Food

Ohio Signature Food Contest seeks innovative culinary ideas

From CENTER FOR INNOVATIVE FOOD TECHNOLOGY Ohioans with a strong passion for the food industry now have the opportunity to land their product on grocery store shelves with the Ohio Signature Food Contest, running now through May 31, 2018. Sponsored by the Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) and Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF), the contest will showcase new, innovative products from across the state. “This unique contest serves as a catalyst to the growth of the food industry in Ohio,” said Rebecca A. Singer, president and CEO, CIFT.  “There is such a deep history of great products that started right in this state, such as the iconic Dum Dums lollipops, Quaker Oats, Bob Evans sausage, and Life Savers candy.  The creativity and innovation we have seen each year means there is a bright future ahead toward launching the next signature food item that can in turn enhance the economy and create jobs.” The economic benefit from a food manufacturing company can be significant based on the number of people employed, use of Ohio resources for products, the increased income potential realized by an existing business/restaurant advancing a “signature item” consumers recognize, and the trained base of resources already available within the region. Entering is simple and quick.  Contestants complete a simple online form outlining the basic details of their product, and food industry experts will judge each based on the viability of the product, commercialization potential, business strategy, marketability and overall appeal to the marketplace.  Emphasis is placed on products integrating Ohio ingredients when possible.  Finalists will then be invited to present their business concept and product to a panel of judges. The Ohio Signature Food Contest winner will be announced during a special ceremony in late July at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus, Ohio. Following the announcement, the winner will receive: Technical and business development assistance to help advance a product to the marketplace Production of product to be used for consumer feedback Nutritional analysis Shelf life/stability testing Review of trademark and copyright components Coordination with Ohio Department of Agriculture for label approval Label design, packaging, and ingredient source consultation Attendance to training seminars for free Inclusion in news release sent to media outlets across the state. Production will be available at the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen in Bowling Green, Ohio, a nonprofit commercial…


Food truck meeting gives BG officials a lot to digest

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The committee studying food trucks in Bowling Green got a heaping serving of advice from a wide range of food providers Monday evening. They heard from the owners of a burger bar, family diner, fast food site, and the chef at a country club. They also heard from food truck owners who sell everything from perch and grilled cheese, to grilled lamb chops and lobster macaroni & cheese. And all of them seemed to want to find a way that brick and mortar restaurants can not only survive, but can benefit from having food trucks in the city. “I’m here to find out how we have to adapt to compete,” said George Strata, who owns Beckett’s Burger Bar and Call of the Canyon with his wife, Phina Strata. “Competition is good,” as long as it’s fair, he added. A current city ordinance allows food trucks on private property, but not on public property within 150 feet of a right-of-way. A committee made up of Bowling Green City Council members Bill Herald, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino, is studying if those rules should be changed to make it feasible for food trucks to set up in the city. Herald asked for input on where trucks should be allowed, the specific hours of operation, the duration of operations, and how many locations may be used? Food truck operators abide by a “code of the road,” Herald said, but some specific rules may be in order. “We’re in the process of trying to see what’s feasible in town,” Zanfardino said. Russ Courtney, owner of Rusty’s Roadtrip which sets up weekly in Perrysburg and once a year at the Black Swamp Arts Festival in Bowling Green, suggested that the rules not be made too restrictive. “If the law gets convoluted enough, people will say, ‘Forget it,’” Courtney said. The city of Perrysburg has no rules limiting the days of operation, said Phil Barone, owner of Rosie’s Italian Grille, a food truck owner, and president of the area food truck association. The food trucks go to Perrysburg on Thursdays during the weekly farmers markets, and go to Maumee for “Food Truck Fridays.” “You don’t need to worry about food trucks hanging out,” Barone said. They are too busy, and will only go…


