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2019-20 Award Winners

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On May 21, 2020 our 2019-20 FCS Professionals award winners were announced.

FCS Professional of the Year


This award recognizes a member for leadership in their profession and outstanding service to this organization. This is the highest organizational award a member can receive.

This year’s winner is Karen Smith, a highly respected FACS professional accomplishing much in the business world, education arena, and her community.

She is currently a company spokesperson, ambassador and educator. Because of her agriculture background and knowledge of North Dakota agriculture products she is often invited to travel with the North Dakota Trade Office. She has met and interacted with dignitaries from Spain, Italy, Peru and Mexico.

Prior to her current position she served as a longtime middle School FACS teacher. Her programs received numerous recognitions. Through her “Patchwork of Kindness” project, students made quilts, held a raffle, and gave the proceeds of over $10,000 to community groups.

In her last ten years of teaching she became passionate about school gardens and used grant money to help build 17 raised bed gardens with two being handicap accessible. She saw the value in the gardens as it taught sustainability, health, nutrition, a healthy leisure time activity, and food preparation skills.

She is also very active in her church and volunteers in the her community. Faithfully on Wednesday nights during the school year you’ll find her helping to prepare and serve 100 meals for a community dinner at her church and afterwards teaching a Tweens class. She also enjoys visiting shut-ins and the elderly in her community, often bringing them a gift of home-cooked food.

As our President-Elect she is not idle but making plans, writing goals and appointing board positions. When August rolls around, she will have her thoughts in place prepared to articulate a clear vision to her board. She is known for her integrity, honesty, humility and clear focus. She’s a strategic planner and believes in teamwork. She’ll make certain the board stays focused on their tasks and goals, keeping them motivated and helping all to achieve their plans!

Behind-the-Scenes Star Award

This award recognizes a member who works diligently to execute programming, results, and/or innovation within the organization but isn’t in any formal position on the board (board members are not eligible for this award). This year’s winner is Pam Voelkel.

Pam was a member for only a month when she tapped the MN Pork Producers and the MN Pork Board for a $500.00 donation to be used for FCS Professionals programming. The donation was financial support for our January meeting held at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest.

This financial help allowed us to provide top-notch AV equipment and a sit-down dinner with table linens. The space was large enough for mingling/conversation, in-room registration and display tables as well as excellent viewing of the evening presenters.  The donation aided in keeping registration costs affordable allowing many to attend.

Volunteer of the Year Award

This award recognizes a member who represents the community-involvement-spirit of FCS Professionals through the community outreach or enrichment they perform.  This year’s winner is Gerry Luepke.

Gerry volunteers her time, talent and resources to help FCS Professionals, MAFCS, TCHC and Hudson Home and Garden Club plan amazing events and excursions. She puts in countless hours to help plan and implement interesting and informative meetings.

She is knowledgeable about current issues and trends in the marketplace and helps to bring those topics to the membership of the organizations. She also mentors individuals in her community including a single mom.

The Spirit Award

This award recognizes a member that has shown particular championing behavior for FCS Professionals. Dr. Julie Miller-Jones is this year’s recipient.

Julie is a frequent speaker for many professional conferences and consumer organizations, locally, nationally and internationally. Knowing that several of us would be fielding questions about COVID-19 and food handling she shared pertinent info with our members via email. She’s given great ideas for programming for our organization including Zoom webinars for the months when we are not able to meet in person.

Making a Difference Award

This award recognizes professionals who are new to their industry, have been members of FCS Professionals for 5 years or less, and have made a notable contribution to the organization. Royalee Rhoads was awarded this honor.

Royalee joined FCS Professionals just this year and already she is being noticed! She comes to every meeting with a bright smile and a cheery personality. In April she accepted a board position as our new blog and social media coordinator.

Congratulations to all of our award winners.  We are so thankful for all of your contributions to our organization!




2019-20 Annual Meeting and Awards Night

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Our 95th year of FCS Professionals began at Allianz Field marveling at the diverse food service operations at the brand new soccer stadium.  We ended our year in the comfort of our homes, connected to each other through WebEx! The year could not have ended more different than it started.  The one thing that has not changed in our ninety-five years of existence is our resilience, our creative solutions to problems, and the connection between members through our shared passion of food and consumer science!

