Fruit of the month: Blueberries

By Lindsey Breunig-Rodriguez

As we move into July, we are continuing to highlight a seasonal fruit or vegetable. While many of our traditional summer plans and activities look drastically different, we can count on the heat to still be here. With the rising temperatures, it is important to stay hydrated. Of course, increased water intake will be our first recommendation, but we cannot forget that fruits and vegetables provide us with water, too.

If we asked a child what color water is, they may and hopefully respond with blue – which leads us perfectly into the fruit of the month — blueberries. These BLUE fruits not only provide us with nutrients but also with WATER that our body needs. Blueberries are such a fun fruit; they add a beautiful blue color to your favorite dish like in this Berry Cherry Tart. They also make a fun addition as “eyes” if you’re making a silly face on Animal Toast! 

Shopping: 

When shopping for blueberries, you traditionally will find them in the prepackaged containers. Before placing one in your cart, examine the entire package and look for blueberries that are firm, plump, and a royal blue color with a silvery frost. Berries should be relatively the same size and free of stems and leaves. Avoid packages that contain moldy berries or stains on the containers, which indicate crushed or bruised fruit. 

Storage: 

Keep unwashed blueberries refrigerated in a container with a lid for up to one week. When blueberries are in season you may find them on sale, and if you find yourself with an abundance of berries, freezing blueberries will help preserve the nutrients and fruit so you and your family can enjoy and save money. Freezing fruit is also a great way to reduce food waste.

For more tips on how to freeze blueberries, watch this video. To freeze, place rinsed blueberries on a paper towel-lined baking sheet in a single layer and freeze for one hour. Place in a container with a lid and freeze for up to nine months. 

Use: 

Rinse blueberries thoroughly only before preparing. As mentioned earlier you may notice a silvery frost on blueberries, this is a natural preservative that helps to keep the berries fresh. Washing the berries will remove this protective barrier, and the berries will go bad much more quickly. Discard any shriveled or moldy berries. Blueberries can be enjoyed raw or cooked. When baking with frozen berries, do not thaw before using or the juice and color will bleed or leak out. Gently add berries to batter as the last step before baking. Fresh berries will not bleed unless their skin is torn or broken.

Nutrition: 

Per USDA dietary guidelines it is recommended we consume 1-2 cups of fruit daily. Fruit may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed. It all counts! In general, 1 cup of fruit or 100% fruit juice, or ½ cup of dried fruit can be considered as 1 cup from the Fruit Group.

Blueberries are a great source of Vitamin C, which keeps our immune system strong and helps our bodies heal quickly. Additionally, blueberries are a great source of Vitamin E, which aids in healthy skin and eyes. Lastly, blueberries are high in fiber which will keep us full! 

Enjoy:

Blueberries make a delicious nutritional snack that you can enjoy anytime of the day. Check these additional recipes below:

Trying to find the best deal? Always compare the unit price to see the best deal. See the example below, what would you choose? 

Fresh Texas Blueberries, 1 PintCost:  $3.07 ($0.28/oz)No Sugar Added Blueberries – FROZEN, 16 ounces Cost:  $3.07 ($0.20/oz)Vegetable & Fruit Pomegranate Blueberry 100% Juice – 46 ouncesRegular: $3.07 (about $0.07/oz)No Sugar Added Blueberries – FROZEN, 5 pounds Cost: $14.91 ($0.19/oz)

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Due to the continued spread of COVID-19 and the challenges it poses to communities across Texas, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and many others continue to practice public health recommendations. Whether we are communicating online or face-to-face know that program content will always be research-backed to help individuals navigate decisions for themselves and their families. For information on resources, ideas, and programs for yourself and family visit Texas A&M AgriLife’s HUB.


Lindsey Breunig-Rodriguez is an Extension Agent for the Better Living for Texans program with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. She is originally from Grapevine but now calls Waco home. A graduate from Baylor University, she loves to venture out to Cameron Park, visit the local Farmers Market, and try out the awesome eateries in Waco. If you see her and hear a loud bark, that’s her pup Lucy Ann just saying hello.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

What am I doing now that people will be protesting in the future?

By Ashley Bean Thornton

What am I doing now that people 100 years in the future will look back on with outrage?

There could be many things.  Drinking water from plastic bottles?  Eating beef that takes acres and acres of land to raise?  Driving a gas guzzler?

Maybe it’s something I am not actively “doing,” but something I am tolerating: Homelessness? Drastic disparities in education? People getting locked up because they crossed some arbitrary border between countries to look for work?

I don’t know exactly what it will be, but I imagine there are things that I think of as normal, or practical, or unsolvable, or “within my rights” today — things that I hardly think twice about or even things that make me proud — that will be reason for outrage, disbelief, or disgust 20, 50 or a 100 years from now. 

It may sound odd, but that idea feels hopeful to me. 

It means that our children and grandchildren can make progress, that they can be better than us, smarter, that the long arc of the moral universe can truly bend toward justice, and goodness, and loving our neighbors.

If I had been a resident of Little Rock in 1957 when nine students integrated Central High, I think there’s a better than 50/50 chance that I would have been against it.  I imagine I would have gone along with what my family thought, and I know my family would have been against it. 

When I was a child, the “n-word” was not a bad word in my house, it was just a regular word that my dad used every day.  I was not allowed to invite Black children home from school to play.  Nobody had to make a big deal about telling me, it was just something you didn’t do in my family.  

I don’t remember the news stories from when I was a child, but I can only imagine that incidents like what happened to George Floyd and others were happening then just like now. Except then, no one I would have known would have ever heard a thing about it.  If we had heard about it, I imagine it would have been met with a shoulder shrug and a thought, spoken or unspoken, that he surely must have deserved what he got.

