I’ve visited places that give me an image of how the ingredients I use in my product are grown, and now I’m off to visit the next step in the process, and the integrating piece between farmers and chefs (and jointly, the customers). “Distribution is the missing link, and you’re here to do it,” farmers, growers, and chefs tell Mikey Azzara, the man behind Zone 7. Zone 7, named after its agricultural growing zone, is a New Jersey based, 100% local farm fresh food distributor located in Ringoes and delivers daily to restaurants, chefs, grocers, schools and more. They source “only the best, highest quality [fruits, vegetables, cheese, eggs, herbs, and grains] from [over 120 of the region’s best farms] 52 weeks a year,” with hopes to “[lead] the way in promoting [their] farms and customers while changing the way people see the local food economy.”

Well, Zone 7 is accomplishing what they set out to do, at least in part. After my visit, my own outlook on the concept of supporting locally and sustainably grown foods has been strengthened. Zone 7 works with more than 120 sustainable farms and more than 300 different restaurants, schools, and grocers. It’s clear to see why.

A food distributor works as the intermediary between food manufacturers or farmers and the food service operator. The distributor will purchase and store in their warehouse products that will be sold in bulk (wholesale) and delivered to these food service operators. By doing this, a food distributor gives the food service operators access to items from a wide variety of manufacturers and/or farms, by which they can order on a daily or weekly basis.

I was able to see as Mikey toured the Zone 7 facilities with me all of the different kinds of fruits, vegetables, herbs, grain, dairy, and eggs they keep on hand. Their warehouse is like one big refrigerator at 35°, and keeps produce fresh. They post what’s available for local food service operators to buy online with the farm of its origin and the pack size. The food service operator must order at least a full case and Zone 7 will only deliver an order minimum of $100-150, depending on the product.

A lot of the produce they receive and the products that are made from them have “stories,” just like my own products. Here were a few that I thought were most interesting:

  • From Barefoot Gardens, Zone 7 purchases all kinds of herbs, alliums, microgreens, and my favorite—edible flowers! These flowers act as colorful garnishes and help salads and sandwiches stand out. This farm also grows chamomile (which is pretty neat as most conventional chamomile is farmed in Egypt), and mentha (a relative of mint with a chemical composition similar to oregano or thyme!)
  • Ridge Valley Farm in Southeast Pennsylvania produces their own Maple Syrup from a neat hole tapping process whereby they extract the maple sap that runs down the tree when the temperature warms. They use a maple syrup evaporating contraption that creates a 64% sugar maple syrup.
  • Juicewell creates “fresh pressed remedies,” using the fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices that Zone 7 provides them. They intend to connect people back to their food source in a “harvest-to-bottle” process, whereby the farmers generally pick the produce the day before and Zone 7 delivers it to Juicewell the next day, when it can be cold-pressed. Produce is titrated, ground up, caught in a bag, and hydraulically pressed with 10 tons of pressure. This extracts more nutrients and extends shelf life in comparison to a traditional centrifugal blender because there is no air to allow for oxidation.
  • The Rutgers Research and Breeding Center experimentally grew hazelnuts for many seasons before they were urged by one of Zone 7’s employees to begin having them be distributed them to local businesses that would want to incorporate them into their menus. One such business, who cracks open these nuts, toasts them and sprinkles them for pleasant flavor and crunch on their salads, is over the moon to be a part of their local agricultural and food system. Instead of purchasing hazelnuts from Turkey or wherever, they can make a change by being in contact with the breeders that are within driving distance.
  • Cherry Grove Farm is a grass-based dairy that has been making cheeses and raw milk for eight years, with flavors such as award-winning buttermilk brie, trillby whiskey washed cheese, their Havilah with notes of caramel and pineapple, harvest tomme, herdsman, and flavored jack cheeses that blend herbs such as fresh nettle and spicy oregano directly into the curd.