Our 2019-20 Annual Meeting and Awards was held online Thursday, May 21 from 7:00-8:15 p.m.  We welcomed John Yuccas as our speaker for the evening with the topic, “Food Photography in the Age of Social Media.”  John was slated to be our speaker at our March meeting that was cancelled.  We were thrilled that he was able to provide his content over WebEx for our May meeting!  John started his photography journey with nature. He dabbled in wedding photography but did not find his passion until he discovered food photography.  As he shared his photos throughout the evening, this passion was so evident.  He said the goal in photography was to, “create images not take snapshots.”  As a food photographer it is his job to tell the story of an establishment.  He really tries to capture the moment and show a “behind-the-scenes” look also including the guest experience in his photographs.  He currently owns his own photography business, The Culinary Portfolio.

John gave several tips throughout the evening.  First, one does not need a lot of fancy equipment to take excellent pictures.  Cell phone cameras have come a long way and include some basic editing features and lighting options.  He recommended doing an Internet search for directions for your personal cell phone of how to expose or adjust the lighting.  John also stated that psychologically, people will think a food item looks less appetizing if it is in cool light vs. warm light.  The photos below show the range from warm to cool lighting.


Choosing the correct angle is also very important!  

Close to 0 degrees–Subjects that stand tall

45 degrees– Capturing details, stacking subject matter

90 degrees–Overhead perspective, great for flat lays and flat subjects

Near the end of his presentation he discussed the current restaurant situation with so many struggling due to Covid-19 shutdowns.  He talked about how he has changed the way he takes photographs including taking food home and photographing it there.  He suggested ways of helping restaurants beyond just getting take-out including purchasing other items from them like a t-shirt or a hat–anything to help their cash flow.  John said that telling the story of the restaurant is more important than ever.  They might emphasize their safety measures vs. just delicious looking food.

John has also started an additional business where he sells 5×7 prints on metal that do not require any additional framing.  All you need is a hammer, nail, and a little wall space!

After John’s presentation we began our annual meeting and encouraged guests to remain online with us!  President Vicky Cherne welcomed all.  The minutes from last year’s meeting were adjusted and then approved.  Due to the online format of our annual meeting, the year in review, introduction of the new board, and award winners were put into a video.  To view the video, click here 

Thank you to our 2019-20 Board Members

President Vicky Cherne

President Elect Karen Smith

Advisor Jean Knaak

Treasurer Liz Sellet

Secretary Molly Lass

Program Co Chairs: Colleen Glenn and Gerry Luepke

Membership Chair Marge Ryerson

Nominations Lisa Krause

Blog Chair Susan Vance

Newsletter Editor Sierra Kaptain

Conference Lead Colleen Zenk

CE Application Processor Marie Winker

Administrative Assistant Tanya Hamilton

Introducing our new board for 2020-21

President Karen Smith

President Elect Susan Vance

Advisor Vicky Cherne

Treasurer Liz Sellet

Secretary Molly Lass

Program Co-Chairs: Gerry Luepke and Casey Mikel

Membership Co-Chairs: Marge Ryerson and Konnie Zimmerman

Nominations Lisa Krause

Blog Chair Royalee Rhoads

Newsletter Editor Sierra Kaptain

Conference Lead Colleen Zenk

CE Application Processor Marie Winker

Administrative Assistant Tanya Hamilton

2019-20 Award Winners 

Emerging Leader Award: Royalee Rhoads

Spirit Award: Julie Miller-Jones

Volunteer of the Year:  Gerry Luepke

Behind-the-Scenes Star: Pam Voelkel

FCS Professional of the Year:  Karen Smith

All award winners will be highlighted in-depth in a future blog post. Stay tuned!

Thank you for all the members and guests who joined us!  We look forward to great things in 2020-21!


Part 3–Beyond the Basics Conference Recap

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The conclusion of our annual conference recap.  Thank you for your patience!   Click to view part one or part two

After a fascinating morning of learning it was time for lunch!  Guests helped themselves to mixed fruit, three different salads, and a cup of tomato basil soup.  Attendees were able to network and connect with others while enjoying lunch.

Jennifer Gels, MBA, RD from Ecolab was our next speaker on “Creating a Food Safe Environment.”  Jennifer serves as Vice President of Marketing.   Jennifer began with recognizing and understanding the risks involved with often overlooked food safety issues. Common food safety issues that come to the forefront include:  improper holding temperatures, poor personal hygiene, inadequate cooking, contaminated equipment, and food from unsafe sources. Often overlooked food safety issues include:  cold storage areas too warm, too-deep cooling pans, non-calibrated thermometers, improper produce handling, poor ice machine sanitation, cocktail garnishes, self-service areas, allergen isolation, and drink dispensers. Unbeknownst to all of us–in the new age of coronavirus these things came to the forefront quickly!  Soon after the spread started self-service drink dispensers were shut down and self-service areas in grocery store delis were stopped!

