May The Sprout Be With You

It is the end of the year, and people are gearing up for the summer! Whether students are headed off to internships, taking a summer semester of courses, or graduating, we’re all looking forward to warmer weather and sunshine.

Listen in as two second years, Mireille Najjar and Katie Mark, reflect on their choice to attend the Friedman School. Why did they come here? What did they learn? Mireille is graduating, but Katie is going on for one more year—find out what they thought about the experience and whether it was worth it.

In other Friedman news, the Friedman Justice League has scored a major win with the introduction of Indigenous Peoples’ Day (in lieu of Columbus Day) at the Friedman School. Rebecca Harnik reports on the change and what Tufts campuses need to do to have this holiday recognized school-wide.

Just because summer is nearly here doesn’t mean you should just snack on Choco-Tacos nonstop, even if they are cold and delicious. For a healthy, chilly snack, check out Skylar Morelli’s recipe for an acai bowl. Want to consider alternate forms of protein? Michelle Pearson reports on whether insect-eating is the way of the future. And Katherine Pett reports on a veggie-filled, fresh version of a TV dinner called HungryRoot. You can also stock up on your seasonal produce with the World PEAS CSA, for which the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project has provided a description.

Whether you snack on a smoothie or a centipede, make sure you brush your teeth after! Katelyn Castro covers the best foods to eat—and avoid—to take care of your teeth.

If you’re ready for a long run followed by a long read on the beach, Matt Moore has you covered with a review of the book Running: A Love Story: 10 Years, 5 Marathons, and 1 Life-Changing Sport. If you’re tired of long runs and you’re ready to give up your FitBit altogether Marissa Donovan knows what you should do with your leftover wearable!

Since co-editor Matt Moore is graduating, he has also reflected on three articles he wishes he had written for The Sprout. For others leaving Friedman this summer, Sarah McClung has a list of social dos and don’ts you might need if you’re heading overseas.

And Kathleen Nay rounds out this month’s articles with 15 podcasts you NEED for commuting or relaxing on vacation this summer. Check out her list!

Finally, The Sprout‘s editors for the past year and a half, Katherine Pett and Matt Moore, will be leaving Friedman and the awesome Sprout community after this semester. Donovan, the amazing Sprout social media wizard will also be finishing her semester promoting the Sprout on all your social feeds.

So, we are thrilled to announce that next year’s Sprout editors will be rising second-years Kathleen Nay and Micaela Young! We are so excited for them to carry on the tradition of The Sprout and to bring it to bigger and better things!

Have a happy May and happy summer,

Matt Moore & Katherine Pett

In this issue:

6,000+ Miles and What I Learned Along the Way

by Mireille Najjar
Not too long ago, I entered the doors as a Nutrition Communication student for the first time, unsure of what to expect. As I reflect on my journey to graduate school, I think about how time has progressed from my experience living in the Middle East and how it eventually led me to Boston and the Friedman School.

5 Irrefutable Reasons Why Tufts School of Nutrition Was the Right Choice

by Katie Mark
The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is one-of-a-kind. Friedman is the only graduate school entirely devoted to nutrition in the United States. The school unites biomedical, social, political and behavioral scientists to provide a comprehensive approach to all things nutrition: education, research and community service. The collaboration of internationally renowned faculty and graduate students solidifies Tufts as a leading institution in the mission to improve the nutrition status of the United States and the world.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day at Friedman

by Rebecca Harnik
This fall at the Friedman School, the Columbus Day Holiday will officially be renamed as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Acai Bowl Recipe

by Skylar Morelli
What is the hype with acai berries? Acai berries (pronounced ah-sigh-eeh) are indigenous to the Amazon and have become popular in America as a “superfood.” They are rich in omegas, antioxidants, fiber, polyphenols and anthocyanins.

Beyond Bulking Up On Bugs: Are Insects a Sustainable Solution for Future Protein Needs?

by Michelle Pearson
High in fiber, fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals, bugs are a nutrient powerhouse, especially high in zinc and iron. In the Amazon, insects contribute as much as 70% of the population’s dietary protein needs. Perhaps bugs will be the new vegetarian alternative. There is quite a bit of buzz as to whether or not bugs will be the sustainable protein source of the future.

Healthy TV Dinners: Have You Heard of Hungryroot?

by Katherine Pett
What is Hungryroot? Is it really healthy, easy, and convenient? Katherine Pett writes a review.

I Want To Be a Farmer…Or Just Eat Like One

by Devin Ingersoll
What does it take to be a farmer? Be prepared to put in long, physically-demanding hours, take huge risks, understand ecological systems, have savvy business skills, and be willing to do all of that for very little profit return. In Massachusetts, the average age of a farmer is over 57 years old, and less than 9% of farmers in the state are under 35 years old. A young person interested in farming faces huge barriers such as high cost of land, large capital start-up costs, and essential training time. The state has some of the most expensive farmland in the country valued at about $12,000 an acre. Service providers and organizations such as New Entry Sustainable Farming Project are working to flip the status quo and grow new farmers in our region to support a robust and sustainable local food system.

