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Two food service facilities impacted by nationwide strawberry recall 


Recently, the Kent County Health Department was alerted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services regarding an ongoing recall of frozen strawberries sold to certain commercial food service establishments. These strawberries are believed to be connected to a Hepatitis A outbreak nationwide. Because these strawberries may have been consumed over the past few months, there are two very important concerns for Health Department staff: the risk of people becoming ill with Hepatitis A, and vaccinating those who may have been exposed before they become ill. Treatment is available for those exposed in the past 14 days. In Kent County, two facilities have served strawberries from the suspected lots in the last two weeks: Romano’s Macaroni Grill, 5525 28th Street, Grand Rapids, MI 49512 (near I-96) and HCR ManorCare Grand Rapids, 2320 E Beltline SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

“If you have eaten an item containing strawberries at Macaroni Grill or HRC ManorCare on the Beltline in the last 14 days, you should receive either the Hepatitis A vaccination as soon as possible to try to prevent the illness,” said Adam London, Kent County Health Department Administrative Health Officer. “The immunization is only effective up to 14 days after exposure, so it is important to contact your health care provider while you are in the 14 day window. If it has been longer than 14 days, you should be aware of the symptoms of Hepatitis A and if you become ill, contact your health care provider.”

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection that can be spread by eating contaminated food. “If someone has the virus, it is possible for them to transmit the illness to others, especially through food preparation,” London added. “As with many viral illnesses, personal hygiene and good handwashing can help prevent the illness from spreading.” Symptoms include:

. Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin or eyes)

. Dark urine

. Fever

. Fatigue

. Loss of appetite

. Nausea

. Vomiting

. Abdominal pain

. Clay-colored bowel movements

The Health Department urges individuals who need vaccination to do so as soon as possible. This chart explains the timeline for those who may have been exposed to receive vaccination:

If you ate strawberries at Macaroni Grill October 21-26, the window to get the vaccination has closed. If you ate them Thursday, October 27, then Thursday, November 10 is the last day you can receive the vaccination; and if you ate them on Friday, October 28, then Friday, November 11 is the last day you can receive the vaccination.

If you ate strawberries at HCR on October 24, the window to get the vaccination is closed. They did not serve them the other dates.

In case you have been traveling within Michigan, there is a complete list of restaurants statewide that may have served the recalled frozen strawberries in recent weeks at www.michigan.gov/documents/mdard/Hep_A_List_of_Known_and_Possible_Locations_11042016_1310_540528_7.pdf.

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It’s strawberry season!

DIG-Fresh-market-strawberriesFresh Market

By Vicky Babcock


In our state, we look to the robin for the early announcement of Spring. These brave, hardy birds often appear when the snow is still on the ground. They bring us hope and a promise that winter will soon loose its grip and warmer days are ahead—a promise that the earth will again yield new growth. For the Seneca Indians, the strawberry is linked with Spring and rebirth, as it is the first fruit to ripen in the season. The Seneca believe that strawberries grow along the path to the heavens and that strawberries bring good health as well.

Modern science supports this belief, as studies have shown several benefits to the consumption of the fruit. Among the findings: eating the berries can help prevent memory loss and reduce heart disease and cancer, aid to resist infectious diseases and counter inflammation. Components of the berry aid in absorbing calcium and contribute to healthy bone structure. One test concluded that subjects who ate nitrate rich foods such as strawberries before exercise burned, on average, about 100 more calories than others who did not. This may be because consumption of nitrate rich foods can increase the blood flow to muscles by as much as seven percent, increasing oxygen and making it easier to exercise.

The goddess Venus was said to have cried strawberry tears upon the death of Adonis. The association with the goddess of love probably arises from its heart shape and red color. It is said that if one splits a double strawberry in half and shares this with someone of the opposite sex, love will grow between them. Strawberries were considered an aphrodisiac in France and a soup made from the fruit was served to newlyweds.

The Brits used crushed strawberries and the juices to reduce sunburn and mild blemishes and, in parts of Europe, the fruit is considered sacred to the Virgin Mary. The Romans considered the fruit a cure-all—it was believed to relieve depression and to cure inflammations, fevers, throat infections, kidney stones, gout, fainting spells and diseases of the blood, liver and spleen. It was also used to mask halitosis.

The strawberry is a member of the rose family. It is the only fruit whose seeds are on the outside. An average strawberry contains approximately 200 seeds. It is low calorie, containing about 45 calories per cup. Its fresh, tart/sweet flavor makes it a favorite to many and its nutritional value makes it a favorite to moms and health providers.

