UNL CropWatch Sept. 10, 2010: UNL Exhibits to Focus on "Shaping the Future of Food" at HHD

UNL CropWatch Sept. 10, 2010: UNL Exhibits to Focus on "Shaping the Future of Food" at HHD

Sept. 10, 2010

Like many of us, you can find UNL scientists 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.


A new UNL Extension website offers a gateway into a variety of research-based information about food.

"Food.unl.edu connects Nebraskans to information, resources, and food experts from farm to fork," said UNL Extension Educator Alice Henneman.

The site features the latest food- and nutrition-related stories from UNL, as well as an activities calendar and links to information about topics including food safety, food allergies, local foods, meat products, home food preservation, food processing/business development, youth/4-H and more.

The site also offers links to information about UNL food research and graduate and undergraduate educational opportunities.

"UNL Extension long has been a leader in providing unbiased, research-based information about food and nutrition to Nebraskans," Henneman said. "This new website gathers that expertise in one easy-to-access site."


"The University of Nebraska is an unquestioned international force in food research that is benefitting the global community, and NU's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources has been a driving force behind that continuing research," according to NU Vice President and IANR Harlan Vice Chancellor Ronnie Green.

IANR's role in "Shaping the Future of Food" will be the focus of a series of exhibits at the annual Husker Harvest Days show in Grand Island Sept. 14-16. They'll be in UNL's familiar Husker Red exhibit building on the south side of the showground at Lot 321.

The all-new show focus and themed exhibits mark the third year that UNL Extension experts and Agricultural Research Division scientists will concentrate their Husker Harvest Days exhibits and presentations into a well defined topical area of current interest and concern to Nebraskans.

This theme-based exhibiting approach debuted in 2008 with "Water" and continued last year with "Crops for the Future."

"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. "We want to use Husker Harvest Days as a venue for showing Nebraskans how what we do in our labs, classrooms and Extension programming will help make their farms, their businesses, their lives better."

This year's displays focus on some innovative but sometimes little known research being conducted by IANR faculty and staff. One is the Gut Function Initiative, aimed at discovering how each of us processes nutrients differently.

Show goers also will be exposed to 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" is a display on matching your diet with your DNA to target individual health and disease prevention. Another exhibit focuses on UNL's international leadership in food allergy research.

Still more exhibits look into growing opportunities for Nebraska farmers and ranchers to diversify with local foods, the near limitless possibilities of improving meat products, food safety and food entrepreneurship and development with the help of UNL's Food Processing Center.

Next door to the familiar Husker Red exhibit building will be the equally Husker Red Mobile Diagnostics Lab with its state-of-the-art tools and information for early detection of potential threats to plant health and yield.

Additionally, a central information booth will help answer questions on a variety of extension and research-related topics, provide copies of helpful NebGuides, and direct those needing help to Extension experts in their local area.

There will be plenty for potential students and their families to see, as well. They will be able to explore a full range of enrollment options and find information on courses of study through the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, School of Natural Resources and Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture at Curtis, among others. The successful Nebraska Leadership Education/Action Development program also will be at the show.

IANR has been part of Husker Harvest Days since the first show in 1978. Its Husker Harvest Days show themes will continue to change to reflect areas of concern and focus for the state's producers, agribusinesses and natural resources concerns, every year or every other year, Green said.

Steven Ress
Communications Coordinator, UNL Water Center