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3rd Annual Beyond the Basics Conference–Food: Safety, Supply & Sustainability Recap

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Hello FCS Professionals and other readers interested in the world of food and consumer science!   We gathered almost one month ago when life was much less complicated for our annual Beyond the Basics conference.  When I’m able to take a break from my new role as teacher (and let’s face it–referee) for my kids I’ll be posting recaps of the conference speakers.  First up is our keynote speaker, Dr. Julie Miller Jones.  Enjoy! 

The roadways were clear and ninety plus members and guests gathered on Friday, February 21 at the Edina Country Club for the 3rd annual Beyond the Basics conference!  This year’s theme was Food: Safety, Supply & Sustainability and did not disappoint!

The morning began with a light breakfast of mixed fruit, assorted pastries, juice and coffee.  Colleen Zenk, FCS Professionals member and organizer of this event welcomed all and gave an overview of the day. Attendees were notified of an upcoming webinar from the Food Safety Partnership of Minnesota that was held Wednesday, March 4 from 9:00-noon.  Click here for more details.  Next it was time to introduce keynote speaker, Dr. Julie Miller Jones, with her presentation, “The Consumer, the Food Supply, and the Food Safety Dilemma.”

Dr. Jones set the stage by examining our current environment.  About half of the leading causes of death are diet related however we are scared about the wrong things!  People are very concerned about pesticides, GMOs and chemicals and over-emphasize a risk that simply is not there while under-emphasizing the risks posed by diabetes and obesity caused by a poor diet.  Consumers have very conflicting viewpoints as well which adds to the dilemma—for example wanting more local, organic free-range yet wanting to use less land!

What about our current food safety challenges?  The FDA and WHO lists their priorities for food safety risk as:

1. Microbial contamination

2. Nutritional imbalance

3. Environmental contaminants

4. Naturally-occurring toxins

5. Pesticide residues

6. Food additives

This is opposite of what you hear from bloggers, celebrities, and the people making noise in the world.  Their main focus is food additives/pesticides etc.  Consumers are confused between toxic vs. hazard.  She reminded us that everything has a toxicity! It is all about dosing.  Water at a certain level is toxic to humans.

Consumers want a short list of recognizable ingredients, a long “free from” list, minimal processing, sustainability & transparency, and certifications (such as organic, non-GMO).  But are these things actually better and healthier? 96% of dairy illnesses come from consuming raw milk which is “minimally processed”.  Bread without some sort of preservative easily forms carcinogenic mold. She gave an example of three foods:  Impossible Burger, Vegan Cheddar Cheese, and Organic Potato Chips.   The potato chips had the shortest ingredient list: potatoes, vegetable oil, and salt.  Is it the healthy choice?

Each April the Environmental Working Group (EWG)  promotes their “Dirty Dozen” list.  These foods are said to contain the highest levels of pesticides and should be avoided if they are not organically grown.  But is this true?  Researchers have found that there was no observable effect level (NOEL)  in the “Dirty Dozen.” The ten most frequently detected pesticides on any of the “Dirty Dozen” commodities were FAR BELOW Reference Doses (rFd). Dr. Jones noted that April is the EWG’s biggest fundraising month of the year–which coincides with when they advertise the Dirty Dozen.  So what is the difference between conventional and organic products?  Pesticide residue is lower in organic foods but very low in regular produce and at this point it is unclear if it  matters to health.  Toxic metals  in organic grains show a lower cadmium level, in produce no difference.   Bacterial contamination risk is no different between the two if the manure is treated.  With organic practices there is a lower risk of resistant bacteria.

Dr. Jones is supportive of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as a solution.  IPM combines conventional and organic farming technologies.  “By studying their life cycles and how pests interact with the environment, IPM professionals can manage pests with the most current methods to improve management, lower costs, and reduce risks to the environment.”  IPM tools include: altering surroundings, adding beneficial insects/organisms, growing plants that resist pests, disrupting the development of pests, disrupting insect behaviors, and use of pesticides.

From a nutritional standpoint, Dr. Jones is very concerned about the low/no-carb trend with regard to neural tube defects in infants.  The fortification of grains with folate has lead to a fifty percent reduction in spina bifida cases, and a thirty percent decrease in other neural tube defects since introduced.  It has been said that fortification was in the top ten most important public health measures of the past decade.  Organic vs. conventional milk, grass fed vs. grain fed beef was also discussed.

