The Modern Day Biker Gang

It’s you and your crew, all in, for the love of the ride.  Feel the wind through your helmet, the sweat on your Spandex and your heart pumping with every pedal. It all starts when the rubber meets the road and you join a group ride!

MSED2.1_15_FLYERIn cities all around the world group rides are becoming more and more prominent.  The concept is simple, meet, ride and enjoy the adventure.  It’s a modern day biker gang that doesn’t include Hogs or Hondas, but Treks and Schwinns.  And is bound by a passion for bicycling.

There is nothing quite like enjoying a self-propelled journey on trails and roads around the city. Group rides are a great way to meet fellow bikers, tour a city and explore beautiful destinations and events along the way.

One unique group ride is happening on Saturday, May 2, 2015 right here in beautiful Portage County.  Meet the other members of the gang at 8:00 a.m. by the Sundial on the UW-Stevens Point campus. Seasoned rider and 2015 Energy Fair presenter, Melissa Haack, will lead the ride.  The round trip 20-mile ride takes you on pleasant terrain consisting of 80% flatland and 20% rolling hills.

The destination—the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA)’s headquarters in Custer, WI for the annual Move Some Earth Day volunteer event.  The MREA is offering $10.00 off day and weekend passes to The 26th Energy Fair on June 19-21 to anyone in the group ride biker gang.  Warm up for volunteering with an invigorating ride to the event, volunteer and save on your Energy Fair tickets.  In addition, enjoy a free tasty lunch and dinner before you and your gang depart at 6:00 p.m.

Move Some Earth Day is a fun annual volunteer event that helps prepare the grounds for the 26th Annual Energy Fair. Typical volunteer tasks include landscaping, clearing brush, food preparation, painting picnic tables, preparing the MREA garden, assisting with office work, Energy Fair promotion, and more. Contact Melissa at for information on joining the group ride and visit for event details.

Get on your bikes and ride!

Kaitlyn Kohl ( kaitlynk[at]midwestrenew[dot]org )

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational organization. Founded in 1990, the MREA promotes renewable energy and sustainable living through education and demonstration. To learn more, call 715-592-6595 or visit

Healthy Foods, Healthy Teeth and Gums!

With just a quick google search using the key words: fruits, vegetables and dental health you can find resource upon resource explaining the benefits of healthy eating for dental wellness. Many experts agree that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables not only improves your waistline, your energy level, your heart heath, but also your mouth, gums and teeth! It’s easy to point out the many mainstream foods and beverages we know can cause dental harm: anything with a lot of sugar, syrup or acids, i.e. soda, candy, chips, wine etc. The usual culprits that impact our bodies when we think of all other healthy habits also impact our teeth, tongue and gums.

The average person probably only thinks about their dental health twice a day: when they brush in the morning before school or work, and again in the evening before bed. Yet, it makes sense to recognize the direct correlation between what you eat and drink and your level of dental health. Food and beverages first enter your body through your mouth. It is the first point of contact for fuel and refreshment. If what you put in your mouth may not be the best thing to consume for the rest of your body, it’s a good bet it’s not helping your oral health.

Several themes appear in online literature. These recommendations are not outlandish, nor too demanding. The first is to drink water. Staying adequately hydrated will help you resist the urge to snack on unhealthy foods and drinks which will help keep your gums healthy. Second, eating fruits and vegetables, because of their texture and composition, can actually help remove plaque from your teeth. Also, because fruits and vegetables are mostly composed of water, they are not desirable hosts for the type of bacteria that erodes enamel.

None of this advice is new; we do not need to reinvent the health wheel. In fact, we just need to remember these simple guidelines to maintain dental health: drink plenty of water, eat fruits and vegetables regularly and avoid sugary drinks and food.

by Ashley J. Ormson

You Say Potato…

Maureen Storey, PhD , President and CEO of Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE)  recently wrote “Last week, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its letter report recommending that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) allow participants of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to buy white potatoes with the cash value voucher (CVV) for fruits and vegetables. This recommendation recognizes that white potatoes are significant sources of potassium, dietary fiber and vitamin C, which are nutrients critical to a healthy diet for all ages.”


Photo credit: Thoursie, 1414350,

This news is not only important for WIC participants but a good reminder for all, of the many healthful benefits potatoes bring to a regular diet.  Yet, the average American does eat potatoes and regularly, so why is this news, well…news? The average American consumes 75 pounds of potatoes annually. However, most of this consumption comes in the form of French fries and potato chips. In this form, you lose almost all of the natural healthful benefits potatoes provide. Potatoes are a source of complex carbohydrates and minerals, most notably potassium (location in the skin) and a source of vegetable protein. When eaten in combination with meat, dairy or grains potatoes form a complete protein.

Another fantastic thing about potatoes is that it is a major local crop for us living in Portage County, Wisconsin. It is a healthy, low-cost source of nutrients and incredibly easy to store and a go-to stable during the long winter months. Most potatoes will keep up to 2 weeks, it is best to store away from the light (I keep my potatoes in a caldron under the sink) and at or a little below room temperature.

In addition to being local, low-cost and nutrient packed, potatoes are incredibly versatile and easy to introduce into any dish or method of cooking. Potatoes are delicious baked, microwaved, roasted, mashed, boiled added to soups, salads, omelets and stir-fries.

With literally hundreds of potato varieties in the world, what makes the potato such a vegetable diamond in the rough, is a combination of its versatility in cooking, accessibility both locally and in questions of affordability and it’s incredible source of nutrients. I applaud, along with Dr. Storey, the IOM’s recommendations and hope these decisions bring our community one step closer to healthy eating and active living!

by Ashley J. Ormson