Buying Healthy Foods on a Budget

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Eating healthy shouldn’t look like this!

As I continue growing up and approaching what you could call “real adulthood”, I’ve increasingly realized the value of saving money wherever possible. A hugely significant area of spending for me is on food, coffee, and other tasty stuff. In the end, we all need to eat, right? But a painful reality that slowly creeps up to us over time is the fact that food can be expensive, especially when we eat out on a regular basis as many busy college students do.

The monthly budget for food for one person in the United States averages out to $250 per month, or just over $60 per week, and can vary widely depending on individual needs. That can be a pretty huge chunk of income, especially if your actual spending looms above that (like mine… well, this is turning out to be a pretty convicting post).

How can we start to crunch that number and still get the nutrition we need? Here are just a few ideas.

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Simply put: cooking food at home and eating out less

Two very simple ideas… that can be very hard to follow in reality.  While the price of groceries is beginning to fall, the price of restaurant food is soaring, painting an even more convincing case for eating at home. But when the salad bar is eyeing you from around the corner, or your favorite sandwich is giving you “the look” from the pastry glass, how can you say no?

One way to follow this helpful principle is to find your favorite recipes — and try them for yourself, of course! One of my favorite places to grab recipes is from Delish, the same people that make the fun Facebook recipe prep videos. Here is a list of easy dinner recipes with ingredients that won’t cost a fortune.

Buying inexpensive proteins

If you’re worrying about diet quality when penny pinching on your groceries, this is probably the area you are most worried about. We always want to consider protein quality, digestibility, and other good things to make the most of our protein foods. That said, these simple foods pack a high-quality protein punch without punching a hole through your bank account:

Eggs. Eggs have an impressive amino acid profile and are pretty easy to obtain at a reasonable price.

Chicken breast. Chicken can be a cheap and easy fix for protein, especially if buying it canned or frozen (which doesn’t damage the quality)

Milk. Whey protein is also an impressive amino acid booster and includes the branched-chain amino acids important for muscle growth and repair. Buying nonfat, ultra-filtered milk is another way to capitalize on the protein benefits.

Beans and rice. These two plant proteins offer complete amino acids when eaten together, and cost pennies when purchased in bulk.

Powdered milk. Evaporated and filtered of sugar and fat, powdered milk is basically just the two milk proteins (casein and whey) in a convenience form at a fraction of the cost of commercial whey protein powder.

Buying inexpensive produce

Produce is often (and should be) an inexpensive staple, but sometimes that isn’t the case. A lot of things, like whether the food is fresh, frozen, organic, or in season can affect the price of a given plant food. Not sure how to get the most bang for your buck when buying produce? Here are a few tips:

Buy frozen or canned options. Frozen or canned versions of foods can often be cheaper than fresh, since they have a longer shelf life. As a plus, frozen and canned produce is often richer in nutrients than the fresh versions due to the preservation: just be sure to reach for options without added sugar, salt, or syrups.

Know when to choose organic.You may think you need to purchase all-organic produce in order to really be healthy, but that isn’t quite the case. The label “organic” refers to foods that are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizer, or artificial flavors and preservatives. While definitely a great option (who wants that stuff in their food?), organic options are almost always more expensive than the non-organic and not always necessary or the better option. You can stick by this tip: if it has a peelable skin, like oranges and avocados, non-organic is pretty safe since most of the contaminants are on the outside skin, but if it doesn’t have a peel and is meant to be eaten as-is, it might be good to splurge on the organic option. You can also stick by this “dirty dozen” list for ideas about what is best to buy organic.

Buy foods in season (and buy local!). When you buy foods that aren’t in season in your area, they usually have to be shipped from places where they are, which both ups the price and negatively affects the quality of the food. Here is a guide for seasonal foods by state. That said: it’s always better to buy local for this reason, since locally grown food is guaranteed to be in season! To find a farmer’s market near you, you can use the USDA’s Local Food Directory here.

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Careers in Nutrition: Quality Assurance and Animal Nutrition

What career path in nutrition do you want to follow? If you’re not into community or clinical paths, or just want to experience something different and refreshing, what path would you possibly take?

What about a career in quality assurance or animal nutrition?