 

When Mikey asked me about my own product idea, he immediately grabbed a notebook and pen and asked me the ingredients I use and how much I use of each. When I told him I used 12 out of a pallet of two-and-a-half dozen eggs, he looked confusedly at me. In food distributor speak, a pallet refers to an enormous slab of wood that encases enormous quantities of a food product! That clearly hinted to him that I was working on a very small scale. This prompted him to ask me what I intend to do with my kitchen science experiment. Did I want to open my own storefront or sell to grocery stores and markets?

Mikey told me the upsides and downsides of each. Owning one’s own storefront means that the cooking process is much more hands-on and labor intensive, but you get to know each and every one of your customers. In contrast, mass producing and distributing a product to different retailers requires the help of a co-packer, who takes on the processing of your product by following your method and your specific instructions. This takes the labor out of the cooking and creating on your end, but there are a lot of expenses and regulations involved.

As I quickly learned, Zone 7 does more than provide the people on the receiving end with the constituents for their recipes. Zone 7 helps the growers of the food, by giving them access to a customer base. One day, I hope to be one of these customers. My visit evoked an enthusiasm and excitement that I live in an area with so many amazing resources readily available to me. There is an abundance of ingredients that are grown so close to my own home. I wish I had taken advantage of them sooner, but with the knowledge I have now, it is very much possible!

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As a young person wholeheartedly adhering to their personal health and wellness, and inspired to design a product that fits into the category of a “functional food,” I was curious to know if there was a discrepancy between the real and ideal culture of the rest of my generation’s interest in nourishing themselves with these kinds of products. According to large trend databases on Google Search Engine, health-beneficial products have become all the rage among kids of high school and college age (Google Trends, 2016). We are a generation that has knowledge at our fingertips and are mindful that we are living longer and want our extra years to be pain-free and disease-free.

So, we’re motivated to make more informed choices about the forks that we raise to our mouths and enlist upon the help of our technology to answer our qualms about what sort of elixir or item is best for our current predicament. We shell out cash for mysterious ingredients like bee pollen, turmeric, apple cider vinegar, hulled hemp hearts, and spirulina in hopes of a fresher face, a clearer mind, a flatter tummy, or a happier outlook. We’re more likely to gobble up a whole box of gluten-free cookies or fiber-rich crackers without feeling remorse for our choice. But when these kinds of foods are presented to us amidst an array of traditional snacks– like donuts, chips, cakes, and soda—do they still have that irresistible aura that we can’t help but fawn all over via the internet?

This actually wasn’t what I intended to find out with the goods that I baked and brought for my peers during two separate parties on our last formal days of school. One was more subtlety-healthy, and the other purported the promises of so many superfoods, it practically sang, “I’m for hippies!” I mainly wanted to see what students thought of the taste, but the presentation of both the muffins and the cookies that I brought was enough to deter most students from giving either a chance. It made a real statement of the real and ideal cultures that conflict with each other within my age demographic. We want to make the right choices, but we’re easily swayed by the artificial “charms” of modern day junk food fare—the synthetic colors, flavors, and textures.

Two-thirds of the gluten-free, paleo banana-chocolate-chip muffins that I put out for students were taken. This is a significantly higher amount than the takers for my flax, pepita, dried apricot and goji berry granola cookies. Students might have had taste concerns considering the exotic ingredients and their flawed, homemade look. The muffins may have seemed “friendlier” because bananas and chocolate are simple and familiar ingredients, and humans love labeling things. The fact that these muffins could be lumped into two currently trendy food categories—gluten-free and paleo– may have been a plus.

Failures happen. It’s an essential part of the learning process, an element of experimentation. Especially when we work with humans (fussy teenagers, for that matter). What can unfold with an improperly conducted observation or survey can profoundly impact the results that you hope to get! However, what was revealed to me honed in the essentiality of how a product is conveyed to others and how it looks. While what I set out to do isn’t what panned out, I learned of another dimension of food engineering: creating intriguing, delicious products that look good enough to eat and flawlessly blend into the palate of modern-day consumers.