Healthy Diet, Healthy Smile?

by Katelyn Castro
“Take care of your teeth when you get older because this is not fun,” the man said to me, pointing to his mouth. I was standing beside him at the Tufts Emergency Dental Clinic while the dentist explained his treatment options: a root canal or a tooth extraction. Despite the man’s best efforts to hold onto his tough persona with his leather jacket and tattooed crossed arms, I couldn’t help but notice his teary eyes as he sat in excruciating pain. Considering a root canal would cost him over a thousand dollars out-of-pocket, he settled for a tooth extraction, leaving him with 8 missing teeth at the age of 36.

Like a Marathon, Running: A Love Story Ends with a Payoff That Negates Doubts Along the Way

by Matt Moore
In the middle of Jen A. Miller’s memoir, Running: A Love Story: 10 Years, 5 Marathons, and 1 Life-Changing Sport, the story starts to read like an extended submission to’s Love Letters feature. But while a protracted description of her personal love life may discourage some readers who just want running tales, it in fact sets up Miller’s journey of self-discovery and redemption as running becomes her constant companion.

A Second Life for Fitness Trackers

by Marissa Donovan
Activity trackers are a great way to motivate you to move more, from group competitions to setting personal goals and even monitoring your heart rate. However, like most new toys, the novelty wears off—1/3 of people stop using them after just 6 months— and many times these trackers find a new home in a drawer or stashed away elsewhere. This is where RecycleHealth comes in.

Three Stories I Wish I Wrote

by Matt Moore
During my tenure at The Sprout, I tried to mix up the usual policy coverage and a look at some “outside-the-box” areas related to Agriculture, Food and Environment like horror movies and video games. My only regret is that I ran out of time to pursue some additional topics, so I want to briefly cover them here and suggest that you explore them further.

Social Dos and Don’ts in Expat Communities

by Sarah McClung
Imagine yourself in a foreign country. Pretend it’s a conservative one. As a woman you can’t show your arms or legs, you can’t travel alone, there are rules about eye contact and handshakes, and constant reminders that you are not in Kansas anymore. In such a setting you’d probably be excited to come across someone who looked like you, dressed like you, and sounded like you.

The 15 Best Podcasts for Your Summer Commute

by Kathleen Nay
Looking for something new to listen to? Look no further.

6,000+ Miles and What I Learned Along the Way

by Mireille Najjar

Not too long ago, I entered the doors as a Nutrition Communication student for the first time, unsure of what to expect. As I reflect on my journey to graduate school, I think about how time has progressed from my experience living in the Middle East and how it eventually led me to Boston and the Friedman School.

January 22, 2014—the day I received my official acceptance letter to the Nutrition Communication program at the Friedman School for Fall 2014.

I remember that day very well. It was a casual, warm day, just like any other day in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, my childhood home. As I sat in my room, my phone lit up—it was a notification from the Friedman School’s Office of Admissions. It was during this time that I was receiving most of my graduate school acceptance letters.

I opened the email, and I thought to myself, this could be it. This could be the chance for me to finally leave and explore the opportunities that I had been waiting for. These past four years of continuous hard work, and past several months of tiresome graduate school applications while waiting for my future to unfold, has led me to this very moment.

I finally opened the email, and I was in shock. I wasn’t really sure how to process the email. All I could replay over and over again was “…We are very happy to offer you admission into the Nutrition Communication program.” Everything else was a blur.

Boston always was my long-term goal. To me, it was a city that encapsulated so much of what I wanted to be, and who I wanted to become. I wanted to experience a new environment, outside of the Middle East, in a place that was home to some of my very own. I wanted to explore the history and charm of Boston and all that it offers.

Upon months of endless graduate school research and decision-making, I knew that Friedman was my number one graduate school choice. It offered the Master’s program that combined both of my interests—nutrition and writing—right in the heart of Boston. After living in the crowded streets of Beirut for four years, I had become a city girl, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to experience something new.

I said goodbye to my childhood bubble: goodbye to the comfort of home, memories, and solidarity. I said goodbye to a place that I never thought I could leave—a place that I believed I would hold onto for as long as I could. I spent the last 23 years as a “Third Culture Kid”* unsure of what reality really was—and if I would ever be able to take that last baby step and transition into the “real world.”

My time came, though. After one 13-hour plane ride, and seven time zones away, I finally arrived in Boston. It was the last week of August—a day after my birthday—and just a few days before school started. It was my first real move, my first real jump across the globe to a city that I had never been to before, but that I felt I knew so much about. A place that was so foreign, yet so tangible.

As hard as it was leaving, I knew that it was the right decision. My heart was aching for Boston, and it was the only place I wanted to continue to learn and grow from. It was the only place I wanted to settle in—and to push boundaries—in that moment, and for the upcoming years.

I didn’t realize at the time that these next two years would impact me in such a profound way, both personally and academically.

Many people throughout these past two years, both inside and outside of the classroom, have asked me, “So, where do you see yourself after graduation? Are you going to go back home?”

If you had asked me this two years ago, I would’ve said yes. I always thought that once I graduated—that was it. It would be the end of my academic journey. I would go back home, back to my bubble, carrying two years of precious memories I tried to hold onto, 6,000+ miles away.

But now, with graduation approaching, I stop and think about just how far I’ve come—and how far I want to keep on going. My heart is set on fulfilling my career goals, and I realize that two years just isn’t enough time. I crossed continents to fulfill my goals, my aspirations—and now, I feel the need to accomplish more.

Since day one, Friedman has taught me more than just textbook knowledge. The school indirectly pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and discover the endless options that will help me reach my goals. I’ve learned how capable I am and how ambitious I can be. I’ve been challenged and learned to overcome them. I want to continue to find my true passion, and I know that Friedman helped me this far—and the rest is up to me.