Urban agriculture helps communities blossom

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News American agri-business brags that it feeds the world. That doesn’t necessarily mean that food industry does a good job feeding its neighbors. Agriculture is Ohio’s number one industry. Ohio also ranks seventh in food insecurity, said Carrie Hamady, from the School of Health and Human Services at Bowling Green State University Hamady was moderating a panel of six local food activists brought together by BGSU’s Institute for the Study of Culture and Society at to discuss “Sustainability, Sustenance, and Stewardship” at the Wood County District Public Library. The activists from Toledo and Bowling Green covered a broad range of issues, related to food, health, and community development. “The end goal is to get healthy food into people’s hands,” said Sean Nestor, who is organizing the Urban Agriculture Alliance in Toledo. Toledo GROWS is one of the urban agriculture pioneers in Toledo.  For 23 years they’ve assisted grass roots efforts to develop community gardens, said Yvonne Dubielak. Their seeds and seedlings have helped spawn 130 community gardens. One of the beneficiaries of Toledo GROWS has been Elizabeth Harris, of Glass City Goat Gals. Once when Attorney General Mike Dewine was campaigning, he asked Harris what was needed in her neighborhood. “Goats,” she told him. Goats can survive in city lots. They keep down the weeds, provide milk, and meat, which can be sold to provide cash. Harris’ project, which includes a community garden as well as the goats, has helped turn around her neighborhood, once known as “murder alley,” into a good place to live. These gardens, she said, can help provide nutritious vegetables that are otherwise not available in a central city neighborhood. Harris said, she remembers going into a corner store, and basically all she could find were chips. The few fruits and vegetables are wilted and unappetizing. This lack of grocery options in the city led ProMedica to finance a grocery store in its neighborhood, said Kate Sommerfeld. The shop benefits the hospital’s patients, who now sometimes receive food prescriptions, as well as its employees and nearby residents. The hospital’s concern about food, Sommerfeld said, stems from the realization that many of the health problems its patients face are not medical, but social, including food insecurity. Doctors now screen patients for hunger. Lack of proper food, Harris…


America’s cookies rely on winter wheat grown in Ohio

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wheat grown in Ohio is a mainstay for Oreos and Chips Ahoy. Sure, other states grow the wheat that makes artisan breads and premium pastas. But Ohio’s soft red winter wheat is the type needed for pastries, cookies, saltines, cake, brownies and pretzels. Brad Moffitt, director of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, talked about America’s crops in general and Ohio’s wheat in detail at a recent Bowling Green Kiwanis Club meeting. “We are the top soft red winter wheat state,” Moffitt said. Six main types of wheat are grown in the U.S., with the differing soil types and growing seasons determining which type grows best in which areas. Though corn and soybeans are currently more profitable, farmers realize it’s good to keep wheat in the soil rotation, Moffitt said. More than 590,000 acres in Ohio were planted in soft red winter wheat in 2016. Moffitt described himself as “a farm boy from Urbana,” growing up with crops, cattle and hogs. He then went into a career in education, before “getting back in agriculture, where I belong.” His current job consists of working on research, market development, promotion and education. Moffitt talked with the Kiwanians about agriculture remaining the largest industry in Ohio, and about America’s role in feeding the world. “Our farmers are more than capable of feeding the U.S. and the world,” he said. “We’ve done it before. We’ll do it again.” Estimates suggest that 9.7 billion people will need to be fed by the year 2050. “American farmers have met the challenge before,” he said, describing farmers as industrious and ingenious. The problem isn’t growing the food, Moffitt said. The real problem is transportation infrastructure, storage, refrigeration and processing. “We can produce the food – getting it there is another problem,” he said. The world’s demands for food have not only grown, but they also have changed. More “middle class” people means more demand for meat protein. “They want some of the things we take for granted in this country,” Moffitt said. “When you move into the middle class, you want to eat a little bit better.” More meat demand means more corn, wheat and soybean needed for livestock consumption, he added. Nearly half of the wheat grown in the U.S. ends up…


