Turning a New Page

How has the school year disappeared so quickly? We’re looking back on all we have accomplished over the last eight months, and then turning to look ahead at what comes next. For some of us, that means a summer internship – maybe here in Boston, maybe elsewhere in the US, or maybe abroad – working to advance the goals of a more sustainable, healthy, and empowered food system. For others of us, we’re carrying that charge forward into the next stage of our careers: graduation, and beyond!

As editors, we are so proud of what we’ve been able to witness our Friedman community accomplish this year. It has been a pleasure to maintain a platform for students to share their expertise, start important conversations and maintain a dialogue about the nutrition and agriculture policies at the nexus of all of our careers.

We can hardly believe it, but here we are introducing the last (but certainly NOT the least) Sprout issue of the 2017-2018 school year…

With classes winding down you may find yourself with a little extra free time for putzing in the kitchen. Why not try something new? Michelle Rossi takes the mystery and intimidation out of that one kitchen appliance we all have but rarely use: the broiler.

Need a good way to destress and stay healthy before finals drop on your head? Liz Hatzenbuehler advises going for a run. In this issue, she shares five F’s for making running a fun new habit.

Back in March, Friedman hosted a screening of the film “Forgotten Farms.” New England’s dairy industry has dwindled to fewer than 2,000 farms across the region, representing a loss of about 10,000 farms in the last 50 years. Laura Barley reviews the film for The Friedman Sprout, analyzes some of the reasons for the industry’s decline, and offers her thoughts on how consumers can more mindfully support the farms that make up the backbone of New England agriculture.

Time for a snack! Theo Fitopoulos has just the suggestion: tucked away on Newbury Street is the fast-casual spot Gre.Co, and it’s sure to hit the spot next time you’ve got a hankering for authentic Greek cuisine. Theo tells us what’s good when you go.

If Friedman students have learned anything about nutrition policy, it’s that politics are not so far removed from people’s real lived experiences – including the lives of children. That’s why Alana Davidson says we should support the new Massachusetts bill that would put a ban on lunch shaming. What’s lunch shaming? And how does it affect schoolchildren in Massachusetts? Read on to find out – and then call your state legislators to voice your support for Bill S.2390/H.4422!

Friedman students go on to do really cool work – sometimes even before they’ve graduated. Earlier this semester, second-year dual degree student Becca Lucas traveled to Italy and the Dominican Republic to meet other students from all over the world and learn about how coffee is grown and processed before it reaches your cup. She shares her unforgettable experience with the Sprout including some epic visuals – and reflects on what sustainability means from the perspective of a global coffee corporation.

International trade is big business for American agriculture. Turns out, it also makes for some pretty complicated relationships. In this issue, Sam Jones takes a dive into Trump’s recent steel and aluminum trade deals, and explains why American hog farmers are feeling wary.

You may have noticed the new composting bins around the Health Sciences campus recently! But did you know they’re there because of an effort to reduce food waste, driven by Friedman Student Council rep Michelle Lee-Bravatti? Erin Child investigates how the new composting service came to be.

What else is new in Friedman news? For starters, we just wrapped up the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge, promoted by the Friedman Committee on Social Justice, Inclusion and Diversity. Several members of the Friedman Justice League took some time to reflect on what they learned during the 21-Day Challenge, and where they hope Friedman will go from here.

In April, Friedman hosted the 11th Annual Student Research Conference, a chance for graduate researchers from institutions all over the US and the world to gather and enjoy sharing what they’ve learned with their peers. What a day for intellectual stimulation! Nako Kobayashi reports on the highlights of the conference.

Over spring break, several Friedman students ventured out to Washington State University to explore the WSU Bread Lab, where professors, students, farmers, bakers and brewers are pushing the boundaries of how and why we grow grain. The innovative work they do at the Bread Lab is shaping a new grain economy in Washington’s Skagit Valley. Nayla Bezares, Claire Loudis, Tetyana Pecherska, and Alexandra Stern tell the story in their own words.

This is it: the last issue of the year! We’re so proud of the stories we’ve been able to share with you over the last several months, and grateful for all of the student contributors who have helped make it happen.

And without further ado… we’re pleased to announce our new editors for next year, Sam Jones and Nako Kobayashi! Both Sam, a rising second-year AFE student, and Nako, a new AFE Spring start, have been regular contributors to the Sprout since arriving at Friedman. Moreover, they’ve been absolutely instrumental in helping put together this month’s issue. Erin Child, our invaluable social media editor, will continue in her role as Queen of All Things Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! We’re so excited about the new team, and we couldn’t be leaving the Sprout in better hands.

Wishing you a happy summer. We’re nearly there – let’s finish strong!

Kathleen Nay & Hannah Meier

In this issue…

Grilled chicken broiler recipe

Photo: Michelle Rossie

The Broiler: Your Most Underused Kitchen Appliance

by Michelle Rossi

Ahh, spring is in the air and grilling season is almost upon us. For those lucky enough to own or have access to a grill, grilling makes a homemade dinner seem so quick and easy! But what about those of us who don’t own a grill? And what about those chilly fall, winter, or spring months in Boston where all you want to do is stay inside and forget the crazy weather outside? Enter: your broiler.

 

 

Running to the Finish Line of Spring Semester

by Liz Hatzenbuehler

At last! Spring has sprung. As the longer, warmer days attempt to lure you outside, reality rears its head. You are a grad student, remember? The last thing you have time for is frolicking carefree in the sunshine. With only a few weeks remaining in the spring semester, papers are piling up and project deadlines are looming. And, have you secured your summer internship yet?! If this has you reaching for a paper bag to prevent from hyperventilating, I have an idea.

 

New England Dairy Examined in Friedman School Screening of “Forgotten Farms”

by Laura Barley

To examine the contemporary trends affecting the dairy industry, on March 27th, the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy hosted a screening of the film “Forgotten Farms”, a documentary featuring some of the longest-standing dairy farmers in New England.

