“We have a conversation about a variety of food topics with our community,” says Sheril Kirshenbaum, host of the food initiative at MSU. “I think too often academia is looking to have their faculty tell people what to do and then leave. But that doesn’t work; we have to do a lot more listening.
“I really am encouraged that MSU is taking time to listen to the concerns of our community and thinking more constructively about how to meet the needs of citizens who want more information about where their food comes from and how it impacts themselves and the planet.”
At the Our Table community gathering sessions, Kirshenbaum leads a panel of experts and an audience in a conversation on topics like food access, food waste, and GMOs.
“All of us for the most part are eating genetically modified foods, and that’s okay. Gene modification is a tool that allows us to promote certain traits that might be beneficial. I compare this tool to a hammer. A hammer can be used to build something very positive. But in the wrong hands, it can also be used in an irresponsible way.”
Kirshenbaum says there is a lot of noise surrounding GMOs and not a lot of understanding. And she offers 4 simple but effective holiday food safety tips: wash your hands, avoid cross contamination, cook meats and poultry to the proper temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly “because bacteria can double as often as every 20 minutes. And it’s easy at the holidays when foods are sitting out to leave it for hours.
“So make sure once you’re finished enjoying that meal with your family that you put it in the Tupperware and pop it back in the refrigerator as soon as you can.”
She talks about how long leftovers remain safe and discusses the arbitrary nature of most sell-by dates on products.
“We waste a lot of perfectly good food because we’re convinced it’s going to spoil because it’s too close to whatever that sell-by or best-used-by date is that is stamped on the product. The smell test works well. Take some time to check the food itself because you don’t necessarily have to throw it away.”
Kirshenbaum and Karel Vega co-host Serving Up Science every Wednesday afternoon on WKAR.
“It’s a way to publicly have conversations about a lot of these complex topics.”
Kirshenbaum is executive director of Science Debate.
“It was founded over 10 years ago with the simple mission to get candidates running for office to talk about science policy before elections. Political science research demonstrates that when our elected leaders publicly state their policy positions before taking office they’re much more likely to follow through on what they say.”
MSU Today airs Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on 105.1 FM and AM 870.