 

Pina, Pedro. (2016, April). 2016 Food Trends on Google: The Rise of Functional Foods. Retrieved from

https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/2016-food-trends-google.html

 

 

The farm-to-table movement, which started as means of aesthetic undertaking, quickly grew to an agent of social activism. It’s a term coined to describe the collecting, storing, processing, packaging, sales, and consumption—a review, quite literally, of the journey of food. Human health and wellness, as well as sickness and disease, is largely correlated to the quality and source of the foods that we eat. Therefore, it would make sense to observe each and every step in the process of food production.

My study begins on a sunny day in early May on a visit to Z-Food Farm, a certified organic plot of land and storefront started up by David Zaback (also known as Farmer David). “With a double major in Anthropology and Environmental studies,” David believes that “organic farming was [his] most logical career choice” (Z-Story). He realized, as I have, that food is an integral aspect of worldly culture and the potential implications of conventional, industrial agriculture and modern food consumption on environment (to that I add, the health of humans) are severe. Through volunteering on a small organic farm, and creating connections with other organic establishments, David realized his niche and realized that he wanted to own and manage his own farm. Through hard work, lots of passion, and taking chances with opportunities presented to him, he has converted an 11-acre plot of land in Lawrenceville, New Jersey into a mini agro-ecosystem. Fresh vegetables, fruits, grasses, and herbs grow in abundance here, just as Z-Food Farms has likewise been growing in critical acclaim. David and his family’s farm have been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, Philly Times, Fox News, and more.
David supplemented me with some crop-growing knowledge, farmer to future food scientist. This will be helpful to me as I begin a journey that is entwined with agricultural studies. After all, knowing and having an understanding of the mediums with which you work with enables you to create a better product.So, how did David and I cross paths? Though our friend, Gabrielle Carbone of the Bent Spoon. He supplies Gabby with produce for some of her more exotic flavors, like kale for her kale streak[ed with chocolate], pumpkins and squashes for her roasted pumpkin, and herb-based sorbets. This is the kind of model that I’d like to follow for the invention of my own flavors for my dessert products. The straight- from-the-source sustainability isn’t the only element that inspires me here: it’s also the ingenuity in taking a traditionally savory ingredient and remastering it to create an overall more exciting sensory experience.

David supplemented me with some crop-growing knowledge, farmer to future food scientist. This will be helpful to me as I begin a journey that is entwined with agricultural studies. After all, knowing and having an understanding of the mediums with which you work with enables you to create a better product.

The first stop on our tour of the farm was to the Greenhouse. It was here that I got to see just a handful of some of the crops (currently sprouts) that he will be growing this year. In the greenhouse, climatic conditions (temperature and light) are regulated to ensure that plants can develop on schedule. Then, David moves some of his plants to an intermediary location before moving them directly out to the fields where they can mature into recognizable crops. This process is called transplanting—it is a beneficial process that extends the growing season of plants, protects them from disease until they are sufficiently established, and avoids any germinating problems with seeds.

The next stop was out to the fields. I didn’t see acres upon acres of flourishing crops and green like I’d expect at first. The cruciferous vegetables that he introduced me to in the beginning were covered with something David calls plastic mulch, ground cover that suppresses weeds and conserves water and temperature.

He says that it’s a long contested debate over whether or not organic farmers should use this plastic mulch, because there are concerns over them accumulating in soil and causing reduction in crop yield and causing environmental strain. An alternative to plastic crop covering uses biodegradable polymers, which are naturally broken down by the living microbes in the soil (to be discussed later). They provide all of the same benefits as plastic mulch, without the problem of synthetic materials accumulating in the soil (Müller 2006).The next stop was out to the fields. I didn’t see acres upon acres of flourishing crops and green like I’d expect at first. The cruciferous vegetables that he introduced me to in the beginning were covered with something David calls plastic mulch, ground cover that suppresses weeds and conserves water and temperature.The first stop on our tour of the farm was to the Greenhouse. It was here that I got to see just a handful of some of the crops (currently sprouts) that he will be growing this year. In the greenhouse, climatic conditions (temperature and light) are regulated to ensure that plants can develop on schedule. Then, David moves some of his plants to an intermediary location before moving them directly out to the fields where they can mature into recognizable crops. This process is called transplanting—it is a beneficial process that extends the growing season of plants, protects them from disease until they are sufficiently established, and avoids any germinating problems with seeds.