 

Pork gyro wrapped in pita with onion, tomato, fresh-cut potatoes and tzatziki sauce from Gre. Co!

Restaurant Review: Gre.Co

by Theo Fitopoulos

Gre.Co is a subterranean fast-casual restaurant on Newbury St. in Boston. They focus on fresh and flavorful ingredients to bring authentic Greek street food to the city. The small, vibrant restaurant is a gem among the Newbury St. restaurant scene.

 

 

 

 

 

Friedman Policy Corner: Massachusetts Bill Seeks to Ban School Lunch-Shaming

by Alana Davidson

The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute released a report this Spring on lunch shaming in Massachusetts schools. Lunch shaming is when children are denied a meal or given an alternative cold cheese sandwich because they cannot afford the food. Read more about this issue and what legislation has been put forward to address it!

 

To Systematize Sustainability: An Experience with Italian Corporate Social Responsibility 

by Rebecca Lucas

A two-week immersive experience with Corporate Social Responsibility team and sustainable coffee development projects at Lavazza, an Italian coffee company, brought this Friedman student back and forth between two continents on a journey of a thousand coffee cups and one company’s manifestation of sustainability.

 

Photo credit: Sam Jones

Trump’s Trade Wars: How Steel and Aluminum Might Harm Hog Farmers

by Sam Jones

President Trump has been waging a trade war since early March, with China as his greatest adversary. Steel and aluminum manufacturing stood to benefit from these protectionist measures, but the U.S. agricultural sector is actually getting the raw end of the deal in this tit-for-tat dispute.

 

Compost At Friedman Student Research Conference

Michelle Lee-Bravatti and some of the Compost generated by the 2018 SRC

News from Friedman: Composting Comes to Campus

by Erin Child

On April 9th, four new compost bins appeared next to the usual trash and recycling options in the Jaharis, Sackler, and the M&V buildings. These small green bins are a pilot composting initiative run by Michelle Lee-Bravatti, student life representative of the Friedman Student Council, and her team of compost volunteers. Getting these bins to campus took time, effort, and coordination between multiple players. The Sprout sat down with Michelle to learn about her hard work to bring composting to campus, and what she wants to students to know about this new option for food waste.

 

Reflections on Equity: FJL Takes on Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge

by Friedman Justice League

Making time for reflection in our busy lives can be difficult. In April 2018, Friedman’s Committee on Social Justice, Inclusion, and Diversity (CSJID) invited the school to do just that by participating in a 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge. Students from the Friedman Justice League (FJL) reflect on what they felt and learned during the challenge, and on the implications of these learnings for the school’s community.

 

Student Research Conference

A graduate student explaining her research (Source: Laura Gallagher)

11th Annual Future of Food and Nutrition Research Conference

by Nako Kobayashi

Last month, the Friedman School hosted the 11th annual Future of Food and Nutrition Conference. Graduate students from across the country and around the world gathered to discuss their innovative research related to food and nutrition. Nako Kobayashi summarizes and offers some of her thoughts on the topics covered during the conference.

 

Bread Lab baking with Julia Berstein

Baking with Bread Lab experimental baker Julia Berstein

Growing a Regional Grain Economy

by Nayla Bezares, Claire Loudis, Tetyana Pecherska, and Alexandra Stern

Over spring break, four AFE students had the opportunity to visit Dr. Stephen Jones and his team at the WSU Bread Lab and explore the regional grain economy that has grown in the Skagit Valley as a result of their work.

The Broiler: Your Kitchen’s Most Underutilized Appliance

by Michelle Rossi

Ahh, spring is in the air and grilling season is almost upon us. For those lucky enough to own or have access to a grill, grilling makes a homemade dinner seem so quick and easy! But what about those of us who don’t own a grill? And what about those chilly fall, winter, or spring months in Boston where all you want to do is stay inside and forget the crazy weather outside?

Enter: your broiler.

If you’re like most home cooks, you might only think of your broiler as a garlic bread-toaster, cheese-melter, or pizza-crisper. While you may have come across recipes that utilize the broiler as a cooking element, using this high-heat cooking style may seem intimidating. It’s okay, you’re not alone!

I consider myself an avid cook and baker, and I rarely use my broiler until recently. About a year ago, I stumbled upon a chicken recipe that required me to cook the chicken under the broiler and promised me grill-like results. Much to my surprise, my chicken cooked in less time than I thought possible. I was skeptical. I wanted to hate it so that I could prove that broiling was nothing like grilling. But I’ve fallen in love with my broiler, and now I just can’t stop.

For those of you without access to a grill, all you need for an almost-grill-worthy meal is a broiler pan.  You probably already have one, but its hiding in the forgotten drawer under your stove. Every oven comes one, yet no one seems to use it! If you don’t have a broiler pan, you can also use a rimmed baking sheet with oven-safe cookie racks, or purchase a new broiler pan here. Trust me, it is worth the investment.

Before we start, there are some things you should know about broiling:

  • Broiling uses the top heating element of your oven, cooking by radiation instead of convection (taking it back to high school physics here!). Broiling happens quickly—for any of you who have made garlic bread under the broiler, you know that it can go from delicately golden to incinerated in ten seconds. When broiling, it is a good idea to set your kitchen timer and stay in the kitchen!
  • Many oven broilers have a high and low setting—I almost always go with high. Don’t panic if yours only has one setting, just set it to broil and proceed.
  • There are debates on whether you should leave your oven cracked open when you broil. I usually do so that I can watch the broiling process (it happens fast). One source claims that electric ovens may need to be open slightly when broiling to avoid overheating; on the other hand, some gas models won’t operate with the door open. To further confuse things, The Kitchn recommends keeping the door open cracked to vent steam and to ensure cooking by radiation, not convection. Reading the comments on Food52 won’t help you much either, as it also offers varying answers. My opinion: consult your oven’s user manual if you have it. If you aren’t sure, leave the door open. If your broiler doesn’t turn on with the door open, try closing it. Whatever works!
  • Test to see how far your pan will be from the heating element before you turn on your oven. Put your cold (empty!) pan on your top rack and adjust the rack up or down until the cooking surface is 4-5 inches from the heating element (this is usually the top rack).
  • DO NOT use glass dishes under the broiler. Trust me on this one. Glass and rapid temperature changes do not mix.

