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.

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.

The entire time I’ve been at the Friedman School, students have grumbled about our lack of composting services on campus. The Tufts Medford campus, the Veterinary School in Grafton, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts have composting, so why can’t we? It never seemed clear as to why we couldn’t, or didn’t, have composting. My only experience with trying to get composting to come to campus was for the 2017 Student Research Conference. We were told that we would have to transport any compost back to Medford ourselves. As the person on the committee with the car, I perhaps-not-so-politely declined the offer. After this experience, I was delighted to find that composting had indeed come to campus the exact weekend of the 2018 Student Research Conference.

At the end of the conference, I noticed Michelle Lee-Bravatti determinedly pulling compostable items out of the trash and into big compost bags. It was clear that students were going to need some time to get used to the new compost and learn what they could and couldn’t put in the bin. Though I was too busy to reach out to Michelle at the time, a week later I sat down with her to learn about the new composting initiative.

Compost At Friedman Student Research Conference

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

Michelle Lee-Bravatti is a second-year Nutrition Epidemiology and MPH student. In January, she ran for Student Council on the exclusive platform of bringing composting to the Health Sciences campus. Though Michelle has since to stepped down as Student Life Representative (for personal reasons), she and the Friedman “Composting Committee”—Silvia Berciano, Becky Cohen, Jessie Kim, Danielle Krobath, Leah Powley, Jifan Wang, and Sara Waszyn—have succeeded in bringing composting to campus. In our interview, Michelle emphasized that bringing composting to campus would not have been possible with the support of Shoshana Blank at the Tufts Office of Sustainability, Cory Pouliot at the Tufts Boston Campus Facility Services, funding from Student Council, and the current student volunteers—Priyanka Basnet, Carl Bender, Becky Cohen, Brooke Colaiezzi, Jessie Kim, Jifan Wang, and Alison Watson.

The goal of this pilot composting period is to raise awareness with students, see how much compost students generate, and determine what can be improved for this fall. Currently, compost bins have been placed in three high-traffic kitchen areas: The first-floor Jaharis Café (one bin), the fourth floor Sackler Café (two bins), and the student lounge in the M&V building (one bin). [For those not familiar, the M&V building is to the left of Jaharis, otherwise known as the Biomedical Research & Public Health Building.]   Ideally, the number of compost bins will increase over time; however, the composting service relies on student volunteers who monitor and remove the bags from the bins so the number of bins cannot be more than students can supervise.

Overall, the approval process to get composting service to come to campus was supported by all parties. The two main hurdles that had to be addressed were smelliness and sustainability. Facilities staff was concerned that the compost bins would smell (and the outdoor toter would attract rodents), therefore the compost cannot contain meat or dairy products (egg shells are okay). The other issue was ensuring that the project would have continued support. Staff in charge of trash and recycling do not have composting as part of their contractual responsibilities, so it is up to student volunteers to monitor the compost bins to make sure they don’t overfill or smell. Students monitor the bins twice daily and take the bin bags out if necessary. The bin needs to be emptied every two to three days—full or not. Students deposit the bags into a large outdoor compost toter in the Jaharis driveway. This is picked up every Friday but the same company that services Medford’s composting program.

To bolster this new composting initiative, Michelle has applied for Tufts Green Funds. If the funds are awarded, the money would be used to compensate student volunteers for their time monitoring and emptying the compost and expand the locations of the compost bins. Hopefully, this expansion will also include the Food 4 Thought Café in Sackler.

From my interview with Michelle, it seems like the composting pilot is going reasonably well. The biggest hiccups so far seem to be that signs directing students to the compost bins have been repeatedly taken down and not many students from the other health sciences schools know about the initiative. Additionally, there is some confusion around where napkins and other soiled paper goods go, as both the trash and compost signs include these items. Michelle wants to be clear, “all napkins, soiled paper goods, cardboard, etc. can go in the compost.”

Composting Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition

Have you seen these around campus?

