Weekly Reflections

Week One – February 22nd – The End or the Beginning?

This week has been the beginning of the end and the end of the beginning for Senior Project. Seniors are officially half way there! Now with the supposed hard and time consuming part over with, things should be looking up for the last few months. Yes the paper was difficult at times in each stage, especially the problems most had with perfect citations and paraphrasing during the last week before the paper was due. The most time consuming part for me will be the product. It has to be planned, I have to spend 15 hours with my mentor refining the details and create the physical finished product in the next two months.

It is the end of the beginning a sense that the first leap into senior project – the research paper – is finally over. There is nothing more to worry about editing or citing. It is all in the hands of the graders and there is nothing more I can do about it. Which is a big relief. It is the beginning of the end because lets face it, this is it. Sitting at my mentors desk going over specific nutrient information for hours will come and go quickly.

Week Two – February 29th – Onto the Product

My class got our papers back this week. Mine came back with no discrepancies =] and the final grade was an 88. I am pleased with that. It puts me off on the right foot to start phase two; the product. Earlier this week I talked with my mentor and set up a product planning date for March 17th. I am still on the fence about my exact product. It will have something to do with very specific nutrients and compounds in foods that many people have never heard of, yet are still very important. I was thinking along the lines of a guide book that anyone can benefit from, not just organic eaters or the well informed ‘health freaks.’ While brainstorming I was thinking of ways that the public can get quickly educated about food without even knowing it. Advertisements and food labels were at the top of my list.

Of those 3 possible product ideas, I thought of ways to make each one unique. All three would be presented in a different way but essentially giving the same information. I will meet with my mentor and see what she thinks. Her experience with actual clients will help me decide what the everyday but still health conscious public really looks for.

Overall I am pretty optimistic about it. I can see myself carrying out the product planning, creation and presenting it to the boards at the end of the year. I have no doubt that over the next few weeks my product idea will change a lot until I refine it. So I will also have to change and refine the way I will present it to the boards.

Week Three – March 7th – Food Field Trip

This week I took a trip to some of the ‘nutritional hot spots’ on Aquidneck Island. My first stop was Clements Market. As I browsed the aisles examining different foods and labels to base my product off of, I was surprised by one thing. While Clements in general has a lot of more local brands than chain-superstores like Stop and Shop, it only had one organic small organic section and its natural aisle was filled mostly with all sorts of flavored waters, teas and other drinks.

My next stop was the newly opened Green Grocer next to Anna D’s Café on East Main Road. Anna D’s is a nice place to stop in and enjoy a healthier breakfast than what many of the local Dunkin Donuts have to offer. They have a variety of teas and coffees and also ‘Muscle Milk,’ a protein drink that is fairly expensive and something you would not expect to find in a small town café. The Green Grocer is a well stocked store carrying many USDA certified organic brands. It makes everything from coffee and cereal to ice cream and candies better for your health and the environment. They also have a small fresh produce section, a supplement section, a natural beauty care section and a reading shelf. My next stop along East Main Road was the Natures Goodness natural foods store. This is a smaller store than the Green Grocer and has much less food, but a lot more supplements, free reading materials and a larger natural beauty section. The clerks at both natural stores were very personal and helpful. They gave me a lot of insight into what most customers look for and gave me more ideas for what I should include on my labels.

Week Four – March 14th

Week Five – March 21st – Research, Research, Research!

I met with my mentor Kristin Niessink on Monday of this week at Newport Athletic Club. During the past few days I have been pinning down my product ideas. I came up with the concept of redesigning food labels to be more specific to each food group. My mentor really liked the idea and agreed that it would be helpful to everyday shoppers. I divided all foods into nuts and nut products, fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains and carbs and meats and poultry. There was some debate over including fish and seafood in the meats and poultry category, or creating a seafood group by itself.

The time spent researching my product after talking to Kristen Niessink this week was put into a lot more than just recognizing the basics. My mentor agreed with all of the nutrient information specific to that food group that I learned about before talking to her was a basic thing that the public should be aware of. So I realized I had to get more technical. Almost every day this week I spent a lot of time reading studies on the importance and use of relatively newer ways to monitor nutrients. The most confusing part of it was using the Gylcemic load along with the Glycemic index to be the most accurate when labeling and rating foods. I also looked more deeply into fruits and vegetables this week and learned a lot about the ORAC rating system that measures anti-oxidant power in most fruits, vegetables and vitamins. You can find here read more information the link to helped Rasmus Kreutzmann