Over the past few months, I have perfected a few recipes using my broiler pan.  Remember how I said the boiler cooks quickly? Well, I can have these recipes on the table in under 20 minutes. Happy broiling!

Grilled chicken broiler recipe

Photo: Author 

Almost-Grilled Chicken Thighs

This is one of my go-to recipes for a quick dinner with a vegetable, or as part of a fancy spread when friends come over. It can easily be scaled up, as the measurements do not have to be precise. Try experimenting with your own seasonings—I like adding smoked paprika, and a dash of cayenne for crispy chicken that is perfect for chopping up and putting on a pita with hummus and veggies.

Serves two for dinner, with lunch leftovers

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 4 thighs)
  • 1 small (7oz) container full-fat plain Greek yogurt, about 1 cup (I like Fage)
  • 1 lemon, zest & juice
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (more or less to taste)
  • Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine yogurt, lemon zest and juice, minced garlic, and cumin. Season with salt, taste.
  2. Place your chicken in a large bowl or a ziplock bag and add the yogurt mix. Make sure the chicken is well coated. You can prepare the chicken up to 1 hour in advance (any longer will start to turn it mushy)
  3. Turn on your broiler to high (if there is a high/low option)
  4. Line the bottom drip-tray of your broiler pan with tinfoil for easy cleanup. Spray the slotted tray of your broiler pan with Pam or lightly coat with a high-heat oil of your choice
  5. Remove the chicken thighs from the yogurt mixture, letting excess drip off, while also keeping a good amount on the chicken (it acts as chicken “sunscreen”). Place them on your broiler pan in one layer, leaving some space in between pieces.
  6. Broil for 5-6 minutes, or until pieces of the yogurt start to char. Flip the chicken and continue broiling for another 6-7 minutes. Pay attention to which pieces are crisping quickest—you might need to rotate your pan or move the chicken pieces around a bit during the cooking process (just like grilling!)
  7. The chicken is done when it reaches 165­o on an instant-read thermometer, or you cut open the chicken and the juices run clear. Remember that chicken thigh is dark meat, and even when cooked may look slightly pinker than chicken breasts.

Serve over rice, or in a pita!

Not-Really-Fried Shrimp

This is a favorite meal from my childhood, that I recently re-discovered. Better yet—you don’t even need a broiler pan! Butterflying the shrimp can take a little bit of time, but this recipe can be made ahead up to 8 hours and kept in the refrigerator until it is cooked. I love making it for dinner guests because I can prepare it ahead of time and spend the majority of my party interacting with my guests!

Michele Evans Easy Seafood Recipes

Photo: Author

Adapted from “Michele Evans’ Easy Seafood Recipes”

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  •  1 ½ pound jumbo shell-off shrimp
  • 2/3 cup flour (plus a bit more, if needed)
  • 2 eggs, beaten (plus one more on hand, just in case)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (plus a bit more, if needed)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Juice from 1 lemon

DIRECTIONS

  1. Melt the butter in the microwave or in a saucepan and add the garlic and lemon. Set aside.
  2. Butterfly the shrimp by carefully by cutting each shrimp down the back (outer curve) without going all the way through. (For a quick tutorial, check out this article)
  3. Set up a dipping station, with flour on your left, egg in the middle, breadcrumbs on your right.
  4. Dip each shrimp in the flour, the egg, then breadcrumbs, lightly shaking off the excess of each. Place each shrimp on a rimmed baking sheet. (The shrimp can be stored in the refrigerator at this point for up to 8 hours)
  5. Turn your broiler on high. Spoon the butter garlic mixture over the shrimp. Broil for 6-8 minutes, until the shrimp are brown and no longer transparent on the inside when cut open.
  6. Serve with cocktail sauce

 

Simple Broiled Fish

This is the simplest way I know how to prepare fish without giving my apartment a “stinky fish smell” because it cooks so quickly! Choose filets that are less than 1/2inch thick, and keep an eye on them as they cook. As with all broiling, it will go quickly!

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 fillets of your favorite fish (I like Atlantic Char, Bluefish, or NY/PA Perch for their sustainability)
  • 2-3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Your favorite spices

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare your broiler pan by lining the bottom tray with tinfoil, and lightly greasing the grated tray. Preheat your broiler
  2. Mix olive oil, garlic, lemon and spices together, and lightly coat each fillet in the oil mixture.
  3. Broil 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness until fish is flaky and cooked through.

 

Michelle Rossi is a second-year dual-degree NICBC-MPH student who spends most of her precious free time cooking elaborate meals for herself and friends. She is a collector of cookbooks, and especially enjoys reading and re-reading “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”, “The Smitten Kitchen”, the 1975 edition of “The Joy of Cooking”, and her 15-year collection of Cooks Illustrated Magazines. When Michelle’s not in the kitchen, you can find her teaching about the natural world at Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm, where she strives to find the connections between nature, nutrition and public health.

Running to the Finish Line of Spring Semester

by Liz Hatzenbuehler

At last! Spring has sprung. As the longer, warmer days attempt to lure you outside, reality rears its head. You are a grad student, remember? The last thing you have time for is frolicking carefree in the sunshine. With only a few weeks remaining in the spring semester, papers are piling up and project deadlines are looming. And, have you secured your summer internship yet?! If this has you reaching for a paper bag to prevent from hyperventilating, I have an idea.

