ROTC Airforce Parade

May 14, 2010

May 13, 2010

Ithaca Marches off the Beat of Cornell’s ROTC

May 13, 2010

5/13/10
Carolyn Cutrone

Their green suits are smooth from head to toe. Ties secured tightly around their necks. Their feet are parallel to one another, until an order is given upon which a right foot over the left, smoothly pivots the body in the opposite direction. Inside these suits are two sets of eyes peering out just beneath a pointed hat. There is no indication that these eyes are those of an every day college student. The only hint giving of this alter identity away, is the fact that they are in Cornell University’s Barton hall—the home of the University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps.

Cornell University is just one of the hundreds of ROTC programs offered to college student’s around the country. It serves as headquarters for SUNY Cortland, Whales College, Elmira College, SUNY Binghamton and Ithaca College. Because of this cross- town relationship with so many institutions, one would presume that Cornell’s ROTC program would be rather large. However, it is actually the opposite. Captain Larry B. Olsen of the Navy, said that getting accepted into Cornell University is the first and main difficulty in enrolling students in their program.

“Last year I had 90 students who submitted applications for ROTC scholarship and they received letters back from the program saying ‘Congratulations you get an ROTC scholarship to Cornell, if you can get in,’ ” Olsen said.

Once the few students are accepted, Cornell must then compete with financial packages and reputations offered by other schools.

“Of those 90 students, 11 were actually admitted to Cornell and of those, I had five or six show up,” Olsen said.

For participants of the cross- town relationship, getting to classes and physical training sessions can be a problem because Cornell does not supply transportation. Sierra Yaple, a freshman at Ithaca College, is currently training with the Army branch of the ROTC and is waiting to be officially contracted. She said she is happy she has her own car, otherwise transportation would be an issue.

“I’m fortunate enough to have my own car on campus, so I can drive myself over there, but otherwise it would be a problem,” Yaple said.

Natalie King, a sophomore Journalism major at Ithaca College, was part of the Air force ROTC program her freshman year at school, but decided the military was not the path she wanted to take. There were many aspects to her decision to quit but one main struggle she dealt with was getting to classes on time. King received rides some days from friends, but other days she had to take the bus which was unreliable when it rained. She said the officers were not understanding of tardiness and the stress became too much.

“For a school being ten minutes away, it’s incredibly stressful, you have to adjust to that. I didn’t think it was very worth it,” she said.

Cornell University’s struggles with enrollment may be linked to their transportation, but Kyle, Lee, Lieutenant and Scholarship enrollment officer at Cornell, believes there is an awareness aspect as well. Lee said he thinks the best way for students to be aware of the program is for students to have a visual reminder of the opportunities they have.

“The reason there aren’t so many Ithaca students involved in the program as Cornell students, is because the program is primarily based out of Cornell University. This whole building, Barton Hall is dedicated to the military services. A lot of the student body at Cornell uses the gym facilities, and see army and navy signs all over the place,” Lee said.

Yaple became aware of the ROTC program through Intercom, a system at Ithaca College used to share information and announcements with both students and staff. Yaple saw a link on Intercom and pursued the program through that.

“I did a lot of sports in high school and I decided not to in college, but this is the next best thing, it’s like being part of a team, and doing something good for your country too,” she said.

But for many college students struggling to pay for school, money becomes the deciding factor in joining ROTC. For Carl Griener, a sophomore engineering major at Cornell University, the decision to join the Naval program was purely financial.

“Well first, I was really looking for a way to pay for college. I applied to a lot of different schools and a lot of them cost a lot of money, so I wound up getting into Cornell and getting the ROTC scholarship, so I took it,” Griener said.

The ROTC offers scholarships to both high school students and college students, some covering the whole cost of tuition. King explained that most students who get involved in ROTC in college, have already participated in it in high school. This held true for one of her residents (she is a Resident’s Assistant.) However, the transaction to ROTC at Ithaca College specifically, made for a rocky one.

“I had a resident that was in the high school ROTC and he immediately quit because he couldn’t identify with anyone, with what he was going through,” King said.

The small membership from Ithaca College students may be due to the college’s liberal nature and makes it difficult for the few members there are in the program. King believes that students at Ithaca College are simply interested in a different lifestyle. One of her main reasons for leaving the ROTC besides transportation, was the rigid structure the military adheres to.

