Author Archives: Sofie Seiden

What I Learned from Planning Dairy Day

The information which I found most striking while researching for Dairy Day were the extent of the power of dairy lobbies, the adverse environmental effects of industrial dairy farming, and how so much of our country’s dairy is owned by so few companies. I knew that lobbies held a lot of power in our food system, but I had always heard of this in terms of beef and agricultural giants. As a staple of the food system, dairy is no exception to that trend.

Pasteurization of milk in the United States began at the industrial level in 1895, and was mandated by 1917. The first milk marketing orders were put into place 20 years later, in 1937. Milk advertising was subsidized by the government in the 1940s, and in 1946, milk became a staple of the new National School Lunch Act, currently the NSLP. Nutritional labeling of milk began in 1974, and in 1992, the first food pyramid was released by the USDA, giving dairy a prominent position near the top of the pyramid.

All the while, dairy lobbies have been pushing lawmakers to emphasize the nutritious benefits of milk and milk products. Dairy lobbyists push for initiatives relating to school programs, farm bills, and other programs in which dairy plays an important role. Milk is an excellent source of calcium, potassium, protein as well as amino acids, which is why it is partially why it is emphasized in nutrition programs. However, the dairy industries are also huge stakeholders in national programs such as the NSLP, which is why it is essential to them to lobby their interests to the USDA.

Currently, dairy lobbies are trying to remove the special labels needed for milk with artificial sweeteners. The dairy industries are trying to establish flavored milk as a healthy alternative to sweet soft drinks. These industries believe that sales would improve significantly if their products were labeled, for example, as “strawberry milk” rather than the “low calorie strawberry milk” labels which we would see today. There is much opposition to this because it involves deregulation of a controversial chemical, aspartame, in order to increase milk consumption among our country’s children.

When we stress the negative environmental impacts of factory farming, large scale operations like pork and beef production come to mind before processes such as dairy farming. Dairy cows produce large amounts of methane and manure which contribute to environmental and health issues. Water pollution is a huge concern with dairy farming, as manure and nutrients can spread to and contaminate water supplies. These cows also require a large amount of feed, which is typically genetically modified except in organic operations. In addition to modified feed, many dairy cows, just like other animals raised for consumption, are fed or injected with antibiotics and hormones. There is little transparency in these issues, and much is still unknown about the effects of these drugs.

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Another controversial aspect of the dairy industry is the ownership. While dairy farms exist in every state, and local, organic options are available for some consumers, many of our nation’s dairy farms remain under the ownership of a handful of powerful companies. When researching Garelick Farms, where tufts gets their milk, I was surprised to learn that this family farming business is actually owned by Dean Foods, a Texas based food and beverage company. Dean Foods is by far the largest dairy processor in the United States. Dean Foods had been criticized for holding a monopoly on the US dairy industry.

The figures on dairy usage were interesting as well – and some were far more surprising than others. For example, research by the International Dairy Foods Association reported that 20.3 gallons of milk were consumed, on average, per person in 2011. For comparison, in 2011 Americans consumed 44 gallons of soda in and 2.68 gallons (13 bottles) of wine. I live in a house with 8 other “dairy consumers” and we go through about 2.5 gallons of milk per week, so between the all of us that would be about 14 gallons of milk per person, per year. Few of us use milk for reasons other than cereal or baking. I assume that our cohort differs from the rest of the nation because we are not typically consuming milk as a beverage.

Some other statistics we gathered were that Americans consume 46 slices of pizza year, and 48 quarts of ice cream. Considering the amount of pizza I see consumed on this college campus, I’m less surprised by this fact than I am by the ice cream figures. Overall, I found planning Dairy Day to be an incredibly educational and rewarding experience. The idea behind Campus Food Day is to get students to think critically about where their food comes from, and what processes are involved as it makes it’s way from farm to table. I hope that students who attended the event were inspired, or provoked by the information posted throughout the dining halls, and that the event served as a catalyst for change in food related behaviors at Tufts.

-Sofie

Communications Team Member

Tufts Celebrates Food Day with Dairy Themed Dinner

Yesterday was Food Day at Tufts, and the Dining and Sustainability teams paired up to put together an educational, dairy-themed dinner.