The second portion of her presentation was about macro trends in creating a food safe environment.  She had a wonderful illustration of a fully dressed hamburger and showed how our food supply chain is global.  The yeast may come from Canada, the lettuce from Mexico, the garlic powder from Australia, wheat from Poland, and so on.  Again, we are seeing this play out in our supply chain issues today in the midst of a global pandemic!  We never imagined in February that it would be impossible to find yeast in our grocery stores in April!  She also discussed customer preferences and how they are changing–including potential food safety issues with the increase in food delivery services.   With these trends Jennifer stated that businesses must have: visibility across the supply chain, water and energy expertise, new ways of doing business, and an evolving digitally enabled workforce.

Jennifer ended by giving us a sneak preview of a few new Ecolab products designed to help in food safety.  They have a new fruit and vegetable wash that has a 99.9% reduction in pathogens in wash water and a new “Wash and Walk” sanitizing no rinse floor and drain cleaner that reduces labor needs while providing a great sanitizing option.

After a short break our day continued with Vanessa Nordstrom, President of Everday EcoSolutions and Janice Becker of LogSafe.  They spoke on “Food Waste and the Carbon Effect.”  Vanessa began her presentation by exploring how we got to our present state of wastefulness in our modern food system.  Prior to the 1950’s we lived in a time of scarcity, 1950’s-1990 was a time of abundance, and since the 1990’s we have been in a mismanagement of our abundance. The U.S. evolved from a country of farmers to a country of doers, thinkers and innovators, resulting in consumerism. Large producers began to take the role of food production and the introduction of packaging increased the product shelf life.  Now we have 1.3 billion tons of waste globally.  Australia is #1  in waste with an average of 712 pounds per person per year and the U.S. is #2 with an average of 615 pounds per person/year. In the US, 40% of food produced goes to waste, while the world averages 30%. This equates to approximately 11% of total emissions. 

Vanessa provided us with these staggering statistics:

  • Food waste generation in the U.S. alone has increased by 300% since 1980
  • Less than 5% of unused food is recycled leaving 95% going to landfills
  • Food is the largest component of all landfilled waste
  • Food in landfills account for the largest human-related source of methane, which is a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than carbon monoxide
  • 25% of all food purchased is never eaten
  • 40% of all food produced is never used
  • 34 Million tons of food recyclables are sent to landfills each year

So what can we do individually to help reduce food waste being sent to landfills?   More planning, less packaging, and composting is a good place to start!  For industry, she suggests:

  • Reduce waste at the beginning of supply chain
  •  Stop over-production
  •  Grocery needs to adopt the practice of selling edible food, not beautiful food
  •  Create a market for the farmer to sell a large percentage of their crop, not a small portion
  • Reduce or eliminate packaging
  • Reduce brand introductions 
  • Move away from plastics unless 1, 2 & 5
  • Leverage reusable (Compostable)
  •  Eliminate or greatly reduce single-use packaging

Next Janice Becker gave a short presentation on her company’s food safety app called LogSafe.  This app includes logs to keep track of time and temperatures and even can alert management if the logs are not completed.  The program is easy to use and easy to train employees.  For more information visit their website

Our final speaker of the day was Danny Mishek, President and Co-Owner of VistaTek and SelfEco.  Danny’s company produces plant based plastics and is located in Stillwater. Today only about 3% of the plastics manufactured are plant based.  As more and more people desire to move away from petroleum based plastics that take hundreds and hundreds of years to break down, his company sought to create something that is both beautiful and eco-friendly.  Danny shared examples of many of their products.  They look and feel similarly to traditional disposable serve ware however they are compostable.  Visit their website for more information  They also have created plant based plastic garden pots that have been proven to produce bigger, better plants in your garden!

The day concluded with closing remarks and program evaluations.  A huge thank you to all who worked behind-the-scenes to make this event happen.




Beyond the Basics Conference Recap… Part Two!

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Welcome to part two of the Beyond the Basics Food: Safety, Supply & Sustainability conference that was held February 21 at the Edina Country Club. 

 After a short break it was time for our second speaker of the day, Brenda Jacob, RDN, MPD, LD.  Brenda is a Labeling Manager at Land O’Lakes.   Her presentation, “Making Sense of Changes in Food Label Information” was extremely helpful in breaking down the very complicated world of labeling!