In the span of my lifetime, things that were normal in my family and my world when I was a child have become an outrage, even in my middle-of-the-road White circle of friends and family and acquaintances. (Surely they were always an outrage in the Black community.) That is good.  Outrage at bad things that were once accepted as normal is progress.  

That is the thought in the front of my mind.

In the back of my mind I have another thought. My dad, my grandmother, some of the White people in the towns where I was raised were very nearly 100% wrong in the way they thought about and often treated Black people. They were not, however, 100% bad people.  They were hard working people, teachers, builders, church goers, people who made your favorite pickles for your birthday and chicken and dumplings when you came for a visit. People who came to get you when you were homesick. People who made you laugh so hard you cried. People like me. People I loved.

As we take down monuments and re-name school buildings, the biggest part of me is proud of us for moving forward, for realizing we should – at the very least – not continue to glorify the wrong thinking, wrong actions, and wrong actors of our checkered history.

Some part of me though wonders if there wasn’t more to that slave owner or confederate general than the worst thing he ever did. Was he also a hard worker? A church goer? A story teller? A builder? A dreamer? I say that not to condone what that slave owner or Confederate general did, but to humanize him and to be able to tolerate making the connection to myself.

When we look back into history and categorize people as “bad,” that lets us off the hook in a way. They were bad, we are good, we would not have done that bad thing. To be honest with myself, I need to be able to hold in my heart two truths that grate against each other: (1) What they did was terrible. (2) They probably also did good things, and I would have probably liked them.

There is good in us even though we do bad, just like there is certainly bad in us even though we do good. Throughout history, some of the most terrible things that we have done to each other have not been done by evil people, but by people who are like us — a mixture of good and bad — who thought of themselves as mostly good, and maybe even were mostly good.

So that makes me wonder: what am I doing/not doing now that people 100 years in the future will look back on with outrage, or disbelief, or disgust?  It’s probably something that I don’t think much about.  Something normal.  Something widely believed or at least tolerated by my friends and family.  I might hear people speaking out about it, but it’s easy to dismiss them as overly sensitive “fringe elements,” or worry-warts, or people who just don’t understand how the world works.

What monuments, social structures, norms am I building or maintaining now that will be justifiably torn down in outrage 10, 20, 50, 100 years from now?

It’s a disturbing, interesting thought.  It gives me hope for the generations who will come after me. It allows me to have compassion for the generations who came before me without accepting what they did as right. It challenges me to look at my actions now through the lens of the future. And, it allows for a tiny teaspoon of patience for people who think differently from me.


This Act Locally Waco blog post is by Ashley Bean Thornton, she has lived in Waco almost 20 years now. Far longer than she ever lived anywhere else. She is retired from Baylor works part time helping to organize after school programs for Transformation Waco. She likes to walk. If you see her out walking, honk and wave and say, “Hi!”

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

Lorena city manager’s message to the citizens of Lorena

(From Waco’s COVID-19 Community Newsletter)

We are living in unique times, but if you had the opportunity to survey any of our ancestors, they would also say they lived in unique times that were full of challenges that they had to face head on to overcome. During these days of both COVID-19 and everything being witnessed on the nightly news, I often think about my grandfather on my father’s side of the family. My great grandfather worked at Gulf Oil in Port Arthur, Texas, and upon his untimely death, Gulf Oil contacted my grandfather, who was only 17-years-old, and offered him a job. From that day, my grandfather began supporting his mother and his two siblings. Like his father before him, he earned what was considered “half wages” due to the world being enveloped in what is now being referred to as the “Great Depression.” He married my grandmother when they were both 18, but at age 20, he was drafted into the United Stated Navy due to the beginning of World War II. Once the war ended, he went back to work and retired after his 40th year at what he called “The Gulf.”

My grandfather’s story was not unique for his time, and his generation went on to be heralded as the “Greatest Generation” this country has ever known. However, what I remember from growing up with my grandfather was the countless lectures about me being a picky eater. He would say, “Back in my day, you ate what got put on your plate!” All the while, my step-grandmother was in the kitchen grating extra cheese to put on my pizza. You gotta love grandmothers.

Today, our world, nation, state and local area continues to deal with exposure to COVID-19. I do not see myself as an expert on this matter, but I do know that it continues to be present and we must not act like it does not exist; however, I am not writing you to today to scare anyone. My intention is to let my hometown of Lorena know that the Mayor, City Council and city staff are working everyday to ensure the City of Lorena is open and providing services during this difficult time. The City of Lorena has passed 8 declarations since the beginning of COVID-19. Since the second declaration, the City of Lorena has followed McLennan County’s lead in issuing declarations, and we will continue to do so now and in the future.

I have served the City of Lorena for four-and-a-half years as your City Manager, and if you ask my staff, they will tell you that when it comes to our city, school or citizens I always tell people: “We spell Lorena with an “L”. The meaning of that statement may vary from subject to subject when applied, but during these uncertain times it means that the City of Lorena is made up of folks that are kind in heart and spirit. We will persevere, and we will handle this time in history with the grace and dignity of a community that loves and cares about each other. The same way my 17-year-old grandfather supported his mother and two siblings during the Great Depression, then served his country in World War II and returned home to work a total of 40 years before retiring to lecture me about my eating habits.

Note: Continue to Look for “What’s Happening in Lorena.” The video-based series just concluded shooting Episode 5, featuring Dr. Joe Kucera, superintendent of Lorena ISD. The video should be released the first week of July 2020 on the Lorena Police Department Facebook page and shared with other social media platforms.