For the record:

What Can Go in the Compost:

  • Paper towels, paper plates, soiled cardboard, napkins
  • Coffee filters, coffee grounds, tea bags
  • Plant-based waste, egg shells
  • Biodegradable plastics (these must have the #7 PLA symbol—see the sign on the compost bin)

What Can Not Go in the Compost:

  • Dairy and Meat Products
  • Stickers found on fruit or produce
Composting Bins Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition

What can and cannot go in the compost bins

 

The success of this pilot period depends on how much students compost and the dedication of student volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact Michelle Lee-Bravatti at michelle.lee_bravatti@tufts.edu. In the meantime, please compost!

 

Erin Child is a second-year NICBC student in the dual MS-DPD program (she’ll be graduating in December). Growing up in Maine, her family always had a giant compost pile and turning it was her least favorite chore. Despite her gardening family, Erin has the opposite of a “green thumb” and has managed to kill both aloe and spider plants. She plans to stay far away from her roommates’ garden beds this summer, but still appreciate any bounty that comes into the house.

 

Reflections on Equity: FJL Takes on the 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.

In an effort to foster a stronger culture of inclusion, the Committee on Social Justice, Inclusion, and Diversity (CSJID) invited the entire Friedman community to participate in Food Solutions New England’s (FSNE) 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge. The CSJID is a multidisciplinary committee of faculty, students, and staff of Friedman committed to finding ways to promote social justice, inclusion and diversity in its teaching, research, and programs. The three-week challenge took place from April 2 to April 23 and creates time and space for a community to come together to build better social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership. These habits range from the personal, such as identifying and deconstructing our own biases, to the institutional, where we think through ways to advance racial justice in our schools and organizations.

To complement the challenge, the CSJID also hosted three informal lunchtime chats every Tuesday to encourage us to find community and connect with each other as we attempt to identify ways we can personally work to dismantle racism and become leaders for a more just, equitable food system.

During the lunchtime meetings, faculty, students and staff of Friedman gathered to share their personal responses to the 21-day challenge, and mull on some of the awkwardness of living out one’s conviction here at the Friedman School, and beyond. Thinking critically about our own biases and race is difficult, but necessary, and having a community of support helps.

Below are the reflections of several members of the Friedman Justice League (FJL) who participated in the challenge. Each one serves as a peek into the diversity of reactions the challenge inspired in the Friedman community. We hope these reflections help others find solidarity through their own process of discovery.

——-

Conversations on race and racism with people of backgrounds different than my own often leave me with a pit in my stomach. I think and rethink about what I said, how I said it, what I should have said, whether I unintentionally offended someone… I tend to get worked up during these conversations, and approaching them with grace is an artform that has thus far eluded me.

As a Latina female that grew up in a low-income neighborhood, I feel a unique responsibility to ‘shake things up’ and ask the hard questions. I struggle with striking the delicate balance between getting my genuine thoughts across and being considerate of people’s different experiences.

The most enriching part of the challenge for me were the lunchtime conversations. Each conversation created a platform for us to ask hard questions in a welcoming environment. We talked about the “micro” and the “macro,” our personal experiences with race and racism and how they impact the entire food supply chain. I tried (not always successfully) to listen, to be thoughtful, and to approach these conversations with empathy and an open mind. Reflecting on these difficult conversations was uncomfortable and hard, which requires immense vulnerability. I deeply believe that venturing out of our comfort zone to talk about these things is the first step to building bridges and creating an equitable food system. I am grateful for the opportunity to try.

– Alejandra Cabrera, NICBC ‘18

 

Growing up in a Latinx household, we often had discussions about culture, race, and social justice. Throughout my educational career I have sought out spaces to continue to have these important conversations. Being involved in FJL and the CSJID has allowed me to take an active role in promoting equity at Friedman and our food system. Participating in the 21-Day Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge was a great way to reflect each day about how I can be more intentional about addressing these issues both personally and professionally.

One important topic that came up during the challenge was how to build our own capacity for discomfort. We have to become comfortable with discomfort in order to push our growing-edge and transform as human beings. These conversations about race are not easy, but if we approach them with humanity and understanding they can be extremely powerful. I was able to attend the last lunchtime chat. It was wonderful to speak with people of the Friedman community, including professors, staff and fellow students, and share our experiences with race, power and privilege. We all come from different backgrounds and perspectives, but we all had a common desire to connect and shed light on the injustices that exist in our world.