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Quality Assurance

Quality assurance includes the methods behind ensuring that foods meet “a degree or level of excellence” in several areas, including safety, sanitation, taste, appearance, and nutrition. You might imagine this as the scientist chemically testing food composition, the person who takes temperatures of cooked foods, or even the person walking the trayline at a hospital to ensure the foods look good and palatable. Quality assurance should certainly always play a role in anything we do as food and nutrition professionals, but there is actually an entire job profile dedicated to this specific duty available in food companies, community programs, and clinical practices, called a quality assurance manager or a food quality manager.

What work would you perform as a quality assurance manager?:

  1. Ensure food equipment is clean and in working order
  2. Ensure cooked or prepared food has met standards to prevent contamination
  3. Ensure food has actually escaped contamination (which is where microbiology courses come in handy)
  4. Ensure food is presented in a nice and palatable manner

While that might sound like boring, technical work, the job of a quality assurance manager is extremely important in any food company or food service — hence why many companies list openings for this job on its own.

Requirements to become a Quality Assurance Manager

Degrees in nutrition sciences, food science, chemistry, or microbiology will suffice depending on the particular company you choose to work with, and you might need to obtain some specific certifications as well.

 

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Pet and Animal Nutrition

Next we move on to a new field of nutrition work: pet and animal nutrition. From professionals working in wildlife to understand the eating patterns of otters, deer, and even crocodiles to the people working behind the scenes on your puppies’ and kitties’ favorite food, animal nutrition is an entirely unique arena of nutrition knowledge. This is certainly far separate from the human nutrition we may all be familiar with in our curriculum, but it’s an interesting field to learn about and maybe even one day explore.  So what kinds of jobs could you get in pet and animal nutrition?

  1. Livestock nutrition. Pros working in this capacity determine the composition and quantity of livestock feed that will best promote the animal’s milk production and nutritional quality, among many other factors important in food production.
  2. Pet nutrition. If you have pets like I do, this area has probably been an interest to you at some point; we want the best for our furry kids and that obviously includes proper nutrition. But if you take the leap to become a professional well-versed in this area, that might involve anything between becoming a full-on veterinarian with a pet nutrition specialty to working in the pet food plants as a quality assurance inspector.
  3. Wildlife nutrition. Working in wildlife nutrition (which is as totally awesome as it sounds) can mean everything from studying the eating behaviors of a wild animal species, feeding a wild animal in captivity (like sweet little river otters), to intervening in a nutrition-related problem that is threatening a species, like the lack of viable plant foods in populations of deer.

Requirements to become an Animal Nutritionist

Many colleges offer programs and concentrations in animal nutrition (including UNR!), but for the most part you will just need any degree with biology, chemistry, and other basic science coursework (unless you are also intent on becoming a veterinarian, which requires veterinary school, of course).

Based on this info, which of the careers above sounds awesome to you? Would you ever consider working in quality assurance or being an animal nutritionist? Let me know in the comments below!

[Collaboration provided by Meagan Levitt]

 

 

The UNLV Community Garden

Guys… did you know we have a community garden??

The UNLV Community Garden is situated on the Northwest corner of campus  on Cottage Grove next to the Rebel Recycling Center. A quaint little square boasting just a few hundred acres, you would probably never come across it unless you were looking; but once you do, it is a site worth seeing.

The garden was officially established in 2015 through the combined effort of the UNLV Community Garden Committee and several landscape architecture classes. It features 41 raised planter beds, each of which may be purchased and applied for by different student organizations or individuals — and yes, SNDA has their very own, featuring some yummy kale, of course.

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Yummy kale in the SNDA garden Planter.

What happens at the garden? A lot, according to Elissa Lafranconi, the garden coordinator who will soon be returning the garden to the original coordinator Tara Pike. Along with inviting field trips for children from pre-k through high school, the garden also hosts the Girl Scouts to help them earn their Gardening, Bug, Planting and Sense Badges by having fun with garden activities. Students enrolled in the horticulture class in the landscape architecture program are tasked with tending the garden several weekends at a time to enrich their knowledge of growing and harvesting plants, and the Hospitality department often uses the garden’s fruits and veggies in their catering recipes. However, the Community Garden, Elissa explains, has served as a learning experience for students in every department from Physics and Chemistry to English and a variety of organizations like the UNLV Foundation, the Student Sustainability Council, and SNDA.

An especially huge happening that is coming up in a few short months is the 555 Dinner at Vegenation, in which 5 executive chefs prepare a 5-course dinner using plants harvested from community gardens across the valley and benefiting the Create a Change Now organization. The UNLV Community Garden held their “planting day” on February 12th and will be hosting their “harvesting day” on May 4th for the vegetables and fruits that will be used in the dinner.