BG Council committee chews on food truck information

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green residents are hungry for food trucks in the city. And Phil Barone thinks he has a menu that might please their palates. Barone, who has owned Rosie’s Italian Grille in Toledo for 36 years, has a food truck that serves customers in Perrysburg and Toledo. “To be honest about it, I’ve been looking in Bowling Green,” said Barone, who is a BGSU alumnus. But Bowling Green’s food truck rules are too restrictive, he told city officials Saturday during a work session examining the city’s food truck ordinance. No food vendors are allowed on public property – unlike other communities where food trucks can set up in parking lots or in street parking spots. The city of Toledo first balked at changing its ordinance, Barone said. “I got a lot of flack. The restaurants didn’t like us there,” he said. But the food trucks have transformed St. Clair Street every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon during lunch time. Now instead of just a handful of people venturing out to eat on St. Clair, the food trucks draw about 1,500 during lunchtime. “People come out like ants. It’s fun to watch,” Barone said. Barone heads up a food truck association which has 11 members. Their menus offer items like grilled baby lamb chops, lobster mac and cheese, cauliflower crust pizza, Cuban food, steamed mussel salad, perch, cappuccino, and ice cream. “Food trucks aren’t just serving corn dogs,” Barone said. The committee examining Bowling Green’s food truck rules – made up of council members Bill Herald, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino – has heard from citizens wanting food truck options, from local business owners concerned about the impact on their livelihoods, and from prospective food truck owners who would like to set up their mobile shops here. “I’m hearing from a lot of people,” Rowland said. “The citizens say ‘Yes, we want them.’” Some downtown businesses also would like to see food trucks. “We need interesting things to bring people downtown,” Rowland said they have expressed to her. But brick and mortar restaurants, and the Downtown BG organization have voiced concerns about the mobile vendors taking business from existing restaurants and creating litter problems. So the committee has been looking for common ground. “I firmly believe there is an…


Two Foxes mixologist Hilary Packard in the mix for whiskey cocktail honors

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Hilary Packard worked her way through Southern Illinois University Carbondale as bartender. Once she graduated with a degree in math and physics she thought she’d work in an office or a lab putting her knowledge to use. Instead she found, she drawn back to bartending. So now Packard puts her calculating abilities to work as a mixologist. She’s the general manager of Two Foxes, a gastropub in downtown Bowling Green. She’s been concocting seasonal cocktails for the bar since early June. “I’m still using the same skill set,” she said, “logic and problem solving and critical thinking.” Now she’s decided to put her skills to the test against some of her peers from top markets in the country. On Monday she’ll travel to Columbus to take part in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience. She’s one of 10 mixologists from the region selected to compete. At stake for the regional winners is an “immersive three-day experience” to the Woodford distillery in Versailles, Kentucky, and beyond that a trip to New York to compete with about 40 other winning mixologists from the United States and Canada. And, of course, there’s the “street cred” that comes with matching her skills with large market mixologists. Packard learned about the event through liquor.com. “It seemed like a really good opportunity to showcase my skills with whiskey,” she said. She had to submit her recipes for her ideal version of the classic Manhattan and a cocktail of her own creation. Each had to use a Woodford bourbon, at least one, the basic Woodford Reserve. Packard used that in the Manhattan. For her custom drink, she used Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. This was not a matter of just pulling stuff off the shelves and mixing it.  One of the advantages mixologists in cities have is greater access to ingredients. In creating these blends, Packard made her own ingredients from scratch. That meant for her The Tokyo Throwback Manhattan blending her own vermouth. The drink is a tribute to Japan and more broadly Asia. While the increase in consumption of whiskey has been modest in the States, about 2 to 3 percent, the demand in Japan has skyrocketed. This has meant growth in the amount distilled. So all whiskey aficionados like herself benefit. So for her vermouth,…