– Alyssa Melendez, AFE ‘19

 

Two of the anecdotes from the 21-Day Challenge ended up being the most impactful for me.

  1. A woman’s young, black niece who straightens her dark curly hair and then runs to her aunt delighted because now she finally looks like a princess. The aunt’s narrative and reflections on this story helped me come up with a couple questions: Who created a given standard, system or object? What demographic do they represent? Were the implications for equity and racial justice considered? Why do I think certain things are beautiful or good? What and who does that beauty represent? Who does this beauty value and who does it erase? I think these questions can be used as a frame of analysis to help identify some of the ways in which everyday assumptions uphold white privilege and to uncover personal, implicit biases.
  2. In her soil-health analogy, Camara Jones’ compared the nutrients in the soil to the “nutrients”, or access goods, services, and opportunities, in a society. Communities and institutions that both historically had and currently still have fewer “nutrients” continue to produce and reproduce disproportionate outcomes for people of color, along the lines of education, health, home ownership and employment. The analogy was clear, relevant to Friedman, and worth a watch!

In reflecting on Friedman Justice League’s Lunch n Learns and the work we’ve done this year, I realize that conversations with professors and faculty have been quite fruitful and enjoyable. However, we might not even be at that stage yet. Perhaps more structural work needs to be done to establish a more supportive foundation for individual actors to make an impact – for individual professors to adjust their curriculum, for example.

I think a very productive collaboration between the CSJID and FJL next year could be to use the “Assessing our organization” assessment tool from Day 10 to “check our readiness to move a racial justice agenda forward”.

– Tessa Salzman, AFE/UEP ‘18

 

Especially at this hectic time in the semester, I was grateful just to enjoy conversation and hear from more personal reflections from the Friedman community . The common ground between faculty, staff and students felt like a safe, exploratory to celebrate, lament, even confess. Even when we’re trying to do our best — we’re all human — it’s a process.

– Julie Kurtz, AFE/MPH ‘18

 

An unspoken justification for not working to improve equity at a given organization is that the people don’t have the time, resources or knowledge to lead this effort. The Friedman Justice League has asked ourselves this question: How do we start without a clear path forward? The resources from Day 10 provided a practical, approachable first step: an assessment of where we currently stand as a collective way to acknowledge our existing progress and our future potential.

The Friedman Justice League seeks to make our community more diverse and find ways to allow the Friedman community to better address issues of discrimination and oppression in its teachings, research, and programs.

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.

“The future of food and nutrition is now, and you are the future of food and nutrition,” said Dr. Ed Saltzman, the academic dean of the Friedman School, as he kicked off the 11th Annual Future of Food and Nutrition Conference on April 7th. Attendees from Friedman and beyond, including prospective Friedman students, gathered to learn about the innovative graduate student research from around the country and abroad. The future, Dr. Saltzman noted, is “not just based on disciplinary excellence, but [excellence] across disciplines and in teams of disciplines” that work toward “creating new paradigms.”

True to Dr. Saltzman’s insights, the conference was a great representation of the increasingly interdisciplinary and systemic nature of food and nutrition research and innovations. Seventeen student presentations were divided into six sessions: food insecurity, child health and nutrition outcomes, sustainable agriculture and dietary patterns, nutrition and health, agricultural productivity, and consumer food access and choice.

Britt Lundgren, the Director of Organic and Sustainable Agriculture at Stonyfield Farm and Friedman alum, kicked off the conference with her keynote address that emphasized the importance of food and nutrition research. “I think this represents one of the toughest sustainably issues we face,” she explained when talking about the environmental impact of food production, “because the stakes are so high. We’re talking about how we feed ourselves sustainably, how we feed future generations sustainably … which ultimately impacts quality of life.”

Climate change is not only an environmental problem, Lundgren explained, but “a public health problem first and foremost.” Changes in temperature are limiting our ability to produce crops in certain locations, and these limitations will only increase if we do not act quickly to slow the change. In addition, extreme weather events that result from the changing climate further threaten our ability to produce food. Instead of viewing agriculture as a contributor to climate change and other environmental problems, “Not only can agriculture be a part of the solution to climate change,” Lundgren explained, “but agriculture must be a part of the solution to climate change … it is possible to turn agriculture into a net sink of carbon instead of a net source.”