Locally grown and minimally processed is “in” when it comes to our food–but is it always better?  Not always!  There are many factors to consider–it may actually be more environmentally sound to consume frozen peas than fresh from the farmer’s market when considering food waste management and fuel costs.  Dr. Jones stressed, “Making a rule and having it apply to everyone is silly!”  In some cases, one method is more environmentally sound than in others.  Her example, “Which is better– cloth diapers or disposable?”  If you live in California where water is in short supply—then it’s disposable! But in another region where water is plentiful–then cloth.

Dr. Jones concluded with some simple advice:

  • Reduce waste  – less waste with many processed foods and additives
  • Plan well  – concentrate on what can be controlled
  •  Make healthy choices
  •  Consider GMO as a technology
  •  Be skeptical of simple solutions
  • If there is a simple answer, the article may have a bias or use only a few of many criteria.

Dr. Jones took time to answer many excellent questions from attendees.  Thank you Dr. Julie Miller Jones for providing such a wonderful start to a fascinating day of learning!



January Meeting Recap: Cannabis: Current Trends and Research

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The January program was held at the Marriott Northwest in the newly renovated Arbor Lakes room on Janaury 21.  New members Pam Voelkel and Ruth Fisher were introduced and presented with a ten dollar bill as is tradition when a new member attends their first meeting.

We were treated to a delicious dinner generously subsidized by the MN Pork Board.  We dined on Caesar salad, pork tenderloin with mushroom gravy, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, mixed vegetable medley, freshly baked rolls, and a white chocolate mousse dessert shooter.

Our speaker for the evening was Emily Leuer, new products formulations scientist with Vireo Health, Inc– a medical marijuana producer.  Emily received her graduate degree in Food and Nutritional Science with an emphasis in Food Science and Technology from UW-Stout.  Her undergraduate degree was in accounting.  After graduating from UW-Stout she worked in process engineering for food and beverage producers.  She desired to get involved in cannabis but most jobs are in states where marijuana is legal.  She was very excited when an opportunity opened up for her in Minnesota with Vireo Health, Inc.  Her years of experience working in the food and beverage industry carries over into her work today in helping to bring many new cannabis products to the market which are safe, effective, and appealing to consumers.

Vireo Health, Inc was  started in 2015 in Otsego, Minnesota where they grow, dry, extract and prepare the formulations for the cannabis products.  Everything that is created is third party tested and then products are sent to dispensaries in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Ohio, New York, Rhode Island, Arizona, Nevada New Mexico and Puerto Rico.

For products in Minnesota they are color labeled–  Red is the highest levels of THC (used mostly for cancer patients) all the way to indigo which is CBD dominant and used often with children with epilepsy.  Cannabis products come in oils, balms, topicals, oral sprays and pills (tablets). They have recently developed a water soluble powder which can be added to food or water.  This makes it good for microdosing and also easier to give to children.

In Minnesota to qualify for medical marijuana one must visit their health care provider and be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition: cancer, intractable pain, terminal illness, Tourette’s, ALS, HIV, PTSD, autism, obstructive sleep apnea, Chron’s disease, or glaucoma.  New conditions recently added include chronic pain and macular degeneration.

So how does cannabis react with the human body? The human endocannabinoid system exists to retain homeostasis in the body.  It exists in all vertebrates.  There are receptors throughout the whole body and plays a role in many important processes: sleep, stress, pain, mood, immunity, appetite, and memory.  Different cannabinoids bind with different receptors.  THC works like a neurotransmitter.  There are over one hundred cannabinoids and three hundred terpenes found in marijuana.  These cannabinoids in their acid or neutral forms provide different benefits including: anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic, relaxation, anti-convulsant, pain relief, insomnia relief, and more.

Although there are many benefits to cannabis the industry is facing several challenges.  The industry is new and there is a lack of regulation (especially with commercially available CBD products!).  Emily recommended asking for a 3rd party report when purchasing CBD products.  If they cannot produce a report–she said to find another supplier.  There is also a so-called “cannabis tax” where products marketed toward cannabis producers tend to be more expensive than comparable products in other industries.  Emily knows this to be true as she has worked for food producers who use similar products and knows their price! Lastly there are banking and tax issues.  Many large banks will not work with the cannabis industry and many standard business tax deductions are not allowed for cannabis companies.

Emily stated that the sky is the limit as far as where future research and cannabis products are concerned.  Many thanks to Emily for such an interesting and informative session!  Thank you also to the MN Pork Board for offsetting the meal cost and for the giveaways they provided as well.


Meeting Recap: Holiday Fun at Betty Dangers!

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FCS Professionals and their guests gathered at Betty Dangers Supper Club in NE Minneapolis on a chilly December 10th for a festive evening of good food and conversation.  There was no formal program for the evening but rather a chance for members and guests to mix and mingle and celebrate the holidays together!  For a fun twist, participants in the December program were encouraged to dress in holiday sweaters.