Sign up for a 5k (3.1 miles) running race. I know, I know. This is either the worst idea you’ve ever heard or the last thing you think you have time for, but it just might be what you need to manage the stressful push to the finish line.

As nutrition graduate students, we know the importance of exercise, but let me just remind you that it offers an excellent way to reduce stress. Additionally, exercise can boost your mood, sharpen your memory, and improve your sleep quality (even if you aren’t catching many z’s these days). Exercise is your friend, not your foe.

For some, a 5k run might not feel any different from running a marathon. If you’ve never run farther than the mandatory mile in your high school Phys Ed class, no problem. If it’s been a while since you’ve engaged in any sustained physical activity, don’t fret. Training for a 5k doesn’t have to take a lot of time and walking is allowed. In my opinion, committing to a 5k race is the perfect goal, whether you are a new or veteran runner, and particularly if you are a graduate student. Here’s why.

Long distance running is time consuming! As someone who has run two full marathons and five half-marathons, I understand that training requires a certain level of dedication that isn’t always feasible when juggling a busy schedule. Herein lies the beauty of the 5k—it provides a great sense of accomplishment without sacrificing too much of your valuable time.  In fact, the race can be over in about 30 minutes. Another perk is that your risk for injury is significantly lower compared with those pounding the pavement for 10, 15, or 20 miles at a time. Registration for a 5k will set you back about $25, but longer races can cost upwards of $100 (and grad students like a deal, right?!).

So, ready to sign up? Use the five F’s below to help you put your best foot forward. Hopefully, these tips will provide you with extra encouragement to fit in exercise and the justification to frolic in the sunshine. Whether this will be your first 5k or another for the books, I think you will find that this is one deadline you won’t mind hanging over your head.

Fitting It In

As with many things in life, if it isn’t on your calendar, it won’t happen. Find a race, register, and mark the date on your calendar. Because the 5k is such a popular distance, races are held quite frequently, making it easy to find one this spring. Boston has many great places to run in and around the city, so you can be outside enjoying the spring weather in no time. Once the race is on your calendar, start your training plan. Runner’s World magazine has a great guide to getting you prepared in just five weeks.

Feet

Unlike many other sports, running requires minimal gear. Just you and your thoughts … and a good pair of running shoes.  If you’ve never been properly fit for shoes, I recommend visiting a local running store for some guidance. Luckily, Boston has several running stores that are just a stone’s throw away from campus.  Often the sales clerks are runners themselves and can help select a shoe that is just right for your foot.  I know you can order a new pair of shoes online that will arrive at your doorstep faster than the Red Line can get you into campus, but having a shoe that fits well is non-negotiable. It is possible to be a runner and to keep all your toenails, but it starts with investing in the right shoe. Your toenails will thank you.

Fuel

It’s hard not to equate running with carbo-loading, but it isn’t necessary for a 5k. Neither is choking down energy gels, thankfully. It is more important to focus on hydration and eating a balance of foods from all food groups. For many, a water bottle is like having a third appendage—it’s always with you—but you have to remember to actually drink. Karen Asp of Runner’s World magazine recommends drinking about three to six ounces of water every 15 minutes during a run. Sports drinks aren’t needed for runs lasting less than an hour. Depending on when you run, it might be a good idea to have a small pre- or post-workout snack. Eating about an hour before exercise will allow time for digestion.

Friends

Running is actually a very social sport. If you are new to Boston, like me, joining a running group can be a great way to make new friends and explore the city. Luckily, there is no shortage of running groups here. And, did you know that Friedman has a running club? You can sign up via Facebook by searching for the Friedman Unofficial Running Club (FURC). I’ve joined a few times this semester and can attest that the distances and paces suite a range of abilities. The group typically meets about once a month on a Saturday or Sunday morning, ending with socializing and a treat, like coffee or bagels.

Fun

Ok, I realize running may not be for everyone. But trying new things can be fun, and I think you’ll find that running is one of them. Oh, and did I mention that most 5k races end with a post-race celebration, including a free t-shirt, free food, and beer!?

Liz Hatzenbuehler, RDN is a first-year, dual degree NICBC/MPH student who recently moved from Denver to Boston. She is passionate about healthy eating and active living, and believes that everyone should have access to affordable, healthy foods. Outside of the classroom, you can find her running her favorite 3-mile loop around Jamaica Pond.

New England Dairy Examined in Friedman School Screening of “Forgotten Farms”

by Laura Barley

To examine the contemporary trends affecting the dairy industry, on March 27th, the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy hosted a screening of the film “Forgotten Farms”, a documentary featuring some of the longest-standing dairy farmers in New England.

Photo: Sam Whittier, Whittier Farms

Misconceptions exist to be clarified. Complexities exist to be reduced. Myths exist to be busted.

In a world that produces new food media and science every day, thousands of different opinions exist for any given food product. As far as most dairy farmers are concerned, their products are certainly not immune to the cultural and scientific dissection of what is considered “healthy”. In New England dairy farms have persisted for decades, and in some cases centuries, without gaining much cultural or ecological recognition in today’s food economy.

The film, directed by Dave Simonds and produced by Sarah Gardner, was an apt fit for the Friedman school, whose students regularly deconstruct the complexities of food systems. For many, dairy has become a symbol of the most controversial aspects of American food production – animal rights, environmental health, and adequate nutrition. These controversies haven’t left the industry unscathed, and declining demand has precipitated the departure of thousands of dairy farmers across the country. With “Forgotten Farms”, Simonds and Gardner wanted to spotlight the humanity of farmers who continue to brave the economic contraction, doing all that they can to keep the farm on the land.

A multitude of factors share responsibility for declining milk sales in the U.S, including dietary shifts towards veganism and a growing awareness of lactose-intolerance. However, there is a whole host of other factors unique to New England agriculture that makes it especially difficult to operate a dairy farm. The film’s producer, Sarah Gardner, acknowledges that “New England has really high land values, high property taxes, and high development pressures on the land. There aren’t many thriving rural economies in New England.” Consequently, the number of dairy farms in New England has dropped from roughly 40,000 in 1930 to less than 2,000 in 2012. In Massachusetts, only 117 dairy operations remain in operation today.

