Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Tag: healthy living

Better Kansas – Jan. 23, 2020

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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. 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

LAST WEEK, I passed along information about a guide to help you know how long food ingredients will do their job in your recipes. But because of a technical glitch, not everyone got that section of Better Kansas, so I’m including the link again in hopes that it works this time. Safe Food Storage: The Cupboard is a really good guide.

IT’S EARLY IN THE YEAR, BUT ARE YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS ALREADY GETTING A LITTLE LESS RESOLUTE? Mine certainly are. One tip to get back on track is starting the day with breakfast if you don’t do that already. Studies show that people who eat breakfast eat 100 fewer calories a day than people who don’t. Another suggestion is to stop eating when you’re no longer hungry. Wait, we were supposed to be HUNGRY before we started eating?! Seriously, if we stop eating just as we begin to feel full, we can save as many as 500 calories a day. Other tips in the fact sheet, Action Plan for Healthy Living, focus on physical activity, sleep and ways to develop your own action plan. This may be just what I need to get back on track. Check it out.

SOMETIMES IT SEEMS EASIER TO LET OUR FINANCES JUST TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES and not pay much attention to things like credit scores or credit reports. Until, of course, our application for that new apartment is rejected or we pay a higher interest rate for that cool SUV we’ve been eyeing … all because of what’s on our credit report. This extension column in sheds light on the difference between credit reports and credit scores and how they’re linked. It also mentions the upcoming statewide K-State Research and Extension Check Your Credit email program which I’ll be writing more about in the next few weeks.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

ONE OF MY INTERESTS IN WINTER ESPECIALLY, is watching the birds at my birdfeeder. So I enjoyed an item in a recent horticulture newsletter on bird feeding. It includes a list of the grains that different species prefer; for instance, cardinals and most finch species prefer sunflower seeds, while the dark-eyed junco likes white and red proso millet, canary seed and fine cracked corn. The newsletter also provides information on a fast-approaching conference on industrial hemp, plus a section on pawpaw trees, which only recently showed up on my radar when a friend made pawpaw fruit leather. Who knew?! Still other topics include Dutch elm disease-resistant American elm trees, designing your home landscape, starting newly-planted trees off right, plus fruit trees and frost. A bonus is a link to a video on attracting birds to your back yard. True confessions: Years ago, I bought a book on birds that are native to Kansas in hopes of identifying which birds came to dine at my house. I have to say, they’re mostly still little brown birds to me. I enjoy them no matter what!

BIG DECISIONS ARE LOOMING FOR FARMERS as part of the most recent farm bill. We’ve developed a new “tradeoff” spreadsheet tool to help farmers make their program election decisions, which need to be done by March 15. The spreadsheet, which compares potential 2019/2020 Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) county level payments with Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payments, includes every state, county and covered commodity for which the USDA’s Farm Service Agency has released data. Included on the website is both the spreadsheet and an 8-minute video that explains how the spreadsheet works and how to interpret the results. A radio interview on this and several other topics was also part of a recent Agriculture Today broadcast. If you haven’t already signed up, you’ll want to take a look or listen.

KANSAS CATTLE RANCHERS ARE AMONG THE BEST IN THE BUSINESS and some of the reasons why are because they’re always working to improve, be more efficient and look for better ways to care for their animals. To that end, K-State is hosting the popular 2020 Winter Ranch Management Series around the state:

  • 30 – Ulysses
  • 30 – Ashland
  • 11 – Plainville
  • 11 – Mankato
  • 27 – Yates Center

Take a look at the K-State Research and Extension Beef page or check with your local extension office for more on the educational series and other beef production information.


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 20, 2019

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Welcome to Edition 3 of the Better Kansas blog from K-State Research and Extension, written by yours truly, Every week we’re shedding light on a few events, resources and other information designed to make Kansans’ lives, businesses, communities and state better. This is new for us, so be sure to scroll through weeks 1 & 2 also. For many more resources and activities, check with the K-State Research and Extension office in your area.