Michael Hernandez, a landscape architecture student and the student worker for the community garden, takes great pride and care in the garden; he boasts his own planter in the garden featuring aromatic lavender and delicious asparagus. While speaking with Michael, I learned about the garden’s unique challenges with vandals, who may graffiti the surrounding tarp fence or even set dumpster fires near the vicinity. The addition of security cameras and card readers has helped prevent some more serious situations, but it’s still an ongoing issue, he explains.

Michael has big dreams that the influence of the Community Garden will “take over” campus, despite its remote location. Every student can gain something valuable from the garden, whether it’s new knowledge about planting, a new sense of community, or an appreciation of the garden’s plants. His first effort to make this happen is his creation of the UNLV Garden Club, which will include organizing meetings at the garden and promoting events (and which anyone can join, by the way!).

 

Michael also plans for the garden to have a more pleasing aesthetic appearance, with the addition of artfully-painted benches, chairs, and tables:

 

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Another essential member of the garden team is their Master Gardener, Tom Bohannon. During my time at the garden a few weeks ago, I got to help Tom with moving and separating compost as he explained some of the garden’s other challenges. He explained that ants, followed by aphids, often infiltrate the crops and leave their sticky sap all over them. On a creepier note, spiders (including black widows!) sometimes take refuge in the compost bins and can surprise the unsuspecting gardener. For now, their arsenal is garlic or peppermint oil spray to annoy the little bugs and chase them away, and the planting of calendula flowers to deter the aphids from the main plants.

 

So if you find time, it’s definitely worth it to venture to the far side of campus and check out the UNLV Community Garden.

Ugly Produce: What do you think?

As I’ve continued attending classes and exploring this cool thing called “nutrition”, I’ve only begun discovering just how many different aspects of food and nutrition there really are. One aspect I’m thinking of that’s tugged not only on my curiosity, but also my conscience, is sustainability.

Sustainability, according to Merriam-Webster, is defined as relating to “a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged“. In reality, sustainability has countless definitions depending on the country, organization, or individual person talking about it, but UCLA decided to consolidate all the different definitions and summarize it as this: the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. That’s very cool to me, and a great way to live.

So what’s a great way to practice sustainability? Growing your own food? Creating a compost bin? Recycling, right?

Those are all great ideas, of course, but what about just buying ugly produce?

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I don’t know about you, but I was taught at an early age to be picky about the appearance of my fruits and veggies. It’s true that many food safety experts caution to avoid foods with bruises or scratches to avoid contamination with bacteria, but a lot of us extend this fear to avoiding things like crooked carrots and lumpy tomatoes.  Unfortunately, over half of all produce in the United States goes to waste, and much of that is due to the tendency for consumers, retailers, and even farms to reject crops with even the slightest imperfections. So companies fear costumers won’t buy that ugly produce, and we fear that eating that mutant carrot will turn us into a witch, probably.

I mean who knows, right?

As a result, so much perfectly fine produce is wasted. Given that at least 12 percent of people in the U.S. have limited access to healthy and safe food, the fact that we are still wasting so much of that food is troubling to say the least.

In response, companies and organizations are trying to turn the switch on this situation. Here’s what they’re doing right now:

1: Advocate for ugly produce. Organizations like the Food Waste Reduction Alliance are promoting ugly produce in one of their efforts to reduce food waste in the United States, assuring customers that even fruits and veggies that aren’t exactly beautiful are still nutritious and delicious. There are also websites like Ugly Fruit and Veg that are dedicated to showing how beautiful ugly produce can be (you can check out their Ugly Fruit Posters here).

2: Buy and sell ugly produce. Imperfect Produce is a company based in San Francisco that ships orders of less-than-perfect fruits and vegetables to customers for 30-50% less than what they’d be charged at the grocery store. Their goal is to not only save customers time and money, but also to drastically cut down on the current food waste situation. (Currently, they only ship to the Bay Area, Portland, and Seattle, but are planning to come soon to the Southwest and beyond)

So what do you think? Is ugly produce still a little too weird to you, or are you gonna give the three-headed lemon a try? What’s the ugliest fruit/veg you’ve ever seen? Share what you think in the comments below! 