Norbert Wilson Friedman School Student Research Conference

Dr. Norbert Wilson from the Friedman School moderating a Q&A session with Doug Rauch from Daily Table (Source: Laura Gallagher)

A Q&A session with Doug Rauch, the Founder and President of Daily Table and former president of Trader’s Joes, continued the narrative of finding solutions in unlikely places. Rauch explained how Daily Table makes food shopping an empowering instead of demeaning experience. Daily Table is a non-profit community grocery store with two locations in Massachusetts: one in Dorchester and another in Roxbury. Wanting to help reduce the astonishing amount of food waste in our supply chains, Rauch initially sought to establish a food bank. However, he realized that a large portion of the people who could benefit from such a service may not utilize it because the food bank environment is one that perpetuates a sense of shame instead of agency and pride. “We all should feel entitled to lead healthy, happy lives,” Rauch commented.

Rauch found a solution in the retail space. Instead of handing out free food, he decided to offer food at reduced prices, so people would feel like they are getting a bargain instead of qualifying for a free handout. By avoiding the so-called “philanthropic black hole,” where people must continuously rely on outside help without being empowered to utilize their own agency, Rauch explains that Daily Table offers a “dignified shopping experience to a community that is nutritionally suffering.” In addition, Daily Table also helps support the local economy. As opposed to a farmer’s market, where a farmer comes from outside of the community, Daily Table creates jobs for local residents by hiring from within the community.

The research presented by graduate students spanned a wide range of disciplines and topics, from the relationship of mitochondrial function and intestinal barrier integrity to women’s role in the cacao value chain in Indonesia. The conference reinforced the pragmatic and innovative aims that often characterize food and nutrition research.

Student Research Conference

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

The presentations related research to real-world problems and solutions. Instead of investigating theories within an academic vacuum, the graduate student researchers took a wide and interdisciplinary stance. For example, one student investigated the relationship between campus food pantry use, GPA, and diet quality of University of Florida students to inform campus food policy (Jamie Paola, University of Florida), while another created a travel cost model to understand the factors that influence food pantry use (Anne Byrne, Cornell University). Theresa Lieb from the University of Oxford stepped back to look at food systems as a whole, and identified possible policy routes moving forward while arguing for a more sustainable global diet that moves away from meat and dairy consumption.

While there are certainly many problems that need addressing within our food system, the Future of Food Nutrition Conference showed that hope remains for a more sustainable and just food future. As Dr. Saltzman noted in his opening remarks, “I think that as we move forward, the future is indeed in good hands.” I am hopeful, after attending the conference, that Dr. Saltzman is right.

Nako Kobayashi is a first-year AFE student interested in food and agriculture issues. The Friedman School appealed to her as an option for pursuing graduate studies because of the programs’ emphasis on holistic, pragmatic, and viable solutions to food and nutrition issues.

 

 

I Don’t Know About You, but Friedman’s Feeling 26.2: Tips from Two Jumbos on Preparing for the Boston Marathon 

By Darcy McDonough

April in Boston means warmer weather, the return of the Red Sox, and of course, the Boston Marathon.  The iconic 26.2-mile race from Hopkinton to the Boylston Street finish line is the oldest annual marathon in the world.  On Monday, April 16th, 30,000 runners will take on the 122nd running of the marathon, while 500,000 spectators cheer them on.  Last year, second-year Friedman student Megan Maisano completed this grueling endurance challenge for the third time, and this year, one of those runners will be second-year student, Sara Scinto.  We caught up with both of them to find out how they train, fuel, and fundraise for the big day!      

Sara has been an avid runner since high school and completed her first marathon last fall in Mentor, Ohio.  In 2010, she got to watch her dad finish the Boston Marathon and has dreamed of completing the race herself ever since.  She was inspired by the positive energy of the crowd, the running community, and the way the race is, in her words, “woven into Boston’s culture in many ways.” For Megan, running the Boston Marathon runs in the family as well—her brother crossed the finish line in 2014.  When her Prague Marathon time qualified her for the 2015 Boston Marathon, she knew she had to take the opportunity to run the historic race.  Megan has since run the Boston Marathon three times (with a 3 hour and 24-minute personal record!) and describes the experience and atmosphere as “simply magical,” referencing the cheering crowd equipped with cow bells, posters, music, and “Boston Strong” vibes.  For both Megan and Sara, there is something indescribable about the Boston Marathon that makes it a special accomplishment.