“It’s’ very rigorous because not only are you working out, but they’re yelling at you the whole time, again with the whole ‘trying to get you to conform to their standards’, ” she said.

But regardless of the tough orders during classes, King said that the military has taught her a lot about her country, political motives and discipline. Griener and Yaple alike, said the military taught them a new appreciation for the United States. Yaple said the scholarship was the main attraction at first but her passion quickly shifted.

“Originally it was because I was looking for financial aid assistance, and I knew they offered scholarships, but now it’s so much more than that, it gave me a new sense of worth,” she said.

Scholarship enrollment officers such as Lee have a few strategies to increase enrollment. Lee feels it is important to show a presence on campus in order to get the word out.

“Actually once a week usually on Wednesdays, usually myself and the other cadre members here, go over to Ithaca and have lunch in the pub, try to get people aware by seeing us,” he said.

But overall, Cornell University’s ROTC program cannot compete with the liberal roots of Ithaca as a town and community. Yaple, who grew up in Ithaca, said there’s a sense of that when walking around in her uniform.

“We march around the campus and the looks we get from people, you can tell that they’re all ‘peace, love, happiness, no war,’ and that definitely plays a part, “ she said.

May 13, 2010

No Shoes Allowed

May 13, 2010

Amanda Riggio

5/13/2010

A hollow thud penetrates the muggy air, causing cheers to erupt and bodies to spring into action. The game begins. The ball travels swiftly down the field, which has transformed into a maze of bodies. It’s a treasure hunt for a goal. The ball glides from foot to foot – smack, swoosh, goal.

It’s May 1 and college students from the surrounding NY area have gathered for SUNY Cortland’s third annual 3v3 soccer tournament. This is a tournament centered around fundraising money for GrassrootSoccer, an organization that uses soccer as a communication tool to educate children in Africa about HIV and AIDS prevention.

The only rule for this tournament was “no shoes allowed.”

GRS’s Loose the Shoes tournaments have raised over $175,000 for the cause since the first tournament in 2006. All proceeds go towards supporting GRS’s soccer-based “Skillz Curriculum.”

“In Africa, soccer is life,” said Harrie Bakst of Carnigie Sport and Entertainment, GRS’s marketing agency. “It’s a big part of their culture. GRS uses the power of soccer to fight HIV and AIDS, [as it] brings people together in one centralized placed.”

GRS uses the sport not only because of its cultural value, but because it’s a simple way to get a large number of people involved in the cause.

“Soccer is an amazing sport in the sense that you just need a ball,” said Bakst. “Loose the Shoes is an easy, sustainable way to raise funds and [allows] anyone to give back to the cause.”

However, the ease of this process does not take away from the tournament’s effectiveness.

“Last year the tournaments raised $108,000,” said Bakst. “That translates to putting 7,000 kids through grassroots programs.”

This fundraising would not be possible if it weren’t for the individual efforts of high school and colleges, such as SUNY Cortland, who put these tournaments together.

“We’re still compiling our donations,” said Liam O’Connell, Cortland sophomore and tournament organizer. “We’ll probably end up with $1,000- $1,200. Last year we raised about $700. The goal is to double [fundraising] every year.”

So far the Cortland team has been accomplishing this goal in terms of money raised, and has also doubled their tournament attendance, as last year’s 14-team roster morphed into 27 for this year’s tournament.

The vivacious voices of the 135 participants competed with the bumping music as they warmed up for the first round of games.

“Each game is 15 minuets long,” explained Meredith Lewando, freshman co-chair of the tournament.  “Everyone gets four games in and then we go into the play offs.”

As she ran her fingers through the grass, players continued to warm up, getting a feel for the luscious grass, and toughening up their feet for this new experience.

“In Africa, they play soccer barefoot all the time,” said Bakst, explaining the idea behind the tournament. “In fact they don’t even use balls, they’ll just roll up some garbage and play with that. Loose the Shoes was created as a high school and college fundraising platform, but also to show the US how [soccer] is played in Africa.”

This idea is one that has stimulated a lot of interest in Americans, and has created a buzz around the Loose the Shoes tournaments, as it is something off the beaten track.

