Tracy Turner

Technical Editor
Focus Areas: 
Chow Line, consumer news, food safety, nutrition.
  1. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Spinach, the tasty and healthy food

    My kids refuse to eat spinach. How can I prepare it in a way that might appeal to a finicky eater? First, it’s important to note that spinach is a healthy, dark, leafy, green vegetable that is full of protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, folate, fiber, phosphorus, thiamine, and vitamins A, C, and K.  Also considered a superfood, spinach, as part of a healthy, balanced diet, is important for skin, hair, and bone health. Additionally, spinach can help improve blood glucose control in people with diabetes, and it lowers the risk of cancer, improves bone health, and can promote digestive regularity. There are three types of spinach, including savoy spinach, flat spinach, and semi-savoy spinach, all of which can be eaten cooked or raw. And it’s fairly easy...
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    Chow Line: Fridge organization can lessen food waste

    I buy fresh fruits and vegetables every time I go to the grocery store, but it seems like much of the produce ends in the wastebin, because I don’t get around to eating it or forget that it’s in the fridge. Do you have any tips on how I can avoid this? You aren’t alone. Americans nationwide throw away about 80 billion pounds of food in a typical year, researchers have found.  For example, approximately 30% of the food produced in the United States is wasted each year, and a significant portion of that occurs at the consumer level. Food waste accounts for 15% of all solid waste in the United States and contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. And a new report released in March by the UN Environment Programme found that of all the food...
  3. CFAES graduate research associate Jerish Joyner Janahar is studying the impact of ultra-shear technology treatment on viscosity of different beverages. Photo: CFAES.

    Ohio State forms food industry consortium to advance commercialization of ultra-shear technology for liquid foods and beverages processing

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Researchers at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) have created a university-industry consortium to further the development of and provide access to the licensing of a new, innovative manufacturing technology that preserves foods and beverages using wholesome, recognizable ingredients; no artificial preservatives; and reduced heat.  Called ultra-shear technology (UST), this new method of high-pressure-based shear technology will allow beverage companies to manufacture healthier beverages by reducing thermal exposure through the combined application of elevated pressure, shear, and controlled times and temperatures.   The result? “Healthier beverage options that health-conscious...
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    Chow Line: COVID-19 quarantine weight gain

    Both my wife and I have packed on several pounds since the beginning of quarantine. Do you have any tips on how to help us change out of our quarantine diet and habits to get these pounds off? First, you need to know that you and your wife aren’t the only ones who have gained weight in the past year related to the COVID-19 quarantine. In fact, many consumers have found themselves turning to unhealthy habits to cope with stress related to the pandemic.  For example, health professionals have found that many people nationwide have gained weight during quarantine. A study published March 22 in the journal JAMA Network Open found that participants gained an average of 1.5 pounds per month during quarantine. The study suggests that as people stayed home parked in...
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    Chow Line: Sweet potato fries are a healthy, delicious option

    I’ve got a huge sack of sweet potatoes, but besides baking, how else can I prepare them? First, it’s important to note that sweet potatoes are healthy vegetables that are full of fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Potassium is an essential mineral and electrolyte that people need as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Potassium is vital because it regulate your body’s fluid balance and controls the electrical activity of your heart and other muscles. It also serves several other functions in the human body. It lowers blood pressure, decreases the risk of stroke, supports bone-mineral density, protects against loss of muscle mass, and reduces the formation of kidney stones. Consuming a high-potassium diet has been linked to a lower risk of death from...
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    Chow Line: Cooking corned beef safely

    In honor of St. Patrick’s Day this year, I’m making corned beef. It’s my first time making it–do you have any tips on how to do so safely?  Corned beef, just like any other raw meat or poultry item, should be handled with care to lessen the potential for foodborne illnesses. That starts the moment you purchase the meat in the grocery store or butcher shop and bring it home. Uncooked whole corned beef is typically sold wrapped in packaging that still contains the salt brine with spices used to cure or pickle the beef. Be sure to check the sell-by date on the package of the meat and store it unopened in the refrigerator for no more than 5 to 7 days from that date. If you purchase corned beef with a use-by date, make sure to cook it by that date, advises...
  7. Chow Line: Raw or cooked vegetables?