Better Living, Better Communities

YOU’RE CRUISING DOWN THE MEAT AISLE AT YOUR LOCAL GROCERY STORE, looking for dinner inspiration. We’ve all been there. The label on this package says it’s “Natural/Naturally Raised” and another package says “Raised Without Antibiotics” and yet another says “Grass-Fed.” Really, what does all of this mean?! The Meat Product Labeling and Marketing: What Do All Those Words Really Mean factsheet explains these and a lot more. 

REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE PRESCRIBED THAT STRONG PAIN MEDICATION AFTER SURGERY? Or maybe it was your neighbor managing pain from aching chronic arthritis? Or your niece’s soccer injury? Opioids are a class of drugs that include powerful prescription pain relievers, which can be an important part of medical treatment. They also carry a significant risk, however, for addiction and overdose because of the euphoria they create and a human’s tolerance that occurs after repetitive dosing. Many of us don’t realize we have some of these medications in our own homes. Approximately 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, and many more are at risk. Learn more with the fact sheet The Opioid Crisis: What You Need to Know and video.

WORKING WITH KANSANS ACROSS THE STATE TO IMPROVE MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH is the plan behind a K-State Research and Extension effort called the Culture of Health. The goal, part of a nationwide effort, is for extension to do for mental and physical health what extension has done for agriculture for years. Extension offices across the state have always offered classes and resources aimed at educating the public about ways to live healthier lives. The Culture of Health initiative, however, sharpened the focus and is providing extension agents with more tools to support mental and physical health programs.

The initiative kicked off in 2018 when K-State Research and Extension brought together 250 representatives of health departments, health coalitions and other stakeholders with extension staff in seven locations around Kansas to identify existing resources and challenges. Among the most significant concerns were:

  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • cancer
  • heart disease
  • addictions
  • farm stress
  • suicides
  • access to health care
  • access to healthy foods

Read more about how extension agents and specialists are enhancing resources in Kansas communities.


Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

KANSAS RANKS 10TH IN HOG AND PORK PRODUCTION, AND GROWING THE NEXT GENERATION of producers and other industry professionals is imperative to keep the industry moving forward. Many in that next generation will participate in the 2019 Dr. Bob Hines Kansas Swine Classic June 28-29 at CiCo Park in Manhattan. This is not your run-of-the-mill competition for Kansas youth and their animals. Educational workshops, a photo contest and a skillathon are built into the agenda, along with showmanship and the Prospect Pig and the Barrow and Market Pig shows. And this year a family pork cook-off has been added! Oh, by the way, in 2018 Kansas producers sold 3,505,878 market hogs, feeder pigs and seedstock with a gross market value of more than $471 million.

MANY OF US LOVE THE BELOW-AVERAGE TEMPERATURES; THE WHEAT CROP, NOT SO MUCH. We all need certain conditions to grow and thrive and that’s true for wheat, too. This spring’s below-average temperatures slowed the Kansas wheat crop’s development, which may cut the amount of grain coming out of those fields. And don’t get me started about the rain. Much more detail is included in the June 10 Agronomy eUpdate. What’s at stake? Kansas is typically the No. 1 wheat producing state, in recent years averaging about 328 million bushels from an average 8.5 million acres. Nearly one-fifth of all wheat grown in the United States is grown right here in Kansas. And we help feed the world: About half our wheat is exported to other countries.

SIDEDRESSING, DEADHEADING AND SUCH … FLOWERS, THAT IS: Abundant spring rainfall kept many of us from having to water flowers much early on, but those lovely flowers still need TLC and a drink when they get dry. Modern annual flowers are bred to flower early and over a long period of time. Recent K-State Horticulture Newsletters dig into – pun intended 🙂 – such topics as sidedressing annual flowers and when it’s helpful to remove old, spent flowers, an activity also known as deadheading … and when it’s not. This has me thinking about the other Deadheads, as in fans of the Grateful Dead, but again, I digress! The newsletters contain a trove of information on horticulture topics from how short to mow the grass to pests in vegetables (and how to excuse them from your garden) to tree diseases and way more.