“I thought it would be a cool event,” said participant Stephen LeMode. “I am so excited to kick this ball with my bare feet.”

This excitement is exactly what O’Connell was hoping for, as he has big aspirations for future tournaments. “We want it to be the biggest tournament in Central NY,” he said.

O’Connell came to Cortland, as a freshmen sports management major, with the intent to start an annual soccer tournament as a marketing strategy for his department.

“I originally was going to do a tournament where all the money would go to the sports management department,” he explained. However, Dan Anaeio, a Cortland senior at the time, was already planning the second annual Loose the Shoes tournament.

“Someone in the department tipped me off to him,” said O’Connell. “We took the organization and structure from my tournament and made it into the Loose the Shoes tournament. Now all the money goes to charity.”

Now that Anaeio has graduated, the reigns have been passed to O’Connell, who plans on developing this into more than just a soccer tournament.

“We really want to focus on making it bigger and better every year,” he said. “We had some clubs on campus there [this year], but the ultimate goal is to make it not just a soccer tournament, but a big event that is centered around a soccer tournament. Every year we will add more clubs and do more fundraising on the side to raise money for GrassrootSoccer.”

O’Connell’s ultimate goal is to make it a weeklong event. “It would be the Week of African Sport and Culture,” he said. “Each day there will be a presentation, event or fundraiser leading up and culminating with Lose the Shoes on that Saturday. I want to enlighten people and make the cause more real.”

Although all the money goes to charity, Cortland’s sports management department is still involved.

“This year [the tournament] became part of the [sports management] club,” said O’Connell, explaining that this provides them with funding from the school. This funding allows 100 percent of the proceeds to go to GrassrootSoccer.

“All donations are also tax deductable” explained Lewando. “Ten dollars is $10.00,” she said.  “Every [dollar] goes directly to the cause, not to any costs.”

Aside from sponsors from surrounding businesses, the bulk of donations come from participants who must give $10.00 to enter the tournament. “Paying didn’t bother me,” said participant Kayla Inanc. “I wanted to play. I like soccer and I like not wearing shoes! I knew it was for charity, so I figured I could kill two birds with one stone.”

The Loose the Shoes program is still a fairly new platform for GRS, and it is continuing to grow. Cortland’s efforts, alongside those of the numerous other schools and organizations involved, only aid in this process.

Summer Teen Unemployment Raises Concerns

May 13, 2010

Laura Murray

5/13

School’s out for the summer! Well, almost.

As school comes to an end for college and high school students, many teens are heading home for the summer and most with empty pockets.  Most young adults rely on work during the summer because their studies consume the majority of their time during the school year.

However, teen unemployment remains at 17 percent, which is the highest youth unemployment in 60 years.  Because of the high overall unemployment rate, adults are being forced to apply for what are typically summer jobs, leaving teens out of work.

According to New York State Labor Department estimates, Monroe County has already collected 2,400 applications for summer jobs, but only 600 are predicted to be hired.  

Teens in Broome and Tioga counties are currently being told that funds are limited and they may not be rehired.  With the bleak unemployment statistics, Ithaca high school and college students are certainly concerned with finding summer jobs.

Jordan Sigg, a junior at Ithaca high school, said she’s in the process of applying for several jobs.

“I currently don’t have a job, but I’m trying really hard to get one,” Sigg said.  “I’ve already been turned down from Wegmans and Dolce Delight.”

Wegmans refused to comment if the current economy had impacted their hiring figures this summer.

Sigg said she was denied work at Dolce because two of her friends received jobs first, and the ice cream place could not afford any more employees.

“I do think the economy has decreased my chance of getting a job.  Not only because I’m competing with adults who are more experienced with work due to layoffs, but also because the other kids I’m competing with need the money for college,” Sigg said.  “I want a job so I can have money to buy the things I want and save up for college.”

Most college students also rely heavily on summer employment.  Ithaca College Junior Michael Shipman said his summer job served as the main source of his income, but he was recently denied access to his old job.  Shipman used to work for Kellog’s Company in Williamsport, Pennsylvania but his connection transferred to North Carolina and his efficiency project was over. 

“Because of the company changes, they didn’t need as many people so they cut jobs,” Shipman said.  “They essentially said, ‘Sorry we liked you and you did a good job, but you can’t come back this summer.’   We’re not hiring any more interns. We’re just going to keep the people we have that live in the area all year around and we can depend on.”