Welcome back: Steps for getting readjusted and back into the groove of school

 

Hey SNDA,

Welcome to the Spring 2018 semester! I hope you are all getting snugly settled back into your classrooms this week. What’s that? You’re not happy to be back? You were just falling asleep in class? You’re sneaking out of the classroom as we speak?

It’s a common experience after a long vacation. We enjoy ourselves, relish in the late mornings, indulge in huge volumes of precious sleep and delicious food, and suddenly it’s the Sunday before classes start and we silently scream, dreading the coming months of sleep deprivation and essentially starving ourselves to plug in hours of last-minute work. And waking up early? Yeah, no.

Whether this was your first go at a 5-week winter break or the 5th, it is never easy to readjust after the time off. For a lot of us this first week was a shock on our bodies, and that’s okay for a time. But no one wants to be drained of life for months on end, so here are a few techniques to get yourself back into the swing of college life this semester.

  1. Take it slow at first (even if your classes don’t). If your typical days during break were like mine (doing literally nothing for hours on end), forcing yourself to fill in those hours with concentrated work will be difficult, frustrating, and pretty unproductive. So, for these first few weeks back make it a priority to focus on one assignment at a time and provide yourself some break time in between.
  2. Keep doing what you enjoy. Did you read a lot of novels during break? Or watch IMG_3076lots of telenovelas? Drink a bunch of fancy coffee? Live on Instagram? Whatever you did to fill in your extended free time, keep on doing it. Depriving yourself of the things you enjoy in order to finish work may make you develop some pretty negative feelings about school in general. It doesn’t have to be one way or the other: incorporate your favorite activity, whether it’s drawing or coffee-tasting or TV-watching, into those regular breaks mentioned above.
  3. Take time to unwind (a.k.a. don’t overload your schedule!). I had to learn this the hard way. After scheduling work shifts after my classes every single day last week, I made myself ready to throw in the towel before week 1 was even done. So I say very emphatically: take it easy on your schedule the first week coming back. Give yourself some time off to reflect and let it sink in that school has returned yet again. Even if you can’t work out getting time off of work or school, consider taking a few minutes before bed or in the morning to practice some decent meditation or relaxation. Come on, you know you deserve it!
  4. Eat breakfast, for goodness sake! Breakfast is always termed “the most important meal of the day”, but it is also easily the most skipped meal of the day. It is super important to include lots of protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals at the start of  our day to get your body and mind kick-started and ready to take on the day’s challenges. No time in the morning? Make some time by prepping ahead: whip up some beautiful overnight oats (you can find my favorite recipe here) or cook up hardboiled eggs the night before to enjoy with whole fruit in the morning. The quick-fix breakfast possibilities are truly endless.
  5. Put your health first. It may have been way easier to maintain your health and fitness routine during the break, but it’s not time to drop your healthy habits just because school is back in session. Don’t glue yourself to that desk; take walking breaks to boost your blood flow. Don’t drown yourself in those energy drinks (though I admit they do look pretty good…); grab wholesome forms of energy like a banana, or sip some green tea for a caffeine boost. Check out all these other helpful tips for staying healthy with a busy lifestyle.

Good luck with your studies this semester; only 15 weeks until summer!

Oh, and here’s one final tip:

6. Come to the first SNDA meeting of the year this Monday, January 26 in BHS 132 and buy some yummy frozen yogurt! What better way to get readjusted to school than with frozen yogurt?? There is none. 

The Healthy Holiday Party

 

Finals are over! It’s time to throw on the ugly sweaters and have a great time for the next few weeks. That’s right, it’s time for the holiday party.

I love holiday parties. Mostly, I love holiday party food. The problem is, this is what that holiday food usually looks like:

That looks sooooo good doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s easy to dig in to a little too much at one time when you’re having holiday fun. It’s certainly okay to relax and allow for a few extra calories here and there, but bingeing a little too hard (and often) during the holiday season might leave you in a slump before the season is over.

So what can you do if everything at the party looks good???