BGSU trustees vote to increase room & board charges

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Bowling Green State University Board of Trustees approved increases in room and board Friday. These were the first fee actions taken under the Falcon Guarantee program, so for incoming first-year students these are the charges that they will pay during their undergraduate careers. The average increase will be 2.3 percent, but the actual amount varies depending on the residence hall and room. Chief Financial Officer Sheri Stoll said that the state asks the university to report the cost of its standard double room. Such a room will cost $2,865 next year, up $75, or 2.7 percent. Room rates vary from $2,210, up $40, or 1.8 percent for an economy triple in a tier 2 residences  (Conklin, Offenhauer, Founders)  to $4,120, up  $90, or 2.2 percent in a tier 3 hall (Centennial, Falcon Heights, Greek units.) Stoll said that in considering room rates the university has to balance “competing issues.” It must be cognizant of how much local rental prices are, and Bowling Green has some of the lowest real estate prices. But it must also make sure it’s bringing in enough money to support the programs offered by residence life. Also, Stoll said, the university has to take in enough revenue to maintain the buildings to make sure that “we are able to keep residence halls that students are going to want to come and live in.” The trustees also approved 3-percent increases in meal plans. The plans will now range in price from $1,719 for a Bronze Plan to $2,220 for a Gold Plan. Also, the Community Plan, formerly known as the Commuter Plan, will increase to $325 from $315, a 3.2 percent increase. The name of the plan was changed to reflect that it is used by faculty, staff, and community members as well as commuting students. That plan gives card holders 55 meals. The new board rates will hold for the class of 2022 for their next four years. Students in the classes 2020 and 2021 could be subject to future increases. However most of those students as upper classmen would be living off-campus. Stoll said the expectations of students must be taken into consideration. “Our students aren’t just looking for food,” she said. “Students are clearly looking for experience.” Stoll said that the cost…


Scholar reflects on the role food played in the fight for racial justice

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Like any army, those who struggled for freedom during the Civil Rights movement marched on their stomachs. Food became an early symbol of the movement when five black college students took seats at a Woolworth lunch counter and waited in vain to be served while white onlookers pelted them with invective. Food scholar Jessica Harris has looked at the menus of the lunch counters where the protests spread and noted that the bill of fare was hot dogs, hamburgers, grill cheese – typical “American” food. Harris was the keynote speaker for the Beyond the Dream presentation Wednesday evening at Kobacker Hall in the Bowling Green State University campus. Her talk “Feeding the Resistance: Deacon’s Chicken and Free Breakfasts” culminated an evening in which the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was celebrated in music, words, and art. The program opened with Joseph Schwantner’s “New Morning for a New World: Daybreak of Freedom” performed by the Bowling Green Philharmonia conducted by Emily Freeman Brown. The programmatic piece offered orchestral swells and whispers to accompany a text read by Uzee Brown, a BGSU gradate and now chair of the music department at Dr. King’s alma mater, Morehouse College. The text was drawn from various speeches and essays by Dr. King. The music was anxious and on edge as Brown recounted the oppression of African Americans. “There comes a time when people get tired,” he intoned, “… tired of being kicked about by the brutal feet of oppression.” There were brilliant brass calls to action as the text described the struggle for freedom. “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood,” Brown read. The piece ended reflecting on the future when “we will emerge … into the bright and glowing daybreak of freedom and justice for all God’s children.” The orchestra concluded quietly as the musicians hummed a simple, resonant harmony. An abstract animated film by Heejoo Kim with music by Evan Williams, a BGSU graduate, and poetry by student Bea Fields scrawled across the screen was shown. Then Harris spoke. In her 40-minute presentation, she rooted the Civil Rights Movement to the post-World War II period, when whites saw the beacon of hope while blacks in the south…


Volunteers stepping up to serve on MLK holiday

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Martin Luther King Jr, Day is a holiday for people to step up and serve their community. Though the city’s King tribute scheduled Friday had to be canceled because of the winter storm, volunteers were out Saturday morning going door to door for the 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service “Can” vass Food Drive. Now coordinated by the Brown Bag Food Project, the drive helps stock the shelves for a number of area food pantries. (See related story  http://bgindependentmedia.org/volunteers-needed-to-help-mlk-day-of-service-food-drive-extend-its-reach/) Amy Jeffers, a Brown Bag board member, said as of the noon shift, 75 people had signed in. Groups of volunteers headed out into the northwest quadrant of the city to collect food stuffs. “We’ll move on from there,” Jeffers said. The table in the middle of Grounds for Thought, headquarters for the food drive, was filling up with spaghetti sauce, canned vegetables and more. “It’s been nice and steady,” she said. “It’s really starting to grow. … They’re really filling the bags.” The drive will extend throughout the city through Sunday. The cold weather is slowing progress some, but Jeffers said the amount collected is the same or more than last year. Jeffers has worked every drive since it started in response to President Obama’s call for to service. Anyone interested in donating can drop of food, hygiene products or monetary gifts at the shop at 174 S. Main St. in downtown Bowling Green. Volunteers will be out from noon to 5 pm. Sunday, but the tables will be set up in the morning for anyone who wants to drop something off. The volunteers are both community members and students. “We get a lot of BGSU students” including a contingent from the women’s swim team Molly Wells, a journalism major was on hand, helping to sort food as it came in. She heard about the drive through her sorority, Sigma Kappa. She also knew about the food drive through a fellow journalism student’s story. “My family has always been very big into volunteering,” Wells said. “My dad volunteers at a soup kitchen downtown Toledo. … I’ve grown up with it. It’s part of my family values. … It’s not only good way to get out and experience new things, it’s a good thing to do. I…