To all of my friends and the precious memories we’ve made—thank you for keeping me grounded, and for helping me feel a little less homesick every day. You all have made my experience in Boston so much more unforgettable, and I would not have been able to get through this if it weren’t for you all. Some of my favorite memories I’ll never forget were spent with you: the Friedman Ski Trip (aka the “Friedman Hotties”); our random get-togethers; our summer hangouts; and our long talks about the future, just to name a few.

Friedman, and my fellow NutCommers, I will sincerely miss you. I feel like I’ve become part of a community that I know will help me get one step closer to what I truly want. It’s been a constant whirlwind of deadlines, stress, and emotions, but I wouldn’t have changed any bit of it. I owe this experience to each and every person that I’ve come across, and that I’ve been inspired by, for helping me reach my full potential and encouraging me to simply take a chance.

From Dhahran, to Beirut, to Boston: what have I learned along the way? In essence, I’ve learned that sometimes you need to push and believe in yourself to really see what you can achieve.

They say you can never really grow if you’re “comfortable” in your place. I guess that’s something that keeps pulling me back—back to the comfort of living in familiarity, and knowing that I’ll always have home to keep me safe. I was born and raised in an expatriate community among thousands of individuals who came from all over the world. The friends I made became my second family, and now, most of them are scattered in different parts of the globe. This “sandbox” that I lived in preserved 18 years of memories and defining moments that shaped me, broke me, and in the end became one long, fulfilling learning experience.

Beirut was also another life-changing moment for me. Moving and adjusting to a congested city that was just as unfamiliar to me as it was to any other foreigner—I was in a culture shock. Although I spent every Christmas and summer vacation in the quiet villages of Lebanon, living there was entirely different. The educational system was much more rigorous. The student body itself had fewer international and Western students, a demographic that I had long been exposed to. The locals had their own mentality that sometimes collided with mine. The country itself is in a constant state of distress, which doesn’t seem to distract the locals and somehow adds to the uniqueness of Lebanon. I learned to adapt to the Lebanese way of life, while trying to not lose my sense of “self.”

Amidst sporadic moments of nostalgia and longing for home, I feel like for the first time in years, I truly feel content and myself, in an environment that is enriching and stimulating. Knowing that I have a strong support system both in Boston and back home is comforting, and subtly reminds me why I moved here in the first place.

*Note: A “Third Culture Kid” refers to a person who grew up or spent the majority of their childhood in a place outside of their parents’ culture.

Mireille Najjar will graduate this May with an MS in Nutrition Communication—and hopes to continue the path to become a registered dietitian.

5 Irrefutable Reasons Why Tufts School of Nutrition Was the Right Choice

by Katie Mark

The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is one-of-a-kind. Friedman is the only graduate school entirely devoted to nutrition in the United States. The school unites biomedical, social, political and behavioral scientists to provide a comprehensive approach to all things nutrition: education, research and community service. The collaboration of internationally renowned faculty and graduate students solidifies Tufts as a leading institution in the mission to improve the nutrition status of the United States and the world.

So who would say “no” to an acceptance letter from Tufts?

Upon receiving my acceptance letter to the Nutrition Communication (NutCom) master’s program, I was ecstatic. It only took one step into the Jaharis building during Open House to know – Tufts is where I want and need to be to continue my studies in nutrition so I can reach my career goals.

Below are my 5 reasons as to why Tufts is the right – and the best – choice for graduate studies in nutrition:

A Nutrition Communication Degree Is Unique

The MS in Nutrition Communication (now changed to Nutrition Interventions, Communication and Behavior Change) grabbed my attention while investigating graduate programs in nutrition. Tufts’ NutCom degree is unique. It’s not offered elsewhere, and it addresses the major communication challenges for nutrition throughout media. Magazines, television and the Internet are the top sources for nutrition information. But because everyone eats, everyone also believes they’re a “nutrition expert,” which leads to the proliferation of misleading nutrition “facts.”

Nutrition science is complicated and constantly evolving. The NutCom program bridges the gap between the nutrition scientist and nutrition communicator. We graduate with the training that enables us to translate science in accurate and practical ways. It is our service to help the public better understand nutrition for optimal health.

Additionally, simply educating the public about nutrition is not enough. Creating behavior change is equally as important. The NutCom curriculum accounts for this and subsequently prepares us with the skills needed to help people change their behavior to make more healthful choices (i.e., the Theories of Behavior Change course).

Key Point: Nutrition Communication is a critical degree for nutrition scientists to become effective nutrition communicators, which will help reduce the challenges of conveying accurate nutrition information to the public.

My Recommendation: Explore all of the graduate programs – especially the curriculum – and choose one you believe will enhance your career the most.

The Faculty Is Accomplished and Internationally Renowned

The unparalleled faculty is incredible. First and foremost, many of the most highly respected nutrition scientists conduct research at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts and teach courses at Friedman, so students get plenty of one-on-one time with professors.

Below are a few professors who stand out in my mind as I reflect on my Friedman courses.

Jeanne Goldberg, PhD, RD, was my advisor and professor for Communications Strategies in Nutrition and Health Promotion. Jeanne created the NutCom program, served as the principal investigator on the study that resulted in the selection of the USDA Food Guide Pyramid and served as the co-investigator of many research projects, including Shape Up Somerville, a CDC-funded obesity prevention program for elementary school children and their families.