 

  1. Eat something filling beforehand. Have a meal packed with fiber, protein, healthy fat, and other good stuff to fill you up a little bit so you aren’t tempted to finish off the first platter you see. Even enjoying a glass or two of water beforehand can really help curb your appetite before the party.
  2. Eat mindfully. It’s very easy to unconsciously nibble on endless helpings while chatting it up with friends and family. If this is an issue for you, try putting the plate of food down while you talk, or bring the conversation out of the kitchen and out of sight of the food.
  3. Munch on the healthy choices. Gravitate toward the fresh fruit, vegetable platters
  4. Avoid the empty liquid calories. Sodas, juices, and other sugary drinks you often find at parties are full of calories that your mind may fail to register as calories, so they make it very easy to load up on empty calories. There are some yummy andfun holiday-themed ways around this though: my favorite is to offer and enjoy sparkling water with just a splash of cranberry juice (and served with cranberries and lime if you want to be fancy).
  5. Best of all: make delicious and healthy food to bring! Offer some yummy garlic marinated shrimp or prepare endives stuffed with goat cheese, strawberries, and walnuts.
  6. Bonus: Pine needle cookies? While maybe not entirely “health” related, this recipe is a super fun one I thought I should share with you guys. You can find it here. So try it out and make your holiday parties that much more interesting

Check out these other tips for having a healthy holiday while you’re at it.

Happy Holidays!

Recipe provided by Meg Levitt (:

 

Study While You Exercise!

Happy Study Week!

Wait, did I just combine the words happy and study in the same sentence? Wow. How can anyone be happy when they have to study? Especially if they have to study for the next few hundred hours?

I’m sure we all understand the struggle of finals. We make our best effort and sacrifice any time we can spare to prepare for the Big Tests. We pore through pages and click through websites and sort through Youtube videos scrambling for a strategy or tool that’ll allow us to finally memorize the basic amino acids and recite muscle origins and insertions. We give it our all, even if it doesn’t make us remotely happy.

But what if there was a study strategy that was easy, effective, and fun? What if it even made you a little happier while you studied? What if I told you this strategy was just… moving?

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That’s right. More and more research is showing that studying before, after, and maybe even during a good workout can boost your brain cells and help you learn material better.

Why is that? Some experts claim that it is due to exercise’s effect of increasing blood flow to the brain. Another theory is that exercise increases the expression of compounds called brain-derived neurotrophic factors, which are associated with increased cognitive function and alertness. Whatever the case, it’s clear we should really start moving this week. How should we do that though, and in what order? Here are some ideas.

  1. Exercise, then study! Start off your morning with a nice dose of cardio and it may make your following study session a little more bearable. Plus, you’ll enjoy the benefits of increased brain blood flow and feel-good endorphins to help you be smart and feel great. So consider heading out for a nice outdoor walk or run in the AM before hitting the books.
  2. Study, then exercise! Getting the studying right out of the way is a good idea, especially, if you’re worried about time – and then shaking that worry off with some light cardio afterword can help calm the mind and put you back into focus. One study found that exercising a few hours after studying significantly enhances long-term memory storage and retention.c8a3fdd8805ce16ad70093c7570f7c72
  3. Exercise while you study! Seems crazy, right? Well, one study that put participants on a cycle ergometer while memorizing vocabulary words found that the group exercising on the cycle while they studied recalled way more words than the group sitting quietly while they studied.So maybe it’s a little awkward to jog around the block with your biology book blocking your view, but some other strategies you can consider is playing study videos or an audiobook while you exercise or accompany a HIIT circuit with some brief flashcard studying during rest periods.
  4. Don’t forget about proper nutrition! Nourishing that ginormous brain of yours is a must, so consider feeding it some healthy fats, antioxidants, and adequate carbohydrates to best boost your brain power.

So I’ll say it again: Happy Finals Week! Remember to stay active this week while you’re studying — it might help you out in the long run.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays out there, and we all know why: the food! Every year I whip up my favorite roasted Brussels sprouts and pumpkin coffee cheesecake. It’s a great time to have fun with family and friends and be thankful (and watch the Dog Show of course!).

Unfortunately, it’s also easy to get lost in all of the calorie-dense, high-fat fare at the table. We can easily lose sight of how much we exceed our limits for carbs, fat, and sodium at Thanksgiving. Want some tips to conquer the feast tomorrow? Here are a few.