Finding the recipe to cure food inspection issues

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Though the Wood County Health District has the power to shut down restaurants, the preferred outcome is that food establishments clean up their acts instead. When health sanitarians come across restaurants with serious issues, many of the violations are corrected on the spot. To make sure the problems have been solved, repeat inspections are often conducted. “It’s based on the severity of the violations,” said Lana Glore, director of environmental services at the Wood County Health District. Inspectors are sticklers for food temperatures and other issues that can lead to public health risks. The sanitarians’ biggest tool is education. But if that doesn’t clear up the problems, then restaurant owners can be called in for administrative hearings at the health district office. If the violations are serious enough, an injunction or restraining order can be issued. “Ben has the right to order immediate closure,” Glore said of Ben Batey, the county health commissioner. “Our expectation is the food license holders are responsible for knowing the rules,” Glore said. “We hold that license owner responsible for training people.” But before any license is yanked, the sanitarians will make multiple attempts to educate the owner and those in the kitchen. Sometimes there are language and cultural barriers involved. The health district has learned that the biggest cultural gap appears to occur with some Asian restaurants. “We offer handouts in Mandarin Chinese,” Glore said of the educational materials. “That’s the language that seems to be the biggest barrier.” The Wood County Health District has not had to hold an administrative hearing on a local restaurant since 2015, involving Charlie’s in Perrysburg. Glore said that restaurant agreed to a “last chance agreement” and has been doing well. But sanitarians are always on the lookout for restaurants that have ongoing critical violations. “We have a couple on our radar right now,” Glore said. The intent isn’t to shut places down, but clean them up, she stressed. In Bowling Green, one of the food establishments with the most critical violations recently is the Old Town Buffet at 1216 N. Main St. On Nov. 30, Old Town Buffet was found to have seven critical and 15 non-critical violations. The critical violations included: –          Raw shrimp was stored under raw chicken, and mozzarella sticks were…


Scholar Jessica Harris to discuss role of food in Civil Rights movement

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Dr. Jessica B. Harris, a preeminent scholar of the food of the African Diaspora, will serve as keynote speaker for Bowling Green State University’s “Beyond ‘The Dream’” 2018 series of events. Harris’ presentation, “Deacon’s Chicken and Free Breakfasts: Food and the Civil Rights Movement,” will begin at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 17 in Kobacker Hall in the Moore Musical Arts Center. Doors open at 6 p.m. for this free event, which is open to the public. A book signing will immediately follow the program, which will include an orchestra performance and a School of Art visual presentation. Harris is one of a handful of African Americans who have achieved prominence in the culinary world. She holds a Ph.D. from New York University, teaches English at Queens College and lectures internationally. Her articles have appeared in Vogue, Food & Wine, Essence and The New York Times. She has been inducted into the James Beard Foundation Who’s Who in Food and Beverage in America and recently helped the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of African American History and Culture to conceptualize its cafeteria. Heejoo Kim, an assistant professor of digital arts whose projects focus on social issues, will give a presentation. The Bowling Green Philharmonia will perform Joseph Schwantner’s “New Morning for the World: ‘Daybreak of Freedom,’” written to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. BGSU alumnus Dr. Uzee Brown, chair of the Department of Music at Morehouse College, will narrate the piece. “Beyond ‘The Dream’” will feature a series of events through April, including the 29th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute Jan. 12. The event will feature keynote speakers Dr. Harold Brown, who was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen Red Tails, a group of African American men, and Dr. Marsha Bordner, president emeritus at Terra State Community College. Brown and Bordner co-wrote a memoir of Brown’s life, “Keep Your Airspeed Up: The Story of a Tuskegee Airman,” released in August 2017. A book signing will follow this 1 p.m. event at the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center, 530 W. Poe Road. A complete list of events is available at www.bgsu.edu/multicultural-affairs/events/beyond-the-dream. Guests with disabilities are requested to indicate if they need special services, assistance or appropriate modifications to fully participate in these events by contacting Accessibility Services at access@bgsu.edu or 419-372-8495 prior to the events.


