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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Merits of Buying Florida Seafood

Libby Carnahan,
Pinellas County Sea Grant Extension Agent

Seafood is an important part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. According to health experts, eating fish just two times a week can significantly help to reduce the risk of heart-related death. However, seafood markets can be overwhelming. Seafood can vary significantly by price, type, and origin. With so much variety, how do we make good choices when buying seafood?

With over 80 different varieties, including shrimp, lobster, tuna, grouper, and mahi mahi, Florida has many great options for the consumer. Florida is one of the most competitive and active seafood markets in the world, with commercial landings in 2009 of over 88 million pounds of seafood products with a dockside value of over $145 million (FWRI 2009 Commercial Landings Data).

There are many positive merits for the environment, the economy, and the community to purchasing local Florida Seafood. Florida fishermen are required to follow strict federal and state laws that help protect the long-term sustainability of domestic fisheries for future generations. Despite dramatic changes to many of Florida’s coastal communities in recent decades, several communities have maintained their traditional working waterfronts and continue to harvest, process and sell seafood. By investing in local fishermen, consumers help to strengthen their local communities.

Florida seafood, like all U.S. seafood (both domestic and imported) must also follow protocols to ensure the safety and quality of the product. Purchasing seafood from reputable licensed vendors helps to ensure products are harvested, processed and sold according to federal, state, and local regulations. To find where you can purchase Florida seafood products visit the page. Health experts recommend eating a variety of seafood to maximize its multiple health benefits and mitigate potential risks. By choosing different types of seafood, you also help reduce pressure on highly targeted species as well.

Typically buying locally harvested seafood will significantly reduce one’s carbon footprint as there are usually fewer steps involved in processing the product and it doesn’t have to travel as far to reach the consumer. However, in some cases it might not be possible to buy Florida-harvested seafood. The product might be out of season or unavailable, it could be too expensive, or it simply is not harvested in the area (i.e. salmon or sea scallops). When possible consider purchasing seafood products that are harvested regionally or in the U.S. to further support the long-term health and sustainability of domestic fisheries. To learn more about U.S seafood visit the page.

Further Reading

Bryan Fluech, "Why Buy Local Seafood? The environmental and socio-economic benefits of eating Florida Seafood".[1].pdf

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Seminole Discussion Group on Recycling and Sustainability

Monday, March 4, 2013  
10 a.m. to noon
Seminole Community Library Program Room 
9200 113th St. N
Seminole, Florida 33722

Enjoy this special program that relates to this special area of Florida! 

Tampa Bay Watch, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to the protection and restoration of marine and wetland environments of the Tampa Bay estuary through scientific and educational programs.

Come hear Rachel Arndt, Communications Coordinator for Tampa Bay Watch show a power point presentation about this wonderful organization.

We will also hear from Jim Igler, a diver for Tampa Bay Watch who has volunteered since 1993. Jim will discuss his fond memories of the work that's been going on to promote the steady progress of this important community organization!

Don't come alone! Bring along your friends!

For more information and to RSVP, contact Mary,

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pinellas County citizens survey opens online and on the go

Got two minutes to help shape the future of Pinellas County?

Residents can take a brief online survey to share their vision about what is good and what needs improvement in Pinellas County. How do people’s priorities align with present realities? What do they want the county to be like in five years?

As the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners continues to set a strategic direction for the community, feedback from the survey will help set priorities that align with the vision of the citizens they serve.

Citizens can take the survey from 9 a.m. Monday, Feb. 25, to 5 p.m. Friday, March 1.

The survey has gone mobile this year and is accessible at The survey can also be found on the Pinellas County website at

“The online survey is one of the tools we are using during the initial phase of prioritizing for the next year’s budget and as we continue to set long-range strategic direction this feedback will guide us toward a vision the community shares,” said Pinellas County Administrator Bob LaSala. “It is absolutely necessary to gather this feedback in order to learn the goals of the residents as individuals and then ultimately as a community.”

This is the third year that the county commission has collected input from residents with an online survey. It follows a statistically valid phone survey that was taken during the past month which targeted a cross-section of the county’s residents. The results of both surveys will be posted online once the information is compiled.

Another opportunity to offer feedback and interact with the county commissioners is coming up on Wednesday, April 10, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., when the Pinellas County 2014 Budget Community Forum is held at the Seminole campus of St. Petersburg College in the Digitorium. An open house and eTownHall will give officials and residents a chance to talk about budget issues and the future of the community.

For more information on Pinellas County services and programs, visit, now with LiveChat, or create a shortcut to on any mobile device. Pinellas County government is on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Pinellas County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Extension Launches New Sustainable Living Facebook Page

These are exciting times for social media and many organizations are reaching new audiences on Facebook. The University of Florida has jumped into social media and UF IFAS Extension: Solutions for Your Life is on Facebook now and covers a wide variety of topics from UF/IFAS Extension.