The film intends to shed light upon those remaining farmers – to include their voices in the broader narrative of food justice and sovereignty. Farmers like Louis Escobar, Win Chenail, Darryl Williams explain how they have endured the struggle to remain competitive in a rapidly shifting food economy. Many rely on the second jobs of spouses to supplement their incomes, and all continue to watch their milk checks shrink as they dread the day they might have to shut their doors. Unfortunately, selling the farm no longer constitutes rock bottom. NPR has recently reported on a string of dairy farmer suicides that have occurred throughout the Northeast, reflecting the demoralizing and tragic consequences of the loss of dairy livelihoods.

Samantha Whittier, a fifth-generation Massachusetts dairy farmer and co-host of Tuesday’s film screening, has worked alongside her family to weather the volatility of the dairy industry. “For my family, dairying is about constantly diversifying to ensure we are as prepared as we can be for the highs and lows of the changing markets.” As a response, Whittier Farms added a storefront retail operation to supplement their milk sales with Cabot Creamery, a cooperative that collectively supports over a thousand dairy farms across New England and upstate New York. These farmers have proven agile and resourceful in protecting their livelihoods, and are willing to adapt to keep their land in the business for as long as possible.

“What really stood out to me was the pride that dairy farmers have in their farms and their love for their jobs,” notes Friedman Ph.D student Ilana Cliffer. “The view they gave of dairy farmers in the Northeast ran contrary to what you often hear in the media about big bad industrial farms, and I think it was a very important perspective to hear.”

Gardner is quick to acknowledge the often negative perceptions of commercial dairy farming, citing this cultural wariness associated with large-scale industrial operations. “Once they scale up, they get slammed for being commercial. They’re not going to stay in business unless they scale up,” she notes. “We need to expand our definition of local agriculture to commercial agriculture.”

While the profiles of earnest dairy farmers serve as the soul of the film, Forgotten Farms also addresses important questions about what constitutes a local food system and who has a stake in deciding what that system looks like. The term ‘local’ can connote a range of ideas of a food system – food miles, quaint family farms, everything made by hand – but for most dairy farmers, this scale simply isn’t efficient to run an profitable enterprise. In recent years academic and collaborative networks have popped up across the country to examine what efficient regional food systems could look like. According to Christian Peters, a professor in the Agriculture, Food, and Environment program at the Friedman school, incorporating commercial agriculture makes particular sense when considering dairy as part of an efficient regional food system. “Fluid milk is a relatively regional food product already. Localizing it actually makes it less environmentally efficient.”

For their part, dairy farmers have served as economic lynchpins in New England. A typical dairy cow contributes roughly $14,000 to the economy each year, and the New England dairy industry as a whole generates over $1 billion annually. While absolute revenue is important, dairy farms also exhibit a multiplier effect, where their products generate revenue for the local community beyond their own operations. Their feed and equipment purchases, veterinarian needs, and labor demand all prop up a local economy that could easily disappear without them.

Dairy farmers manage nearly one million acres of cropland, pasture, and woodland for their operations. This accounts for roughly half of all farmland in New England. Given a report like the New England Food Vision, which sets a goal for the region to produce 50% of the food it consumes by 2050, local demand must align with foods especially suited for local production. In so many words, for regional self-reliance to strengthen, New England consumers would need to shift their diets to foods already produced here, like dairy, seafood, and certain fruits and vegetables like blueberries or cabbage. Purchasing these products becomes what it means to support a regional food system, which in essence will save as much agricultural land from development as possible.

In this context, Gardner maintains, Without dairy, we lose our food security and our farmland.”

There are some political maneuvers that could help dairy maintain its foothold in New England agriculture. In its 2019 budget, the Massachusetts state legislature has the option to renew the Dairy Tax Credit, which Gardner notes that virtually every dairy farmer uses as insurance in times of low milk prices. But in most cases, the biggest difference between breaking even and breaking down will be determined by the choices made by consumers at the grocery store.

“Understanding the companies that process and sell the local milk is essential to making sure your consumer dollars are returned to the farmers; support farmer-owned brands whenever possible,” says Sam Whittier. And though they may not connote the same appeal as a glass bottle of artisan milk, labels like Hood, Garelick, and Cabot all reflect the efforts of local New England dairy farmers.

“Because of the complexity, you have to be willing to sit in this uncomfortable place where you’re listening and learning before you make any decisions,” advises Peters. Embracing the complexity has become a de facto mantra of the Friedman school, and the nexus of food, environment, and culture will certainly bring plenty more to . “Forgotten Farms” has revealed what’s at stake in New England’s shifting agricultural economy, and has ultimately brought meaning and human connection to the abstract concepts of our curriculum.

Laura Barley is a second-year Agriculture, Food, and Environment student about to graduate to greener pastures. She’s developed a love for dairy farming throughout her tenure at Tufts, and hopes to support the industry any way she can throughout her career.

Restaurant Review: Gre.Co

by Theo Fitopoulos

Gre.Co is a subterranean fast-casual restaurant on Newbury St. in Boston. They focus on fresh and flavorful ingredients to bring authentic Greek street food to the city. The small, vibrant restaurant is a gem among the Newbury St. restaurant scene.

Pork gyro wrapped in pita with onion, tomato, fresh-cut potatoes and tzatziki sauce from Gre.Co! (Photo: Instagram, @grecoboston)

Newbury St. in Boston may be renowned for its shopping, but tucked in the lower ground level of the 225 Newbury building, among all the fashion boutiques, you can find some of the most delicious Greek food in the city. Gre.Co opened in February 2017 as part of the recent mini-boom of Greek restaurants in Boston, joining Committee, Gyro City, Kava Neo-Taverna, and Saloniki. It has quickly become a go-to for lunch, dinner, and everything in between.