FCS Professionals had much to celebrate!  We recognized Debra Zwiefelhofer, our long-time administrative assistant and thanked her for her years of faithful service to our organization.  She is retiring but promises to remain a valued member of our organization.  She was presented with flowers and gift cards as a token of thanks and well wishes in her retirement.  We were excited to introduce our new administrative assistant, Tanya Hamilton!  Guests were welcomed as well.

We were treated to a delicious traditional holiday ham dinner. Chef Cesar popped in to introduce the meal and answer a few questions from our group.  To end the meal we decorated our own sugar cookies with mini piping bags.



In the spirit of giving, we held a toy drive for Toys for Tots.  We collected 26 toys and gift cards as well as $145 in cash donations.  Thank you to those who participated and gave so generously!



FCS Professionals Member Awarded AAFCS Honor

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A huge congratulations to longtime FCS Professionals Member Carolyn Barnhart in receiving the 2020 Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of Family and Consumer Science (AAFCS).  This award was established as a living tribute to recognize superior achievements in family and consumer sciences, outstanding contributions to the profession and sustained association leadership at both state and national levels.  Carolyn, along with three other women will be honored at the 111th annual AAFCS conference in June.



In the News: CBD, Food Insecurity and Water Bottle Filling Machines

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Here are a few news snippets from the world of food and consumer science!

  •  Our January program is all about CBD.  This article explores, “Who is the American CBD Consumer?” by the Grocery Manufacturers Association
  •  Food insecurity in diabetics and cancer patients make managing these diseases difficult for practitioners.  This article is about a “food pharmacy” in Nashville to provide healthy options for at-risk patients
  •  A school in Kentucky installed water bottle filling machines and seeing much less plastic waste and more kids drinking water. Access news story here

October Meeting Recap: Twin Spirits Distillery

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FCS Professionals and guests gathered at Twin Spirits Distillery in Minneapolis for our October meeting on Tuesday, October 15.  The program began with a welcome and introduction of guests.  Our on-going birthday celebration continued with gift bag door prizes from Twin Spirits Distillery for two lucky attenders!

Owner and distiller, Michelle Winchester lead the facility tour.  She became interested in distilling as she neared her fiftieth birthday.  She was a stay-at-home mom for years and her husband asked her what she wanted to do when she turned fifty.  She jokingly mentioned distilling and what started out as a non-serious comment turned into her second act! She attended a distilling conference and found support from other distillers.  Through hard work and lots of research, Twin Spirits Distilling was born.

Michelle walked us through the distilling process of vodka and gin along with samples.  We learned that many different substances can be made into vodka–not just potatoes as many people assume!  The M Vodka is made from raw cane sugar.  All vodka must come out of the still at 190 proof to be called vodka. No worries–it is bottled at 80 proof!  Many attenders noted that they typically do not enjoy the flavor of gin–but Michelle’s M Gin has a special blend of botanicals that include cardamom.  This helps to reduce the piney flavor that comes from the juniper berries–a required element to be considered gin.


After the tour, it was time for us to learn how to make the perfect cocktail from two of the bartenders.  We used Mamma’s Moonshine, Michelle’s honey based liquor (which uses local honey!) that is distilled once per month on the full moon as the base for our fancy Old Fashioned.  The bartenders shared their trick of rubbing the orange peel on the inside of the glass.  This really added to the flavor of the drink.

There was plenty of time to network and socialize and enjoy bites of cheese and sausage.  Michelle and her team did an excellent job answering our many questions and providing a fun, relaxed evening.

September Meeting Recap: Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Allianz Field

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FCS Professionals kicked off the 2019-20 “season” with a behind-the-scenes food service tour of the brand new Allianz Field.  Allianz Field is the new home of the Minnesota United Soccer team.  The entire stadium is breath-takingly beautiful with an overall theme of the rippling waters of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes.

Our program began with a welcome to our guests and new members.  A new feature of our meetings will be a time to announce job openings and members searching for a new position can give a brief description of the type of work they desire.  This will allow for members to better connect with one another on the job front!  This year we are celebrating our 95th birthday all year long with special treats and surprises.  For our first meeting, there was a drawing to win a beautiful fall plant.