    Is it healthier to eat vegetables raw or cooked? Well, that depends on which vegetables you are talking about. While most vegetables are better eaten raw, there are a few you could cook instead to gain more health benefits, said Beth Stefura, a family and consumer sciences educator with Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). “Cooking some vegetables releases nutrients that your body can more easily absorb,” she writes in Vegetables That Are Healthier Cooked, a blog post at the Live Healthy Live Well website.  The site, which can be found at livehealthyosu.com, is a free information resource that offers science-based consumer...
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    Chow Line: Is it food poisoning?

    I had stomach cramps not long after eating food I typically don’t eat. How do I know if I had food poisoning or if it was something else? The symptoms of food poisoning vary depending on the type of germ to which you’ve been exposed, but there are some common signs that can indicate whether you’ve been exposed to a foodborne illness. The most common signs include stomach cramps, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Some bacteria, such as Listeria can cause flu-like symptoms. It’s important to note that symptoms of food poisoning can range from mild to serious and that some of them can come on as quickly as 30 minutes after you eat or as long as four weeks after you’ve eaten something that contains a foodborne pathogen, according the...
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    Chow Line: Nonperishable foods to stock up on in advance of a snowstorm

    Due to this week’s snowstorm, I wasn’t able to get to the grocery store for a couple of days and we really weren’t prepared at all. What are some foods I should have on hand if I think I’ll be snowbound again for a few days? Generally speaking, bread and milk are typically the first items that many people stock up on when a winter weather emergency is forecast. While there are several theories as to why many people hoard bread and milk in anticipation of winter storms, the meteorologists at AccuWeather.com attribute the trend to the record-breaking Blizzard of 1978, when New Englanders were trapped in their homes for several weeks and the items that were most purchased prior to the storm were, you guessed it, bread and milk. However, if you...
  10. Photo: Getty Images

    Chow Line: Yes, dark chocolate can be a healthy choice for Valentine’s Day

    Can I celebrate Valentine’s Day with chocolate in a healthy way?  If you want to celebrate Valentine’s Day with sweet treats while keeping your health in mind, consider having some chocolate. However, make sure you choose a dark chocolate, with which you can both enjoy and gain some heart-healthy advantages. In moderation, dark chocolate is believed to provide multiple health benefits. This is because of its high levels of flavonoids, which are antioxidants that protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can alter and weaken cells, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Research has found that flavanols, which are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate, have potential influences on vascular...
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    Chow Line: New dietary guidelines offer some changed recommendations

    I just saw that the new federal dietary guidelines were released. Were there any changes made from the dietary guidelines that were released in previous years? Yes, there were several changes in the new 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines are published jointly every five years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The latest version, released Dec. 29, 2020, provides science-based advice on what to eat and drink to promote health, help reduce the risk of chronic disease, and meet nutrient needs. According to those two agencies, the focus of this year’s guidelines is to “make every bite count” by encouraging consumers to focus on choosing healthy foods and beverages that are...
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    Chow Line: Saving money on meals using slow cookers

    One of my resolutions this year is to eat healthier but save time and money on food. Got any ideas? One easy, budget-friendly way to save money, time, and energy on food at home is to prepare a hearty meal using a slow cooker. Not only are slow cookers convenient, but they can also help families save money by making less expensive, tougher cuts of meat—such as shoulder, round, and chuck steak—more tender and shrink less. That’s a significant consideration for many, considering that food prices are forecast to increase this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.  Their research found that food purchased at grocery stores is projected to increase an additional 1% to 2%, and food-away-from-home is projected to...
  13. Nearly 80,000 pounds of produce grown for food pantries statewide