Shipman said he found himself desperate for work and applied for at least 10 different jobs in the Ithaca area. 

“I finally heard back from some places after several weeks, but only one offered me a job.  My pay is literally cut in half.  I’m going to have to work during the school year just to make it by because I’m now probably going to go broke,” Shipman said.

Ithaca College Junior Eric Hubbs said his job was secured through a friend.  Hubbs works at the Hilton Hotel in Ithaca.

“I got the Hilton job because one of my friends worked there previously,” Hubbs said.  “They’re such a bonded group, and I don’t think I would have received the job if I was just a random person applying.” 

Despite student difficulties, local businesses feel the economy has not affected their hiring.  A manager at Wal-Mart, Shawn, said the market hasn’t shaped their employee numbers. 

Gina Speno, general manager of the Ithaca Mall, said the summer typically doesn’t impact the mall’s hiring status.

“The mall really doesn’t hire extra people for the summer.   We tend to do that for the last quarter of the year for the holidays,” said Gina.  “Our business doesn’t increase during the summer so we don’t look to hire additional people.”

John Bradack, director of Ithaca College Career Services, said the Ithaca job market for teens is not completely glum.  He recently picked up a survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which reports that the job market is up about 5 percent for entry-level graduates as compared to the year before.  Nevertheless, Bradack still notes that there will certainly be some challenges this summer for teens.

The student that is thinking about starting to look for a summer job now is starting at a disadvantaged point,” Bradack said.  “That would have been better done in January, February or March.  It is a very challenging market for students.”

But Bradack said he’s choosing to remain optimistic for teens.

“There are always job opportunities for those who are out there and making it happen,” Bradack said.

A Sustainable Tradition in Ithaca

May 13, 2010

Erica Conte

5/13/10

A gust of wind blows as a man struggles to hang a banner outside of his van. Defeated, the man decides to unload the van to set his array of family-made wine on display under a pavilion.

Almost 9 AM, the man and the rest of the vendors are gearing up for another weekend at the Ithaca Farmers Market. Rain or shine, local businesses bring produce, crafts, and other homemade items to the public during the summer and fall seasons.

In 1973, the market began as a small venue where local farmers would meet and sell their goods. As the need to become more sustainable grew over the years, the Farmers Market expanded to accommodate over 100 growers and craftspeople. Local farm, Wild Apple Farm began selling its organic vegetables to the Farmers Market 25 years ago.

Anna Gibson, from Wild Apple Farm, says, “When I first started, this market was very small. It only cost two dollars a day to sell here and twenty-five dollars to join. I just had a big garden and it was more than I could eat myself and I thought, how could I lose by doing this?”

The cost to join and sell at the Farmers Market has increased since then due to the volume of businesses eager to get their name out in the community.

“There’s been ups and downs,” says Gibson. “But I’ve grown throughout it. And this is a great market for what I’m doing. I think that in the last few years with CSA’s that has taken some business away from the market.”

Community Supported Agriculture is a model of food and agriculture distribution. Farms that join CSA have a system that involves a group of individuals that support and purchase directly food from their farm. Joining the CSA prevents farms from selling at local venues because they have made a commitment to CSA and the people they are providing food for throughout the year.

Tom MacDonald from MacDonald Farms has been selling items at the Farmers Market with his wife for two years, but were also members during the ‘80s.

MacDonald says, “We don’t have a CSA so our farm needs markets like these to share our food with people and expose our business.”

With or without the CSA, farmers and craftspeople at the Farmers Market have joined to support the movement for a sustainable life and future.

“The world is running out of fuel. Why not eat within the environment and harmonize with what the world needs? Plus, eating within the environment allows you to eat what is appropriate for the climate. Food cannot be shipped all over the place forever,” says MacDonald.

According to the American Farmland Trust, America loses over one million acres of farmland to sprawling development every year. With “No Farms No Food” as their slogan, this non-profit organization supports local markets because they are resources that communities cannot lose anymore.

Residents in Ithaca, Dani and Haya Novak have been coming to the Farmers Market as long as they can remember.