Pinellas County Extension just launched several new Facebook sites and a new site is available that covers Sustainable Living topics. Find us at UF IFAS Pinellas County Extension Sustainable Living. This site will cover lots of topics including energy, climate, green practices, local foods, and the cutting edge science on sustainable practices. “Like “ us on Facebook and join a community of people learning and sharing about sustainable living.

Recent Post:

Remember the old clotheslines? Do you still have one? Remember the smell of sun dried sheets! Dryers use a lot of energy. Tell us about your clothesline.

Here is an interesting site.
Project Laundry List

Friday, February 15, 2013

Frogs and Toads of Florida

Lara Miller
Natural Resource Agent    

Frog or Toad? It’s a good question and one that the University of Florida’s Wildlife Extension experts are prepared to help you answer. In Florida, there are 33 frog and toad species (19 frogs, 8 tree frogs, 6 toads), but not all of them are found state-wide; some are only found in certain regions of the state. This fact alone can help when trying to positively identify a frog or toad.

How to tell if it is a frog or toad:

One initial observation to make is how the frog moves. If you find a frog that is able to cling to a wall or window, then it is a tree frog (1 of 8 species). If you find it hopping around on the ground then it is either a toad (1 of 6 species) or other terrestrial frog (1 of 19 species). Your next step could be to visit the UF/IFAS Frogs & Toads of Florida Image Index where you can search through a database of frog and toad photographs to try to match what you saw with the pictures provided. If you were not able to see the frog or toad, but you heard it, the USGS Frog Call Lookup is a great tool for identifying a frog by its call.

Spring, summer and fall in Florida are prime breeding times for frogs. This means you might year lots of loud frog calls. If you’re not a fan of the loud calls, there are a few steps you can take to potentially alleviate the noise disturbance. Frogs love to eat insects and the insects are attracted to light, which means if you have lights around your house, you are most likely attracting insects and frogs too. Turning off outdoor lighting and blocking inside light from shining out can help keep frogs away from your home and hopefully lead to a peaceful sleeping environment.

While frogs and toads might not be your favorite critter they are a favorite to many scientists because they are a key indicator species of the health of our ecosystems. For more information about frogs as an indicator species, visit or join us at Pinellas County Extension’s satellite campus at Brooker Creek Preserve on Saturday, February 23rd at 10:30am for a presentation on the Frogs of Florida. For free registration for this environmental education opportunity, click here.

And remember, UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension is here to provide you with unbiased, research-based information from scientists at the University of Florida to help improve your quality of life. Help us help you by spreading the word about Extension with your friends and family!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Seafood: A Healthy Choice for Your Heart and More

Nan Jensen
Family and Consumer Sciences Agent

February is American Heart Month, a great time to do something good for your health and including more seafood in your diet is a way to do just that. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that consumers eat 8 or more ounces of a variety of seafood each week. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times per week. That’s because seafood is rich in nutrients and low in calories. Most lean or lower fat species of fish, such as cod, flounder, and sole, contain 100 calories or less per 3 ounce cooked portion. Even fish like mackerel, herring, and salmon which are higher in fat contain approximately 200 calories or less in a 3 ounce cooked serving. Most of the fat in seafood is unsaturated, and it contains a type of polyunsaturated fat, called omega-3 fatty acids. The fat reduces the risk of heart disease, decreases levels of some types of blood fats and possibly cholesterol, contributes to brain development in infants and children and helps build muscles and tissues.

Seafood contains a high-quality protein that is easier to digest because it has less connective tissue than red meats and poultry. For certain groups of people such as the elderly who may have difficulty chewing or digesting their food, seafood can be a good choice to help them meet their daily protein needs. While the health benefits of seafood far outweigh the risks, it is important to follow these food safety guidelines.

  • Keep fish refrigerated below 40° until ready to use. 
  • Separate cooked and raw seafood and wash utensils before re-using. 
  • Wash hands before and after handling raw or cooked food. 
  • Cook seafood thoroughly to an internal temperature of 145°F for at least 15 seconds. Properly cooked seafood should be moist and opaque throughout. 
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Avoid holding temperatures of 40-140°F. 
  • Purchase seafood from retailers that have high standards for quality and sanitation. 
  • Remove the skin from fish and trim the fat to reduce exposure to PCBs, pesticides or other chemicals. Pregnant women, those who intent to become pregnant and children should not consume. 
  • Do not eat swordfish, tilefish, shark, or king mackerel because of the higher levels of mercury if you are pregnant, or intend to become pregnant. Children should avoid these as well. 

For more information go to Seafood Health Facts: Making Smart Choices at

Join us for a workshop on seafood called From Market to Menu: Incorporating Seafood into your Heart-Healthy Diet. Register at