This year, Sara will be one of 49 Tufts students, faculty, alumni and friends running the marathon as part of the Tufts Marathon Team.  Each year, the Tufts Marathon Team offers a limited number of race bibs and helps interested individuals train and fundraise.  Last year, the team raised a collective $382,219, and since its start in 2003, the team has raised more than $5,639,358.  This money supports the research efforts of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy to end childhood obesity.  As a runner and a Friedman student, it was an easy decision for Sara to apply to join the Tufts Marathon Team.  She has enjoyed the opportunity to support and contribute to a meaningful cause and encourages her classmates up for a challenge to consider applying next year. To learn more about Sara’s fundraising efforts and support the Tufts Marathon Team click here.

To prepare for race day, Sara and Megan both stressed the importance of training plans.  Megan has had success following the Runner’s World 16-week program.  Last year, she used their “Veteran Plan,” which culminated with one 22-mile long run before the race.  She has used the less intensive “Rookie Plan” in the past, which trains up to one 20-miler.  She recommends training on hills to prepare for the infamous Heartbreak Hill at mile 20 of the Boston course.

On the other hand, Sara is focusing on injury prevention and is following a lower mileage plan that her father, Boston marathon veteran, created.  She supplements her three weekly runs with yoga, strength training, and physical therapy.  “If it’s your first time running the marathon, I would encourage an extended training cycle to gradually get used to the longer distances,” she advised.  For reference, many beginner training plans suggest 18-20 week running schedules.  As a busy graduate student, Sara tries to keep her training plan flexible, adjusting to her schedule, energy levels, and soreness.  “It’s definitely not easy, and sometimes it’s just plain exhausting.  But I know that crossing that finish line in a city I’ve grown to love, while raising money for a cause that I am passionate about, is going to feel amazing.  And so worth it,” Sara said.

To endure grueling training sessions and the final 26.2-mile challenge, proper nutrition is crucial.  Megan and Sara both caution that everyone is different, and it may take some trial and error to find what works for you and your body.  “I certainly learned what not to eat from personal experience,” Megan said.  They shared their go-to pre-run fuel and post-run recovery eats with us.  Both runners stick to a light breakfast of crackers or rice cakes with nut butter and banana before heading out.  Megan recommends avoiding too much fiber and greens before runs to avoid digestive discomfort.  On longer runs, they carry additional fuel in the form of Honey Stingers Gold Gel for Sara and Honey Stingers Pink Lemonade Gummies for Megan.  “Fueling my body adequately is extremely important for long-term injury prevention, recovery, and performance,” Sara emphasized.

collection of balanced meals post-run marathon training

A collection of Sara’s colorful post-run eats.
(Image source: Sara Scinto)

After the run is when the food fun starts.  Megan relies on Greek yogurt parfaits layered with cottage cheese, fruit, nuts, and seeds to aid recovery.  “After a long run, don’t wait too long to fuel with carbs and protein,” Megan advises.  A review of nutrient timing by Kerksick et al. in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition supports this advice, affirming that consuming carbohydrates and protein immediately following endurance exercise can promote muscle healing and decrease muscle soreness.  Sara enjoys getting creative with her recovery fuel creating colorful egg dishes full of carbohydrate-rich fruits and vegetables.  As for her race day plans, Sara says that she hasn’t decided exactly how she’ll refuel, but she knows ice cream will be involved!

Megan’s Boston Marathon race day advice: “Have fun! Take it all in, thank the volunteers, and high-five the spectators.”  On April 16th, you will find me waiting to high-five Sara, the Tufts Marathon Team, and all of the runners on their way to the historic finish line.

 

Darcy McDonough is a first year NICBIC student.  She has run two half-marathons and enjoys refueling with Amy’s Bean Burritos.

