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Friday, 07 April 2017 13:58

Editor's blog: Our papers won a dozen awards

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Our newspapers were honored with 12 awards Friday, March 31, at the annual Wisconsin Community Papers conference. This year’s event was held at the Abbey Resort in Fontana.

CSI Media, part of Bliss Communications, publishes Walworth County Sunday, the Walworth County Shopper/Advertiser, the Stateline News and the Janesville Messenger, along with a variety of specialty publications.

Thursday, 06 April 2017 09:44

Symbolism and food mark religious holidays

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Easter is next week and Passover begins at sundown tomorrow — both are important, intertwined religious observances with accompanying food traditions. In the Christian religions, Easter celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection. Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection occurred after he went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew). The Jewish festival commemorates the ancient Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt.

Tuesday, 04 April 2017 09:41

Stop Wasting Food

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This information provided bt the University of Wiscon-Extension.

What’s the latest on food product dating?

 The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute recently asked their members to standardize quality dates that appear on food packages in an effort to curb the problem of food waste. A 2013 report from the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the National Resource Defense Council estimated that 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes uneaten, resulting in waste of at least 160 billion pounds of food each year. At the same time, nearly 15 percent of U.S. residents struggle to put food on the table. The report argued that clear food product dating would reduce food waste and help to eliminate food insecurity, or the lack of enough food to stay healthy, in the country.

 “Most food products carry dates that advise consumers when the product remains within a certain standard of quality set by the manufacturer,” says Barbara Ingham, food safety specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Extension. “However, with the exception of infant formula, these dates are not linked to food safety. In most cases, food products maintain their quality well after the date marked on the package.”

 Consumers now see dates with these phrases:

  • "Best if Used By/Before." This indicates when a product will have the best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date. 
  • "Sell-By." This tells the store how long to display the product for sale for inventory management. It is not a safety date. 
  • "Use-By." This is the last date recommended to use a product at peak quality. It is not a safety date, except on infant formula.

 GMA and FMI are asking companies to do away with the terms “Expires On” and “Sell By” and replace them with “Best if Used By.” For some highly perishable products like lunch meat or raw oysters, manufacturers could put “Use By” on their products.

 “Federal law does not require expiration dates on food,” says Ingham. “As a food product passes its ‘expiration’ date, it may get stale, and some products, like milk, may go sour. But according to food safety experts, most spoiled foods, though unpalatable, aren't particularly hazardous.”

 According to the USDA, up to 30 percent of food may be lost or wasted at the retail or consumer level. One source of food waste arises from consumers or retailers throwing away wholesome food because of confusion about the meaning of dates displayed on the label.

 GMA and FMI are attempting to reduce consumer confusion and wasted food by recommending the "Best if Used By" date be applied to most foods. “USDA indicates that research shows the ‘Best if Used By’ phrase conveys that the product will be of best quality if used by the date shown. Foods not exhibiting signs of spoilage should be wholesome and may be sold, purchased, donated and consumed beyond the labeled ‘Best if Used By’ date,” Ingham says.

 With the exception of infant formula, a product should still be safe and wholesome beyond its “Best If Used By” date as long as it is handled and stored properly. “For instance, pasteurized milk that is kept refrigerated and properly handled, should be safe to drink after the date marked on the container and can be consumed until it shows signs of spoilage,” says Ingham.

 The exception to food product dating is when a date is applied to infant formula. Because proper nutrition is vitally important for healthy development of an infant, infant formula should be removed from sale and discarded after the ‘Use By’ date marked on this product.

 Consumers should remember that while food that is not properly handled may spoil even before the date marked, most foods will remain wholesome and tasty well after the date marked on the package.

In Walworth County, where so much of the economy revolves around tourism, getting people to vacation here is a big deal.

But with an annual tourism budget dwarfed by our neighbors in Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota, state officials have learned how to get more bang for their tourism buck.

By doing so, Wisconsin is able to compete throughout the region with any other state, according to Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett.

Klett highlighted her approach during a speech Friday, March 31, 2017 at the Wisconsin Community Papers annual convention at the Abbey Resort in Fontana.

The trade group represents free weekly newspapers and shoppers in Wisconsin.