My professors for Fundamentals of Nutrition Policy and Programing: How Science and Practice Interact were Eileen Kennedy, D.Sc., RD, and Patrick Webb, PhD.

Eileen Kennedy

  • Served many senior roles in the Clinton administration. She founded and served as first Executive Director of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Planning at the U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Created the Healthy Eating Index – used as a single summary measure of diet quality
  • Served as a member of the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the UN Committee on World Food Security and the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on Food Security and Nutrition

Patrick Webb

  • Worked for the United Nations’ World Food Programme as Chief of Nutrition until 2005
  • Serves as Director for USAID’s Feed the Future Nutrition Innovation Lab (fieldwork ongoing in Nepal, Uganda, Malawi, Bangladesh, Egypt, and Cambodia)
  • Leads the U.S. government’s Food Aid Quality Review

Alice Lichtenstein, D.Sc. (teaches Applied Nutritional Biochemistry)

  • 310 peer-reviewed publications and is continually quoted in the press whenever nutrition science is debated.
  • Vice-chair for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Agriculture/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As a student, I had the opportunity to work as a research assistant for Jennifer Sacheck, PhD, who is at the forefront of research on children’s physical activity levels. Before I decided to attend Tufts, I searched for professors whose research interests aligned with my interests (nutrition and physical activity). I reached out to Jen regarding a job and after meeting with her, I knew she would be a great mentor.

Jen’s research focuses on impact of diet and physical activity on health. Her research has highlighted the importance of reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among children and adolescents, as it results in favorable outcomes on blood lipid levels. She also conducted a large clinical trial on vitamin D deficiency and its associated health risks in kids with the intent to identify a safe supplemental amount of vitamin D for youth. Currently, her Fueling Learning through Exercise (FLEX) study is examining the impact of physical activity on cognitive health and academic achievement in school districts across Massachusetts. Jen also co-authored a book on nutrition, fitness and health: Thinner This Year.

Working with Jen was an eye-opening, rewarding experience. She and I have similar nutrition interests – specifically sports nutrition. Whenever the opportunity arose, she would connect me with an opportunity or someone involved in sports nutrition.

I saw a whole different perspective of the academia world – even though my work was more managerial. I witnessed the demanding world of nutrition research and learned how to balance everything when you’re involved in so many great, important projects. I also learned how it’s okay to take a step back and reduce the amount on your plate as long as everything you’re doing is meaningful.

Unfortunately, Jen was unable to teach her Physical Activity, Nutrition and Health class (my favorite class) this semester, so I didn’t have her as a professor, but I know she has a reputation as an enthusiastic and amazing professor, and I wish I were lucky enough to experience that.

Jen introduced me to other nutrition professionals, such as her PhD advisee Nicole Schultz. Meeting Nicole led to a friendship outside of Friedman and, interestingly, to the boxing ring at The Club by George Foreman III. Now, Nicole may become my preceptor for my Applied Learning Experience for the Master in Public Health because I found my interests align with her work. So what does this all mean? Working with a professor led to making connections at Friedman that may not have occurred and led to larger opportunities.

Note: This only skimmed the surface of the accomplishments of these professionals at the national and global level of nutrition and the breadth of distinguished professors and researchers at Tufts nutrition.

Key Point: Students are exposed to highly accomplished, internationally and nationally renowned nutrition professionals. Learn about their experiences, which may develop your interests, by taking their classes or simply meeting with them to pick their brains.

My Recommendation: Explore the research profile of each faculty member and then reach out to those whose research align with your interests…and get involved! It’s a networking opportunity.

The Course Offerings are Eclectic

The NutCom curriculum offers 30 courses in nutrition, study design and analysis, and communications and behavior change. One of my favorite courses was Physical Activity, Nutrition and Health because it closely aligns with my career goal to become a registered dietitian working in sports nutrition. Exercise and nutrition go hand-in-hand, and this course taught us how exercise and nutrition interact and how to apply nutrition to exercise. As an athlete, the best part was the opportunity to complete a VO2Max test at the HNRCA.

The Principles of Epidemiology course was fascinating to learn how diseases spread, and it was taught by the entertaining Mark Woodin. The subsequent course, Design of Epidemiologic Studies for Nutrition Research, gave us the opportunity to design and write our own study. I was able to further learn about my interest in a very low carbohydrate ketogenic diet (VLCKD) and its effect on sport performance. It was an opportunity to take what I knew about the VLCKD and sport performance and design a study to answer a question that I desperately wanted to know and that the science world has not yet answered: what are the long-term effects of a very-low carbohydrate ketogenic diet on aerobic performance in female cyclists? This class heavily influenced me to consider a PhD in exercise physiology following Tufts…

Another valuable class was Communications Strategies in Health Promotion. We learned various communications strategies to promote health campaigns/interventions – critical skills needed for us to be effective in the community. We chose a health campaign, selected a client in the surrounding community, and designed a health communication initiative for the client. My group focused on reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and increasing water consumption during the afterschool youth sports program at a local Chinatown school. This project taught me the importance of gaining a thorough understanding of a target population and how simply asking the target population questions can help develop an intervention that intends to cause behavior change.