The event took place at both Carmichael and Dewick-Macphie dining halls. The dinners included special foods such as a mountainous tray of brie cheese, and an ice cream sundae bar. Scattered generously across the dining halls were signs containing information on dairy production, dairy products, and the dairy industry. Be it butter, cream, whey, or milk fat, dairy products are found in nearly everything.

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The first crossword puzzle is complete!

The interactive component of the Dewick dinner took place in the form of a crossword puzzle. Students took the puzzle and found the answers posted on the informational signs throughout the dining hall. The signs contained some pretty mind blowing facts and figures about dairy! For example, did you know that the average American eats 46 slices of pizza, and 48 pints of ice cream a year?!

The signs also had information about milk’s nutritional content. Milk contains 9 amino acids, and 1 cup contains 16 percent of our daily value of calcium, making it an excellent nutritional source when consumed in moderation. The posters also informed students about some of the more controversial aspects of the dairy industry such as negative environmental impacts and the deceptive, yet influential role played by by the dairy lobbies.

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Dairy Day Event staff help Tufts students with crossword puzzles.

Do you want to test your knowledge of dairy production and consumption? Here are the questions from last night’s crossword puzzle. Students who completed the puzzle are eligible to win an ice cream sundae party brought to their room, or an inflatable cow.

Americans most commonly consume which type of milk?

  • What is the most popular cheese in America?

  • What is the most popular flavor of ice cream

  • How many gallons of milk to americans consume, on average, per year?

  • Vitamin D is added to milk to aid in the absorption of which mineral?

  • Methane contributes to which process?

 

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to check the answers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • ɯıʞs

  • ɐןןǝɹɐzzoɯ

  • ɐןןıuɐʌ

  • ʎʇuǝʍʇ

  • ɯnıɔןɐɔ

  • ǝbuɐɥɔ ǝʇɐɯıןɔ

 

 

-Sofie

Communications Team

Zero Waste Week: Day 5

My initial approach to zero waste week made the challenge very easy. For the first few days, I chose my behaviors based on my knowledge of the waste they would produce. I ate fresh produce, avoided foods in ambiguous packaging, made my own coffee, and only used tea bags that came without packaging. This approach was going smoothly until the end of the week, when I decided to clean my room. Cleaning up my room was a difficult reminder that my behaviors during zero waste week were not exactly typical of a normal week.

I noticed that there were recyclables and non-recyclables mixed into my desk side trash can. I had, on occasion, thrown paper products into this trashcan, despite that there was recycling bin no more than 15 steps away. There were a few other items which I was unsure about. Cotton swabs, Q-tips, and the waxy sheets of paper which stickers peel off of. After some research, I found out that cotton balls can be composted, as long as they do not contain any synthetic materials. I couldn’t find the packaging, so I held onto these items in my Ziploc bag.

At this point, my bag still contains a small amount of trash. I’ve taken to using the bag as a sort of limbo space for items which I know can be recycled, but not in the typical “paper, metal, plastic” categories. For instance, I’ve used the bag to hold on to some granola bar wrappers when I didn’t have the chance to teracycle them in the sustainability office.  I’ve found that the bag is a helpful reminder to recycle items that I might otherwise have thrown in the trash.

I’ve noticed that many times, when I do throw away recyclable items, it is for convenience. I always choose to recycle bulkier items, like cardboard and bottles, but I’ve found that I make less of an effort to figure out what to do with smaller, atypical items like  shopping receipts or food wrapping. I’ve found that the challenge has made me incredibly aware of my waste producing behaviors, and has influenced me to correct for those behaviors.

 

-Sofie Seiden

Real Food Challenge GIM 2/27

REAL FOOD CHALLENGE GIM

Are you interested in sustainability,

social justice, or just eating good food?

Do you care about how or where your food was grown,

who grew it, or what it tastes like?

Does “real food” mean anything to you?

 

Whether “real food” already means a lot to you, or you just want to learn more about what it is and how we can bring more of it to Tufts, come to our GIM!

 

When: Wednesday, February 26th, 7pm

Where: Eaton 202

Who: A group of enthusiastic, committed food-lovers who want to work to be in control of what we eat in the dining halls while also acting as catalysts to transform the way our food system works on a larger scale.

What: A GIM to learn more about the Real Food Challenge, its platform, and how we as students can work with this organization to initiate change within the food system on campus.

 

Additional Info: http://db.realfoodchallenge.org/schools/150