Friday, October 29, 2010

Survey aims to uncover nutritional value of local food diets

What's the nutritional quality of a local diet here in Tompkins County?  That's the question Cornell undergraduate Nicole Novak is asking in a local foods survey.  If people were to eat entirely local diets year-round, would they experience dietary deficiencies?  How could people plan their meals to be both local and packed with balanced nutrients?

Novak is conducting the research with Dr. Dennis Miller and Cornell's Sustainability of Food Systems Group in order to learn more about opinions on local food products, what types of foods people purchase most often from local vendors, how they prepare these foods in their homes, their ideas about what is considered "local" food, and their motivations for purchasing locally. She then plans to use the results of the survey to help construct a series of local foods menus that are applicable to people living in Tompkins county, and analyze them with a software called Diet Analysis Plus. The goal of the project is to assess the nutritional quality of a "locavore" diet. 

Residents of Tompkins County can take the survey here, and members of the Cornell community can follow this link.

Novak became interested in local foods from her parents, who grew up on farms in the Midwest, prompted her interest in local foods.  Although she grew up in suburban Massachusetts, her family belonged to a CSA, which she found fascinating. Now, she's a senior studying Food Science at Cornell, who volunteers at the student-run, organic farm on campus, Dilmun Hill.

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