Co-owner Demetri Tsolakis opened the fast-casual restaurant after establishing Committee in the Seaport. The emphasis at Gre.Co is authentic, fresh Greek street food with quick service and fair prices that you would not expect to find on Newbury St. Upon entering the restaurant, your eyes fixate on the three rotating stacks of meat, known as gyro. Gre.Co offers pork, lamb, and chicken, which can be ordered as either a sandwich, plate, or salad. As the meat rotates, the outer layer develops a satisfying crisp, while the inside remains tender and juicy. Once its ready, each layer is shaved off and goes straight to your plate. Of the three gyro meats, the pork is my go-to sandwich order, served on a fluffy pita with onions, tomatoes, tzatziki, and fries. Tzatziki is a thick and tangy Greek yogurt-based sauce with garlic, cucumber, and fresh dill. Their fries are cooked to order and perfectly seasoned, adding a great taste and texture to the sandwich.

Gyro meats (Eater - https://boston.eater.com/2017/1/24/14375684/greco-back-bay-gallery-loukoumades)

Gyro meats at Gre.Co (Photo: Eater)

Although the gyros are eye-catching, the rest of the menu is filled with bright and simple Greek fare. The seasonal squash fritters are my favorite item on the menu and provide a great option for vegetarians as a sandwich or plate with tzatziki and Greek slaw. Along with tzatziki, the spicy whipped feta and charred eggplant dips can be enjoyed with pita bread as a shared appetizer. Mixing and matching traditional offerings with more creative ones, such as the tomato jam and lamb gyro sandwich, make for a different flavor experience every time you return to Gre.Co.

You can’t leave Gre.Co without dessert. Once you catch a glimpse of the loukoumades, you will have to place an order of the little balls of fried dough and split them with your friends. While traditionally topped with honey, walnuts and cinnamon, Gre.Co’s loukoumades are also offered in creative flavors, such as the S’morecrates, topped with marshmallow, chocolate, and graham crackers, or the Yaya’s, topped with Merenda (Greece’s version of Nutella), Oreos, and powdered sugar. Much like the rest of the menu, you can mix and match topping combinations as you please.

Yaya’s loukoumades (Gre.Co Instagram)

Yaya’s loukoumades (Photo: Instagram, @grecoboston)

Like the food, the interior is quintessentially Greek. The walls of Gre.Co are painted Greek-island white. The décor pays homage to common ingredients with a basket of lemons, heads of garlic, and fragrant bundles of dried oregano hanging on one end of the restaurant. One wall is adorned with three Greek terms and their definitions: philotimo, kefi and meraki, which describe the hospitality, enthusiasm, creativity, and passion that go into the food and environment at Gre.Co. The patio offers extra seating and is a great Newbury St. hangout on a nice day. The narrow space fills up quickly if you visit during a lunch rush or busy weekend. Although service is still prompt, finding a seat can prove difficult, so plan accordingly.

GreCo Interior - GreCo Instagram

Gre.Co Interior (Photo: Instagram, @grecoboston)

GreCo Exterior - GreCo Instagram

Gre.Co Exterior (Photo: Instagram, @grecoboston)

Gre.Co is a welcome addition to the Greek food scene in Boston, and the graduate student-friendly prices combined with filling portions is a rare find on Newbury St. It’s just as easy to find a nutritious meal on-the-go here as it is to indulge and enjoy a meal with friends. Next time you are in the mood for Greek food or are looking to try it for the first time, I highly suggest giving Gre.Co a try.

Gre.Co
225 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
617-572-3300
https://grecoboston.com/

Hours: 11am-10pm daily

Theo Fitopoulos is a second-year student in the Food Policy and Applied Nutrition program, and current intern at the Tufts Health Science Public Relations Office. In his free time, he enjoys sampling the burgeoning Boston restaurant scene, experimenting with traditional Greek recipes in his own kitchen, and playing basketball and tennis when the weather permits.

Friedman Policy Corner: Massachusetts Bill Seeks to Ban School Lunch-Shaming

by Alana Davidson

The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute released a report this Spring on lunch shaming in Massachusetts schools. Lunch shaming is when children are denied a meal or given an alternative cold cheese sandwich because they cannot afford the food. Read more about this issue and what legislation has been put forward to address it!

“Denying children food and humiliating them because they are poor are not the values by which most residents of Massachusetts live. We can stop lunch shaming in Massachusetts and by doing so, continue to be the nation’s leader when it comes to education and child welfare.” – Patricia Baker, MLRI Senior Policy Analyst

In public schools across Massachusetts, children line up every day for lunch and fill their trays with healthy, nutritious food. Some children, however, may get to the front of the cafeteria line only to have their lunch tossed into the garbage in front of their friends, or have their hot meal swapped for a cold cheese sandwich because they don’t have enough money for food or have previously accumulated meal debt. A recent report from the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) examined meal debt policies across the state and found disturbing results. Schools prohibited students, and their siblings, with meal debt from participating in field trips, graduation and after school activities, and withheld report cards and grades. Even worse, schools referred families with school meal debt to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or referred them to outside loan collection agencies that tend to have high interest rates and fees. These unacceptable “lunch-shaming” policies stigmatize low-income students and their families and leave children hungry and ashamed.

Why does “lunch-shaming” exist in U.S. schools? The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provides free or reduced-price meals to children who participate in certain federal assistance programs, are homeless or in foster care, or have an income at or below 185% of the federal poverty line. However, some families that qualify for the program may not be enrolled and even those with an income too high to qualify may still struggle to afford food. Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap found that 33% of food insecure people in Massachusetts have an income too high to qualify for federal assistance programs. The School Nutrition Association found in their nationwide 2016 survey that 76% of school districts had unpaid student meal debt and 38% of schools reported an increase in the number of free and reduced-price meal students who could not afford lunch.

