NYU Steinhardt News

Nutrition and Food Studies Students at Steinhardt Research and Scholarship Showcase

This spring, four master's students from the NYU Steinhardt Department of Nutrition and Food Studies were accepted to participate in the annual Steinhardt Research and Scholarshop Showcase. Here is a sample of some of the fascinating work they put together.

Ross Johnston: The Impact of Fish-Fed Animal Agriculture on Magellanic Penguin Populations in Argentina 

Commercially consumed farm animals, pork and poultry in particular, are often fed small forage fish as marine protein fillers. Humans are not the only species reliant upon these Atlantic pelagic fish for nutrients, the endangered Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) of South America depends on these fish stocks as well. Assessing the conditions of these overlooked fishery stocks will help protect both the penguins, and human food security, as these “bait fish” are more than just penguin and pig food, but food for other human consumed commercial fish stocks, such as tuna and swordfish. Measuring the rise in penguin strandings through biodensity GIS data in correlation with a reduction in successful fishing landings and a decreased total netting volume from Argentine fishery change over time statistics, is the best strategy to provide the required evidence needed to build a fishery policy that allows Magellanic penguin population recovery without jeopardizing economic agricultural production. 



Asia Hampton: The Role of Cultural Relevance in Food Education: Changing Perceptions of Self and Health in Marginalized Youth

Since the passage of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010, and the USDA’s subsequent creation of the Farm to School Program, there has been a significant increase in the number of programs on public school campuses that offer food and nutrition education. However, most initiatives focus on elementary school-aged children while programming for older students decreases as they continue on to middle and high school. The inability of these education programs to create lasting behavioral change in the populations most at-risk for diet-related disease has created an opportunity to better understand motivators of food choice. The research question asks what role cultural relevance plays in bridging the gap between nutrition education programs and their effectiveness in changing food attitudes and choice in low-income, urban, and high-school aged youth, specifically.




Allie Wist: Visual Documentation of Soda, Water Access, and Power Dynamics in Colombia

This photojournalism project documents the place of soda, and the soda bottle itself as an artifact of broader socio-economic and cultural concerns, in Colombia. Soda occupies a complex role in the developing world, and in Colombia in particular. Colombians have a uniquely passionate affinity for soda—not just consuming both international and national brands, but also even cooking with soda in a few instances. But there exists a history of controversy around human rights abuses at Coca-Cola owned bottling plants in the country, and with soda tax legislation on the table, complex concerns at the intersections of both public health and economics. The soda bottle exists in this country not only as a symbol of material success, as it does in many developing countries, but it also acts as a potential artifact of contemporary material culture which reveals a diverse set of socio-economic and cultural concerns. Allie produced a photo essay on the complex role of soda on an island with limited access to fresh water; she wrote a story for SAVEUR on the culture of soda on Colombia's coast; and is currently working on photography related to the humans issues surrounding Coca-Cola's presence in the country, including the documentation of locations in Barranquilla where labor rights activists were killed, allegedly by paramilitary.



Cyle Cucinotta: Breaking New Grounds: Home Coffee Roasting and Masculinity in Private Spaces

Coffee in its many forms is a billion-dollar industry in the United States. From shops to brewing equipment to beans, North Americans purchase coffee beans, flavoring, and equipment in droves. Now, however, raw beans and roasting equipment are purchased more and more by a very specific demographic: upper middle class Caucasian men. For them, roasting is about more than coffee. They define their masculinity by how much of their own creative effort is poured into the DIY project and this their way of reclaiming the traditionally feminine space of the home. To make the masculinity of the act of preparation as “manly” as the taste, these men take on more aspects of the division of labor by roasting the beans themselves in increasingly creative ways. While there is not a physical community for these men to inhabit, the Internet has provided them with a means of documenting, sharing, teaching, and exploring their hobby. Using gathered historical and modern primary sources and interviews this study explores how public and private spaces gender coffee and how the DIY movement has affected this gendering. Through preparing a masculine beverage in increasingly masculine ways, these men gain mastery over a cultural object, therefore gendering something as ubiquitous as a cup of coffee, or, in this case, a cuppa joe. This connection between public/private spaces and gender performance has economic consequences for coffee producers and consumers alike, as well as personal implications for the people inhabiting these spaces.