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—Master Gardener Volunteers from across Ohio grew nearly 80,000 pounds of produce in 2020 statewide and donated it all to 101 food pantries in cities and towns across the state. The Master Gardener Volunteer program is a U.S.- and Canada-wide effort that in Ohio is run by Ohio State University Extension, which is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). The produce grown included fruits, vegetables, and herbs and was equivalent to 65,200 meals, according to Pam Bennett, state master gardener volunteer program director and horticulture educator with OSU Extension. Although Master Gardener Volunteers have grown and donated food through this program for 20 years, growers ramped up their...
  14. Ohio State researchers are taking black raspberries and making highly controlled foods, such as a nectar, and studying them in the laboratory and in humans for anticancer activity. Photo: Getty Images.

    Co-op gift funds food-based cancer research

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—A $190,000 gift to the Cooperatives for the Cure Cancer Fund boosts food-based cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James), and Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). The fund was created with the hope of finding a common goal for agricultural cooperatives to work together on bettering their communities through the support of cancer research. This year’s donation brings the total donated since 2009, when the effort began, to $1.5 million. Supporting the fund are two campaigns, Growing the Cure and Fueling the Cure, toward which the cooperatives donate money from soybean and corn...
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    Holiday baking? The CDC says don’t eat the raw dough

    Is it safe to lick the bowl when making cakes or cookies? No, it’s not. While it’s that time of year when holiday cookies reign supreme, it’s also a good time of year to warn folks against eating foods with raw eggs for fear of contracting salmonella or other foodborne illnesses. Raw flour is also not safe to eat, because it too can cause a mean case of foodborne illness, said Shari Gallup, family and consumer sciences educator for Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). Although many people might love the taste of raw cookie dough or raw cake or brownie batter, eating it can make you sick. Raw or undercooked eggs can cause salmonella...
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    Chow Line: Healthy ways to improve immunity

    As we go into the winter months and illness chances increase, what can I do to boost my immune system? Your question is on the minds of many consumers, as more people have been reaching for vitamin supplements and seeking out healthy foods to improve their immune system amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, 77% of consumers say they want to eat healthier to boost their immunity during the pandemic, according to a study by Archer Daniels Midland, a Chicago-based, food-processing company. Building and maintaining a healthy immune system starts with focusing on good nutrition, said Beth Stefura, a family and consumer sciences educator for Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental...
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    Chow Line: Holidays and diabetes management

    My husband has diabetes and we’re not sure what that means for him with all the holiday meals and celebrations we’re anticipating this month. Do you have any tips on how he can manage his diabetes through the holidays? With some 34.2 million Americans who have diabetes and some 88 million who have prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, having an understanding of how to manage the disease is key to healthy living for millions of people nationwide. And the holidays can present additional challenges for those who live with diabetes, particularly as people look for ways to either avoid temptation or make better choices while they navigate all the indulgences of the season, said Jenny Lobb, a family and consumer sciences educator for Ohio...
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    Chow Line: Storing small holiday meals safely

    Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we plan to host only our immediate family for Thanksgiving this year, but I still anticipate having leftovers. How long after Thursday can we safely eat the leftovers? As COVID-19 safety restrictions tighten across the country, many families are changing their usual Thanksgiving plans, with many planning to put precautions in place at holiday gatherings such as social distancing and asking those with COVID-19 symptoms not to attend, according to a nationwide survey from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The survey found that 79% of respondents say they plan to celebrate only with household members, 73% plan to follow social distancing measures, 67% plan to wear masks, and 62% plan to celebrate with no more than 10 people in...
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    Chow Line: How to thaw a frozen turkey safely

    I’m making a turkey for the first time because, this year, we’re staying home for Thanksgiving and avoiding our traditional large holiday gathering due to the pandemic. However, as a novice, I’m not sure how to thaw the turkey. What do I do? Good question! It’s very important that you thaw and cook your turkey safely to help avoid developing foodborne illnesses. Thawing a frozen turkey correctly helps minimize the growth of bacteria, which can cause foodborne illnesses. While frozen, a turkey is safe indefinitely. However, as soon as it begins to thaw, any bacteria that might have been present before freezing can begin to grow again, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. There are three safe ways to thaw a...
  20. Photo: Getty Images