In 2016 the USDA released rules that “no later than July 1, 2017, all SFAs [schools] operating NSLP and/or SBP [school breakfast] must have a written and clearly communicated meal charge policy in order to ensure a consistent and transparent approach to this issue.” However, MLRI’s recent report found that among schools examined 30% of elementary schools and 28% of secondary schools had no publically posted meal charge policies. Still more it was hard to find the policies that did exist, which were in student handbooks or school committee rules. Student handbooks can be hundreds of pages long. Schools need to post their meal charge policies in a place that is easy for families to find and access.

I filed this legislation because no child should be shamed for being hungry. Every child deserves access to a healthy, nutritious school lunch and this legislation will ensure that students in Massachusetts can access the meals they need to grow and learn.” – Senator Cynthia Stone Creem (D. Newton)

It is time for Massachusetts to join New Mexico, California, Oregon and Washington State in banning these shameful practices and ensure that every child in the state is provided a healthy, nutritious school meal regardless of ability to pay. Senator Creem and Representative Vargas hope to do just that with their new bill (S.2390/H.4422). This bill bans all of the following with regards to a child’s inability to pay for a meal or a previously incurred meal debt: throwing out a meal, publicly identifying a student, excluding a student and the student’s siblings from extracurricular activities and school events, withholding reports cards or grades, denying or delaying a reimbursable meal to a student, and charging families fees and costs beyond what is owed for the meal. It also requires that all communication about meal debt is conducted with the parents rather than the child, which is currently not the case.  It should not be the child’s responsibility to deal with this issue, and the DCF should not be notified due to meal debt alone. In addition, the bill works to maximize federal reimbursements and minimize meal debt by outlining how often schools must check and enroll students who directly qualify for NSLP (TANF, SNAP, Medicaid recipients; foster child, homeless, migrant). For the students with meal debt who do not directly qualify for NSLP, schools are required to send parents information regarding SNAP and a NSLP application.

Finally, the bill includes language that schools and/or districts with 40% or more economically disadvantaged students must elect into the community eligibility provision (CEP), with exemptions. This provision came out of the Obama Administration and allows schools where 40% or more of students directly qualify for NSLP to serve free breakfast and lunch to all students. To learn more about CEP, check out the Food Research & Action Center’s guide. Currently, there are many schools in Massachusetts that qualify for CEP but have not enrolled, including Amesbury Public Schools, Conservatory Lab Charter Schools, Fall River Public Schools and Lynn Public Schools. CEP can lead to higher federal reimbursements for schools, increase participation in NSLP, and reduce administrative costs.

The bill has received a committee extension order, meaning it has more time to be acted on by the committee before this session ends (e.g. reported out of committee favorably). There will be a hearing on the bill in May. Call your state legislators and tell them to ban school lunch shaming and to support this bill! You can find contact information for your state legislator here. No child should be denied a healthy, nutritious meal or stigmatized because he or she cannot afford it. Let’s ensure all children in Massachusetts have access to healthy, nutritious food in school so they can succeed today and into the future.

Alana Davidson is a first year MS candidate in the Food Policy and Applied Nutrition program and one of the founding members of FFPAC. For the last three years she has interned in the anti-hunger field at the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), Share Our Strength, and End Hunger Connecticut!. Her research and advocacy have centered on domestic food insecurity and nutrition-related issues. Davidson also contributed to MLRI’s anti-lunch shaming report.

The Friedman Food Policy Action Council (FFPAC) is a student-run organization of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Our mission is to advance evidence-based nutrition and agricultural policies in support of public and environmental health, by equipping students with the skills and relationships necessary to impact policy through advocacy. For more information, or to join FFPAC, please contact friedmanfpac@gmail.com.

 

To Systematize Sustainability: An Experience with Italian Corporate Social Responsibility

by Rebecca Lucas

A two-week immersive experience with Corporate Social Responsibility team and sustainable coffee development projects at Lavazza, an Italian coffee company, brought this Friedman student back and forth between two continents on a journey of a thousand coffee cups and one company’s manifestation of sustainability.

On the first day of filming, they asked me, “what does sustainability mean to you?” I sputtered, primarily because I was extremely jetlagged and not used to having a camera in my face. But it was mostly because I truly had no idea how to answer. While this is a word that is used consistently in our field and whose intention often has a common understanding among practitioners and conference attendees, I still couldn’t define it. I began to discuss the three pillars, mentioning the importance of all the social, economic and environmental aspects when talking about sustainability, trailing off in my sentences, deep down knowing that I had no set definition I felt satisfied with.

What is sustainability?

What is “sustainable development,” especially in the agricultural field?

The question of sustainable agricultural development is one I tried to answer, as a wee undergrad in California, by writing a thesis. As a sociology major specializing in world development, I figured if I read enough books, found the right articles, and adopted the right framework, I would be able to answer it. Or at least be able to ascertain the opposite—calling out when something was definitely not sustainable. Not surprisingly, this wasn’t comprehensive work or very easy to do. And clearly, I didn’t even come out of it with a definition of “sustainability” that I felt I could use.

Coming to graduate school, my guiding question changed. I became newly obsessed with wondering how to turn the sustainable work and efforts of “cheerleaders” in various fields systemic. How can we take the good work that certain individuals, small groups or organizations—these “cheerleaders”—do and make that the larger societal norm? How do we ensure positive change doesn’t disappear when that driving force goes away or moves on? Is that one version of sustainable development?

Lavazza is one of the “big guys” in the Italian coffee world. In fact, they claim that they are the main guy in the Italian coffee world. A family-owned company since 1895 known predominantly for their espresso, they now provide a wide range of coffee products.

