Virginia Tech’s Food Print: Eating Smart and the Bitterness Hedonic Scale

Virginia Tech’s Kentland Research Farm is 3200 acres of prime riverine farmland that supports the school’s agricultural research, instruction, and outreach missions growing and studying fruit, vegetables, row crops, and animals. Meanwhile, ten miles away, the university’s dining halls were serving 7.1 million meals every year using fruit, herbs, and veg trucked in from, if the  commonly used US food-mile average is used, 3000 miles away. Now, Virginia Tech’s dining halls, awarded first-place for “Best Food” by Princeton Review this year, is serving local food from Kentland. Good thinking.

Because they’re scientists, they figured out that sourcing broccoli from Kentland Farm reduced the transportation-related carbon dioxide emissions from 105,830.0 pounds to 258.3 pounds (a year? a mouthful? It wasn’t clear), however, they note, that that’s 99.8% reduction.

A taste-test of 98 participants compared local zucchini from the Blacksburg Farmers’ Market and nonlocal zucchini. They gave higher ratings to local zucchini for “eight of the ten characteristics” including something called the “Bitterness Hedonic Scale” and “local broccoli was also perceived as less bitter than the nonlocal” too. “Implying,” says the study rather stiffly, I thought, “that sourcing broccoli and zucchini locally will help reduce Virginia Tech’s carbon footprint and improve perceived quality,”


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