Summer Food Course Photos 2010

Summer Food Course Photos 2011

Summer Food Course Photos 2012

Welcome to this site, all interested in resilient farming!

Welcome to this site, all interested in resilient farming!

The postings most appropriate for you have the label, "Resilient Farms."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Food choice and consumption

Clearly, food choice and consumption is related to how much is wated on school trays.
 Source: Net
Of course, Wansink is not alone, and other scientists have entered into the sensory studies and food waste arena – in particular, Erminio Monteleone of the University of Florence. Monteleone heads the European Sensory Sciences Association and is a favorite consultant for organizations such as Slow Food.  Often partnering with Caterina Dinnella and others, he shows what has happened to the decline of the structure of the classical Italian meal – from a primo, and secondo (a pasta and fish dish, for example)
to “single-plate” meals – but with less waste. In terms of tray waste in Italian schools, he feels this is an important direction to be moving in, children prefer this “new innovation.”[1]

Source: plate images, net. More typical single-plate Italian meal.

One very important aspect of Wansink’s work is the role of emotions in food consumption. If you’re in a lousy mood, you just may eat more (B 19).[2] People eat raisins when happy but M+Ms and buttered popcorn (i.e., hedonic or “happy, comfort” foods foods) when sad (Study: Am Marketing Association)
[here] And so we sometimes overeat to manage moods – and what are people overeating?  Now this overeating of comfort foods, at least in some clinical trials, was interesting:  (189, B 22, B 25). People preferred potato chips, then ice cream, then cookies, then candy.

[1] See my review of The Italian Way, for more on this [GB website].
[2] See FN 19 re: When food is love.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

More about Brian Wansink

For Wansink, we can influence behavior by the kitchenscape, tablescape, platescape, foodscape – using placemats as boundaries, changing serving bowl sizes, avoiding eating directly from packages. With even food transfer implements (serving spoons with a round shape, REF: B 44, 132) causng larger food intake, it is not difficult to see how all of these external factors trump “nutrition information,” in terms of food consumption.[1]

Wansink has been very active in redesigning school lunchrooms, one of his major initiatives. REFS: B 9, B 54 Interesting research on this includes restricting paid lunch cards to healthy choices, using cash vs. debit cards for sweet and processed foods, and also making sire that there is plenty of choice B 66. From his work, he is able to identify the behavioral triggers that lead to selection and consumption of healthier foods.

How to rearrange the lunchroom?  
            *Move the fruit
*Move salad bar to closer to cash register
*Offer a choice of carrots or celery
*Encourage to use a tray so as to be likely to add side dishes
*Change defaults…peas on the tray is the default, have to ask for tater tots
*Pay cash for desserts
*Preselect meals form a menu board rather than waiting until you get to the food line.
*Add a convenience line that offers only healthier food options

[1] Project M.O.M.: Mothers & Others & MyPyramid. Wansink also talks about the gatekeepers B26-28, B26 parenting practices can really influence behavior choices by obese children. Brian’s research on women, from 50s on  Kitchen Literacy. Moms can make a difference in terms of what gets purchased B28

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Food Hero: Brian Wansank -- so what makes us overeat?

So, what makes us overeat?

Even early in his academic career, Brian Wansink was researching how and why it was that people just didn’t like to eat vegetables. He earned a PhD at Stanford looking at consumer choices for fruits and vegetables, and the role of marketing, in particular.
Cafeteria fruits, Wansink website

He later took on the fast-food chains, and soda manufacturers (as “real food” substitutes), both of which in either their environments and/or marketing encourage people to overeat. Back in the United States, he noticed that

He noticed that people don’t really eat. Some of us in the United States just shove food in our mouths until something makes us stop. For Wansink, it’s mostly external factors, in our obesigenic environment as he calls it, that influence our food intake more than anything else.

One of his major findings has to do with internal cues (hunger) vs. external stimuli (who you’re eating with, size of serving bowls, etc) in controlling food consumption – basically, that people eat for volume (the volume that is set before them), and not for specific calories. In English: People eat whatever is put in front of them), i.e.,  they are influenced more by plate volume, size, and eating environment than by whether they are hungry or not. Ergo, we end up eating when we’re not really hungry.

Wansink claims that although people identify hunger and taste as the main factors in determining what they eat, the evidence shows otherwise: one’s eating partner can be just as influential, as well as environmental influences (level of lighting),[1] [2] as well as labeling of foods (such as wine[3]). Labeling can be very persuasive. For example, low-fat labels can strongly influence food buying, even when the calorie content is not much different than other foods (190). A table of his gargantuan work (at one time, I figured he and his team were publishing about five refereed articles a month) follows. I should note that his is a most gracious laboratory, taking interns, fellows, post-docs, and even a marauding professor (such as myself). Observing his work in August 2012, I witnessed at work a multi-disciplined set of researchers, creating excitement in all that they do. Wansink and his colleagues, unlike other researchers, are very happy to make recommendations and guide any and all (especially children) away from sugared and processed foods.

