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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Meet undergraduate student Alyssa Condon


Alyssa Condon

Alyssa Condon is a senior and expects to graduate in May 2018.

When I came to UConn as an animal science major, I never imagined that working on Capitol Hill was even a possibility for me. It took me a long time during my career as an undergraduate to understand the importance of the ties between agriculture and policymakers, but once I learned about that connection, I knew it was something that I was interested in being a part of.

Before college, I had never worked with livestock at all. I first started working with the dairy cows on campus in the annual Dairy Show hosted by UConn Dairy Club. I fell in love with the animals and quickly became as involved as possible with the cows on campus. I now am vice president of Dairy Club and work and live at the Kellogg Dairy Center. I’ve been able to tour farms all over the northeast and even in Canada, and it was through these experiences that I found a passion for agriculture policy. I was amazed at how each farm ran differently but each was so affected by agriculture policy. It also astounded me that most of those policies were created by people in power who had never even stepped foot on a farm. I quickly became fascinated by the idea of bridging the gap between farmers and policymakers.

In the fall of 2016, I received an email from the Department of Animal Science about a potential internship opportunity in Washington D.C. The American Society of Animal Science provides scholarships each year to agriculture students interested in working in a policy-related field. In addition to financial assistance, they provide support for the students in finding a potential office to work in. With the help of my advisor, Professor Zinn, I applied for this scholarship and was selected to receive it. The ASAS helped me get hired as an intern in Congressman Joe Courtney’s office in D.C. for the summer of 2017.


Agricultural economist measures impact of forthcoming federal GMO labeling law

John Bovay

John Bovay

A new label on food packaging could soon alter the purchasing habits of American shoppers and significantly affect producer operations. A federal law will take effect in July 2018 that informs consumers about the genetic science that may be at work behind their favorite foods. This designation may lead to price increases and other far-reaching consequences in the grocery industry and beyond, says Assistant Professor John Bovay of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UConn Extension, and the College’s GMO Working Group. Bovay has started investigating how the execution of the legislation might take shape and the ways it could reverberate through the national economy.

The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) law introduces labeling standards that require companies to disclose if genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are present in their products. Although many consumers and non-government organizations (NGOs), such as the Non-GMO Project, champion greater transparency and increased awareness about the foods we eat and drink, Bovay cautions that it could further perpetuate misconceptions about the safety of genetic engineering (GE) technology in food production. These factors could drive customers and producers to respond in ways legislators may not have intended or foreseen. These reactions also largely depend on how the government decides to implement and regulate the law, but they have thus far offered few details on their plans. Despite these challenges, Bovay is drawing from prior examples of labeling initiatives and consulting other relevant studies to project the outcomes and costs of the new law. Bovay is completing his research with Julian Alston, a distinguished professor in the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis. (more…)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Crouch family Thanksgiving

At the Crouch family on Thanksgiving Day preparing the dinner. Ledyard, Connecticut. By Jack Delano, 1940. Part of the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress).

Researcher uses nanotechnology to design food-based nutrient delivery systems for treatment and prevention of chronic diseases

The Luo lab research team. Left to right: PhD students Mingyong Zhou, Taoran Wang, Jingyi Xue (PhD student) and Qiaobin Hu; and Yangchao Luo.

The Luo lab research team. Left to right: PhD students Mingyong Zhou, Taoran Wang, Jingyi Xue (PhD student) and Qiaobin Hu; and Yangchao Luo.

Yangchao Luo’s passion is food. At home, Luo likes to cook Chinese food and tasty soups for his toddler daughter. In his lab at UConn, where he holds his primary appointment as assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and  joint appointments in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Institute of Materials Sciences, he focuses on groundbreaking work in the emerging science of nanotechnology as applied to food. He wants to make healthy food healthier for individuals with special needs as well as for the rest of us. Luo became interested in functional foods as an undergraduate, and his interest grew as he worked toward his MS in food science and Ph.D. in nutrition and food science.

When foods are fortified or enriched, they become functional foods. But the biological efficacy of nutrients in functional foods is hardly realized due to limited bioavailability when the foods are ingested. Bioavailability is the proportion of a nutrient absorbed and therefore able to produce a particular effect. Many nutrients, such as vitamins and phytochemicals, are known to have a low bioavailability. The major goal of research in Luo’s laboratory is to use nanotechnology to improve the bioavailability of those nutrients and eventually help treat and prevent chronic diseases when they are put back into food. Luo uses food-grade biomaterials, including proteins, carbohydrates and lipids, to create non-toxic nanoscale vehicles that can carry nutrients and boost their absorption, making them more bioavailable.


Image of the week

Kousa dogwoods produce edible aggregate fruits that vary in fleshiness (juiciness) according to cultivars. Fruits from this particular tree are very large, sweet and juicy. Fruits are evident on kousa dogwoods well into November this year.

Kousa dogwood from UConn plant database.
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