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HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Farm Show sounds like such a healthy experience — fresh air while heading to the complex, 24 acres of good walking, and milk, apples and vegetable soup at the Food Court.

Yet out-of-shape visitors may find the walking challenging. People who tend to ignore calories and fat content of food may find the fried and rich treats irresistible. People with allergies may find spending time with animals causes difficulty breathing.

Julie LaRue, a nurse practitioner, says people need to use common sense when attending the Farm Show. LaRue works for Alexander Spring Family Care, a part of UPMC Pinnacle Carlisle.

LaRue recommends eating a good, healthy breakfast before going to a day at the Farm Show.

“You need energy to walk around the complex,” she said. “A person should have three or four good exercise periods a week, at least 40 minutes each time. People get that and more at the Farm Show. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes that fit your feet well and maybe thick socks too.”

She suggested that people stay hydrated with water, not drinks with caffeine and sugar. She also suggested that Farm Show visitors either wash their hands before eating or use the hand sanitizers throughout the Farm Show Complex.

The Food Court, where 10 commodity groups sell everything from apples to fried zucchini, can be a dieter’s best friend or worst enemy.

For instance, the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association sells batter-dipped and fried vegetables and blooming onions, the latter having more than 1,500 calories and more than 80 grams of fat. The association also sells carrot and celery sticks, tossed salad, vegetable soup and bean salad.

PennAg Industries offers buckets of chicken, cinnamon sticky buns, shoofly pie and chocolate-covered bacon. It also offers hard boiled eggs, trout chowder, seasoned slow roasted chicken and turkey barbecue sandwiches.

The State Horticultural Association sells apple dumplings, cider doughnuts and cherry pie with ice cream, along with apples, pasteurized cider and apple butter.

LaRue said fruits, vegetables and grains generally are better choices than fried food or red meat.

“It’s better to go with chicken, turkey or fish,” she said. “Just remember to eat in moderation. If you want a treat higher in calories, share it with someone else.”

Farm Show visitors who have asthma, a respiratory condition involving spasms in the bronchi of the lungs, can have breathing difficulties after being around dust, animal dander, bacteria and even evergreen trees. LaRue said those visitors should know their “asthma triggers” and be cautious around them.

“Asthma patients who have trouble around animals should space out their time with the animals,” she said. “Cold also affects asthma so keep bundled up and be careful breathing in too much cold air. Be compliant with your asthma medicine. Bring your inhaler along to the Farm Show.”

She reminded visitors that the Farm Show has a lot of nonanimal attractions.

LaRue said the Pennsylvania Department of Health participates in the Farm Show, offering “one stop shopping” for some health issues.

Gabrielle Alberigi, a state Department of Health spokeswoman, said the department will give free flu shots from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, through Friday, Jan. 12, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 13.

The department also will have emergency medical services programs at various times each day plus sessions on car seat safety, bike safety, sun safety, smoking cessation and organ donations.


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