As you can see, most of the courses require a semester-long project. The best part is you choose your project’s focus so there’s always an opportunity to work with your interests. Many of the courses assign group-based projects, which was critical because most nutrition work is collaborative, and everyone lends a different expertise in nutrition.

Key Point: All courses enhance each other to provide students with a well-rounded nutrition education.

My Recommendation: Take advantage of your education by adding an extra course each semester. It’ll be worth the workload.

The Flexibility Means No Limits on YOUR Education

It’s inevitable that your plans will change, and Tufts gladly accommodates your changes. After a few months at Tufts, you’ll learn about other graduate programs or other educational certification opportunities. Many students will begin in one program and switch to another because they realized their interests aligned better with another program.

Tufts is great about being flexible with student needs, and they will work with you to make sure you meet all your requirements. In some cases, you may have to add a semester to your studies, but there’s no better place to have to spend another semester. For example, after my first semester, I decided to add the Master of Public Health, so I had to apply to the School of Medicine. It was a straightforward process, and the Friedman administration was helpful in making sure I had everything set.

Tufts also offers students the opportunity to concurrently enroll at Simmons College to earn the Didactic Program in Dietetics Certificate – allowing students to pursue a dietetics career as a registered dietitian. Occasionally, coordinating the required courses at Tufts and Simmons can be challenging, but Simmons and Tufts work together to ensure the student is able to fulfill their needs. Many Tufts students take advantage of this opportunity, including myself, because the Master’s degree may not be enough depending on your career goals.

Do you want to take a class at the Harvard School of Public Health? You can do that. Tufts allows students to cross-register (one course each semester) at:

  • Tufts – Arts, Sciences & Engineering
  • Tufts – The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
  • Tufts – School of Medicine Public Health and Professional Degrees
  • Tufts – Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences
  • Boston College
  • Boston University
  • Brandeis University
  • Harvard School of Public Health

Needless to say, cross-registering is an opportunity to maximize what you get out of your elective courses.

Ultimately, I pursued two master’s degrees and the dietetics certificate – all were manageable in five semesters. Was it stressful taking a full course load each semester, including summers? Of course. But in the end, the work and experience is worth it, especially when Tufts lets you shape the education you want.

Key Point: Tufts acknowledges the experience is the student’s education, and there are no limits on how you want to enhance your experience.

My Recommendation: Investigate other educational opportunities at Tufts and ask former and current students how they managed it all. Once you graduate from Tufts, it’s tough to return to school – so maximize your education now.

Students Are Your Colleagues and Best Friends With Different Nutrition & Food Interests

All Friedman students bring different backgrounds, perspectives from all parts of the country, and nutrition/food interests to the student body. Some students just graduated college and others are older with children. The collective academic interests of the students include:

  • Agriculture, Food and the Environment
  • Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition
  • Food Policy & Applied Nutrition
  • Nutrition Interventions, Communication and Behavior Change
  • Nutritional Epidemiology
  • Dietetics – both those in the dietetic internship program and those pursuing dietetics

Even though we all study different aspects of nutrition – and more students focus on nutrition/food policy – we all bring together different components in the nutrition/food field. Everyone lends an expertise, leading to a collaboration that further enhances each other’s understanding of our larger goal to improve the nutritional health and well-being of populations throughout the world.

Aside from academics, students get together outside the classroom. Some unite through the 13 Student Organizations and Activities. For example, I participated with other students in Jumbo’s Kitchen, a program that teaches nutrition to elementary students at a local school in Chinatown. Even though I didn’t participate in Student Council, the students involved do an incredible job serving as the liaison between the students and the faculty. They coordinate countless social and organizational events and ensure the student voice is represented at the administrative level. For example, Student Council organizes a ski trip every year for the students, which Friedman, kindly, partially funds.

The students mesh together so well that I wonder how the Tufts Admissions committee does such a great job at selecting students…

Most importantly, I found my best friends at Tufts. When I moved to Boston to attend Tufts, I did not know anyone. You could say #TeamNoFriends. My academic, work, and social experiences at Tufts were even better because some of my peers became my closest friends. My fondest memories will be of the times spent outside the classroom with the students who became my best friends, some of which included coffee-shop-work-dates.

Key Point: Friedman students are your colleagues who represent many different food and nutrition expertise. We all come together academically, professionally and socially. Better yet, some of your peers become your best friends.

My Recommendation: The students are not just your peers. Make friendships. And then prepare for the hardship when time comes to decide what to do following graduation. The friendships you develop may be the ultimate factor as to whether or not you move away from Boston.

Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy Was The Best Decision I Made

My experience at Friedman is highlighted by a major theme: how the school exposed me to the greater nutrition field. The opportunity to learn from and network with the top nutrition professionals in academia was a rewarding experience. I am fortunate I received and seized the opportunity to earn my graduate degrees from Tufts. Working hard led to the acceptance at Tufts and working hard continued while at Tufts.

It was the best decision I’ve made. And I’d do it again.

Katie Mark is a second year MS/MPH student who will graduate in December 2016. Her experience at Tufts equipped her with the knowledge and skills and exposed her to the people that will help her pursue her career goal to become a registered dietitian working in sports nutrition with professional athletes.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day at Friedman

by Rebecca Harnik

This fall at Friedman, the Columbus Day Holiday will officially be renamed to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Though many students in the United States have historically celebrated Columbus Day to commemorate the discovery of the Americas, the name change recognizes that colonization went hand in hand with violence and genocide. The Friedman School’s adoption of Indigenous Peoples’ Day takes a stand against centuries of oppression, racism, and discrimination faced by Indigenous People.

