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Exciting Food Research at NC STATE

Posted 3/1/2012 8:41pm by Sam Bellamy.

Thumbs up for NC State !

For many years research at Universities such as NCSU have largely focused on actions that affect production or controls to prevent problems. A breath of fresh air came in the last issue of the college of life science’s PERSPECTIVES magazine. It was clear that a shift to understand the biology and ask penetrating questions is bringing to light some very encouraging signs.

Dr. Keith Harris and NC State alumnus Whit Jones joined together to work with grower Ron Cottle to find a new way to capture the benefits of the goodness in muscadine grapes. Well established, the nutritional benefits of muscadine grapes are the focus of many seeking to improve human health and well- being. Here, this trio have come upon a way to consume the whole grape in a manner to ensure that processing doesn’t destroy the natural benefits of the grapes. After careful washing a powerful blender was used to pulverize the entire grape, hulls, seeds and all. This was made into a frozen smoothie. What is impressive about this are the efforts to maintain the qualities of the grape. It is well known that the hulls and seeds are concentrated sources of anti-oxidants, protein and fiber. The end result was real nice.

An article on addressing childhood obesity revealed an interesting twist to bring together several different areas of science to better seek how to effectively address many of the issues involved in childhood obesity. This included people from the horticulture and animal science fields as well as nutritional biochemistry and psychology fields.

Dr. Sopia Kathariou heads up an intense research to understand how the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter function. Part of the problem with past approaches to problems is the solution only treats the surface of the problem and not the root. As with Listeria resistance to disinfects and exposure to antibiotics allow the bacteria to by pass many procedures that are intended to control food safety issues. By understanding the needs and make up of the bacteria the opportunity to reduce it’s presence in the food chain is possible without attempting to make food sterile or create future problems of stronger pathogen strains.

Dr. Heather Patisaul’s work on finding solid answers to tough questions concerning how manmade chemicals are affecting our lives and the lives of the next generations is very striking! How refreshing it is to see an earnest effort put into finding concrete answers to such important issues. Her work has brought attention to the chemical Biphenol A or commonly known as BPA. This chemical is commonly found most everyday products we use such as water bottles , eye glasses to linings for food and beverage cans. So common is this chemical, traces can be found in the blood and urine of nearly every person in the United States! One of the tough questions relates to it’s possible affects upon human reproduction. This is a serious work on a reality latently hidden from everyday consciousness.

All of this is a reminder of how important the food we eat is. Some healthy questions to ask yourself may well be , Do you know where your food comes from? Do you know how it was grown? How does it’s nutritive value compare to what could be? When our government will not allow the origin of food to be clearly known to consumers , it may be time to ask questions ourselves.

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