Not In Our Town digests concerns about area hunger

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Not In Our Town monthly meetings normally focus on standing up against hatred and discrimination. On Thursday, the members talked about standing up for those who are hungry. A recent survey showed that college campuses across the nation are seeing a great deal of “food insecurity.” “We should think of how we’re going to meet that need,” said Christy Lunceford, campus chair of the Not In Our Town Bowling Green organization. “I don’t think the initiatives are meeting the need right now.” While most of that hunger may be faced by students, faculty and staff members aren’t immune, Lunceford said. “We need to keep that on our radar,” she said. An open forum on hunger problems is being planned, she added. “If a student says, ‘I don’t have food for the weekend,’ what do we do,” Lunceford said. The problem reaches beyond college campuses, said Heather Sayler, a member of Not In Our Town. “Let’s be honest. That happens at our city schools.” Sometimes the barrier is not distance but attitudinal. Some BGSU students whose driver’s licenses don’t reflect their residency here in Bowling Green, are turned away for not having the right paperwork, said Katie Stygles, of NIOT. “Sometimes students are treated in negative ways,” Stygles said. “That’s setting up a barrier for students.” Sayler, who also volunteers with the food pantry at First United Methodist Church in Bowling Green, said she has heard similar concerns voiced by senior citizens about other pantry locations. Across Wood County, more people are turning to food pantries to help feed their families. Some food banks offer food once a month, others whenever needed. Some require proof of need, others ask for nothing. Sayler said there are many food programs available. Often the problem is a lack of awareness. So last year, people representing food pantries throughout Wood County gathered at the United Way office in Bowling Green to collect information on all the grassroots efforts to help the hungry. Information was recorded on how often food is available, how much food is given per person, and how families qualify at each operation. The details have been updated in the county’s “211” help telephone system, so when people call for help they are directed to the place most able to…


Vegan Toledo hosts discussion of ‘How Not to Die’

Submitted by VEGAN TOLEDO Vegan Toledo will present a book discussion of New York Times bestseller “How Not to Die” by Michael Greger, M.D. at Gathering Volumes Bookstore, 196 E South Boundary St, Perrysburg, on Thursday, March 8 at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and will include free food samples as well as drawings for food baskets, T-shirts and books. The book offers a detailed account of how our American lifestyle can cause preventable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It gives practical advice about not only what foods to avoid, but many positive suggestions about delicious foods that are particularly useful in protecting our health and promoting longevity. Attendees may have read the book, or they may participate even if they are just considering reading it in the future and wish to learn more about it. “This is an eye-opening, evidence-based book,” shared Mike Zickar of Vegan Toledo. “We are excited to partner with Gathering Volumes to bring this important discussion to our community. We all struggle with our food choices and we’ve found this book to offer clear and manageable strategies to help lead to a longer and healthier life.” “Our motto at Vegan Toledo is you don’t have to ‘be’ vegan to eat vegan,” shared Rachel Zickar of Vegan Toledo. “For many of us, it’s more effective to take small steps over time toward a healthier lifestyle. This book is a great way to start, or continue, that journey. Folks with all kinds of eating habits are welcome to join this discussion. We will all do better with the support of others as we strive to become healthier together.” Vegan Toledo, founded by Rachel and Mike Zickar, is an organization dedicated to healthy lifestyle choices as well as making it easier for travelers and residents to find vegan options in the area via their web site, VeganToledo.com, as well as through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Volunteers needed to help MLK Day of Service food drive extend its reach