 

  1. gliter-and-goat-cheese-atlanta-thanksgiving-day-half-marathon-costumesGet moving. It’s true you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet, but if those not-so-great eating habits are gonna be concentrated into one day (a.k.a Thanksgiving), working out a little harder or longer that day can alleviate the impact of those monstrous calories (just remember that it likely won’t burn off the whole meal) . Strength training combined with high-intensity cardio the day-of is probably the most effective.
  2. Go easy on the butter, gravy and sauces. Like I said, the food is the best part of course! But if you want to improve the calorie profile of your food, try to withhold slathering it in gravy or drowning it in butter, which can add extra calories pretty easily. Remember that a little goes a long way!2012-07-25_18-31-19_43
  3. Enjoy the turkey and veggies first.  Munching on some lean protein and fiber first thing will help quell your hunger so you don’t overdo it on the high-calorie sides and desserts.
  4. Most of all: enjoy yourself! It’s so true that one day of bad eating won’t sabotage your overall healthy diet. So don’t get too high-strung on counting calories and avoiding “bad foods”, because food stress can be more harmful than any unhealthy foods we may eat. Remember to enjoy the company of friends and family, and enjoy the food!

To help you get in the spirit this Thanksgiving, remember to check out these fun facts about Thanksgiving and awesome cultural Thanksgiving recipes. And don’t forget about the leftovers! Incorporate them into these delicious recipes. 

Bonus: Homemade Pumpkin Puree

I thought I would share this nice little recipe  A few weeks ago, I was given a cute little pie pumpkin just after Halloween. Instead of crafting a spooky face onto it, though, I mostly forgot about it and left it to sit on my coffee table. Now, I’m putting it to use and making some homemade pumpkin puree. So if you find yourself at the grocery store and they’re out of canned pumpkin but have piles of little pumpkins, consider making some dsc_0169at home!

Ingredients:

1 sugar pumpkin

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the sugar pumpkin in half and scoop out all the “guts” and seeds. Lay both halves on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake 30-45 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender. Allow to cool for at least one hour. After cooling, scoop the pumpkin flesh from the skin and blend in a blender or food processor. And done! (courtesy of Alton Brown).

 

 

 

Careers in Nutrition: Agriculture

Where would you work in the field of nutrition? As a clinical dietitian? In a community program? As an educator or administrator?

It can be easy to get lost in the more “popular” nutrition careers while forgetting that there’s an entire world of opportunity out there. For example, if you’re interested in not just the nutritional value of the food we eat but also where it comes from, how it is made, and how it ends up in stores, restaurants, and on our dinner plates, you could consider becoming an agricultural dietitian/nutritionist.

Agriculture is the practice of growing and cultivating the foods we eat, so it is clearly extremely important with regards to our nutrition and health. For a long time, though, agriculturalists were focused on the idea of offering enough food for everyone without even considering the nutritional content of those foods, but as people all over the world suffered from severe nutrient deficiency (with millions even dying),  agricultural firms shifted their perspective to nutrition. It started with biofortification, the practice of adding vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to a crop that does not have  those nutrients naturally (one example is golden rice, or rice fortified with vitamin A), and continues through efforts to increase the quality, availability, and affordability of nutritious foods.

What does a nutrition professional do in the agriculture field?

Work alongside agricultural firms and companies. Dietitians are sometimes employed by large-scale farming corporations to assist in developing healthy and sustainable practices and technologies.

Advocate. Dietitians who become involved in agriculture very often work in the public policy area, calling for sustainability in farming practices and increased accessibility to nutrient-dense foods for people all over the world. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics held a December 2014 conference to address three goals for RDNs involved with agriculture: 1) Advancing sustainable agricultural practices; 2) increase accessibility to foods that promote health; and 3) increase global capacity for RDNs. As the global population increases and hunger-related issues become more complex, dietitians are brainstorming ways that agriculturalists can produce healthful foods more efficiently and productively.

Educate. As nutrition professionals get involved and learn more about agricultural practices, they can use their knowledge to educate the public about where their food comes from and how healthful food can benefit them. On a smaller scale, while maybe not “agricultural” in the larger sense, teaching about farming  gardening can be a fun and practical way to educate others about healthy food, especially kids. Organizations like Green Our Planet and the American Heart Association’s Teaching Gardens are working to establish gardens in schools across all communities and employ farmers who teach basic gardening skills to kids how plants grow. If this interests you, check out their websites to see how you can get involved!

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Make it local! Shipping produce from far away places is expensive, requiring extra fuel and manpower, and can potentially degrade the quality. It’s clear that keeping our produce local could be a great thing for everyone. That’s why it is so important to support and engage with our local farms and farmer’s markets, and nutrition professionals everywhere are making an effort to push the idea of “eating local”.

(Here’s something pretty cool: organizations like Urban Seed are working to create plots and greenhouses of sustainable produce that can be grown and harvested right in a restaurant’s backdoor – yes, even here in Las Vegas! )

So if you have a passion for plants, an interest in food production, and wanna push for local and sustainable food supply, getting into agriculture could be for you!

