Shaping the Future of Food
Like many of us, a lot of UNL researchers are thinking about food, day-in, day-out, all the time. The difference is that their focus is helping to shape the future of food, both locally and internationally.
“The University of Nebraska is an unquestioned international force in food research that is benefiting the global community and NU’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) has been a driving force behind that continuing research,” according to NU Vice President and IANR Harlan Vice Chancellor Ronnie Green.
“IANR has worked hand-in-hand with agribusiness and producers to make Nebraska a global leader in agriculture and food research through groundbreaking, imaginative thinking and unmatched in-the-field extension education,” Green said.
Some innovative research, currently being conducted by IANR faculty and staff, focuses on aspects of food these aspects of food:
- The “Gut Initiative,” is aimed at discovering how each of us processes nutrients differently. You are what you eat, so the saying goes, and UNL has the only group of researchers in the nation studying “gut” function in terms of food science.
- Another research area is the emerging field of nutrigenomics, or how nutrients affect gene expression and health. Part of that research is focused on how Nebraska crops could help fight disease and improve immunity.
- “Functional foods” research focuses on matching your diet with your DNA to target individual health and disease prevention. Nebraska leads the nation in production of dry edible beans, which have amazing nutraceutical properties.
- UNL is an international leader in food allergy research. Developing assays to determine tolerance thresholds of main allergenic foods is one of the areas for which UNL is recognized.
- Nebraska researchers are noted for their research on improving meat products. The Flat Iron Steak, developed at UNL, is a perfect example of innovative muscle profiling leading to a new cut of beef.
“Studies completed by BoHyun Lee, a Ph.D. graduate student of Dr. Vicki Schlegel (Associate Professor, Department of Food Science and Technolgy), has shown that consumption of whole kernel sorghum lipids are able to reduce gastrointestinal inflammatory markers caused by a fatty diet. Inflammation has been linked to inflammatory bowel syndrome, cancer, and other GI conditions.”