One quarter of all New Jersey residents are facing a health problem so severe, it’s been deemed an epidemic — obesity. It seems it’s not just the population that’s growing in the Garden State, but our waist size too. A new report, called The State of Obesity issued by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, shows some improvement in our national rates, but they continue to climb.
Stony Hill Farms in Chester, New Jersey is one of several New Jersey farms that are honoring Rutgers’ 250th anniversary with a Corn Maze design. Stony Hill’s maze features the Scarlet Knight mascot and R250!
Replete with five bridges, game sheets and decoder glasses, a journey through the maze teaches about what Rutgers and its New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) have done to help and influence New Jersey agriculture. This includes information about NJAES plant researchers testing new varieties of corn and breeding other crops for hardiness to resist both diseases and pests, as well as heat and drought tolerance, and cold hardiness.
With one professor, one room, and two support staffers, the Department of Food Science opened its doors in 1946 to bring food-related science, education, and research to Rutgers. This year, the department celebrates its 70th anniversary…and its incredible evolution.
Looking back at the history of the Department of Food Science is much like hopping in a time machine and taking a journey through our culture’s relationship with food. In its earliest days—the late 1940s and early 1950s—researchers in the department focused primarily on food processing and canning technology, says professor and former chair Mukund Karwe. Slowly but surely, around the late 1990s and early 2000s, emphasis began to shift onto natural products and the natural functionality of foods (think of the health-boosting lycopene in a tomato for one example). Today, the emphasis has shifted yet again, and this time it’s onto food safety, food microbiology, and nutrition.
Outreach and Research
Take it from Donald Schaffner, extension specialist and distinguished professor in the department: bacteria touches everyone. “Bacteria don’t care whether they’re in your kitchen or in a food processing plant,” he says. “The work we do stretches from making sure that the food is safe in your kitchen, to making sure that restaurants, supermarkets, and food processors of all sizes are safe.”
By Tim Gleeson, summer intern in the Office of Communications and Marketing
On a Friday afternoon in the typical summer months, producers from around New Jersey emerge to showcase their products at the Rutgers Gardens Farmers Market, which actually has an expanded season starting in May and extending into November.
Established in 2008, the market commenced operations with 12 vendors that included Fruitwood Farms, pickle distributor Picklelicious, and cheese connoisseurs Valley Sheppard Creamery. Today, Rutgers Gardens Farmers Market has expanded to 35 merchants, including newcomer Hot Sauce 4 Good, based out of East Millstone, NJ, and which is dedicated to ‘changing the world one bottle at a time’ by donating a portion of its proceeds to charitable organizations fighting food insecurity.
Rutgers Gardens, a treasured oasis that draws thousands for classes, weddings and walks in the woods, will be designated a Horticultural Landmark by the American Society for Horticulture Science, joining the prestigious ranks of the New York Botanical Garden, the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., and Monticello in Virginia. Managers of the gardens are also working on a long-term plan that envisions roughly $70 million in upgrades, funded mostly by donors and revenue generated by events at the gardens, and featuring a 1.5-mile educational path dedicated to explaining the evolution of plants, trees, grasses, insects and animals over 400 million years and an improved entrance for welcoming visitors.
Read more at Rutgers Today.
Annual 4-H Summer Science Program was held July 11-15 on the Cook Campus
Over sixty high school students from Elizabeth, Newark, New Brunswick, Passaic, Paterson, Trenton, Rahway and Atlantic City participated in hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities alongside Rutgers faculty at the 8th annual 4-H Summer Science Program on the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus.
“The students spent a week with Rutgers scientists–touring their labs, learning about their research, and how their scientific inquiry is relevant to our daily lives,” said Chad Ripberger, Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) 4-H agent, Mercer County. And because the students were living on campus, they also got a taste of university life.