Klett said competition is fierce in the Great Lakes area for visitors and the money they spend.

Wisconsin's annual tourism budget is about $12 million, Klett said. That's compared to Michigan's $33.9 million and Illinois' annual tourism budget of $58 million.

But a lot is at stake. In Wisconsin, tourism is a $19.3 billion dollar industry that directly employs 190,000 people, according to Klett

In Walworth County, tourists in 2014 spent nearly $500 million and supported nearly 7,000 jobs, according to the Walworth County Visitors Bureau.

But the tourism message wasn't always as focused as it is today, Klett said.

By 2009, two years before Klett became secretary, Travel Wisconsin had come up with its fifth slogan in 15 years.

Unfortunately, the slogan around that time, "Live like you mean it," turned out to be something other than what was intended.

Klett remembers being at the announcement event when a woman leaned over and said, "Live like you mean it? That's the slogan for Bacardi Rum."

So the next day, Klett said, the headlines blared that state had paid $15,000 to plagiarize a slogan from a rum company.

Since those days, Klett says the department of tourism has focused on what she says in the No. one motivator for people going on vacation -- fun.

But everyone defines fun differently.

"My dad, without a fishing poll in his hand, hit's not fun. If you can touch that nerve of fun, you've got a winner," Klett said.

So, the department's first big splash into fun was to hire Wisconsin native David Zucker, who made a name for himself writing comedy films like "Airplane" and "Naked Gun."

He was excited about the project.

"You know in the 40 year's I've been gone from Wisconsin, no one's every asked me to do something for the state," he told Klett.

Zucker created a slapstick-funny winter spot that earned what Klett said was $10 million in free press.

For their next spot, they called on David's brother Jerry Zucker, also a co-writer on the "Airplane" movies.

Jerry Zucker's ad was filmed in Seymour and featured Green Bay Packer Jordy Nelson, who found himself transported from his home in Kansas to Wisconsin.

The highlight of the collaboration, however, was a reunion between the Zucker brothers, fellow writer Jim Abrahams and stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Robert Hays for a series of three commercials promoting Wisconsin based on the "Airplane" movies.

The reunion was a hit here in Wisconsin as well as in Hollywood.

Travel Wisconsin's latest efforts turn toward something that is classic Wisconsin -- the supper club.

The spot was filmed at the Buckhorn Supper Club in Milton, and revolved around making the perfect Old Fashioned.

That spot has been the most viewed so far, according to Klett.

Travel Wisconsin's efforts don't only revolve around TV advertising, however, Klett said.

There are different versions for print and some creative projects aimed specifically at Chicago, a market of major importance to Walworth County.

One project involved wrapping an architectural tour bus in Chicago with a Wisconsin Northwoods camp theme.

The project won numerous awards, as well as a free run in New York.

Klett, a former Miss Wisconsin, still lives in her hometown of Beloit.

Before becoming secretary, she was the host of the long-running tourism show, "Discover Wisconsin."

As she likes to remind people whenever she is out speaking, if you're having fun, she's having fun.

Friday, 31 March 2017 09:42

Welcome to Spring Home and Outdoors 2017

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It’s been nearly two weeks since March 20, 2017, the official first day of spring. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the seasons have changed with the extended stretch of cool, cloudy and gloomy weather.

We’re here to help.

This week's paper is a special edition, Spring Home & Outdoors, to get readers thinking about all of the possibilities of the season ahead.

The paper is packed with stories and ads to get your moving as the weather gets nicer.

(More Spring Home & Outdoors stories are HERE.)

(Read our full digital edition HERE: Scroll to the bottom of the page and tap on the edition of your paper.)

Senior Editor Lynn Greene spearheaded this project with a collection of stories we hope will help you get motivated for the new season.

In our lead feature, Greene interviewed experts in the field of home organizing and clutter control. They offered suggestions about how to tackle our homes and our lives to be more organized and efficient.

We also head to the golf course to preview what’s ahead in the golf season, from the U.S. Open coming to Wisconsin in June to a variety of local events and activities.

Mixed in, there are suggestions for summer camps for our kids and tips for painting.

Hopefully we’ve done our part to get ready for the new season. Now, we just need the weather to cooperate.

Dan Plutchak, editor

Local2LocalC

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