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Food education for a healthier lifestyle

Learn how to improve and maintain modern community food systems in INDS 430

Contributing Writer

Published: Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 14:08

In today’s fast-paced society, people who are constantly on the move tend to make choices based on convenience. When it comes to food, restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King are among the top destinations for quick meals. The fast food industry, however, serves unhealthy and high caloric meals made with processed ingredients.

In the spring of 2012 at UMBC, part-time interdisciplinary studies instructor Jill Wrigley began teaching INDS 430, which allows students to learn about modern day food systems and their ecological sustainability. Students are also able to understand the issues behind the lack of social equity and justice within food production.

Some key concepts that Wrigley focuses on include how abundant food products “promote disease rather than health,” the inhumane living conditions of animals being used for slaughter and how politics affect the “nature and quality of our food in retail and institutional settings.”

Professor Wrigley has also recently received a BreakingGround grant that will provide her with more resources for her next class in the spring of 2014.

Wrigley would like for her students to be able to work on projects with local communities, mainly young children in nearby schools. One of the probable partners for this project is Arbutus Middle School. Students of INDS 430 will be able to share their knowledge by helping develop a food garden, teaching students about nutritional facts and cooking healthy meals.

According to Wrigley, one of the major issues with today’s food systems is the lack of focus on fruits and vegetables in Americans’ diets. There is also an increase in overweight and obese individuals, especially among the younger population. Obesity can lead to diet-related diseases like cardiovascular disease and hypertension.

Wrigley believes that by engaging the younger students with gardening and cooking, they will be more likely to continue a healthy lifestyle in the future. She also believes it is important to have the UMBC campus undergo the same experience with food education.

Wrigley’s previous class has successfully grown food in the form of microgreens and seedlings in the biology greenhouse. Currently, a student-led project for a community garden on campus has been initiated and will continue to prosper with the support of others.

    Wrigley hopes to “promote a greater understanding of how growing food connects us to the land and the ecological impact that different agricultural systems have.”

By working on projects on and off campus, her students are able to work as a community and spread awareness to their families and peers.

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