The Top 10 Boston Food Events of Spring 2018

by Liz Learned

Attention: Do you love food? Are you looking for fun events to attend in the Boston area this spring? If your answers are yes and yes, then I’ve got good news for you! I’ve searched high and low to compile a list of the top 10 can’t-miss Boston food events this spring. This wide range of food-festivals has something for everyone. Whether you’re tight on cash or an avid charity-donor, a vegetarian or a meat-lover, you’ll find something to add to your calendar!

 

Cambridge Winter Farmers Market

Photo: Cambridgewinterfarmersmarket.com

  1. Cambridge Winter Farmers Market

When: Saturday, April 7th, 10:00 AM-2:00 PM

Where: Cambridge Community Center Gym

To kick things off, the Cambridge Winter Farmers Market will hold its last event of the season on April 7th. The indoor market hosts over two dozen vendors, offering a wide variety of locally sourced goods. You can head to this one-stop shop to stock up on fresh produce, dairy products, meats and fish, fresh-pressed juices, breads and baked goods, specialty foods (jams, pastas, vinegars, etc.), and even body care products. Or, grab some friends and turn this trip into a meal by enjoying a prepared ethnic lunch from vendors such as Indonesian Three Magnolias and Mr. Tamole. This market does not require a membership and admission is entirely free of cost. Even if you’re short on cash, you can still hit up this market to enjoy the live music and free samples!

 

  1. 16th Annual Taste of South Boston

When: Sunday, April 8th, 6:00 PM-9:00 PM

Where: Plaza Ballroom at the Seaport Hotel

Make your way over to the Seaport waterfront to explore the offerings of South Boston’s restaurants. With over 30 participating establishments to sample from, you’re certainly in for a culinary adventure! Whether it’s Loco’s Mexican flavors, Legal Test Kitchen’s seafood specialties, Blue Dragon’s Asian masterpieces, or Sweet Tooth’s baked goods, even the pickiest of eaters could find themselves in flavor heaven at this event. While this is a pricier outing—at $55 per online ticket and $65 per ticket at the door—your money will not go to waste. Not only are you getting the opportunity to sample dishes from South Boston’s finest restaurants, but the proceeds directly support the South Boston Neighborhood Development Corporation. The mission of this non-profit organization is to provide affordable housing for the community, support the economic development of small businesses, improve access to healthy foods, and address environmental issues.

 

  1. North End Pasta Crawl

When: Monday, April 16th, 4:00 PM-5:30 PM

Where: Boston Public Market

If you’ve hopped on the charity bandwagon with the last event, then be sure to also check out the North End Pasta Crawl. The proceeds will support the Roxbury Youth Orchestra, a project run by Revolution of Hope that aims to transform the lives of inner-city youth by offering community, teaching workforce skills, and creating an artistic outlet. With the purchase of the $55 pasta crawler ticket, you receive a commemorative T-shirt and get to enjoy samples from four of the North End’s restaurants. Are you a wine lover? If so, upgrade to VIP for $10 more and get two glasses of wine during your crawl! Whether you’re a pasta fanatic, a charity supporter, or a runner looking to carbo-load after completing the Boston Marathon, you don’t want to miss this Marathon Monday event!

 

Colorful taco from taco festival

Photo: Tacofestivalboston.com

  1. Boston Taco Festival

When: Saturday & Sunday, May 5-6th, 10:00 AM-10:00PM

Where: City Hall Plaza

If the last two events were outside of your budget, have no fear because this Cinco de Mayo celebration will likely fit the bill without shorting on the fun! The $15 general admission pass gets you access to a day of live music, taco vendors, beer tents, lucha libre wrestling, taco eating contests, and best taco award ceremonies. For the hardcore Taco Fest enthusiasts: upgrade to VIP for $60 more and get a variety of perks, including early admission, open bar access, free taco vouchers, raffle tickets, complimentary corn tortillas, and a bottle of Rocky’s Hot Sauce.

 

  1. Farm Share Fair 2018

When: Thursday, May 10th, 5:30 PM-8:30 PM

Where: The Center for Arts at the Armory (Somerville)

Have you found that living in the city is a barrier to accessing fresh, local food? If you’re interested in getting easy, convenient, and consistent access to fresh produce (and perhaps local meat, eggs, and cheeses, too) then Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is definitely for you. CSAs are a farm sharing method in which customers pay an up-front cost and then receive weekly distributions of seasonal goods. The Farm Share Fair is an opportunity to learn more about the economic, environmental, and health benefits of CSAs, as well as to compare the different programs that are available (varying in-home delivery vs. pick up, types of products, and more). So, whether you’re new to CSAs or a current participant seeking more knowledge on program variety, don’t hesitate to attend this free event!