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Martin Luther King Day of Service “Can”vas Food Drive hopes to extend its reach. Now in its 10th year, organizer Amy Jo Holland, of the Brown Bag Food Project, said she’d like to reach the homes throughout town. That means putting out a call for volunteers, about 300 is what she thinks will be needed. The food drive will be held Saturday, Jan. 13, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 14, noon to 4 p.m. Last year, Holland said, the canvassers covered the north side of the city and some of the south. “We hope this year we can cover it all.” Volunteer sign up is just getting underway. The organizers have started reaching out to groups at Bowling Green State University as well as community groups. Holland is well aware of people’s reluctance to commit, but is confident as the date nears community members will enlist. Some volunteers will hang back at the collection site, Grounds for Thought, and help sort the food that comes. That means setting aside items beyond their sell-by dates. As long as they are not too old, some pantries can still use those. Most of the volunteers will join small teams of canvassers going door-to-door through Bowling Green neighborhoods collecting non-perishable food and others necessities. Especially needed are peanut and jelly, tuna, and canned meats. They are also collecting hygiene items, baby formula, wipes, and diapers, and pet food. This year seven food shelters will share in the bounty. Those benefiting are: Brown Bag Food Project, the Christian Food Pantry, and pantries operated by St. Aloysius, St. Thomas More, St. Mark’s Lutheran, Broken Chains, and First United Methodist Church. Each received about 30 boxes of food last year. “For us it’ll maintain us through May,” Holland said of Brown Bag. It certainly will not meet all the food needs of the 300 people a month Brown Bag helps, but it’ll provide an essential core of the food deliveries, and means the project will have to buy less to meet the need. The food drive was started in 2009 in the wake of the election of Barack Obama. Some of his supporters wanted to sustain the energy of the campaign through community service. Brown Bag decided to continue it several years…


Finnish coffee table staple has becomes our family’s holiday tradition

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Before I ever met my wife, Linda, I had tasted her Finnish sweet bread. At least, I was supposed to. She’d gone to the home of mutual friend, to bake the bread known as pulla. It was Christmas time, and that friend, Barbara, then my girlfriend, gave me a loaf as a gift. Two days later, she spotted that loaf still sitting on the shelf in my truck. I was right and properly scolded. A Christmas memory. I’m sure, though, that the bread still tasted wonderful toasted. That was the Christmas of 1973. Now it’s the Christmas of 2017, and Linda is still baking pulla. Lots of it. This year 32 loaves for family and friends near and far. For that matter, Barbara, still a close friend, bakes it as well, serving to her fellow cast members in the Christmas Revels held in Hanover, New Hampshire. For all that, Linda will point out: Pulla is not a Christmas treat. In Finland it is a year-round staple. There’s always a loaf in the bread box to serve with coffee. To serve coffee without pulla, is considered “bare coffee.” Noting “bare” about pulla, a white bread rich with milk, eggs, butter, sugar, and seasoned with cardamom. Growing up on the Keweenaw Peninsula, which is the upper peninsula of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, she remembers her mother making throughout the year. Not always. It was a special treat. The bread was not called “pulla,” it was “nisu,” an archaic word for wheat. The Finnish spoken on the Keweenaw is rich with archaic words spoken by those like Linda’s grandparents who came to the Copper Country at the end of the 19th century. When Linda’s Aunt Gertrude traveled to Finland in the 1970s, she confused the Finns with her fluent Finnish. “Ma’am, when did you leave Finland?” they wondered. Linda doesn’t remember when she started to help making the bread. Age 6, maybe? She loved to punch down the dough after the first rising. Maybe she would help knead, or mix in flour. When she was older she would help remove the cardamom seeds from the pods. This is the secret of a good pulla. (After spending two years in Finland, Linda adopted that name, though on the Keweenaw it’s still known as nisu.)…