Dani says, “Generally, we buy bread, veggies, lunch. Sometimes we buy art from local artists. It’s a super place, it’s hard to leave when get there. At the Farmers Market, we are closer to life’s elements.”

Sandy Saul, of Sandy’s Jewelry, has been a vendor at the Farmers Market for 25 years. A hobby that turned into a profession, Saul creates a variety of colorful jewelry with semi-precious stones and imitation stones to appeal to all jewelry pallets.

“It [Farmers Market] gives customers a chance to find a connection with the vendors they are doing business with. Here, people know where I am and they know I put the jewelry together and they can come back to me for new items or repairs. It’s important to know who you are dealing with because then you have a sense of trust in that person or business,” says Saul.

William Belliot, from King Ferry Winery, helps his sister and brother-in-law sell their wine on the weekends at the Farmers Market. King Ferry customers are welcome to sign up for a frequent buyer program for awards and specials.

“We appreciate our customers. We’ve really got the word out by becoming a vendor here. It’s helped business greatly. And we’ve gotten to know a lot of other people and local wineries,” says Belliot.

A California native, Lauren Grillo has visited the Farmers Market since her freshman year at Cornell University. Now a junior, Grillo tries to spend as much time as she can to peruse the market. With a block of cheese in hand, Grillo admires how big of a market the Farmers Market is compared to markets she’s visited before.

Grillo says, “Whenever I come here, there’s always something different I find whether it’s food or jewelry. Back home, there are weekly markets that I’ve gone to but they’re very small and kind of forgetful. I could spend the whole day here if it was open longer.”

The Farmers Market has become not only a tradition, but also an eco-friendly one. Vendors share and sell their items with customers in hopes they will understand the importance of locally grown food and locally made crafts.

Gibson says, “This is a well educated area. There are a lot people concerned about the quality of food we eat and about the environment. There is less of an environmental footprint from buying local foods than there is from buying from California or across the ocean. You just don’t find this in other areas to the same extent.”

From the Farmers Market to your home, a cooking book has been created to recreate the food found at the market. The Ithaca Farmers Market Cookbook will be released in October of 2010.

Along with celebrating the Farmers Market and the recipes the vendors have provided, the cookbook also celebrates the local and sustainable mission of the market.

Barbara Anger from Ithaca says, “I’m definitely going to get that cookbook. There are such great things here that I’ve wanted to bring into my kitchen.”

Whether you want a new necklace or a place to have lunch, the Ithaca Farmers Market caters to thousands of customers on the weekends, stressing the importance of reducing our economic footprint.

Singing Into Stardom: Nate Tao bypasses job and launches solo career

May 13, 2010

By Andrew Buraczenski
05/13/10

While most college seniors anxiously await answers for job opportunities Nate Tao is busy keeping track of how many people have downloaded his album.

Tao, a senior music major at Ithaca College, released his first solo EP “Lost In the Music” on Apr. 24 and made it available for free download on bandcamp.com. In just over two weeks, the EP has been downloaded close to 800 times. After a month, Tao will put “Lost” on iTunes, where it will have to be purchased.

Tao says having a unique release strategy is beneficial to artists such as himself who are looking to launch a solo career.

“I don’t think I would have gotten that amount [of downloads] if I had just sold it right on iTunes,” he said. “Especially for new artists, people want to know that this artist is popular, because if he’s not, they’re not inclined to listened to him or her.”

Although Tao doesn’t have any personal experiences with advertising, he utilized the many resources available on a college campus to help promote his EP.

“My friend Jimmy Knowles luckily got me to be a client for these [public relations] classes,” he said. “I was working with 11 or 12 students who were in this PR class and they were making campaigns for me. They were giving me info as to ‘you should do this’ and ‘this would be more effective to get the word out.’ ”

The EP provides listeners with five total songs — three up-tempo pop tracks and two ballads. Tao says it’s important to give listeners a variety, but artists still have to be mindful of the general feel of the music they create. For Tao, his main theme is liveliness.

“I want them to think of and feel energy and excitement about what they’re hearing,” he said. “Like, ‘oh man, this is Nate Tao, come on we have to get up and dance.’ ”

Tao says the EP’s first track does just that.

“ ‘Take Me Away’ — that’s a huge one and a reason why I put it first because you just jump right into the fun,” he said.