Look for strawberries from mid May to mid to late June. Check local farmers markets or food markets that cater to local produce for the freshest berries. Enjoy these treats as they are for a guilt-free snack. Toss them into salads or cereals or muffins. Or try out our recipe for a refreshing summer drink. Any way you slice them, you can’t go wrong with strawberries. Bon Appetite!

Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie

1 large can frozen lemonade

1 16-ounce tub frozen strawberries in syrup

Fresh strawberries (about 2 cups), rinsed, caps removed

1 cup vanilla or strawberry yogurt

1 ½  cups water

Ice (about 8-12 cubes)

Sugar to taste

Blend first five ingredients. If mixture is too strong, add additional water. Add sugar to taste. Add ice and process until desired consistency.



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Fruitful container gardens

DIG-strawberries-in-a-potBy Melinda Myers

Picture yourself harvesting a few fresh strawberries for your cereal in the morning or perhaps picking a few apples from your own backyard tree to cook up into a pie. It is possible, even if you garden on a balcony or small lot. And even if you have plenty of space, you will still appreciate the fun and convenience of reaching out the backdoor and harvesting some homegrown fruit.

Strawberries are excellent container plants. Grow everbearing or day neutral varieties, so you will be harvesting strawberries throughout the growing season. Reduce your workload and increase success with a self-watering hanging basket (gardeners.com). Or dress things up a bit more with a decorative container. The haystack hanging baskets have the beauty of the coco fiber lined planters, but require half the watering. The AquaSav™ liner is a combination of coir and recycled plastic designed to conserve moisture. This means better results with less watering.

But don’t stop there. Add some dwarf fruit trees to your patio plantings. A dwarf apple, peach or pear will provide beautiful spring flowers, nice foliage for the summer and fruit for you to enjoy. Select self-fertile varieties, those that only require one plant to produce fruit, if space is limited. Grow your dwarf trees in large weather-proof pots with drainage. Those in cold climates will need to provide some winter protection, but the first harvest will make that extra bit of work well worth the effort.

Or try your green thumb at growing lemons, limes and other citrus in a container. The fragrant flowers and glossy green leaves are a beautiful prelude to the tasty fruit. Even cold weather gardeners can put their green thumb to the test by growing a Meyer lemon, Kaffir lime or other citrus in a container. Just move the potted plant indoors for the winter and back outdoors next season once the danger of frost has passed.

And don’t forget the blueberries that are high in antioxidants and flavor. These nutritious beauties require moist well-drained acidic soil. Something most gardeners do not have. This makes growing them in containers, where you control the soil, a good option. Blueberries provide seasonal interest with their nodding white bell-shaped flowers in spring, colorful fruit in summer and yellow, orange or red color in fall. Though only one plant is needed to bear fruit, keep in mind that your harvest will more than double if you grow two.

So survey your patio, deck, balcony or garden for space to add a container or two of fruiting plants that are sure to add beauty and flavor to your garden and meals this season.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening and the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment segments. Myers is also a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips.

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Fresh market


Nothing says “Summer” like strawberries!  The earliest of the summer fruits, these tasty treats usually hit Markets in early to mid-June, lending themselves to open houses and wedding receptions. Bright red and heart-shaped, these nutrition rich berries are associated with Venus, the Goddess of Love. In parts of Bavaria, ranchers attach baskets of strawberries to the horns of their cattle. These are believed to attract magical elves, which then repay the ranchers by providing them with healthy calves and cows that produce plenty of milk.

Studies have shown that eating  berries can help prevent memory loss as well as reduce the risk of heart disease.  It is a rich source of vitamin C, a powerful natural antioxidant. Consumption of fruits rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious disease and counter inflammation. It is an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese, which is essential for maintaining healthy bone structure, absorbing calcium, and creating enzymes that build bone. For a healthy choice, why not grill some fish or chicken? Pass the salsa please.


Strawberry Salsa

1 c. coarsely chopped strawberries

1 Tbsp. orange juice

1 tsp. grated orange peel

1 green onion, finely chopped, top included

1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard

2 Tbsp. dried currants

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Chill.

Makes six servings, 1/4 cup each. Each serving has 20 calories, no fat, 22 milligrams of sodium, 0.5 gram of fiber and 15 percent of the daily recommendation for vitamin C.


Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue. For more information call 616-696-1718. Like them on facebook for updates.


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