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Food Trends at UMD


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Anna Vukelich and Anna Kuny.
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Urji Yusuf
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Jeff Skansgaard

A national survey: Collegiate Gen Y Eating: Culinary Trend Mapping Report done by the Packaged Facts and the Center for Culinary Development examine the eating habits of U.S. college students in order to prepare the food industry for future change. Their recent survey, taken of students in July 2012, found seven new college eating trends.

The first trend is that more students are experimenting with meatless diets. The second trend finds that chickpeas and hummus are becoming more popular. The third trend states students are embracing peanut butter and other nut butters. For the fourth trend, fruit and vegetable use is on the rise. The fifth trend is saying more students are trying Asian food and customizing the taste. The sixth trend shows comfort foods like Italian and Mexican cuisine remain a staple. Finally, the seventh trend is that college student “go to” foods are easy to make and portable.

Several UMD students and staff commented on the food trends mentioned in the survey. Many students interviewed agreed with the survey findings. Others felt some of the national trends are slow to make it to the UMD campus.

Junior Saba Andualem has been eating a plant-based diet for over a year ever since food became a topic of interest. "It's exciting to know that more and more people are thinking where thier food is coming from. That's one of the main reasons why I believe more people are going meatless," Andualem stated.

UMD’s Food Court recently added the Fresh Works salad option, and the Dining Center (D.C.) has a vegan, vegetarian, or meatless option with every meal. Freshman Anna Kuny, who lives in the residence halls and eats in the D.C. sometimes eats the meatless meals. “It’s actually really good tasting – and good for you too. The option to go meatless is definitely here at UMD,” said Kuny.

Sophomore Mariel Jordan eats meat. “I make it a point to eat meat at least once a day,” she says. Even though Jordan is a meat eater, she does agree that there are more vegetarian options at UMD. 

The chickpeas and hummus eaters weren’t as easy to find. When senior Anthony Kozelka was asked if he ate hummus or chickpeas he wrinkled his face and shook his head. “I don’t eat it at all. I’ve heard good things about hummus, but it’s not for me,” he said. Nancy Jensen, a UMD health instructor and dietician, said most students don’t realize hummus is made from chickpeas.

When she started college, sophomore Melissa Kielty started eating a lot more peanut butter. “I think peanut butter is more popular now with college students all around. It’s delicious. I don’t see or use other nut butters,” said Kielty. Peanut butter is easy to find at UMD but cashew, almond and other butters are rare. The Northern Lights Coffee House carries sunbutter, made from sunflower seeds, and more students are becoming aware of it.

“Eating more fruits and vegetables is encouraged throughout the UMD campus,” says health educator Dori Decker. A survey done by the American College Health Association at UMD shows that overall fruit and vegetable consumption among UMD students has slightly increased. 64.4% of students ate 1-2 servings of fruits and vegetable a day in 2011, compared to 58.7% of students in 2009.

Several times a week Asian food can be found in the D.C., often at the Action Station, a spot where a chef prepares fresh meals in front of students. Freshman Anna Vukelich, who lives in the residence halls without a kitchen, loves Asian food. “If I could make it myself, I would,” said Vukelich.

“A lot of Asian dishes are served in the D.C., especially meatless ones,” said UMD’s nutritionist Jean Rodvold. Asian food is served on different days in several ways, as a meatless meal, a vegan meal, a main dish, at the Action Station, and at a buffet station where students serve themselves.

Junior Jeff Skansgaard and freshman Annie Carter both eat Mexican and Italian food. “Having Mexican or Italian cuisine reminds me of home because those are things I used to make with my family. They're definitely a major comfort food,” said Carter. Pizza and burritos are number one comfort foods for UMD students. “I personally love burritos,” says Skansgaard. "They’re delicious and available for students."

“College students here want something fast, portable, and cheap. I see fast meals everywhere. I don’t eat that way though,” says sophomore Urji Yusuf. Neither Yusef nor senior Christine Meyer eat easy-to-make foods. Meyer makes all of her food herself. Yusef, who is from Ethiopia, eats fresh organic food cooked in her culture’s style. They both agree that they see many UMD students gravitating toward fast, packaged food. “A lot of students are into convenient 'to go' food,” said Meyer. "When you’re a busy college student, you have to eat as fast as you can. Portable is definitely key. UMD serves fruit, sandwiches, vegetables, and salads in "to-go" packaging at the Grab-n-Go in the Food Court, in UMD Stores, and in the coffee shop.

Charlene Harkins, UMD health instructor and dietitian said, " The trend that's growing the most on campus is meatless diets." Harkins' class, Health 1100 - Health and Wellness: Strategies for Life, commented on the Gen Y survey. In general, the majority of the class agreed that peanut butter and other nut butters were a staple, especially sunflower and cashew butter and Nutella. Most of the class said they liked fruits and vegetables because they were easy to grab, and most brought them to UMD from off campus. When asked about  Asian food, several students mentioned the popularity of sushi. Vietnamese restaurants were mentioned as a cheap to go on a date. Yogurt and cereal bar, protein bars and other similar products were mentioned as to top "to go" foods. 

Not all of the seven trends can be easily found at UMD, but the students here are still making a change in the food served around them by influencing Dining Services here. Judy Breuer, health education intern, in collaboration between Health Services and Dining Services will conduct a survey this spring to look at UMD’s food trends.

Packaged Facts and the Center for Culinary Development said the trends noted in their Collegiate Gen Y Eating: Culinary Trend Mapping Report will influence the way people eat for years to come, long after current students are out in the work world.

Culinary Institute Study: Seven Food Trends in College Eating

lydia - university of minnesota duluth   vegan University of Minnesota Duluth

Lydia Makonnen, a student employee shows, some of the (1) Asian food offerings in the freezer section of UMD Stores.

  There is a rise in students choosing (2) vegetarian options. This is the meatless option for lunch in the UMD Dining Center.
chickpeas- university of minnesota duluth   fruit
(3) Chickpeas at the Food Court salad bar get rave reviews. Hummus is a standard offering in the Northern Shores Coffee House.   More (4) fruits and vegetables are consumed. The Dining Center offers fresh fruit at every meal.
grab university of minnesota duluth   buter-University of Minnesota Duluth
(5) Easy, healthy, convenience foods are winning choices in UMD's Grab and Go store.   (6) Nut butters, such as sunflower butter, sold for a bagel spread in the Northern Shores Coffee Shop.
annie university of minnesota duluth   italian university of minnesota duluth
7) Annie Carter agrees. Mexican food and Italian foods remain popular due to the "comfort food" factor.   Pizza? Spaghetti? Yes. The Taste of Italia area is part of the Food Court.

Story by Jessica Noor and Cheryl Reitan

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UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,

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