Sit back and sip some violet leaf tea!

Sit back and sip some violet leaf tea!

Here's what you saw on Good Day Alabama on April 7, 2015:

JEH JEH LIVE - Jeh Jeh joined us live from Jefferson County Health Department's Western Health Center as part of Red Rock Tuesday. He discusses the Red Rock Ridge & Valley Trail System. He talks with Dr. Mark Wilson from the Jefferson County Health Department and Ryan Parker with the Red Rock Ridge & Valley Trail System. They specifically discuss walking paths and amenities at the new facility to encourage activity and the High Ore Line connection near facility. The Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System will connect existing trails and parks connecting our communities while improving the health, economy, and quality of life for our region. For more information on the many hiking trails and future plans, visit redrocktrail.org/.

MONEY TUESDAY - Are Annuities a Good Idea? An annuity's biggest advantage is tax deferral of earnings. In other words, the interest you earn is not currently taxable. The same is true for variable annuities where there is no taxation on dividends or capital gains until you actually take the money out. The problem is that the 'tax deferral' advantage is already included in an IRA so buying an annuity inside an IRA is like putting a tax deferred product inside a tax deferred product and typically results in higher initial and ongoing expenses. One of the keys to successful investing is keeping your investment expenses low. According to Morningstar, as of 2013, the average annual expenses for annuities are 2.27% which means you have to earn that much just to break even! With a fixed annuity, the insurance company typically offers a guaranteed interest rate - 3% in your case- for a few years after which the company resets the interest rate at its discretion. Find out that the amount of the annual expenses for your annuity and see if the expenses seem reasonable. At thirty-nine, I'd strongly recommend you consider rolling the annuity over to a regular IRA with a discount broker such as Charles Schwab, Fidelity or Vanguard and investing a healthy portion in an index mutual fund of stocks - S&P 500, for example. Remember, this money is for your retirement which is at least twenty years from now. If you do a retirement analysis, a 3% return simply won't get you the results that you need. Most annuities impose a surrender charge that declines over three to seven years so be careful if you decide to make a change. If you decide to roll over to another annuity, be sure you understand the commissions paid, the annual expenses and the surrender charges. Assuming you are past the surrender charge period, there should be no cost to rolling the money over to a new custodian such as Charles Schwab and they can help you with all of the paperwork. Annuities make sense under certain circumstances. Consider getting a second opinion from a trusted advisor such as your CPA. It takes a lot of money to save enough for retirement so congratulations for getting started. A recent survey indicated that about one-third of adult Americans have absolutely no savings at all! Add to your retirement savings every chance you get. If you get a raise, commit one-half of it to retirement savings. If you get a bonus, take half of it and invest. At retirement, you'll be very glad you diD.

BETH K - The Food and Drug Administration recently approved 2 varieties of genetically modified apples and 6 varieties of genetically modified potatoes. Before we talk about the apples and the potatoes, let's talk about what genetically modified foods are because there are a of misconceptions about them:

• To genetically modify a food, scientists insert one gene from another organism into another organism

• Scientists do this so that the food will have a specific characteristic. For instance, there is a bacterium that produces a protein that acts as a natural insecticide. Scientists can take the single gene that produces that natural insecticide and insert it into corn seeds. The corn makes its own insecticide that protects it from destruction by caterpillars. This lowers the amount of pesticides that farmers have to use on the crop.

• Many people fear these foods because it sounds scary. But when you eat a food that is genetically modified, it does not mean that that gene is now part of your DNA.

• Because you are getting the protein that that gene produced, the biggest risk to humans is the possibility of an allergic reaction if you are allergic to that food.

• There could be risks to the environment as well.

• However, the FDA, the USDA, and the EPA all rigorously test GM foods to make sure that they are safe. GM foods and ingredients must meet the safe safety regulations that all other foods do.

What's new with these apples and potatoes?

• The new apples which come under the trade name "Arctic Apples" have been genetically engineered to lower the amount of the enzyme - a protein that speeds up chemical reactions - that causes your apples to bruise and brown when you cut them.

• The potato varieties that are produced under the trade name "Innate" have been altered to reduce the amount of acrylamide in the potatoes. Acrylamides form in some high carbohydrate foods when the food is heated. Acrylamides increase the risk of cancer in rodents. We don't know if they increase the risk of cancer in humans. But, this is a potentially healthy change in potatoes that could make them even healthier and safer for us.

CAJUN COOKOFF - Girls Inc. of Central Alabama brings the Big Easy to the Magic City with the 5th Annual Cajun Cook-Off Saturday, April 11th from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Railroad Park. Cajun Cook-off event guests will enjoy live music by the Ray Reach Band, a silent auction, fun activities for the kids, and taste-testing of Cajun favorites including gumbo, etouffee, jambalaya, red beans and rice and more. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $5 for kids ages 3-10. The Cajun Cook-Off is Girls Inc. of Central Alabama's largest annual fundraiser. All proceeds from the event go directly to Girls Inc. here in Birmingham to fund programs that inspire girls to be strong, smart and bold. For information on the Girls Inc Cajun Cook-Off, call 205-599-5683. For tickets or more information on the event, visit bhamcajuncookoff.com.

GOOD DAY GARDENING - Sandra Reaves joined us to discuss Back To Eden gardening. Back To Eden gardening is a no-till, deep mulch gardening system. The mulch is never removed, only added to each year. The first year, you part the mulch and plant in the soil. Eventually, the mulch decomposes, so in subsequent years, you don't dig down to the soil, but plant in the composted mulch. If the mulch you use is all brown material, like the leaves that Sandra used, you will need to add a nitrogen source to aid decomposition. Sandra plans to make a tea of coffee grounds from her local coffee house and green and apply it with a hose end sprayer. The mulch also preserves soil moisture and suppresses weeds. The no-till method reduces cost of gardening equipment and allows development of a mycorrhizal mycelium, a mass of symbiotic fungus that helps plants absorb nutrients and water, as well as defends roots from harmful organisms. For more information, visit her Facebook page - it includes lots of pictures, tips, how to videos, and info on veggie trials going on in the garden. It's a "real time, real life" look at home gardening and food preservation. You can find her at Facebook.com/JosieGladysGardens or JosieGladysGardens.blogspot.com.

NEW IN BOOKS - Susan Swagler writes about books at her "Turn the Page" blog and in Birmingham Magazine. She introduced us to books that are great conversation starters. All these smart books—memoir, Southern fiction, poetry and history— you can read and start talking.