Extension specialist Chris Obropta and the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program Team, along with director of the Rutgers Noise Technical Assistance Center Eric Zwerling—in his capacity as a Readington Township Board of Education member and chairperson of the Green Committee—were among eight individuals and organizations to receive 2016 Sustainable Raritan River Awards at the 8th Annual Sustainable Raritan Conference and Awards Ceremony held at Rutgers on June 10.
“The purpose of these awards is to recognize some of the more creative and impressive accomplishments by genuine leaders throughout the Raritan Watershed,” said Michael Catania, executive director of Duke Farms Foundation and a member of the Sustainable Raritan Awards Committee.
Each year at its Annual Conference, the Sustainable Raritan River Collaborative and the Sustainable Raritan River Initiative give awards to recognize outstanding achievement in efforts to revitalize, restore and protect the Raritan resources and promote the area as a premiere place to live, work and raise a family.
Rutgers University launched the Sustainable Raritan River Initiative in 2009 to bring together concerned scientists, environmentalists, engineers, businesses, community leaders and governmental entities to craft an agenda that meets the goals of the U.S. Clean Water Act to restore and preserve New Jersey’s Raritan River, its tributaries and its bay. The Initiative, a joint program of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, partners with other Rutgers schools, centers and programs to ensure the best contributions from the sciences, planning and policy. [Read more…]
Aquaculture is a burgeoning industry along the Delaware Bayshore, infusing millions of dollars and jobs into local economies each year. A particular area of growth over the last decade has been intertidal rack and bag oyster production of eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica).
The majority of existing oyster farms in New Jersey are located along the Cape Shore region of Delaware Bay where oyster cultivation developed more than a century ago. The region is also an important stopover site for the federally listed red knot (Calidris canutus rufa), a shorebird that migrates from southern Argentina to breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic.
Red knots rely heavily on the lipid-rich eggs deposited by spawning horseshoe crabs in order to gain enough weight to complete their migration and begin their breeding season in the Arctic. Horseshoe crabs deposit eggs over a three- to seven-week window each spring, and red knots have evolved over millennia to time their migration and stopover to take advantage of this energetically rewarding food source during the brief period it is available. [Read more…]
As Rutgers Gardens celebrates its 100th anniversary, it’s the perfect time to look back at its roots, celebrate its growth and anticipate a new season for one of the university’s most beloved spaces.
Rutgers Gardens was never meant to be a public space. In fact, quite the opposite was true: according to director Bruce Crawford, the Gardens began as a purely functional learning space for local farmers. In the mid-1800s, ornamental horticulture was a new trend. “You didn’t really landscape your house back then,” quips Crawford. “Having plants and having the time to appreciate and cultivate them was completely new.” So when it became clear that New Jersey was about to experience a housing boom, it also became clear that New Jersey’s farmers—at that time, focused on dairy, poultry, and grain—weren’t prepared to offer the shrubs and trees that were suddenly in demand. The nursing industry simply did not exist.
“So, that instigated Rutgers to develop the Gardens,” explains Crawford. “The focus was really for farmers, and teaching them about this new field. “There’s no recorded history of when Gardens’ leadership finished their nursery mission and started to move on, nor do we know what they intended to move on to,” says Crawford. “We may not know how the evolution existed and, to this day, when you walk through the Gardens, you stumble onto this and that. [Read more…]
Summer arrived this week and so did a new summer tradition for the staff of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. On Thursday, June 23 the SEBS Staff Initiative held an ice cream social featuring homemade ice cream from the Department of Food Science. The tradition of ice cream has been part of the Department of Food Science for over 30 years, beginning with dairy science professor Dick H. Kleyn who started it in the 70’s. Back then, Kleyn taught an industrial ice cream course in January over a three week period and students have been making ice cream ever since.
These days, Karen Schaich, associate professor in the Department of Food Science, teaches the course on how to make ice cream. Students are taught the formulations and other aspects of home-based or industry-based ice cream production.
“The undergraduate Food Science Club makes the ice cream completely on its own,” says Schaich. “From deciding what flavors to make to buying the ingredients and making the confection, there is minimal faculty involvement.”