Ready for sunny days?

Farm Forum

As I unpacked my suitcase from my recent trip to South America, I realized I went a little overboard on mosquito protection and sunscreen.

After my trip, I still had three bottles of sunscreen. I also had two cans of heavy-duty mosquito spray to fend off potential Zika virus-carrying mosquitoes.

I was only gone a week, by the way. My suitcase was quite heavy, but no bugs or sunbeams were able to harm me. I came home as pale and bug bite-free as I left.

However, I forgot to bring a hat with me on my trip. One day while we were on a tour and the sun was blazing on us, I thought my hair was about to ignite. I never had felt such intense sun rays. I was much closer to the equator than usual.

Next time, a hat goes in my suitcase, along with a more moderate amount of sunscreen and bug spray.

Most of us love the sunny summer months when we can work and play outdoors. Maybe you enjoy working in a garden, riding bike, playing golf, fishing, boating, swimming or sitting in a lawn chair relaxing. We need to treat the sun with respect, though.

About 3.5 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancers are diagnosed annually in the U.S. An estimated 73,000 cases of melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer, are diagnosed annually in the U.S.

People who are fair-skinned; have blonde or red hair, freckles or moles; take medications that make them sensitive to light; and/or those with a family history of skin cancer are more at risk.

We are entering a time with plenty of sunshine coming our way. We all enjoy the greenery of nature made possible by sunlight, soil and water. However, we need to protect our skin and eyes from damaging rays of the sun.

Sunscreen is vital. Check out the sun protection factor (SPF) on sunscreen bottles. Most sources recommend sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Sunscreens with a higher SPF offer more protection.

Be sure to apply plenty of sunscreen (about 1 ounce per application) and get help as needed to apply sunscreen to your back, for example. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or more often if you are swimming or perspiring.

When you purchase sunscreen, look for an expiration date. If it does not have an expiration date, label the bottle with the date of purchase and use within three years.

Be sure to follow these sun safety recommendations, too:

Seek shade, especially during the midday hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Wear sunscreen even if you are under a protective umbrella or shady tree, or while driving in your car on a summer road trip.

For best sun protection when outdoors, wear long-sleeved clothes and pants made from tightly woven fabric.

Be sure to wear a wide-brimmed hat made from fabric with a tight weave to shade your eyes and protect your neck and ears.

Wear high-quality sunglasses that protect your eyes from UV (ultraviolet)-A and UV-B rays. Exposure to UV rays is linked with macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision loss as we age. Cataracts (a clouding of the cornea) and skin cancer on the eyelids also are linked to unprotected exposure to sunlight.

Although we might be tempted to visit indoor tanning beds, they are linked to skin cancers, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes tanning beds on its list of known human carcinogens.

If you want to add a little color without the risk, be aware the FDA considers self-tanning lotions containing dihydroxyacetone (DHA) to be safe, as long as the lotion is not consumed or placed close to the mouth, nose and eyes. The government agency also cautions that most sunless tanners do not contain sunscreen, so you could become sunburned.

Remember that your skin is your body’s largest organ to protect and nourish. We all need to nourish our skin with plenty of water, plus a varied and colorful diet. Here’s a tasty, antioxidant-rich and colorful recipe made with seasonal fresh fruit.

Visit the Nourishing Boomers and Beyond website at for more information about nourishing and protecting your skin all year. The website includes some interactive games and an app to get you thinking about sun safety.

Waffle Bowl Parfait

1 (10-pack) waffle bowls

3 c. sliced strawberries

2 c. grapes, cut in half

2 c. blueberries

1 (16-ounce) container nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt

3 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. melted chocolate chips

Prepare fruit as directed, then mix gently in a bowl. Pour 1 teaspoon melted chocolate on the bottom of each bowl; let cool. Cover the chocolate bottom with sliced strawberries. Place 1/3 c. yogurt over strawberries. Top the yogurt with about 1/2 c. mixed fruit. Chill in the freezer for half hour or serve right away.

Makes 10 servings. Each serving has 170 calories, 2.5 grams (g) fat, 33 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein, 3 g fiber and 30 milligrams sodium.