[1] And others. Review Wansink’s Dining in the dark B45study – where people eat more in the dark….he quotes Tessla on the first page. Who said he wouldn’t eat anything that he could not visually judge the size of before he ate it…..Even Tesla was aware that physiological cues pale din comparison to visual ones. B46 --  visual cues are all important for estimating satiety.
[2] As well as food industry promotions (Brownell & Horgen)
[3] Brian Wansink says that being aware of “heuristics” (environmental cues that get us to overeat: big plates and bottomless bowls) can help us to mindlessly eat less, rather than mindlessly eat more. Beware especially of foods with “health halos,” and how consumer preferences can be shaped by any label, enticing as they may be (see “Fine as Dakota Wine” (REF)).

Friday, June 5, 2015

Food heroes and heroines

As promised, I’m profiling three scientists who not only have somewhat contentious scholarship, but also would seemingly contradict each other – one low-fat proponent and another, a high-fat diet proponent, both offering insights into food choice and diet. One is wildly interdisciplinary (Wansink), the other, narrowly trained but with high personal motivation (Seneff). So from the biochemistry of MIT computer scientist Stephanie Seneff to ag economist Brian Wansink’s marketing studies that show how the U.S. is doomed to mindless eating, this next section reviews their work, especially powerful when they combine disciplines. The more well-known Robert Lustig, with his strong messages on fructose, is a third scientist I profile. All are critical thinkers – dealing with business and medical institutions which are empathetic enough to learn something (albeit slowly) from their work.

Brian Wansink

Overeating to excess is one of the seven capital vices – gluttony. Some treat overeating as an inalienable right – we even have institutions for it (Thanksgiving Day), as well as entire epochs, eras, and courts (thinking about King Henry the VIII and Hampton Court) that celebrated it. It’s one thing to overeat, it’s another to do it mindlessly. Yet we are not born overconsuming – there is, however, a narrow window. At age 3, children eat until they are no longer hungry – but by age 5, they begin to eat whatever volume is in front of them (B 22, 25,175)

We, in the United States, hardly do anything in the way of food education to start getting to know better tastes, much less becoming gourmands at it.  According to Cornell University’s Brian Wansink, we eat for volume, not calories – cues are essentially external (how much is on our plates), rather than internal (whether we are hungry, or full) (Wansink 2007). It seems impossible to be able to rely on oneself to stop eating in this “obesigenic environment” in which we live.[1] Regardless of weight or size, it seems that many of us have problems with paying attention to internal cues to stop eating.[2] Eating is mindless. What are the implications of this on how and what we grow, on the current food system? Enter: Brian Wansink.

Brian Wansink’s research, part food psychology and part behavioral economics (what people actually eat), is well represented in his research. I found his early book (Mindless Eating) by chance, in Barnes and Noble – it is a book that would propel him into fame and fortune (in the form of an endowed chair) at Cornell. Rumor has it Cornell paid his University of Illinois salary for a year (a debt he would have had to repay upon his return for his sabbatical of writing Mindless Eating in France) – Cornell couldn’t wait and willingly paid.

In Wansink’s “laddering interviews,” he shows how the value of feeling satisfied drives consumer purchases. This economist borrows heavily from other social sciences to provide multiple streams of data.[3] For me, a next step in this research would be to look at how food quality (as measured by percentage of saturated fat, so amount of butter in a mac n’ cheese dish) affects satiation, a feeling of feeling satisfied, and snacking. I’d also study questions about the near- hopelessness of reducing sugar in industrial food production. But, that’s me, not him.

[1] I realize thaty some strongly resent this word – obesigenic environment – for example, Julie Guthman in her work, Weighin In, mostly because it emphasizes obesity, which is culturally- and socially-constructed and, for researchers like Stephanie Seneff, seems to identify a disease which is actually a predictable body response to lack of certain foods in the diet.
[2] See religious representations of food.  B1 + B2  so rather than the loaves and the fishes, sermon on the mount, which is fairly prescribed…what he had to start with, we see the last supper images getting more grandiose…..where the relative size of the main dish, bread, and plate have increased over the eons BW looked at 52 prominent images of the Last Supper…serving sizes are increasing the eel, fish, lamb, pork also there, notwithstanding.  Of course Henry VIII, and elsewhere “vomit buckets” who was telling me this notwithstanding?

[3] See REFS B1,B2,B6,B7