University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Cooking for Crowds workshop with Kathy Savoie was highlighted in the April 10 Dispatches column of the Portland Press Herald.
Archive for the ‘News’ Category
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s master food preserver training course was highlighted in the April 3 Dispatches column of the Portland Press Herald.
WABI (Channel 5) cited Marjorie Peronto, educator at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Hancock County, in a story about a countywide food drive. The drive, which started at the beginning of March and had contributions from over 120 businesses, schools and churches, ends April 3. Peronto spoke about March being a “dry month for food pantries” and said “it’s a good time for us to try to restore their shelves.”
The Bangor Daily News spoke to Alan Majka of University of Maine Cooperative Extension about an Extension program, “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation,” based in Machias to establish free summer meal sites for children.
Village Soup cited a University of Maine Cooperative Extension publication in an article about healthy eating for toddlers. According to the Cooperative Extension bulletin, “The way we feed our children during the first five years of life affects everything — their physical health, and their emotional and social development, as well as how they learn.”
Mainebiz interviewed University of Maine faculty members Jim McConnon and Beth Calder for the March 18 article, “Belfast food hub creates new market for local vendors.” McConnon, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension business and economics specialist and professor of economics, explained why a food hub has taken root in Belfast. Calder, a UMaine Extension food science specialist and associate professor of food science, spoke about the sustainability needs of creating a “common kitchen.” Both weighed in on what makes for a “recipe for success.”
UMaine opens new campus composting facility
A joint collaboration between the University of Maine Dining Services and University of Maine Cooperative Extension will establish the first facility for advanced composting of food waste in Maine.
The effort involves the purchase of a 10-foot by 40-foot enclosed, automated composting unit called the EarthFlow 40, manufactured by Green Mountain Technologies, based in Washington state. This unique facility, along with the expertise of the UMaine Extension Professor Mark Hutchinson, has the potential to convert more than 1 ton of organic waste per day from campus dining facilities — from potato peels and lettuce leaves to meat scraps — into a rich soil amendment that will be used in UMaine landscaping and on university crop fields.
The composting facility, located off Rangeley Road on campus, also promises to save money and will continue the institutional advancement toward sustainability, while serving as a demonstration site for students, individuals and potential commercial users.
During the academic year, nearly 1 ton of organic waste is generated daily in UMaine’s three dining commons and the Marketplace, the largest retail dining facility on campus. UMaine Auxiliary Services, which oversees on-campus dining and other student services-related departments, has been composting organic waste for nearly 14 years in an effort to be as environmentally responsible and cost effective as possible by keeping the weighty discards out of the waste stream. Most recently, UMaine has contracted with a private composting firm at a cost of $65,000 annually.
The UMaine compost facility is expected to cost $25,000 a year to staff and maintain using Facilities Management personnel. The resulting compost will be used campuswide as a soil amendment that benefits soil structure.
The compost is a soil enhancer, not a fertilizer. The biggest benefit of compost is its ability to hold plant nutrients in place in the soil, says Hutchinson, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension professor who directs the award-winning Maine Compost School, based at Highmoor Farm, a UMaine Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station in Monmouth, Maine.
Hutchinson, who has 10 years of research in composting, developed the “recipe” for the UMaine composting facility. Ingredients will include the pre- and postconsumer waste from the dining commons and the Marketplace, as well as used horse bedding — primarily wood shavings and sawdust — from UMaine’s J.F. Witter Teaching and Research Center.
Compost directly from the facility can be used on farm fields. For use in landscaping, including ornamental gardens, the compost will be aged in an open-air shed for several months before it is used in ornamental gardens.
In addition, the compost will supply the new greenhouse located next to the compost facility, where students in the UMaine Department of Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences are growing edible greens to supply the dining commons.
The student-run greenhouse and compost facility are expected to be an educational resource, not just for UMaine students, but also school and community groups.
