The Free Press, Mankato, MN


November 23, 2012

Our View: Big Ten just isn't as special as it used to be

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To the Big Ten and the addition of two new schools to a once-proud and storied athletic conference that now doesn't at all resemble the proud and storied conference that it once was.

It's just business these days. The Big Ten used to be a Midwestern powerhouse. Even before its latest announcement that Maryland and Rutgers will join the conference, it technically ceased being the "Big Ten." But when Nebraska and Penn State joined the conference a few years ago, at least they were Midwestern schools, maintaining geographical relevance. Maryland and Rutgers, on the other hand, are Eastern schools taken in with the mighty dollar in mind.

It's getting ridiculous. The Big Ten still calls itself the Big Ten even after adding schools 11 and 12, then it divided itself for football into two divisions called "Legends" and "Leaders." It sounded silly at the time. Now with 14 teams, calling it the "Big Ten" sounds even sillier.

Maryland and Rutgers were brought in to capitalize on an Eastern television market. So maybe the conference should now be called the "Big Mo." As in big money.

Don't landfill food if it can be composted

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To a push by some in Minnesota to find ways to compost food waste on commercial levels.

The state's overall recycling efforts surged in the 1980s but have remained stagnant since.

One of the best options to reduce pressure on landfills is to treat organics -- food waste -- as the recyclable material it is. As it is, as much as 40 percent of all the food produced ends up in landfills.

State officials have set a goal in the metro area of cutting the flow into landfills by 75 percent by 2030, with a big chunk of that coming from recycling organic material.

Recycling food waste for use as soil and fertilizers carries obvious obstacles, including the safe collection and storage of it and reducing odors and pests at organic recycling plants. But as anyone who has a backyard compost bin knows, those obstacles aren't that difficult to overcome.

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