Collaboration by Meagan Levitt

 

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone!

I hope you all have a wonderfully spooky night, whether you’re going out on the town and or staying in to watch some scary movies or carving scary pumpkins. Remember to enjoy those pumpkin seeds too, since they’re full of fiber and essential minerals. Take a look at these awesome pumpkins for some inspiration!

 

Now I’d like to leave you with a story about something I think we can all agree is spooky: the Lied Library after dark.

The Library

Based on a true story (sort of)

On a dark and damp Thursday evening I entered the doors of the library. It was roughly 9 p.m., far past the time I ever want to be doing homework, and I began my ascent of the staircase to the 5th floor.

Nobody really goes on the 5th floor, especially at this time of the night. Whether that is due to the sense of isolation that comes with the height, or due to the infamous ghost stories shelved on that floor, or due to sheer laziness and unwillingness to climb the stairs or wait for the elevator, none of it mattered to me. In fact, the fewer the people, the more focused my work would be, so all the better to me.

As I neared the top of the stairs a sense of unease came over me. I wonder how long this assignment will take, I thought. Hopefully no longer than the 3 hours I had remaining in the library, but based on our class discussions it might take a few hours just explaining the processes, never mind analyzing and interpreting them. I was so fanatically mulling this over that it never occurred to me just how devoid and lifeless the 5th floor felt, and how the quiet and silence contrasted with the chaotic mess of books that had fallen from a shelf. Did I find it a bit uncanny and weird? Yep. But I needed to get to work regardless.

I finally settled into the cold, firm chair at my table, which felt just a bit colder and firmer this time. Taking out my laptop and glancing at the time on my phone (9:15 p.m.), I officially began typing. T-minus 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Writing was difficult for the first 20 minutes but over time each new sentence seemed to flow more smoothly than the last. For a second, I was annoyed because I thought I heard another person about to join me at the adjacent table, but when I looked up I saw no one there. I briefly checked out the clock: T-minus 1 hour and 30 minutes.

I then glanced at my page count: 3. Perfect. I typed and typed and typed and words seemed to flow freely from my fingertips. At this point I was nearly done with the assignment. I began the concluding paragraph and glanced at the clock for the final time. T-minus 1 h

Thump.

The sudden sound startled me from my seat. Disturbed but admittedly curious, I walked over to the source of the noise, an aisle of shelves about 10 feet to the right of my table, and noticed a book resting on the ground, its empty slot looming above it. Still no one was in sight, but that wasn’t too weird, I thought. People are always putting these books back the wrong way and they’re bound to fall with the slightest draft. Just then — thump. Another book in a more distant aisle descended to the ground. I started to get a little concerned at this point and thought it a good idea to finish up, go downstairs and print.

It was 11:15 p.m. at this point. I entered the stairway and my nerves settled, only to be disturbed by a sound. Not a sudden sound but a constant sound. The sound of footsteps following me down. They were in sync with mine but somehow louder, and as soon as I stopped they ceased as well. I turned to see no one on my tail and was convinced I was experiencing some kind of auditory illusion.

But the unease I felt at this point quickened my pace to the nearest computer. I booted it up and jammed in my flash drive. Typed in my credentials. Hit enter. Now waiting for it to load. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Still waiting —

THUMP. 

The book at the end of the nearest aisle fell quickly and forcefully to the ground. What monstrous draft could cause that? Looking to the computer screen and seeing it finally loaded, I frantically opened my file, hit “print”, ripped the flash drive from the computer and bolted to the escalator where I could sprint to the first floor in seconds. On the way down I heard the same synchronized footsteps, as frantic as mine, but they did not cease this time when I did. I resumed running toward the side door and ignored the security guard’s urgent calls to slow down.

Once outside, I felt relief wash over me and nervously laughed at myself. I now knew the true and scary effects of sleep deprivation on my sanity. I looked at the clock: 11:30 p.m. Way too late for me, apparently.

I was finally at my car when I heard something like paper hit the ground. I looked down to it. My assignment. I forgot to take it from the printer, didn’t I? Or did I? Was I so tired that I completely forgot? I laughed again.

It must have been the ghost, I joked in my head. What a stand-up guy.

“Thanks man!” I said facetiously to no one, and opened my door.

“No problem.” A hushed voice spoke in response.

THE END

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