Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Tag: food safety

Better Kansas – Dec. 12, 2019

Header image for the Better Kansas BlogWelcome to Better Kansas, where every Thursday we shed light on events, resources and other information designed to make your life, businesses, communities and state better. This is a small glimpse of what K-State Research and Extension across the state has to offer. Share on social media and subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter

Better Living, Better Communities

WHETHER IT’S A HOT DOG AT A DAUGHTER’S BASKETBALL GAME or a birthday dinner at a favorite restaurant, many of us are eating meals away from home OR food in our homes that was prepared by others. Think DoorDash and other meal delivery services. Sixty percent of suppers served at home in 2014 were actually cooked at home, down from 75% in 1984, according to an interesting report by the USDA’s Economic Research Service released last year. That’s a lot of food that we’re trusting others to prepare for us. One of the less visible, but incredibly important programs that works behind the scenes to keep that food safe is the ServSafe program for food handlers and foodservice managers offered by K-State Research and Extension. We do this in partnership with the Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association.

LET’S KEEP GOING WITH THAT FOOD THEME since after all, it’s the “season of feasting!” For our office just yesterday, it was a cookie exchange and a holiday party. I don’t know about you but it’s nearly impossible for me to stop at just one cookie or a couple of crackers and cheese and whatever else is being served. And never mind the cookies I bought from the youth group fundraiser last weekend. It’s philanthropy … sort of … right?! Listen in to a Sound Living radio program for tips to reduce fat and calories while still enjoying the foods of the season. Or take a look at this news article on the subject.

THIS ALSO SEEMS TO BE THE SEASON FOR EVERY CHARITY AND NON-PROFIT WE’VE EVER THOUGHT ABOUT GIVING TO (plus some we’ve never heard of), to send requests for donations. It’s so easy to be caught up in the spirit of giving and that’s often a good thing. Check this article for tips to help keep all of that good will from completely blowing your budget at this time of year. Wait, did I say budget? What budget? 😊

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

KICK OFF THE NEW YEAR BY LEARNING SOMETHING NEW in the Farm Financial Skills for Kansas Women in Agriculture workshop sessions planned for four consecutive Wednesday evenings starting Jan. 15. The workshops will be held in 32 locations across the state, so there’s likely one near you. The training delves into recordkeeping, balance sheets, income statements, cash flow, goal setting, plus managing living expenses, coping with mental stress and developing a whole-farm financial management plan. Plus, there will be time to network with others. The deadline to register is Dec. 31. The cost is $40. Whether you’re running your own farm or play a role in your family’s or someone else’s farm business, what better way to start the new year than by sharpening your skills, having an evening meal and setting goals specific to your operation? Oh, by the way, the training has been approved to satisfy Farm Service Agency Borrower Training Financial requirements. Check the website for specific locations and more information or contact Robin Reid at 785-532-0964 or LaVell Winsor at 785-220-5451.

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR WHEN ROW CROP PLANTING, GROWING AND (HOPEFULLY) HARVESTING IS FINISHED and that means many educational opportunities happening during these off-season winter months. They include the 2020 Soybean, Corn and Sorghum schools starting in early January at locations around the state. If you plant any of these crops or are even thinking about it, this is a great way to get updates on what the latest research shows and information on production practices. The schools are free to attend and designed for growers and industry partners, plus a complimentary lunch will be served at all locations, thanks to industry sponsors.

WHEN WE THINK OF KANSAS, WE MAY THINK OF WIDE-OPEN PRAIRIES AND BEAUTIFUL SUNSETS, but trees are not always top of mind. Yet there are 5.2 million acres of forests, woodlands and trees in Kansas that occupy 10% of the state’s total land area. The Kansas Forest Service, housed as an independent agency within K-State Research and Extension, works to improve water quality and quantity in Kansas, offers low-cost tree and shrub seedling for conservation planting, assists with fire management and supports community vitality in small towns and large cities across the state, plus a lot more. Read more about the KFS and for a look at recent projects, check here.


For more resources and activities, contact the K-State Research and Extension office in your area. Check out our other blogs and subscribe to our weekly emails here:


Better Kansas – Sept. 5, 2019

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Welcome to Better Kansas. Where every Thursday we shed light on events, resources and other information designed to make your life, businesses, communities and state better. Share on social media and don’t forget to hit subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter

Better Living, Better Communities

DO YOU THINK MEDICARE IS CONFUSING? It can be! It’s nice to have choices but not so easy to know Plan A from Plan D much less which plan to sign up for. And oh, the seemingly endless changes every year! Many extension offices offer Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas, or SHICK. During open enrollment in 2017, K-State Research and Extension SHICK counselors educated almost 8,000 Kansans on Medicare plan comparisons and available benefits, saving them a total of $6.1 million. Outside open enrollment, SHICK counselors had contact with another 8,316 people through classes and plan comparisons. Remember, Medicare open enrollment is Oct. 15-Dec. 7.


FRESH TOMATOES, PEPPERS AND ONIONS are plentiful right now, and that means one thing: It’s salsa time! Whether it’s a game-day gathering or a birthday party, salsa has become a must-have condiment for many of us, and everyone’s recipe is a little different. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced cook, check out tips to keep your salsa safe in Sassy Safe Salsa at Home. It’s also available in Spanish, Atrevida Salsa Casera Segura. Among the factoids: Salsa flavors tend to mellow during storage; and there’s an optimal way to roast peppers. There’s even information about whom to contact if you’re interested in selling your own special salsa.