In this light, I asked Farmer David about the legitimate differences between fertilizer and pesticide use on conventional versus organic farms, something I have discussed and researched on my blog website. He told me what I already knew: an organic farm’s number one priority is to hold environmentally-responsible stewardship. This means they’ll take extra care to use farming practices that do not negatively impact our environment.

And aside from quizzing me on different botanical families—like, what crops make up the Solanaceae and Apiaceae families, Farmer David also highlighted on the importance of certain cover crops. Cover crops circulate nutrients throughout the soil, suppress weeds, and help to control pests and disease. The current cover crop found in David’s fields is rye, and it is special in that it’s roots form an essential, symbiotic relationship with fungus. This symbiosis is called mycorrhiza(e). These mycorrhiza relationships are the host for nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These bacteria convert nitrogen in the atmosphere into a form that is readily useable for plants. Legumes, too, have a similar function in that they also have structures called root nodules that host these nitrogen-fixers. Both of these key crops play an integral role in crop rotation.

Crop rotation is unique to organic farms, and is a method that leads to dramatic increases in the fertility of the soil and helps to optimize nutrient and water use. Conventional farming practices do not include cover crops or rotational systems, which leads to the degradation of soil structure (Baldwin 2006).

On our way out we got to munch on some of nature’s delights: fresh kale flowers, mature kale, lemon thyme, mint, sage, and asparagus spears. The taste was remarkably different from what you’d find at a grocery store. It tasted crisper and sweeter, and it was really cool to know the farmer who put in the hard work to deliver it to me.

Works Cited

Baldwin, K. R. (2006, June). Crop Rotations on Organic Farms. Retrieved May 10, 2016, from

http://www.cefs.ncsu.edu/resources/organicproductionguide/croprotationsfinaljan09.pdf

 

Müller, R. J. (2006). Biological degradation of synthetic polyesters—enzymes as potential catalysts for polyester recycling. Process Biochemistry, 41(10), 2124-2128.

Meeting with Gabrielle Carbone of The Bent Spoon was an invaluable and essential component of my research project learning experience. Her mind and way of looking at the creative side of an entrepreneurial endeavor is exactly what I am trying to model, and the ideas that she posed to me I hadn’t thought of myself.

Gabrielle, or Gabby, is the founder of a little ice cream store in Princeton, NJ that has aggrandized in popularity among frozen dessert connoisseurs of all ages. With over 550 rotating flavors at their brick and mortar which began nearly 12 years ago, it goes to show how much a little creativity and a lot of passion can grow to be something bigger than a pipe dream. Gabby’s business truly began when she was about 13 years old and she was introduced to the world of ice cream making with her first ice cream maker. She told me that this was what really “planted a seed in her head (…) and lead her to the place [where she is today].”

This reminds me a lot of myself. I began making my product when I was roughly the same age, just substitute in a different kitchen appliance (a food processor) and a different “cooking” process. Though our two products are slightly different, I think we both had the same sweet end product in mind.

On Curiosity:

Gabby reinforced the importance of creativity and curiosity in entrepreneurship. This curiosity is necessary for sparking inspiration, so you can collect more information which will help to form new ideas.

On Psychology:

There is a psychological component involved when you create a product for consumers. Gabby and I both want to know “why do people choose certain flavors?” when we’re busy brainstorming the next theme, taste, or texture for our respective dessert products.