    Advanced planning and budgeting: Key to keeping holiday spending in check

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—With all the expenses that typically occurs during the winter holiday season, avoiding overspending can be hard. In fact, many struggle to stay within normal spending limits during the holidays, often taking months into the next year to pay off the resulting debt. While this has become an annual issue for many consumers, the economic stress many are already dealing with now as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the issue to take on even more significance this year. Already, some 49 percent of consumers say the pandemic has negatively impacted their holiday budgets, according to the 2020 Holiday Outlook by PwC, formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers. The international accounting firm’s survey of more than 1,000 consumers found that total holiday...
  21. A young girl on a poultry farm in Busia, Kenya. Photo: courtesy of Barbara Kowalcyk

    CFAES food safety center to research food safety in Kenya

    COLUMBUS, Ohio—The Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention (CFI) at The Ohio State University has been awarded a $770,000 grant to improve food safety and prevent foodborne illnesses in Kenya. The initiative is one of four new research projects announced by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative. The 3.5-year project, “Chakula salama: a risk-based approach to reducing foodborne diseases and increasing production of safe foods in Kenya,” includes a team of researchers from The Ohio State University, the University of Florida, Kenya Medical Research Institute, and the University...
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    Chow Line: Tips to enjoy holiday meals without packing on the pounds

    I’m wondering if you can offer any tips to help me avoid gaining weight but still enjoy the fall and winter holidays? I’ve already gained several pounds while working from home due to COVID-19 and I’m worried that the holidays will cause me to gain even more. With the holidays approaching, many people are concerned about trying to stay healthy while also enjoying all the rich, delicious foods and traditions associated with the many celebrations that are or will be soon occurring through the end of the year. While the issue of maintaining your weight or avoiding weight gain over the holidays is something that many people focus on this time of year, the issue has taken on even more significance for many people this year who’ve already gained weight during the...
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    Chow Line: Safe holiday celebrations

    With the COVID-19 pandemic still a major issue in my area, how can I celebrate the holiday season while keeping myself and my family safe? The COVID-19 pandemic is still a major issue in many areas, with the nation reporting more than 100,000 new cases in a day this week. In Ohio, for example, 4,229 new COVID-19 cases were reported Tuesday. With that in mind, health experts have released guidance on how to have safe holiday celebrations in the midst of the pandemic. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has offered recommendations on what people need to know before traveling, hosting, attending parties, or gathering with family and friends during the holiday season. When planning to host a holiday celebration, the CDC says the most important thing is to assess...
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    Chow Line: Kale can be a crunchy, healthy snack

    I know that kale is healthy for you, but I’m having a hard time getting my kiddos to eat it. Got any tips? You are correct: Kale is a very nutritious food! It contains vitamins A, C, B6, and K in addition to manganese, calcium, potassium, and iron. Additionally, kale is a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food that is high in antioxidants and rich in brain-healthy nutrients such as lutein, folate, and beta carotene. Research suggests leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and collards can help slow cognitive decline. “Kale is a healthy fall vegetable that can keep growing deep into cold weather,” said Tim McDermott, an educator with Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (...
  25. Spinach under cover in January, ready to harvest. Photo: CFAES

    Chow Line: Grow your own produce year-round in Ohio

    The COVID-19 pandemic has caused me to rethink how I access food, including a push to grow my own food, kind of like a victory garden. Where can I find tips and information on how to grow my own food in Ohio, even in the winter? You aren’t alone in your desire to take more control over your food this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people to express a desire to grow their own food. In fact, more consumers nationwide are expected to plant gardens this year. For example, online searches for “growing vegetables from scraps” increased 4,650% in March compared the same time last year, according to Google Trends. The good thing about Ohio is that the Buckeye state is a four-season growing environment, said Tim McDermott, an educator with Ohio State...

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