Friedman is just the second school at Tufts University to make this switch, following the lead of the Tufts School of Arts and Sciences and Engineering (AS&E), where the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate championed the effort.

After the resolution was rejected by AS&E faculty in 2015, the TCU Senate launched an extensive campaign of petitioning, Facebook outreach, photo booths, hashtagging #‎IPDatTufts, letter-writing, and the promotion of a heartfelt YouTube video to spread the message of the holiday’s significance. The AS&E student body and faculty were won over in 2016 by the students’ dedication and organizing work, and voted in favor of establishing Indigenous Peoples’ Day with a 60 to 1 faculty vote on the resolution.

Undergraduate TCU Senate representative Anna Del Castillo ’18 was among the leadership for the campaign at AS&E. She emphasized the importance of the new name in an email conversation, calling the day “a time to celebrate indigenous voices and educate the community on important issues facing indigenous people [globally]… and to examine how we can play a role in reversing negative actions.”

Holidays honoring Indigenous Peoples have been celebrated sporadically by cities and states across the US for several decades, but 2014 and 2015 saw a sudden surge of cities and states dismissing Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Several colleges and universities have recently made the transition nationally; in almost every case championed by their respective student bodies. Regionally, Brown University formally adopted Indigenous People’s Day in February of 2016.

Here at Friedman, the administration has been highly supportive of the change. The Friedman Justice League is working with Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Matt Hast to make the transition clear and understandable. Friedman will be formally announcing the new holiday and its significance this fall, and will be joining forces with AS&E on the Tufts campus to celebrate the holiday on October 10, 2016.

At Tufts, the change has not yet been initiated on the full campus. Del Castillo of the TCU explained that President Monaco has stated that individual schools will need to consider the switch on their own until there is enough support to demonstrate that a Tufts-wide change is merited. The Friedman Justice League is currently in conversation with other schools on the Boston campus and is hopeful that Friedman’s early adoption of the holiday will support other schools to do so – and that this will help Tufts join soon as a whole University.

To follow the progress and celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day at Tufts, you can connect on Facebook; or email Benya Kraus, Diversity and Community Affairs Officer at the TCU Senate, at On the Boston campus, the Friedman Justice league will be leading engagement efforts:

Rebecca Harnik is a second-year student in the Agriculture, Food and Environment program. She is concerned with issues of social equity, community health, and ecological sustainability in the food system. 

Acai Bowl Recipe

by Skylar Morelli

What is the hype with acai berries? Acai berries (pronounced ah-sigh-eeh) are indigenous to the Amazon and have become popular in America as a “superfood.” They are rich in omegas, antioxidants, fiber, polyphenols, and anthocyanins. The berries are dark purple and taste like a combination of red wine and chocolate. You can find these versatile berries in many forms such as juice, energy drinks, powders, capsules, cosmetics (seriously), and in delicious bowls! You can get acai bowls at most juice bars – if you’re willing to pay $10-$12 for one. You can also make your own with this quick, delicious, grad student budget-friendly recipe!


1 100-gram pack of frozen acai berry pulp

1 tbsp. almond butter

½ cup milk of choice

1 banana cut in half

A handful of your favorite berries

¼ cup granola (optional)

A pinch of coconut shreds (optional)

Prep time: 5-10 minutes

Total cost for ingredients: $20-25 (makes 4)


In a blender, add frozen acai pack, almond butter, milk, half the banana, and half the berries. Blend until everything is mixed. If mixture is not fully blending, add another ¼ cup of milk. The consistency should be too thick for a straw, but perfect for eating with a spoon. Pour mixture into a bowl. Next add chopped banana and berries on top, and finish by sprinkling on granola and coconut. You can get creative with recipes and add your own fruits and toppings of choice! Enjoy!



Acai berries have been touted as a “superfood” for years. Unless you go to South America, you will likely find acai in many forms, but not the berries themselves. The berries go rancid within 24 hours of being picked due to their high fat content (in case you were wondering why you haven’t seen an actual acai berry in the US). They are nutrient dense; low in carbohydrates, sodium, and cholesterol; and are naturally sugar-free.

What the lay press says

The lay press loves to hype up the benefits of acai with claims ranging from cancer fighting, to anti-aging, to weight loss. While none of these claims have been proven, it is known that acai berries are rich in powerful nutrients like polyphenols, anthocyanins, and other antioxidants.

What the research says

Currently there is inconclusive evidence to support any health benefits of consuming acai. Numerous studies however, have observed potent antioxidant properties of acai berries in humans. An in vivo pilot study looked at effects of acai berries on metabolic biomarkers of 10 overweight adults (BMI between 25 and 30). Subjects drank 100 grams of acai pulp twice a day for a month. Compared to baseline, fasting glucose significantly decreased from 98.0 ± 10.1 mg/dl to 92.8 ± 10.9 mg/dl. Plasma fasting insulin also significantly decreased after one month. A 2015 research review suggests that acai berries can interfere with and inhibit metabolic pathways that lead to inflammation and oxidative stress – two risk factors for chronic disease.

Acai berries have sparked a lot of interest and a clear need for more research. Most studies have used rats and in vitro cell cultures, though researchers have recognized the need for more in vivo, human, trials. In the meantime, stay tuned to new research and enjoy this refreshing, antioxidant-rich, summer treat!