I look forward to going down to The Bent Spoon one afternoon and surveying customers about that very question. They might be choosing plain old vanilla because it brings them back to their childhood, or maybe they intrinsically just enjoy the combination of all the chemical compounds of that specific flavor. They might even be choosing it because their parent(s) swayed them to… Gabby told me that this is a prevalent issue at her ice cream store. A child might be excited to get a quirky scoop of Basil or Ricotta ice cream, but an adult will dissuade them from their choice. It makes me think about how consumers tend to limit themselves from branching out and trying something left-of-center. It is this sticking to the status-quo that could be a huge barrier for me in trying to get people to try my product. When I tell people what goes in to making my dessert (weird ingredients…!) they might turn up their nose!

On Sustainability and Health:

Right down to the metal spoons that Gabby is trying to use for sample tastes of ice cream at her scoop shop, The Bent Spoon is a business that is truly all about sustainability. They receive their milk, eggs, honey, and flavors from local and organic places and people. They know each and every person and every step involved in their ice cream creating process.

This is one of my own core values—something that I want to honor right from the beginning in creation of my custard. It can be a challenge to always meet these criteria. It’s far too easy to buy conventionally farmed eggs, dairy from cows living in close quarters being fed off of sub-optimal feed and administered inhumane doses of growth hormones and antibiotics. It’s really easy to rely on artificial flavors and sweeteners. I’m “guilty” of using conventional ingredients and ingredients that were made in a lab. It weighs on my conscience, but in this early and experimental phase of my product development, I know that it’s a good idea to put all my focus into mastering the processing of my dessert. I know I can always fine-tune the steps along the way.

Gabby told me a few things that made me feel even better about how I am approaching the creation of my dessert. For starters, she can see the value in balancing out the natural ingredients with the unnatural ingredients. As an example, she explained to me that diacetyl, a natural flavoring found in butter which can be extracted naturally or synthesized artificially, can be looked at as either good or bad. It can be used in exorbitant amounts in junk foods to get people “hooked” on them, but they can also maybe be used to entice an older adult to eat a food product that will give them nutrition. The compound, regardless of where it comes from, can impart a flavor on a dessert that can bring someone back to a moment or experience, or create balance for the other flavors within the product.

Gabby also told me that there is a huge difference between buzzwords like “local,” and “organic,” and it’s really a very sneaky thing. Apparently, there is a huge industry for products labeled as organic, but they are conventional just like any other run of the mill, un-organic grocery store product. They may be sprayed with chemicals, may be harvested unsustainably, or may otherwise have something going on behind the scenes that consumers may not be too happy about knowing about.

Having met Gabby, I feel invigorated to continue my quest and stay creative and inspired, and always remain questioning. Hopefully this meeting was a promising beginning for good things to follow 🙂

 

As a high school senior at my school, I am granted the opportunity to take time away from the classroom and collect research within an area of my choosing. The goal is to initiate and develop a plan of action, and going off of this, accumulate sixty (!) hours of self-directed research. This research could come in the form of job shadowing, non-profit interning, interviews, volunteering, observing, et cetera.

My focus is to learn the process of turning a homemade food product into a marketable good enjoyed by consumers. It just so happens that I have a prototype in mind to use, a custard-ice cream-like dessert made from a proprietary blend of quirky ingredients that re-imagines how healthy food can be used. More than being my last formal learning experience as a high school student, this is a passion project that’s been nearly four years in the making! It started from my love for all things nutrition, cooking, and creative, and a desire for a healthy and delicious treat. While I have yet to share what goes into this dessert, it’s a lot different from traditional insert-health-buzzword-here ice creams, I can assure you. In fact, it’s so versatile that it could even be used as frosting for cakes or slathered on toast!

While I’ve been in the “brain storming phase” for so long, I realize that I need to take a step backward. This capstone project will allow me to do just that. I want to understand where all of the ingredients that I use come from, the science behind the processing of them. I want to get feedback from more than just family and friends and learn what makes consumers tick!

I’m just a simple girl with a couple tools: a cumbersome food processor, a pink spatula, my measuring cups, spoons, and scale. But with the path I’m taking after high school into food science, I believe it to be an invaluable lesson and opportunity to network with people in the food industry.

