Food and Environmental studies students take on state-wide issues

Students present their final projects on food and the environment at Educating Future Leaders: Food and Environmental Policy, an event designed to help raise awareness about state-wide issues. The event took place in the South Reading Room of Wilbur Cross on Tues., April 19, 2016. (Zhelun Lang/Daily Campus)

People often forget how many food and environmental issues there are around the globe, let alone in Connecticut. 31 stations were set up at the South Reading Room of the Wilbur Cross Building Tuesday evening for The Educating Future Leaders: Food and Environmental Policy event to help raise awareness about these issues. 

Each station took on one major food or environmental issue and its relation to Connecticut.

“This project was eye-opening in that we were able to see the distances people have to drive in order to get quality food,” Nishant Majithia, an eighth semester food economics and production major said.

Majithia’s group reported on every town in Connecticut, identifying the towns where there were low and high food security on a large color coordinated map- red for low, green for high. For example, Storrs-Mansfield is a low food security area, based on data that compares and correlates population density, the amount of grocery stores and their distances, commercial grocery versus corner store food qualities and several other factors.

The main reason Storrs-Mansfield is low security is because of the thousands of people on the university campus and surrounding town of Mansfield, and the very few quality grocery stores available in the area.

“Because of the increasing temperature, dairy production is being affected. Dairy products are the second most valuable agricultural product in Connecticut,” said Anna Esposito, a second semester resource economics major.  Her group reported on global warming and climate change.

The event was organized by Dr. Adam Rabinowitz, an assistant professor of agriculture and resource economics at the University of Connecticut and Nataliya Plesha, a Ph.D candidate of environmental and resource policy.

“Two A.R.E. classes, environmental and food policy, came together to be divided into groups and then asked to pick a policy issue in order to report on it to a demographic of secondary education students, middle and high school students, and relate the issues to Connecticut,” Dr. Rabinowitz said.

Another group reported on nuclear power and waste management. Their display showed the University of Connecticut is a relief area in case of an emergency at the Millstone Nuclear Power Station in Waterford.  The University’s Depot campus is actually an area where drills are conducted. Their station also featured a genuine Gygar counter and two radioactive objects, a plate and a clock. The counter beeps in the presence of radioactive material and people were able to put the headset on and listen for the beep.

It turns out the paint of both objects was the source of the radioactivity.  For the clock however, only the numbers were radioactive, but according to Ferdaous Soufi, a sixth semester resource economics major, in order to paint those numbers, women in the manufacturing of the clocks had to lick the brushes, which ultimately led them all to getting cancer

“The project was interesting and in particular a study on vitrification, which is a process of removing carbon from radioactive waste that is stored at nuclear sites.  The removal makes the waste smaller and easier to store,” said Ferdaous since there are not a lot of safer options in the storing of the material.

All of the projects that were at the event will make their way onto the Charles J. Zwick center for food and resource policy’s website so that a complete view of the projects may be available for those seeking additional information.


Matthew Gilbert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.gilbert@uconn.edu.