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Maymester Class Teaches the Science of Healthy Foods

Dr. Kim Daus, professor in the Chemistry and Physics Department, taught a Maymester class titled “Better Eating Through Chemistry.” The intent of the class was to use chemistry to help students understand the nature of food and cooking so that they could use it to intentionally improve recipes  and develop new recipes that were healthy and full of nutrients.

Daus had 23 students plus an assistant working in one large kitchen with one stove top and two ovens. Each week the class focused on a new cuisine: Week 1 – Southern (fried chicken and sides); Week 2 – Hispanic (tortilla-based entrees and salsas/guacamole); Week 3 – Local Food (student-friendly cuisine).

They started each week by sharing a meal the first day at a local restaurant, including Loveless Cafe, La Hacienda and Sloco’s/Burger Up. They then studied the chemistry of fats, proteins, carbohydrates and vegetables, did lab experiments that dealt with them, trialed recipe modifications in the lab and finished each week with each of the groups preparing their version of the meal.

In the last week the class visited Real Food Farms, Belmont’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), where students learned about their sustainable, organic practices, helped out with a few duties including mulching and setting up tomato cages and then took some of Daus’ CSA share to use in their last meal preparation.