 

  1. Lamb Jam

When: Sunday, May 20th, 3:00 PM- 6:00 PM

Where: SoWa Power Station

If you’re anything like me, then you’ve spent countless hours getting emotionally invested in episodes of Food Network’s “Chopped”. Well, lucky for us, Lamb Jam is the chance to become a part of the action! Next month, 16 of New England’s most talented chefs will compete in a live cook-off for the title of “Lamb Jam Boston Champion.” The intention of this event is to celebrate the efforts of 80,000+ family-operated farms across the nation. For $75 you will not only get to watch the action unfold live, but also get the chance to vote, eat, and have fun. Admission includes access to a festival of bartenders, winemakers, brewers, and culinary expert demonstrations, and it’s all accompanied by live music and art!

 

Participating Contestants Gourmet Ice Cream Bowl

Participating Contestants (Photo: wbgh.org/events)

  1. The Gourmet Ice Cream Bowl

When: Wednesday, May 23rd, 7:00 PM-9:00 PM

Where: WGBH Studios (Brighton)

Breaking news: ice cream is not just for kids! If you have a sweet tooth, this 21+ event is perfect for you. By purchasing a $25 admissions ticket, you will get the opportunity to sample a variety of ice cream (from classic to innovative) from four competing local brands. Make this outing of ice cream-sampling, vote-casting, and drink-sipping a fun night with your friends! The event will conclude with the ceremonious awarding of best chocolate, best wild card, and people’s choice ice creams. But if the ice cream and competitive atmosphere isn’t enough to draw you in, perhaps you will be motivated by the fact that “Holiday Baking Championship” finalist Joshua Livsey as well as “Chopped Grill Master” & “Top Chef” All-Star Tiffani Faison will be in attendance as guest judges!

 

  1. Fine Art & Food Trucks

When: Saturday, June 2nd, 11:00 AM-6:00 PM

Where: Babcock Street (Coolidge Corner)

If you love art as much as you love food, then this free outdoor art festival is a must. Enjoy indulgences from Boston-based food trucks as you peruse and shop the work of 70 selected artists and makers. Choose between Bon Me’s innovative Asian dishes, The Chubby Chickpea’s Middle Eastern cuisine, The Dining Car’s gourmet sandwiches and salads, Revelry’s Cajun and Creole flavors, and the Trolley Dog’s unique hot dog menu… or try them all! And while you’re there, be sure to check out Hive—a mobile event space offering a lounge and full-service bar with a unique cocktail menu.

 

  1. Taste of the Nation

When: Tuesday, June 5th, 7:00 PM-9:30 PM

Where: Cruiseport Boston

While this event is the most expensive on the list—ringing in at $95 for general admission—it certainly should not be ignored, as 100% of the proceeds from this event will support No Kid Hungry’s effort to end childhood hunger. Over 60 of Boston’s top culinary professionals will offer tastings of their creations, paired with premium beers, wines, and spirits. Last year’s event raised over $140,000 toward No Kid Hungry’s important cause, so now is your chance to get involved!

 

Boston Food trucks downtown at an event

Boston food trucks at an outdoor event (Photo: invisiblepotbelly.wordpress.com)

  1. Summer Solstice Celebration

When: Thursday, June 21st, 5:00 PM-9:00 PM

Where: Harvard Museums of Science & Culture

Finally, say goodbye to Spring with a bang! On the longest day of the year, the Harvard Museum of Science and Culture is offering free admission to their solstice event, which includes access to all four museums, live performances, flower-crown crafting, and other sun-inspired activities. Most importantly (in my opinion), an assortment of Boston’s best food trucks will be present, providing the fuel to accompany the fun!

 

Liz Learned is a first-year MS student in the Nutrition Interventions, Communication, and Behavior Change program at Tufts University’s Friedman School. Liz currently works as the Communications Research Assistant for the USAID funded Food Aid Quality Review project here at Friedman. She received her BS from Union College in 2017, with a major in Psychology and minor in Sociology. Outside of academia, you can find Liz hiking, cooking, and spending time with her dog! 