THEY CHEW THROUGH WIRING AND CONTAMINATE FOOD AND FEED and as the days grow colder, house mice will be looking for warmer digs, like our homes and businesses. They’re among the most common and economically destructive rodents in the United States, but their tiny size makes them so hard to keep out. Plus, forget rabbits – house mice reproduce like crazy. One pair can make more than 100,000 babies a year. Their scientific name, Mus musculus, makes me think of the muscle-bound cartoon character Mighty Mouse, but that was all in fun. It’s no fun though to find they’ve chewed through food packages in the pantry or left not-so-delightful droppings ANYWHERE. A new fact sheet Controlling House Mice provides all kinds of information, including ways to keep your space look less inviting to the little critters.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

A NUMBER OF PINE TREES IN MY NORTHEAST KANSAS NEIGHBORHOOD ARE DYING. It’s tough because they provide an evergreen wind break and serve as a visual barrier from people driving by, so it has me wondering what kinds of trees might be good options to replace them. The publication Conifer Trees for Kansas is a comprehensive guide to conifers (you know, the cone-bearing trees like pine, spruce and fir :). It tells which do well in different parts of the state, what their primary pests and diseases are – plus it has pictures. It even gives an idea if they’re slow-, medium- or fast-growing. Questions still? Check with your local K-State Research and Extension office. By the way, we’re proud to say that conifer publication won the 2018 American Society of Horticulture Science Extension Materials Award.


IF WEBER AND CALL HALLS WERE YOUR HOME AWAY FROM HOME for a few years in college or if you’re in or want to be in the livestock business in Kansas, come together with family and friends at the 5TH Annual Animal Sciences and Industry Family and Friends Reunion from 5:30-9:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4, at the Stanley Stout Center, 2200 Denison Ave. in Manhattan. The evening offers great food, entertainment and activities for the kids. This year, the Don L. Good Impact Award will be presented to the Kansas Livestock Association. More than 1,000 attended last year’s event. We hope to see you there!

APPARENTLY, ALFALFA, WHEAT SEEDLINGS AND OTHER CROPS HAVE BEEN ON GRASSHOPPERS’ MENU lately, and most are full grown by this time of year, which makes controlling them tricky, according to Grasshoppers – Eating their way through Kansas in a recent Agronomy eUpdate. The article has great photos and the nitty gritty on when and if to treat them in several crops. Plus, you’ll see that entomologist sense of humor I mentioned in a previous post.


For more resources and activities, contact the K-State Research and Extension office in your area. Check out our other blogs and subscribe to our weekly emails here:


Better Kansas – June 13, 2019 – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Header image for the Better Kansas Blog

Welcome to Edition 2 of the Better Kansas blog from K-State Research and Extension, written by yours truly Every week we’re shedding a little light on events, resources and other information designed to make your life, your businesses, your communities and state better.

For many more resources and activities, check with the extension office in your area. Watch for Better Kansas on Thursdays. In the meantime, check  for archived entries. Share it with friends, family and colleagues!

Better Living, Better Communities

CALLING ALL FOODIES (and others who cook either for the love of it or out of necessity :). Check out the latest edition of You Asked It. This month it covers Food Science vs. Food Myths, Ace the (Food) Waste, Pressure Canner Testing, What is the Cloud Point of Cooking Oil,  Mixing Matters and more.

WHERE’D THEY GET THE MONEY FOR THAT? Ever wonder where the money came from for that new set of benches at your neighborhood park or how local firefighters got certain equipment? It’s possible the funding came through a grant. K-State Research and Extension is holding workshops in communities large and small to help Kansans develop their grant writing skills. Nonprofit organizations, church boards and others can learn the ins and outs of writing effective grant proposals. More information is available online or by contacting Nancy Daniels at 785-410-6352 or

SHOP LOCAL, BE SOCIAL: It’s June and activity at farmers markets across the state is buzzing. It’s hard to imagine a better way to find locally-grown foods, meet the farmers who produced them and see your friends and neighbors. Some even have music! What’s not to like? For great tips on shopping at your local market, take a look at Shopping Safely at Farmers Markets. Check out a list of farmers markets and if you’re selling fresh produce or other products, read Food Safety for Kansas Farmers Market Vendors: Regulations and Best Practices cover to cover!

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

COPING IN CHALLENGING TIMES: Though average net farm income rose in Kansas last year, many farmers are experiencing a string of tough financial years, the likes of which haven’t been seen in a long time. And recent flooding and delayed planting only compound the problem. No matter the difficulties, confidential help is available through the Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services and the K-State Research and Extension Farm Analyst program … let me say that againconfidential. The Farm Analyst program offers one-on-one consultations with people trained in business analysis specifically for farmers and ranchers and KAMS  can assist with legal, financial and mediation services. To reach either, call 1-800-321-FARM.

THE RIGHT WHEAT: Combines will soon roll through Kansas harvesting this year’s winter wheat crop. But how do you know which wheat varieties work best in your part of the state? Take a look at the K-State Department of Agronomy 2018 Kansas Wheat Performance Tests.

THIS YEAR’S PRECIPITATION HAS BEEN GOOD FOR A LOT OF PLANTS, INCLUDING WEEDS! All of you corn, soybean, grain sorghum and sunflower growers will want to check out the Weed Management Field Day set for July 2 in Hays. Can’t make it to this one? We know it’s a big state! Check with your local county or district extension office to see if there’s one closer to you and what other resources are available.

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