Statewide: October 5, 2012 Archive
Posted at 10:54 AM on October 5, 2012
by Julie Siple
Filed under: Hunger
Many Minnesota food shelves are stocked this fall with foods they rarely offered two decades ago: squash, peas, watermelon, strawberries. Hunger relief groups have ramped up efforts to put surplus produce on the plates of hungry Minnesotans, and the result is an ever-growing supply of fruits and vegetables from local gardens, farms and food processors.
That has some food shelf directors wishing they could make it last into the winter.
"Is there a way to preserve it, where we could can it, dry it, freeze it? I don't know," said Cathy Maes, executive director of ICA Food Shelf in Minnetonka. "But I feel like there's an opportunity missed."
Like many food shelves in the state, ICA offers an increasing amount of fresh produce but doesn't have a safe and cost-effective way to preserve it for the winter months. At ICA, that's primarily because the food shelf doesn't have a certified commercial kitchen, Maes said.
"If we could find a partner to do that, I'm sure that we could be making a lot of apple sauce. We could be freezing beautiful sweet corn," she said. "And we could have stewed tomatoes to give out to our clients in the winter."
Maes' food shelf gets produce from multiple sources, including local farmers who drop off truckloads of vegetables. If ICA could preserve some of that bounty, Maes said she could take in yet larger quantities and spread it across the cold months.
"For the lean times in the winter when all we hand out are potatoes and onions," she said. "I'd love to be able to hand out squash that's been pureed and frozen."
Across the Twin Cities metro area, Lisa Horn is thinking much the same thing. Horn runs the Eagan & Lakeville Resource Center, which prioritizes nutrition and now offers 70 to 80 percent perishable food, a growing amount of it produce.
But Horn doesn't just want to preserve that produce for the winter -- she wants to engage families who use the food shelf in the process. The organization has a responsibility to help families build skills of their own, she said.
"We might get in many bushels of tomatoes," Horn said. "Well, it would be great if we could then pull those out of our inventory, bring them into a kitchen with a group of our client families and say, 'Here's how you can these tomatoes. Feel free to take them home when you're done.'"
That would require qualified instructors and a kitchen, she said.
The Eagan and Lakeville Resource Center is lucky to be able to even think about produce preservation, added Horn, who noted that many Minnesota food shelves aren't in the same spot.
"I think there are food shelves in the state that are positioned to take that next step," she said. "I also think there are food shelves that are still in a position of, 'We don't even have enough refrigerator space to take produce. Period.'"
Dick Kimmel is a friendly guy anyway, and that certainly comes through in the photo by Minnesota Public Radio News' Jennifer Simonson Oct. 12, 2012, near his New Ulm home.
Dick's joy is due in part to the fact that as a retired Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist he has more time to pursue bluegrass music.
He's also helping expand the population of bluegrass musicians by convincing New Ulm resident Jerilyn Kjellberg, a gifted vocalist, to join his band.
More recently, Dick's 16-year-old son, Ian, has formed his own bluegrass band.
You can learn more in my Minnesota Sounds and Voices radio report this afternoon on All Things Considered on the Minnesota Public Radio news stations.
It's possible there's an added bluegrass bounce in Dick's step based on recent news developments.
Those MacArthur genius grants? The ones where recipients receive half a million to do with what they wish? Well, one of the recipients is a bluegrass musician.
Also, one of the chart topping groups in Great Britain these days is a folk/bluegrass group.
What does it all mean?
Maybe it's time to buy a banjo, fiddle or mandolin and get on board.
Do you suffer from extreme shyness? Or panic attacks?
Earlier this week, the Rochester-based Mayo Clinic released a new Anxiety Coach app, a self-help tool that aims to help people reduce a variety of fears and worries ranging from social anxiety to obsessions and compulsions.
Mayo officials say the Anxiety Coach helps people conquer their fears by guiding them through a series of confidence-building exercises while tracking anxiety levels in real time.
The strategies used in Anxiety Coach are based on cognitive behavioral therapy, a common type of health counseling that helps people increase their confidence by gradually confronting situations they have avoided out of fear.
The app was designed by two clinical psychologists -- Stephen Whiteside, director of the Pediatric Anxiety Disorders Program at Mayo, and Jonathan Abramowitz, an adult anxiety disorders specialist at the University of North Carolina.
"This app is based on a long history of clinical research of what is helpful in conquering anxiety," Whiteside said in a release. "It really challenges people to face their fears, as opposed to other apps that focus on relaxation strategy but don't get to the core of what is helpful in the long term."
The app is available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It features short self-tests to measure the severity of fears and worries, lets users design a personal plan to target individual fears and worries, and offers tools to help users determine when to seek medical treatment.
The U.S. Agriculture Department announced this week that farmer owned cooperatives broke sales and income records in 2011.
Net income for all co-ops was up more than 25 percent from 2010, to $5.4 billion, with sales topping $213 billion.
Rising prices for farm commodities and petroleum products drove much of the growth.
Revenue increased nearly across the board; grains, dairy, energy, and supplies such as fertilizer and chemicals.
St. Paul based Cenex Harvest States continues its reign as the largest agricultural cooperative in the country with $36.9 billion in revenue last year.
Minnesota has 13 of the top 100 ag cooperatives in the nation. Only Iowa has more. According to USDA data, fIve of the top 10 earning cooperatives are located in Minnesota.
According to the USDA, across the country, agricultural cooperatives employ 184,000 people.