I’ll be documenting here all throughout my “journey” for those who care to read. I’m really excited to begin!

 

Nutrients and pesticide use are the two topics that concern consumers most when choosing between organic or conventional produce. You may choose organic because you believe it to be healthier for the body or for the environment. You may choose conventional produce because it’s cheaper or because it’s easier to find. It’s important to be well-informed about the choices you make, as sometimes we can follow our intuitions or what we hear from others. Though the decision of what produce you put in your shopping cart is a personal choice, we can often get caught up along the way with confusing information and claims.

There are very few significant differences between organic and conventional produce when we look to overall nutrient composition. Various studies state that across the board, organic and conventional crops have similar levels of micro- and macro-nutrients, including vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, total soluble solids, copper, iron, nitrates, manganese, ash, specific proteins, sodium, plant non-digestible carbohydrates, β-carotene and sulphur (link).

  • Conventional crops are higher in nitrogen. The primary goal of conventional farming is to generate high yields (the most crops possible on a plot of land), and to do this, a substantial amount of nitrogen is needed. Conventional farmers will apply with a heavy hand chemical fertilizers, which deliver lots of nitrogen in addition to other substances that help plants grow. Compare this to organic farming, which relies on building up nutrients over a larger period of time (link). Organic farmers might choose to use crop residue as a means to help plants grow instead, which does have nitrogen in it, just in less concentrated amounts.
  • Organic crops are said to have more magnesium, zinc, phenolic compounds, and “titratable acidity.” Organic soils are “built” by farmers, meaning that they input natural (as opposed to synthesized) materials on their fields over time as fertilizers. Some of these, like limes, sea kelp, or animal manures, are intrinsically higher in magnesium and zinc (link). Organic crops are higher in phytochemicals, evidenced by studies such as 1, 2, 3. Phytochemical quantity is affected by factors such as genetics, maturity, soil quality, diseases and pests, post harvest storage, and processing, according to this article. Yet, it states that it’s hard to pinpoint a true reason why organic crops are higher in phenolic compounds– there’s too many confounds. It is not clear which variables in organic farming systems might have the greatest effect on inducing or promoting the phytochemical content of crops.

 

Organics are not pesticide free. On the contrary– organic farmers and conventional farmers both use them. And both prefer not to use them if possible, as pesticides are costly. What is interesting to note is that the “dosage” of pesticides used on organic crops is actually higher! Because organic farms are restricted to only using pesticides that are easier broken down by the environment and are unobtrusive to the land and water ecosystems, they frequently need to be replenished. Conventional farmers have free range to use whatever pesticide chemicals they like, synthetic or natural. Organic pesticides tend to be from naturally derived sources. So on this front, organic farming is arguably healthier for our environment.  

Given this fact, it seems to follow that organic pesticides would also be less toxic and better for consumer health. While this holds true for the majority, there are a few notable exceptions.

  • Rotenone. Rotenone is an example of a natural pesticide that is used on organic farms, yet is far more toxic than many artificial ones (just look at this!). Even synthetic organophosphates, such as Malathion (a chemical used as a pesticide with a dual use as a potent neurotoxin also recognized as Sarin gas) have an upwards exposure limit that is fifty times higher than Rotenone (≤ 0.2mg/kg of bodyweight per day vs Rotenone’s ≤0.004mg/kg of bodyweight per day).  And Glyphosate, commonly called Roundup, has an upward exposure of 0.1 milligrams per kilogram a day. This means you’d have to be exposed to 25 times as much Roundup in order to be exposed to the same amount of toxicity as Rotenone. There are countless other synthetic chemicals that pose less of a toxicity risk than this one that is of our own earth (link).
  • Pyrethrins. This class of pesticides are derived from chrysanthemums. They’re approved for use in organic farming due to their minimal environmental impact, but they far surpass Rotenone in their toxicity.

But… are people being exposed to similar amounts of synthetic and natural pesticides? As mentioned above, both conventional and organic growers only use them if they have to as they are expensive. The benefit of traditional synthetic pesticides is that they’ve been engineered to be more effective at lower doses (link).