Friedman Hosts the 2018 Global Food+ Symposium

by Sam Jones

The second annual Global Food+ Symposium was hosted at Tufts University’s Friedman School this year. Innovative research being conducted at Tufts, MIT, Boston University, and Harvard University in the realm of the global food system was presented in speed-dating style, with each speaker giving only a seven-minute talk. Only some of the takeaways are reported here; the entire event can be viewed online.

February 16, 2018 marked the second annual Global Food+ Symposium, hosted by Tufts University at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. This year, 23 researchers from Boston University, MIT, Harvard, and Tufts shared the findings of their work in seven-minute presentations on topics ranging from microbiology to nutrition to theology. I attended the conference in its entirety from 12:30 to 4:30 on a Friday afternoon because I wanted to learn about what other researching in our consortium of schools are investigating to gain insight into what the non-Friedman community has to say about the global food system.

Throughout the afternoon, speakers presented fascinating research that touched every corner of the food system. Several presenters from Harvard and MIT discussed how water affects our food system, covering everything from breeding crops to use less water, to developing more adaptable water conserving technologies, and the ramifications of developing a water market in which price reflects scarcity. These speakers together illustrated that whether in the Zambezi River Basin or in Melbourne, Australia, water use and availability affects our food system, but there are steps we can take right now to plan for uncertainty in the face of climate change.

Nutrition was, of course, the subject of several of the presentations. Tufts professor Will Masters discussed his findings on the nutritional quality of baby food. Spoiler alert: the global baby food supply is not actually that nutritious. Alison Brown, a post-doctoral fellow at Tufts presented the research from her dissertation comparing the diet quality and risk of hypertension in foreign-born non-Hispanic blacks to those of U.S.-born blacks. Her findings suggest that the former are better-off than the latter. While useful for developing culturally-appropriate nutrition strategies, it does not delve into the root causes of these differences. A more causal-based study would be useful if the intention were to narrow the gap in diet quality and health between these groups.

Most of the presenters at the symposium used or researched cutting-edge technology to answer some of the most vexing problems in our global food system. Karthish Manthiram from MIT, for example, presented his research on how electricity derived from solar panels can be used to create fertilizer. His research found that by using electric voltage in place of high temperatures, a low-footprint nitrogen fertilizer can be created and used by small-scale farmers in even the remotest parts of Africa.

Angela Rigden, a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University, presented exciting research derived from new satellite data. These data showed that vapor pressure and root zone soil moisture actually explain significantly more variability in crop yields than does temperature alone. Both Jenny Aker from Tufts and Alicia Harley from Harvard separately explored the effects of having access to technology for poor farmers in Africa and India, respectively. They found that even where a technology exists, the targeted problems may not be solved in exactly the way they were intended. For example, Alicia Harley’s research found that poorer rice farmers were not adopting a system of rice intensification (SRI) that used less water because such a practice required control over one’s water source—a luxury most poor farmers do not have. As Jenny Aker put it, one specific technology is “not going to be a silver bullet.”

Water, technology, health, and sustainability were the overarching themes that wove the presentations together. But one researcher stood alone both in his discipline and in his ability to wow an audience of entirely dissimilar mindsets. Dan McKanan, a senior lecturer in Divinity at Harvard University, revealed that the foundations of organic agriculture, organic certification, WWOOFing, biodynamic agriculture, community supported agriculture, and the environmentalist movement all sprung out of a religion called Anthroposophy. In his words, this was a religion that acted as an antidote to the ideological monoculture system—an antidote to the “monocultures of the mind.”

What the innovative research presented at the Global Food+ Symposium made me realize is that there probably will never be a “silver bullet” that can solve the issues of water scarcity, food insecurity, malnutrition, or climate change. But the research that is being done in these interdisciplinary and diverse fields is worth pursuing, whether it aims to solve a big problem in a small place or a small problem on a global scale.

Sam Jones is a first-year AFE student with a passion for sharing others’ stories. She is currently an intern at Culture Magazine nd hopes to pursue a career in sustainable agricultural development and food journalism.