Christopher Miranda, Assitstant Conductor of Ithacappella, the all male a capella group of which Tao is a member, says the energy felt on Tao’s EP is also experienced at a live performance.

“Every concert when Nate walks out to do a solo, the crowd just explodes like no other,” he said.

At select concerts, two faces in the crowd stand out from all the rest. Brandishing a smile only parents could provide, Anni and Mark Tao are ecstatic to see their son perform, even though they cannot hear him sing. Becoming deaf after receiving a small pox vaccine in their native Taiwan, Nate’s parents have to follow along with an interpreter during a performance.

Miranda says one of his most moving concert experiences is when he performed with Nate in the Ithaca College Choir while Anni and Mark were in the audience.

“Being at a concert where there was a signer who was interpreting all of our songs for Choir to his parents and seeing his parents cry just through the words was really moving,” he said.

Lawrence Doebler, Professor of Music Performance and Director of Choral Studies at Ithaca College says he too has fond memories of Tao on this year’s Choir tour.

“In Choir we strive to understand a text and be able to internalize it in such a manner that we convey our feelings to our audience,” he said. “This year’s tour to his home town, in front of his parents, I saw Nate express emotionally in a very meaningful way. In speaking with his parents through a sign interpreter following the concert it was clear that they really understood Nate’s passion for performing. I think this will help him to continue to grow as a musician, communicator and performer.”

While in Tao’s hometown, sophomore music performance and education major Katie Sullivan says she saw first-hand how much Nate is loved on and off the stage.

“Everyone was like ‘Nate how are you, we miss you’,” she said. “It was the genuine, ‘we really miss you at this school.’ You can tell that he’s a really big part of their school and everyone misses him.”

Although this Choir tour was some of Miranda’s last performances with Tao, Miranda says he will remember Nate’s strong work ethic, a trait one cannot help but notice.

“[Nate’s] always there doing his work and putting in his time,” he said. “He definitely is dedicated, especially between all of the music stuff that he does — between Ithacappella and Choir. He always knows his part and you can always count on him.”

Although he’s graduating a year early, Tao says he’s apprehensive but ready to take his work ethic out into the real world.

“It’s scary to think ‘oh, I’m going to L.A.’,” he said. “I’m not going to have a job, I don’t know where I’m living, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I want to do it. I have to do it. Otherwise, I could be sitting at home in Virginia, thinking about doing it. I have to do it. I have to jump in the pool.”

For Sullivan, Tao’s positive attitude and focus on music is going to prove him well.

“He’s just your typical down to earth, here to sing, here to have fun [kind of guy],” she said. “It’s all about the music to him.”

Although Tao is eventually looking to make a living off of being a performer, he looks at his solo debut for what it’s worth — the music.

“I think that excitement is really what I want to portray and hopefully what people will hear,” he said. “But mainly, I just want people to have fun.”

Sustainability through Smarter Food

April 23, 2010

Goodbye Natural Food, Hello Bioengineering

April 23, 2010

Carolyn Cutrone

4/23/10

It smells a little funky, with the mixture of dried up test tubes and possibly some body odor. The rows of beakers sit beside even more rows of labeled bottles, each containing a different element to the food in which they will soon become a part of. Nestled in the corner, a beater like instrument revolves in a plastic ball, containing a creamy like substance. Inside this lab, DNA is manipulated, compounds are purified and carcinogens are extracted in an attempt to make food more nutritious, abundant and sustainable, right in time for Earth Day.

The Food Science Department at Cornell University bioengineers foods to make it larger, more accessible and packaged to improve shelf life. Instruments such as the one rotating in the lab, work to purify compounds.

Bioengineering means taking a gene from one specific species and implementing it into another to add a desired trait. Cornell University Food Science Professor, Carl Batt explained the purpose of bioengineering food.

“It comes down to the basic idea that DNA is the blueprint of life, and that you can go in a very deliberate manner, take out genes from one organism and put that into another organism,” Batt said.

By manipulating the DNA of a certain plant, fruit, vegetable or meat, foods can be changed to accommodate a greater nutritional value by adding nutrients where some foods are lacking. A Junior Food Science Major, Yuhang Sun, explained how the foods are being engineered to be healthier for consumers.

