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

    5. Stay cool and drink up: A sunburn should not be your only concern this summer. In fact, heat-related illness is responsible for approximately 128 weather-related fatalities each year, according to the National Weather Service. The intense summer sunlight coupled with high temperatures can put you at serious risk for heat-related illness if you don’t take necessary precautions to protect yourself. To avoid dehydration, drink 2-4 glasses of water each hour (or a non-alcoholic, non-sugary beverage) rather than simply waiting until you feel thirsty. Additionally, children, older adults, and anyone with a serious illness should consider staying out of the sun as much as possible and in a cool (preferably air-conditioned) environment.

    Additional Sun Safety Resources:
    CDC fact sheet: Warning Signs & Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness:

    The Environmental Protection Agency’s sunscreen fact sheet.

  • Farmer's Markets in Farmington Valley

    Accompanying the heat of summer is the Farmers’ Market season! Support your local farms while coloring your meals with an assortment of fresh, organic veggies and fruits. Farmers markets are important not only because they provide healthy produce, but also because they are both economically and environmentally sustainable.

    Healthy meals include food selections from every major food group. More specifically, the USDA tells us that half of our plate should consist of fruits and veggies. The USDA’s recommends that the healthiest plates are ones comprised of a variety of fruits and veggies. When it comes to vegetables, alternate between dark green vegetables (such as broccoli and spinach), red/orange vegetables (think carrots), beans and peas, starchy vegetables (like corn and potatoes), and anything else in season. Healthy meals should include some fruit. To balance the necessary dietary fiber with the “good-in-moderation” sugar content: avoid adding sugar to any fruit at meal-time, incorporate fruits frequently into the main meal (perhaps some bananas in your breakfast cereal and some mango with your chicken at dinner), and make efforts to increase the accessibility of fruit in the kitchen so your family will be more likely to grab an apple instead of a bag of chips at snack time. In all, in order to maximize benefits from the farmers market, we recommend following the advice of a Teen Battle Chef graduate at a recent Granby farmers market: “eat the rainbow.”

    In addition to treating yourself to seasonal produce, which ensures those fruits and veggies are at their peak ripeness (and thus, peak flavor), you can also be sure that you are helping out both the community and the environment by choosing to support local farmers’ markets. Many of the farms in the Farmington Valley are family-run and the farmers’ markets themselves are operated by volunteers as part of larger, non-profit community organizations. As a result, by supporting your local farmers’ markets you are also supporting your community.

    Additionally, any animal products are sure to be healthier than most found in supermarkets as they come from happy, healthy animals on family farms that have never been treated with hormones or antibiotics. The short trip from the farm to the farmers’ market to your table is just one way farmers’ markets are environmentally sustainable! The USDA reports that an average trek for our supermarket dinner ingredients is 1,500 miles. However, shorter transports enabled by farm-to-table practices require less gas, eliminate the need for harsh chemical pesticides or protective wax (bad for the environment and for us!), and drastically reduce the plastic packaging needed for a life at the supermarket. In other words, by buying your groceries from farmers’ markets you can feel good knowing you helped the environment while feeding your family.
    • Below, you can find a Farmington Valley farmers market for nearly every day of the week!

    10 am – 1 pm Canton
    Downtown Collinsville, at the corner of Route 179 and Main Street
    Town Hall parking lot

    4 pm – 7 pm Avon
    Avon Library
    281 Country Club Road

    3 pm – 6:30 pm Granby
    Farmington Valley YMCA
    97 Salmon Brook Street

    3 pm – 6:00 pm East Granby
    The Center Shops
    Corner of Routes 20 & 187

    3 pm – 6 pm Simsbury
    Green in Simsmore Square
    540 Hopmeadow Street

    10 am – 2 pm Simsbury
    Community Farm of Simsbury
    73 Wolcott Road

    11 am – 2 pm Avon
    Farmington Valley Farmer’s Market
    124 Simsbury Road – Riverdale Farms Plaza

    Other Resources:
    Find out what fruits and veggies are in season in Connecticut, right now using Connecticut Farm Fresh’s crop availability calendar:

    To find out more about local, fun events and programs surrounding Connecticut agriculture this summer, please visit Buy CT Grown.