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Capstone Projects

Food Allergies, Dietary Restrictions, and the Foodservice Industry

Thu, 12/03/2015 - 22:59
Abstract: For modern culinary professionals, food allergies and restricted diets present one of the biggest challenges in daily work. Ranging from an anaphylaxis-triggering peanut allergy to a preference for avoiding meat on Fridays, dietary restrictions and food sensitivities cover a wide variety of potential hurdles, and potentially inspirational guidelines, which foodservice professionals must navigate in order to be successful. On one side, a rise in the number of those with allergies or dietary restrictions presents an added challenge, but on the other, it presents an opportunity. Diners with such restrictions are becoming more and more comfortable with going out to dinner; that there will be some accommodation is now expected by consumers, rather than hoped for. The definition of “food allergy,” according to the Mayo Clinic, is “an immune system reaction that occurs soon after eating a certain food.” However, according to many experienced foodservice workers, the definition is “an annoying request from a customer who’s probably lying, anyway.” Of the many challenges contemporary chefs, culinarians, and food service professionals face, food preparation and service for those with allergies and restricted diets is one of the most prevalent, as well as one of the most misunderstood. Foodservice professionals will tell you that some of the most [annoying, silly, overblown, difficult, frightening] requests they receive while working are for special adjustments to accommodate a food allergy. When a chef is asked if the signature pasta dish can be made without gluten, his reaction is too often a mix of ire, disgust, and even embarrassment. Should a patron make a simple request that his or her food be prepared away from peanuts, images of anaphylactic shock and ambulances in the parking lot dance demonically through the front-of-house manager’s head. Such requests, however, seem to be popping up more and more often in our world. According to the CDC, “The prevalence of food allergies among children increased 18% during 1997-2007.” About 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies, as well as about 18 million Europeans. With such a rapid increase in those numbers, one would think the opportunity to impress customers with special diets might make a chef happy, rather than feeling as though he has been offended. The patience of chefs grows thinner still, however, when such requests are not a matter of health, but a matter of preference. For those who, for various reasons, adhere to a vegetarian or plant-based diet, or who follow certain religious dietary restrictions such as Islamic Halaal, finding a restaurant where the staff is ready and willing to accommodate can sometimes be difficult. For contemporary food handlers, ethics and morality play a massive role in serving such customers. A vegetarian diner, for example, may not know that the house minestrone soup is made with chicken stock in place of vegetable stock. Even after eating the soup, that customer will likely never know. In such situations, the decision to serve certain foods comes down to how much respect for his or her customers a chef has. It is my belief that the largest contributing factor towards the negative feelings chefs harbor over dietary restrictions is a lack of education and experience in handling such requests. Things unknown have always been a source of anxiety for a majority of human kind. That anxiety is why we are explorers and innovators; we subconsciously want to make things known. In order for foodservice professionals to handle the large number of diners who now request special items, it is necessary that they be educated from the earliest stages of their careers to expect, to accept, to interpret, and to enjoy working with those types of challenges. By doing so, the food and beverage industry will be a much more friendly world for all consumers, and a much more profitable one for all industry professionals.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Culinary Arts and Service Management
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Nathaniel Swain

Predicting the amount of usable lumber contained in American beech (Fagus grandifolia) logs infected with beech bark disease based on exterior defects.

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:09
Abstract: Beech Bark disease has had many effects on the hardwood forests of the northeastern United States. Many studies have been done in regards to the changes caused by the disease affecting the ecology, species composition of the forest, abundance of American beech (Fagus grandifolia), and physiology of individual trees. However, American beech is a dense, strong species that machines and bends well, and has uses in the form of flooring, handles, and some furniture. This study examines how the severity of beech bark disease affects the amount of usable lumber that can be recovered from American beech sawlogs. To do this, American beech sawlogs with varying degrees of beech bark disease infection were harvested, bucked and scaled. These logs were rated according to their degree of beech bark disease infection based on exterior defects such as raised or sunken cankers, fissures and evidence of scale insect. These logs were then sawn into lumber form and rescaled to find a percentage of usable lumber that resulted from the gross scale taken prior to sawing. There was not a definitive relationship between degree of infection, and lumber yield. This study will be useful to the stakeholders of the lumber industry to aid in predicting whether or not a log infected with beech bark disease can be economically used for lumber.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
Authors: Alex Cote, Zachary Smith

Vermont Maple Forest Products LLC. Forest Management and Business Plan

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 17:52
Abstract: Maple syrup production is an extremely important aspect of the American economy in the northeast, generating around 132 million dollars in revenue annually across its U.S production range (United States Department of Agriculture, 2014). At the current rate of production U.S producers are presently only tapping 0.4% of the maples which may be available (Farrell & Chabot, 2012). Vermont has the greatest number of its trees tapped, with 2.94% of available trees currently in production. The low percentage of tappable maple trees in production has been seen as a short coming in the industry. However, this does create the possibility for entry into the industry. Vermont Maple Forest Products LLC is in current maple production and desires to produce on an industrial scale. Simon Boulet and Claude Deschenes (2005) found that the highest degrees of profit are generated when a producer is considered a medium(5,000-19,000 taps)-large (>19,000 taps) supplier. At this point costs per tap are reduced and sap yeilds increase. Vermont Maple Forest Products currently has the land available for potentially over 28,000 taps. To achieve this goal a business plan and forest management plan was developed and will be implemented across the tract with the goal of maple syrup production.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
Authors: Adam D Allen