She began by explaining the rulemaking process for label changes: Congress passes a law and directs agency (FDA/USDA) to create regulations –> Agency then publishes  Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR)  in the Federal Register. This is when the  notice/comment process begins —> Individuals/Groups can post comments (these can come from ANYONE) –>Agency proposes rule/regulation.  She noted that this is a very long process and takes years.  The new nutrition label process started in 2016 with a compliance date of 2018.  In 2017 that date was extended to January 2020.  However, food companies were concerned about food waste so they were granted an extension to July 2020 so they were able to sell food products with the old label already printed.

So why did we need a new food label? The new label reflects updated scientific information (link between diet, chronic disease and public health),  the updated serving size reflects amount of food people actually consume, and the new format draws attention to calories and serving size. There are several changes to daily values including increases for: total fat, fiber, calcium, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin D and decreases for: carbohydrates, sodium, and vitamin A.  There is a new addition of “added sugars” which has been a challenge to food producers.  The daily value for added sugars is 50 g per day.  Added sugars is defined as: added during processing or packaged as such; includes free, mono- and disaccharides, sugars from syrups, honey, & concentrated fruit or vegetable juices.  Naturally occurring sugars (e.g., dairy products, whole fruits and vegetables) is not considered added sugar .  The challenge? Analysis cannot differentiate total sugar from added sugar and record keeping is required to verify labeled added sugars.

Brenda then went into a discussion of bioengineered (BE) and Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) labeling.  Many think bioengineered is the same as GMO but it is not. The USDA defines bioengineered as:  “contains genetic material that has been modified through in-vitro recombinant DNA and for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature.” The term GMO has a more broad definition and includes anything that has had its genes altered, including by nature, such as plants or animals.  BE labeling disclosure is required for BE food or foods that contain BE food ingredients.  Any highly refined foods (e.g., sugar, oils, food starch) or ingredients that do not contain detectable modified genetic material are not considered BE. The list of BE foods include:  alfalfa, some apple varieties, canola, corn, cotton, some eggplant varieties, some papaya varieties, some pineapple varieties, potato, some salmon varieties, soybean, summer squash and sugarbeets. Labeling is mandatory for items on the BE food list or known BE + detectable rDNA.  Labeling is voluntary for itmes from the BE food list with no detectable rDNA or highly refined ingredients from BE food list: oils, sugars, modified food starch.  Food items that are exempt from labeling include: organic, incidental additives, animal products (meat, poultry, milk, eggs), animal feed, or below 5% threshold for adventitious presence.  Simple, right?  NO!

Brenda gave a great example of where confusion can lie.  Where an ingredient lies in the ingredient list determines whether labeling is mandatory, voluntary, or exempt!  A soup with order of ingredients: broth, corn, chicken, etc. is subject to BE disclosure because chicken is 3rd ingredient- not the second after broth.  However–soup with chicken as 2nd ingredient (broth, chicken, corn, etc.) is exempt from BE disclosure.  Another example was breaded chicken nuggets with ingredients of chicken breast, breadcrumbs (wheat flour, corn flour, etc.) is not subject to BE disclosure because chicken is the most predominant ingredient- it doesn’t matter if corn flour is from BE corn.  

The last section of her presentation was about Standards of Identity (SOI).  SOI includes required and optional ingredients, may specify manufacturing procedures, may include added nutrients and amounts, and may include specific methods of analysis.  There are 280 SOI foods (37% of the foods are dairy items!).  They were established  in the 1938 Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act.  The purpose of SOI is to  promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers, prevent food fraud (must meet minimum level of a valuable ingredient), to create a “level playing field” for food producers, ensure products meet consumers’ nutritional and expectations/needs.  A food is deemed misbranded if it does not conform to the definition and standard or it must be labeled “imitation”.  In March 2018 the FDA determined modernizing SOIs as an important step to update for technology advancements, promote innovation and provide flexibility to produce more healthful foods.

Brenda acknowledged that these new labeling regulations are likely to cause some confusion among consumers.  For instance, right now the old label and the new label can be found on products on shelves until July 2020.  One might grab a pint of ice cream and see two different serving sizes and think one is more “healthy” than the other.  She closed with saying that as consumers are now less familiar with agricultural practices, it’s becoming more important  to help consumers know “what is in my food”.  It is our role as food and consumer science professionals to help!    

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.