Skylar Morelli is a second-year NutComm Student. She believes the sunshine and ocean are the most potent forms of therapy.

Beyond Bulking Up on Bugs: Are Insects a Sustainable Solution for Future Protein Needs?

By Michelle Pearson

Eating insects is nothing new. Cultures across centuries have incorporated these creatures in dishes across the globe. As evidenced by early foraging tools and in examining the chemical composition of feces, bugs contributed to improving diet quality during human evolution. Insects are staples in Asian, Australian, African, and South American cuisine. Insects can be consumed live as well as cooked, often roasted, boiled, or fried. In fact, these creatures are a rich source of nutrition. High in fiber, fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals, bugs are a nutrient powerhouse, especially high in zinc and iron. In the Amazon, insects contribute as much as 70% of the population’s dietary protein needs. Perhaps bugs will be the new vegetarian alternative. There is quite a bit of buzz as to whether or not bugs will be the sustainable protein source of the future.

Of course, many Americans take issue with the idea: there certainly is an “ick” factor present in our culture. We tend to be more squeamish about foods. Just look at the way meat is prepared: prepackaged indiscernible cuts of pink flesh completely devoid of evidence from the creatures whence they came. Yet, what many people do not know is that they have already eaten insects. Being so ubiquitous, bugs are an unavoidable contaminant. The FDA has created standards: 60 insect bits for every 3.5 ounces of chocolate and 5 fruit flies for every cup of juice. Bugs are simply part of the food system. It has been estimated that Americans consume about 1 pound of insects a year! Thus, acceptability of insect protein may change with knowledge and preparation; people may be more likely to try insect protein ground up into protein bars or baked goods. Substituting whey protein for an insect version may feel just fine for some. However, reducing the “ick” factor may not be the main issue at play.


Fried insects in Cambodia; photo by Steve Baragona

Is insect protein nutritious and sustainable?

The types of proteins found in insects are comparable to animals in nutrition quality and digestibility. Some species of bugs are more nutritious than others, such as crickets and meal worms, and, as with any food, the method of cooking will also impact nutritional content. Less known is the impact on the environment when raising mass amounts of insects. For example, insects already feed a significant population of animals, contributing 70% of food for all land birds in the world and 40% for all fish.

What would increasing insect populations do to these animals or, for that matter, to any aspect of the ecosystem? Many insects are already cultivated on a mass scale for pest control and for feeding pet birds and reptiles. It has been found that insects can be raised on waste product and other low substrates that could feed livestock or human populations. However, one study conducted by Lundy and Parrella found that crickets produced at a large scale required grain feeding to reach necessary protein yield, making them no more sustainable than chickens. When crickets are raised in their natural habitat at a small scale, protein yields are high, and the insects have a very low impact on the environment. Currently, insect diets are supported in regions of the world that are either less population dense, or more integrated, allowing insects to have a symbiotic relationship with the environment and maintaining a balanced ecosystem. In general, the nutritional content of insects is highly variable, depending on the season, population, species, and geographic area. For insects to be sustainable on a mass scale, it will be a challenge to incorporate them into a balanced environment, essentially dedicating large areas of land to creating a new ecosystem.

More research is needed to determine the environmental impact of mass produced insects, as well as ways to maximize protein content. Looking beyond bugs, other sustainable sources of protein should be considered such as red algae. Sources currently being incorporated into American diets include single cell protein, soy protein, and fish protein concentrate. As with anything else, insects cannot solve the problem alone. Sustainable protein sources may require a patchwork of various sources to provide future populations with necessary nutritional needs.

What would an insect food movement look like?

Many passionate people are utilizing insects as a way to improve issues in the food system. The FAO has reported on the future prospects of insect consumption, while independent groups of enthusiasts are promoting insect culture in hopes of a bug-friendly future. Little Herds based out of Austin, Texas is dedicated to educating communities to the benefits of eating insects, while startups like Crickers and Chirps use cricket flour to create sustainable food products. Insects are also being utilized to address malnutrition. Aspire, also from Austin, Texas, seeks to promote the farming and consumption of insects to help malnourished populations, utilizing palmweevel larvae that are naturally high in iron to reduce anemia in Ghana. Austin is even host to an annual insect eating contest, complete with cooking demonstrations and local artists.

Despite the passion of these groups, the movement is not without its challenges. Other than sustainability or novelty, there is no real intrigue or hook for consumer buy-in. Insect foods need a brand. The ick factor may be the biggest hurdle, but good research and developed methodology is another. For one, transforming bugs into generally accepted food products like chips can mess with the flavor profile. Though crickets are considered to have a mild, nutty flavor; once they are ground into a powder, the flavor becomes a potent tribute to wet dog food. Though highly innovative, the “wet dog food” flavor likely won’t win over the hearts and taste bugs of foodies. Having no clear FDA regulation also poses a challenge for developing insect supply chains. Funders are reluctant to invest in an industry without knowing the regulations that will be placed on it in the future.

Lack of corporate backing is part of what gives the insect movement its charm. It is an underdog movement (pun intended). So far, public desire rather than big business has pushed the industry. It has started on the back of crowd funding with start up companies putting out protein bars and crackers. If an insect movement is to gain momentum, it will be up to us as consumers. If you would like to see a change, vote with your dollar, support the startups, and spread the word.