The tour kicked off in the Brew Hall–home of 96 taps!  The Brew Hall is used on game days but it is also a popular spot for Minnesota United fans to gather for free watch parties during away games and is also used for private events.  Allianz Field is served by hospitality management company Delaware North.  Delaware North also runs the food service operations at Target Field, Target Center, and MSP airport.  Bill, the Executive Chef, started his career as a personal chef to the Pohlad family and worked his way up through various positions at Target Field.  He was very excited to jump to the new Allianz Field as the soccer season is much shorter than baseball!  Eric, the General Manager, started his career in the hospitality industry in Wisconsin working for Miller Park and Lambeau Field before moving to the Minneapolis area.

The food service operation consists of one main kitchen plus several smaller “pantries” to serve suites.  The concession stands contain cooking equipment to prepare those food items.  The concession stands are staffed mostly by non-profit groups who receive funds for their organizations by working at the games.  On game days, to prepare for a 7 p.m. game, the ovens are fired up around 9:00 a.m. and the sous chef arrives around 10:00 a.m.  The rest of the crew arrives between 12-2 p.m.  The food being prepared serves the various suites.  Special game tickets are required to visit the suites.  The tickets are considered “all-inclusive” for food and soft drinks but not alcohol.

The Field Suite is home to a special guest-chef program.  Local chefs prepare a special food items for each game.  Chefs that have participated this year include Justin Sutherland of The Handsome Hog, Tim McKee of Octo Fishbar, Alicia Hinze of The Buttered Tin, and many more!  Along with the guest chef program, there are several different food stations with traditional field fare along with other delicious bites! Chef Bill mentioned that soccer fans tend to stay in their seats so their busiest times are the hour before the game begins and half time.  This was a different experience vs. his time at Target Field where people are constantly milling around.

Another differentiating feature of the food service operation at Allianz Field is their beer program.  Most stadiums sign a big contract with Miller-Coors or Anheuser-Busch.  They wanted to do things differently so they signed several smaller contracts with many craft breweries.  This allows them to serve a variety of local craft beers and give many options to patrons.  They also designed their partnership with local food businesses differently.  Typically, if a local restaurant has a presence at a stadium, the restaurant gives their recipe to the food service operation of the stadium, and their workers prepare and serve the food.  At Allianz Field, the local restaurant prepares their own food.  This has helped to provide consistent quality and the restaurant remains more in control.  Local restaurants with a presence at Allianz Field include Brasa, El Burrito Mercado, The Handsome Hog, Hot Indian, Afro Deli, and more!

On the day of our tour, the kitchen staff was busy preparing for the home game the next day so we were not able to visit the main kitchen but we did get to see several suites and the smaller “pantries”.  It was a fabulous tour and a huge thank you to Colleen Glenn and Gerry Luepke for organizing another wonderful program!

In the News: Tetra Pak Index 2019 The Convergence of Health & Environment

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Interested in the convergence of health and the environment?  The Tetrak Pak Index 2019 report is full of interesting information.  Adolfo Orive, President and CEO of Tetra Pak states, “Environment and health, the top two consumers concerns are now seeing an increasing overlap, with a direct correlation perceived between the two. Nearly three out of five consumers already think that their health and well-being are strongly affected by the environment. Our research shows that consumers believe they carry the responsibility for both their own health and the health of the planet. There is a growing belief that today’s lifestyles, particularly what we eat and drink, have a fundamental impact on both.”


The full report and info can be accessed by this link.

The Evolution of a Name

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The Evolution of a Name

Food and Consumer Science Professionals (FCS Professionals) is the name of our organization since 2015. The original name since 1926 was Twin Cities Home Economists in Business (TWIN CITIES HEIB). In 2014, Board members revisited the TWIN CITIES HEIB name and decided it seemed to still be representative of our organization. The words “Twin Cities” were dropped but the letters HEIB were maintained representing the following words: H=Home, E=Education, I=Industry and B=Business.

However, the conversation continued on into the next member year as it was recognized that the environment was changing dramatically and the words “Home Economist” no longer were being used in the education and corporate world. High schools and universities were using terms such as Family & Consumer Sciences (FACS) and Human Ecology; food companies switched to terms such as culinary centers and employee titles changing to product specialist, culinary expert, food editor, etc. Thus, another name change movement began in earnest.

After many meetings with member participation, the organization’s name was officially changed from HEIB to FCS Professionals at the start of the 2015 member year. Using the new name is allowing us to build on the legacy of the early organizers and continue to broaden the potential member base in an updated manner. Today we welcome members who study, work in or are retired from any discipline within the consumer science field. This includes careers in food and nutrition, dietetics, textiles, kitchen design and equipment, interior decorating, education, childcare, health care, consumer communication, consultants and more. If you are not yet a member, check us out. We are a vibrant, professional Minnesota metro group that provides numerous benefits including learning, networking, mentoring, fun, camaraderie and more! Join us today!