Sunday, June 3, 2018

'Plant-forward diet' scrutinized at CIA event

CIA student-researchers push "plant-forward" diet. (Photo provided by CIA)
HYDE PARK -- "Menus of Change," an annual conference hosted in partnership between the Culinary Institute of America and Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

It promotes the adoption of a plant-forward diet as an option in a healthy lifestyle and as an important piece of environmental sustainability. A "plant-forward diet" is defined as a style of cooking and eating that emphasizes, but is not limited to, plant-based food and the reduction of animal protein.

In the recent 2018 version of the event, CIA students in the course called "Applied Food Studies Food Policy" researched and presented their own suggestions for increasing student exposure to plant-based foods and creating complete proteins from vegetables earlier in the education cycle.

The research, which included a student survey, analysis of production kitchen menus, and multiple interviews with current deans and chef-instructors, enabled them to observe the CIA’s implementation of the plant-forward principles.

Areas for improvement were evident, while some results were encouraging. For example, at The Egg, the student dining facility, where a student class in high-volume production cooking takes place, there were a number of plant-forward options. There, all burgers are made using blends of meat and some form of plant proteins like mushrooms and bulgur. Roughly 37% of the burger mass is made up of plants affording not only a healthier option, but also a more cost-effective one.

Some of the hands-on courses, such as "Cuisines of Asia, " produce a whole-grain option with each entrée, and all kitchens offer a unique vegetarian option.

The students presented their suggestions for increasing student exposure to plant-based foods and creating complete proteins from vegetables earlier in the education cycle. They also suggested student in the baking and pastry program have full educational exposure to the plant-forward concepts. In doing so, they hope to impact attitudes about plant-forward meals
After the presentation, the faculty and the students engaged in a lively discussion about the realities of adapting current curriculum, changing attitudes, and ultimately, implementing more of the MOC principles.

Students who presented this research were Emily Barton, Chastity Dean, Bailey Favreau, Natalina Musacchio, Nicholas van Huffel, Josie Waisbrot, and Jamie Wilkinson.

The CIA is located at 1946 Campus Drive in Hyde Park. Phone: 845-452-9600.

(Thanks to the CIA for details on the program.)

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