The Lavazza Foundation, officially established in 2002, is the sustainability-focused arm of the company. As part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the Foundation’s team works with local and NGO partners in different coffee-producing countries across the world to establish projects aimed at increasing the quality of coffee grown and stimulate economic development and women and youth empowerment in target communities. For whatever reason, they don’t talk much about these projects. They’ve recently been getting hip to the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and realizing how much the work they were doing was already aligned with the outlined targets. The reasoning followed that they knew they were doing something they liked and were proud of, they were confident enough that they knew someone else could experience the process, understand what they were doing and communicate the sustainability on their own; they just needed to figure out how to facilitate that experience for someone. Enter the Coffee Study Program. Lavazza decided to bring four students from different continents to experience their company, their CSR model, and one of the projects. And they wanted to film it.

Like most experiences I’ve found myself in during graduate school, I don’t really know how it happened. It felt like everything moved very quickly and slowly at the same time. Somehow, in some way, just a few weeks into this spring semester I was on a plane to Italy and I had no idea what I was doing.

We spent one week in Turin, Italy, touring the Lavazza training center and the new headquarters in the downtown area. There, we learned about all the work that happens at the end of the coffee-journey, beginning with how they train their baristas and working our way back to how they decide what coffee to source, from where, and how to blend it with the different qualities that emerge from different origins.

At the headquarters we met the relatively-newly-formed sustainability branch and the man who was essentially responsible for the creation of the entire Foundation and the different coffee projects that they do across the world. It all began because back in 2000, Mario Cerutti thought it would be a good idea for Lavazza to work to improve the quality of coffee produced worldwide. They could do this by investigating where issues were happening in coffee growing countries; was it related to the plant genetics? Climate change? The need to engage in external markets in coffee growing communities to ensure economic viability? They embarked on this idea, on these projects, with the knowledge that to meet increasing demand, more coffee needed to be grown worldwide, and it would be better for everyone involved if that coffee was produced in the best way possible. They did not begin these projects to ensure their company’s supply of coffee for the rest of time or to intervene in their existing sourcing strategies. Indeed, the Lavazza Foundation is entirely separate from the rest of the company and all that is involved with sourcing and choice. They work to increase the quality of coffee worldwide, one project at a time, because they believe coffee quality increases can be a good thing for everyone involved. And it all began because eighteen years ago, one man thought it might be a good idea. And the company was receptive enough to make that idea an entire foundation; they made a version of sustainability systemic.

The sustainability team told us that they were operating under an idea that they called SDG 0: spreading the message. Thus, the whole reason we were there: the mini-documentary.

The project we were visiting in the Dominican Republic had been dealing with a serious problem of coffee rust, as well as aging coffee plants, that had decimated the majority of the island’s production; beyond that, many issues facing coffee production, mirrored in many global trends, were also being addressed. This included the effects of climate change, the pull of urban areas, decreasing land base for production, and pests, all of which had seriously affected quality and quantity yielded. It nearly goes without saying that there will always be problems with the notion of “development” and there is no perfect model of development without its issues, but that is not what this article is about. Lavazza’s on the ground partner was Oxfam’s Dominican Republic branch, and upon arrival, they introduced us to the various organizations involved with the project; including Codocafe, the governmental body that supports coffee production, Concafed, a farmers’ association of three farmer federations, representing over 20,000 small and medium sized coffee farmers in the DR and the cooperative Coopracasine, in Neyba. The farmers and the partners worked to integrate certain practices into their cultivation processes (including establishing family nurseries and intercropping), increasing productivity from 210 kh/ha to 800 kg/ha, decreasing the percentage of inputs from 65% of total production costs to 37% and overall costs from $930.20 to $38.76. [1]

Obviously, there were things that were clearly measurable and an indicator of a specific kind of progress. As a person who is planning to specialize in program evaluation, yes, I was focused on the metrics of the project. And simultaneously, a thought that our own Dr. Chris Peters sent our cohort off with on our last day of class together last fall kept running through my mind: can you figure out what makes a good life? If so, do things like establishing SDGs or working on “development” become easier to conceptualize and actually do? Throughout the trip, I kept wondering if what we really need to do is change our established metrics for success on a global scale. Is that part of sustainability? If we changed our global focus to human qualities, like happiness and empowerment, over inanimate output measures to evaluate prosperity or “having gotten there,” would we be working to maintain more of our humanity in our future? Is that part of sustainability?

At my “exit interview” they asked me what I was taking home with me. While, surprisingly, I didn’t actually bring home any coffee with me, I took home a lot more.

I knew nothing about tropical agriculture. Truly, nothing. I come from a land where everything needs to be irrigated. To see things just growing, on trees, in the ground, because the moisture in the air allowed for it, was undeniably beautiful. I also knew nothing about coffee. Myths were busted in my head daily.  Spoiler—the roasting process does NOTHING to the caffeine content. Did anyone ever tell you that dark roasts have less caffeine than light roasts? Yup, me too. A lie!Turns out, unless they are different beans, the only thing that determines it is how long coffee is in contact with the water when making your cup.

Mostly, though, I took back a reinvigorated idea of what a powerful company can do when they believe in changing out metrics of success, focusing on quality of life while focusing on quality of product, and doing something good for the world simply because they can and should.

Lavazza’s CSR specialist, Veronica Rossi, told us during the presentation that “sustainability is a shared responsibility,” and that idea has stuck with me ever since. So, regardless of how we define it: what are we going to do about it?

To learn more about Lavazza’s Coffee Study Program and the four students who participated, including Friedman’s own Rebecca Lucas, follow the updates at this link.

Rebecca Lucas is a second year Agriculture Food & Environment/Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning dual degree student and when not thinking about farm to school programs, she is now newly obsessed with the intersection of research and practice, in addition to all the other things she talked about. As a California native, this “Sprinter” really hurt and she’s extremely ready to stop eating soup.

[1] Metrics from Oxfam and Lavazza 2017 report on “Hispaniola + Cuba Projects.”