A recent study comparing the effectiveness of a blend of a rotenone-pyrethrin mixture versus a synthetic pesticide known as imidan showed that 7 applications of the organic mixture were required to obtain the level of protection by 2 applications of the synthetic (link). In another study that compared these same two pesticides to see their effectiveness on apple yields showed that with six to seven sprays throughout the growing season of the natural mixture provided a 75 percent yield on apples. With the synthetic pesticide, they were able to get a 90 percent yield with four sprays (link). What we can take from these studies is that organic produce could have just as much or more pesticide on it.

Now that we understand the presence of the pesticides on our crops, we need to ask the question: are these truly dangerous amounts? Just because both organic and conventional produce can have lots of pesticides, it doesn’t say much about if it will cause consumers harm. It’s been said that the methodology for analyzing which fruits and vegetables deserve a spot on the “Dirty Dozen” list is flawed. In addition, the actual pesticide levels on fruits and vegetables is not compared to the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines for exposure limits.

To sum it up, most Americans consume doses of pesticides that are hundreds of times less than the EPA exposure limit. In the case of apples, the number 1 ranked on the “Dirty Dozen” list, you’d have to eat nearly 800 apples in one day in order to approach the EPA’s exposure limit (link). For other produce, you’d have to eat even more.

Cumulative effects may be present in certain pesticides, but consumers won’t be ingesting anything close to exposure limits. There is lots of information and studies that show that what we’re exposed to is very low, much lower than what would even be required to have a small health concern.

Did you know that fruits and vegetables make their own toxins as well? Flavonoids, hydrogen peroxide, and formaldehyde are all natural toxins found within plants. Americans consume far more of these natural these toxins than we do the ones that come from pesticide use (link).

In spite of this, we are advised fruits and vegetables, regardless of if they’re grown on an organic farm or a conventional one. Because although there may be high levels of toxins found in these plant foods, they are still exceptionally good for us. So much so, that their benefits outweigh their risks (1,2,3).

 

 

While I was gone for a while without a good explanation, here I am again. Certainly, being busy is no excuse as I know tons of bloggers who continue to write even when their schedules become jam packed! That was not the case for me– I still have to develop the delegation skills that come with being a seasoned online “journaler”.

With that said, I feel like I have a good reason?

If you don’t know already, I am a senior in high school. As of now I’m three-quarters of the way done with that role. At this point in time I’ve finished the college application process and have just finished hearing back from all of the schools I applied to.

I got into amazing schools and was offered the option to transfer to one after a year of taking courses at another. I don’t think I’ll take up that offer, but it’s incredibly flattering!

So, the school I chose? Pennsylvania State University!

I chose this school for it’s unprecedented academics. The Penn State faculty are recognized nationally for achievements in teaching and research, and the school has various learning programs, research opportunities, and an extremely strong alumni-network.

PSU’s Agriculture Sciences College and food science program in particular is top-ranked. They are one of the very few food science research institutions on the East Coast, and their facilities and dairy bar are top notch!

The Berkey Creamery – home to 200+ flavors of ice cream! It is my goal to try them ALL.

 

I also chose the school because I fell in love with it on my visit! I was honestly expecting not to like it prior to my tour, but I realized just how important it is not to write a place, person, or thing off before giving it an adequate chance to “prove itself.” It was a lot prettier than I imagined, and I felt this vibrant, happy energy all around throughout my visit.

Overall, I am excited to learn! I know that the college experience is something entirely different from high school. A lot more will be expected of me, but I’m ready for the challenge. I also can’t wait to join clubs, make new friends, and start fresh.

And what I learn – I will do my best share c: The food science news, knowledge, and happenings I take part in I want to share with you! Theosismine isn’t going anywhere. Blogging is such an amazing outlet for me, so I want for my visitors to get something out of it as well.

Thank you for being patient with me as I get acclimated to all of these life changes — in a little while, I have yet another exciting proposition to blog about as well. : )