“This will allow us to close the loop, not only composting on campus, but producing a product that is used on campus,” says Dan Sturrup, executive director of Auxiliary Services. “At UMaine, we’ll go from plate to plant. And, with the help of the greenhouse, back to the plate again.”
According to Misa Saros, UMaine’s conservation and energy compliance specialist, the composting system is in keeping with UMaine leadership and commitment to sustainability — from its sustainable agriculture minor to its campuswide green initiatives, all of which have earned the university a citation in Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges for four consecutive years.
“We are very excited to be implementing a system that makes productive use of a valuable resource that is too often discarded in landfills or incinerators,” says Saros.
A Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention statewide health alert notes that flu activity is widespread with more reported cases this year than last, and more expected in the next few weeks. University of Maine Cooperative Extension experts are available to provide advice for avoiding the virus and coping with it. They also can offer considerations for parents of children who have to be out of school because of a flu outbreak.
Jason Bolton, a UMaine Extension food safety specialist, can be reached in his Bangor office at 207.942.7396 to discuss sanitization to reduce the spread of or contact with germs, including washing hands and using hand sanitizers.
Kathryn Yerxa, UMaine Extension’s statewide educator for nutrition and physical activity, can suggest healthy foods and nutritional advice to combat the flu. She can be reached in her Orono office at 207.581.3109.
Leslie Forstadt, a UMaine Extension child and family development specialist in Orono, can be reached at 207.581.3487 to discuss steps parents can take if children will be out of school for a long period of time. They include staying in touch with teachers to discuss making up schoolwork.
Contact George Manlove at 207.581.3756 for assistance reaching Bolton, Yerxa or Forstadt.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension on Call to Answer Holiday Food-Safety Questions
For consumers throughout the state with questions about safe food handling and preparation, leftovers or even recipes and nutrition as the holidays approach, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension team is only a phone call away for research-based answers.
Six UMaine Extension food safety and nutrition specialists make up the team, which can be reached by calling the nearest county UMaine Extension office or dialing 1-800-287-0274, a statewide toll-free number. Many questions also can be answered online in a UMaine Extension publication. Specialists in UMaine Extension county offices also can answer most questions, says UMaine Extension statewide food-safety specialist Jason Bolton. Consumers can expect to receive a return call with answers within a few hours.
Questions typically range from how to thaw a frozen turkey when time is short to handling leftovers safely to whether an older UMaine Extension recipe is still safe and valid. Bolton says the latter is a good question, because changing ingredient ratios in a recipe can make food unsafe to can. Canning procedures are updated every year when results from new food preservation research are available, he says.
Bolton recommends a food thermometer be included among essential kitchen utensils to be sure meat is cooked thoroughly. Poultry must be cooked at 165 degrees Fahrenheit, as a rule.
“With large gatherings, it’s pretty important not to have everyone make a trip to the hospital,” he says, adding improper preparation can result in a variety of food-borne illnesses. “Once again, if in doubt, throw it out. If the turkey isn’t prepared properly, then the whole family can get sick.”
Kate Yerxa, the UMaine Extension statewide educator for nutrition and physical activity, says the call team also can address questions about nutrition and serving the recommended food categories from the new U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “My Plate” chart. Thanksgiving is typically a very healthy meal because of its heavy use of vegetables, and turkey is a lean protein food, she says.
The Cooperative Extension website has a complete list of county offices and contact information.
A UMaine Extension publication, “Helpful Hints on Handling Turkeys for Thanksgiving” includes tips for buying, thawing, stuffing, cooking and serving turkeys.
Bolton and UMaine Extension food science specialist Beth Calder expand in a video on some of those tips and also discuss how to deal with holding food and leftovers.
Contact: George Manlove, (207) 581-3756
In a Portland Press Herald article, Jason Bolton, University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator and statewide food safety specialist, offered food safety advice for when power outages decommission refrigerators and freezers. Bolton said milk products, in particular, can develop dangerous bacteria and pathogens. He referred to an age-old adage — when in doubt, throw it out — as a general rule of thumb.