Michelle Pearson is a second-year Master’s student studying Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition.

Healthy TV Dinners: Have You Heard of Hungryroot?

by Katherine Pett

It doesn’t matter if you’re a busy student, busy parent, or busy professional: Getting healthy, fresh vegetables on the table each evening can take a lot of prep. And so many of us won’t commit to buying, washing, peeling, and cooking fresh vegetables, even though we know we should.

I will confess to being one of these people. Gasp! Yes, even though I am a nutrition student at a nutrition school, I still lose the battle with convenience many nights of the week!

In the moment, there are lots of ways to maximize healthy choices, especially in cities. You can run to the nearest “fast casual” restaurant, like Chipotle or Pret for healthier grub, but it isn’t ideal. How many calories do these foods have? Sodium?

I wanted to dramatically increase vegetable intake without going out to eat and without painstaking vegetable prep. Luckily (creepily?), my targeted social media ads were on point and I started seeing ads for a company called Hungryroot.


This is one of their main promotional pictures. Maybe they’re advertising to the tech crowd? From

Hungryroot is a meal-delivery service that sends fully-prepped vegetables with sauces and protein that you could make fresh at home in 7 minutes! Each entrée contains fresh spiralized vegetable “noodles,” one or two sauces, a crunchy or fermented topping, and an option for protein. And, bonus for shorter women (like myself) or perhaps people wanting to reduce weight, each meal is calorie controlled at 500 calories or less.

I found a significant discount for first-time customers and thought, “OK, I’m sold.” I purchased 5 Hungryroot meals and waited in anticipation for my delivery!

The Delivery:

Hungryroot meals are delivered in refrigerated packaging to your doorstep! The boxes are insulated and come with huge ice packs, so you don’t need to stress if the box is waiting for a couple hours before you’re home. Additionally, each of the meals lasts ~7-10 days from the day you get it, so you have plenty of time to enjoy!

The Meal:

Each meal is contained in a package that looks similar to a TV dinner, but with slightly better packaging.


Hungryroot Instagram

Meals can be cooked on the stove or microwaved, which make them versatile if you need to eat them on-the-go or at work. I opted to saute each meal in 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and each meal took exactly 7 minutes to prep from start to finish!

The Taste:

Hungryroot meals are comparable to better “fast casual” meals. They are definitely tastier than a frozen dinner. Are they better than a home-cooked dinner? That depends on how good of a cook you are and what you order.

I ordered 5 meals:

  • 2 Carrot Noodles with Tangy Sriracha Peanut Sauce (and chicken for protein)
  • Celery Root Noodles with Sweet Basil Gremolata (and chicken)
  • Sweet Potato Noodles with Creamy Cashew Alfredo (and chicken)
  • Turnip Noodles with Toasted Walnut Pesto (and chicken)

What an open Hungryroot meal looks like. From Buzzfeed.

The best were the carrot noodles and sweet potato noodles. The sriracha peanut sauce had an amazing kick and was definitely something I’d be impressed with even at a restaurant, while the sweet potato noodles were tasty and filling. The other two flavors were very enjoyable, but had a plainer flavor.

The chicken came pre-portioned and pre-cooked, so you just had to add it to the stir-fry near the end and heat it up. It was tasty, but plain. I never weighed it, but I would be surprised if it was more than two ounces—certainly not worth the $3 additional charge for protein. To cut costs, I’d advise buyers to cook up your own protein (be it meat or tofu or egg) and add it to Hungryroot meals.

Hungryroot also offers breakfast options, side dishes, and desserts, none of which I tried. All Hungryroot meals are gluten-free and most can be vegan or vegetarian depending on the protein you choose. This makes them a great choice for vegetarians or those on restricted diets.


Hungryroot Instagram

The Cost:

Hungryroot is healthy and convenient, but it isn’t cheap. Each meal is $9, and adding protein is 3 additional dollars (hence, why you should add your own protein). If you order over $50, shipping is free.


Pros: The food tastes great, arrives quickly, and is incredibly convenient to cook. Definitely a great option for finals week, kids home from school, or long work-weeks when you need healthy, veggie-filled meals fast.

Cons: The price is high. The meals are also packaged in recyclable plastic containers, wrapped in insulation and shipped in a cardboard box with plate-sized ice packs. When my meals were delivered, one of my first reactions was to think, “Gee, that’s a lot of packaging I have to throw away now.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 10.04.52 AM

I was not the only person stressed about packaging. From Twitter.

I have managed to reuse the ice packs several times, but they are huge—think science-textbook huge. They are certainly not the size you can conveniently toss in a lunch bag.

After receiving the meals, I sent Hungryroot feedback about the packaging. One of their representatives, Zoe Mesirow, got back to me right away. “Improving our packaging to be more eco-friendly is one of our top priorities right now,” she said.

Until that happens, however, you will have to weigh the ease of ordering and the healthiness of meals against the downside of the excess packaging.

Will I Order It Again?

I definitely see myself ordering Hungryroot again during a time like finals, when I realize I’m not going to have time and I want to “make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

For me, it will remain a “sometimes food” because of the price and packaging.

However, Hungryroot is expanding into Whole Food starting this summer, so interested shoppers can stock up on healthy convenience without as much enormous packaging.

Katherine Pett is a second-year student in the BMN program. This is her final article for The Sprout before graduation!


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