“They bioengineer these foods to be better than the natural foods, so they’ll find ways to have that certain type of food express a certain type of amino acid or a certain vitamin,” Sun said.

Along with adding extra nutritional value or vitamins to certain foods, bioengineering also works with extracting vitamins that are harmful to humans. In a lab held this week, Sun’s professor brought in turkey bacon and regular bacon so the class could analyze their nitrites.

The class digested the food by adding chemicals to break it apart. Digesting in bioengineer terms, means separating the different parts of foods so they are able to be analyzed better. In some instances, they free vitamins. In this lab, nitrites were freed. After constructing a graph, students were able to look at the absorbents in the food and determine exactly how many nitrites were in a food sample.

“You don’t want any nitrites in your food product, because at high levels it can cause cancer.” Sun said.

This specific lab was targeted towards the disease prevention aspect of bioengineering food.

While many advances are being made in bioengineering food,  the general consensus still yields to the choice of natural foods over genetically modified food.  Lab Technician and Manager, Chris De Rito, said he believes in the benefits of bioengineering, but still said he would eat a piece of fruit before ever popping a pill.

“It’s always better to eat fresh, whole foods, it’s always better to eat an orange than to eat a vitamin C tablet,” De Rito said.

He explained that a naturally grown orange is better because it contains compounds that work together in a way only natural foods can.

Unfortunately there are places around the world where fresh food is inaccessible, as well as produced using up an immense amount of natural resources. Sun said he is involved in the Food Science Major to help countries that are not able to produce enough food or do it in a sustainable way.

“I support bioengineering because the way humans are, we use a ton of resources everywhere, and if we aren’t going to be smart about it, we are going to run out of it one day.”

Sun believes that bioengineering food can help countries in poverty stricken areas such as Africa, deal with shortages of food. Economically, it costs less to produce food through bioengineering than it does to grow and nurture natural foods. One of the purposes bioengineered food may serve in the future, is creating abundances of food by taking cells of larger foods and putting it into other foods, creating more quantity. However the old “quantity over quality” drawbacks stand strong here.

“They’re also bioengineering these foods to be bigger so you might lose out on natural characteristics like sweetness.” Sun said.

He explained that Japanese strawberries are significantly smaller than the ones sold in the U.S., but the ones in Japan are much sweeter and taste better.

Local restaurants in Ithaca N.Y,  such as Moosewood, are making a valiant effort to contribute to serving fresh, and mostly organic food, adding to the effort of healthier and more sustainable food. Moosewood is a vegetarian restaurant located in the Commons and changes it’s menu daily to give variety to people who chose vegetarian or vegan lifestyles. One of the owners, Ned Asta, said that she grows her own food and raises her own chickens. She said that a change in pace is happening in America where more people are paying more attention to what they eat.

“In America tending towards going organic and free range—I don’t know what they shoot the cows up with to tell you the truth, it’s really scary—but I think more and more people are paying attention to it,” Asta said.

Vegetarianism is similar to bioengineering in that it is a less costly way of consuming food, as vegetables and other products cost less money than meat. Vegetarianism is also a more sustainable choice in diet because it uses about half the resources that machinery and technology of raising and producing animals do.

But like most things that cost less, Professor Batt said that it is a trade off between what a consumer is willing to risk from eating genetically modified food, and what effects them economically in the present.

“At some point you are arguing: What is the potential risk involved and how much is it economically important to me, and you can’t really come up with an answer,” Batt said.

Skepticism arises whenever the thought of chemicals in food enters the equation. De Rito thinks that there are significant benefits though, to adding certain chemicals when it comes to making vitamins more digestible to the human body.

“A lot of people claim that they’ll lose a lot of their nutritional value, but that’s not necessarily the case, it’s kind of a big grey area because a lot of times when foods are processed, they are heated so that destroys a lot of vitamins, but it can also liberate a lot of nutrients as well to make them more bio-available,” De Rito said.

It all comes down to considering the potential risks of bioengineered food. This also means considering that bioengineering is a new study, so if there is a backlash, it most likely hasn’t happened yet. But looking at science in general, Professor Batt puts the risks in perspective.

“Science is not a perfect thing— if you smoke, there’s not a 100% chance you will get lung cancer and die— and with these things [bioengineered food] the correlation is far less obvious,” he said.


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