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Food Science

Winter 2017

A mother’s microbial gift

Old assumptions about human breast milk are giving way to new thinking about microbes in milk and their role in children’s health and our immune systems.

 

It happened again, most recently at a conference in Prague. After she gave her talk, a scientist came up to Shelley McGuire, a pioneer exploring the microbial communities found in human breast milk, and told her, You don’t know how to take a sample. Your samples must have been contaminated. Human milk is sterile.

McGuire, a professor of human nutrition at Washington State University, knows differently: She’s seen the microbes with her own eyes. But she understands … » More …

Spring 2017

Waste not

Someone forgot about the fruit salad. When the refrigerator door opens, the sickly sweet aroma delivers a potent reminder. All the rotting apples, pears, and bananas in the bowl will need to be thrown out, and hopefully composted. It may seem insignificant, but that fruit salad represents a piece of the 40 percent of food wasted in the United States, about 20 pounds per person each month.

In recent years, food waste in this country and many other places around the world has grown not only in volume, but also in the collective consciousness. The numbers are staggering. Americans throw away an estimated $165 billion … » More …

Reduce food waste at home
Spring 2017

Reduce food waste at home

There are a variety of ways to reduce food waste at home, which can save you money, help the environment, and possibly feed people who need it.

Stop waste at the source

Assess food purchasing and preparation in your business or home to reduce the volume of food waste that is generated.

Make a list with meals in mind.
Buy only what you expect to use.
Keep fruits and vegetables fresh.
Prep perishables sooner rather than later.
Eat what needs eating first.
Treat expiration and sell-by dates as guidelines.
Save – and actually eat – leftovers.» More …

Colonizing the stars thumb
Summer 2016

Colonizing the stars

Traveling to the stars is one thing. Living there is another.

Washington State University is tackling challenges that could enable future astronauts to survive indefinitely on Mars and other extraterrestrial locations.

At the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, for example, a team of students designed a domed habitat that could be built robotically from Martian or Lunar soil with a special 3D printer. Dubbed the WazzuDOME, it was selected by NASA as a finalist in a design competition last year and earned the team a trip to the world’s largest science fair, the annual Maker Faire, in New York City.

“We took … » More …

Caviar and sparkling wine
Winter 2014

Holiday Sparklers and Caviar

Holiday Sparklers

by Hannelore Sudermann

At Karma Vineyards, where grapevines pour down the hillside toward the southern shore of Lake Chelan, a 3,000-square-foot cave holds the next few years’ of sparkling wine.

Three different grapes from the 14 acres of vines go into the bubbly: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. They’re treated much the same way they would be in the Champagne region of France, where the complex and labor-intensive method of making sparkling wine was perfected.

“The méthode champenoise is worth the work,” says Julie Pittsinger ’06, who owns Karma with her husband Bret. They opened Karma’s doors in 2007 and, she … » More …

Food sensing and Carolyn Ross
Summer 2014

A matter of taste

The human tongue is a pink, undulating, fleshy affair covered in thousands of papillae—all the better for sensory perception. If the tongue weren’t so ordinary, it would be strange to think of such an appendage taking up most of the room in your closed mouth, allowing you to discriminate the foul from the toothsome.

But there it is.

And here I am in Room 150 of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Building on the Pullman campus, one of eight panelists who will smell and drink wine after wine after wine over the course of two weeks. Kenny McMahon, a doctoral student, is our overseer, … » More …

Salmon
Summer 2014

Salmon

Back in 1991, the Snake River sockeye was the first of nearly two dozen salmon populations listed as threatened or endangered. To fishermen, scientists, and wildlife managers it seemed that salmon might soon vanish from the waters and traditions of the Pacific Northwest.

Today, many runs are coming back, while more vibrant populations in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska have continued bringing a steady stream of salmon to our plates through the summer, into the fall, and thanks to flash freezing, the winter. Salmon remain a major part of the region’s culture and cuisine, as five Washington State University faculty and alumni can attest in … » More …

Spring 2013

How Washington tastes: The Apple meets Cougar Gold

Much of Carolyn Ross’s work involves training people to quantify their taste. The sensory evaluation panels that she and her graduate students organize assess taste attributes in fruit and other foods and beverages such as sweetness, acidity, bitterness, and astringency. And “mouth feel,” which contributes enormously to the taste experience.

But for these panels to arrive at a consensus of, say, how sweet a given apple is, or how tart, or how much it crunches in relation to other apples, everyone must agree on the intensity of those attributes.

Before the panel members can evaluate a given food, they will train for a number of … » More …