DEAR DR. BLONZ: I am in my junior year of a nutrition and dietetics program, and I am confused as to what path I should take for graduate school. I could see myself working for a food company -- developing, testing and promoting food products, and creating and testing recipes. If I pursue that, would it be more beneficial to focus on food science or nutrition? -- S.T., San Diego
DEAR S.T.: I often receive questions from students interested in the fields of nutrition and food science. A dietetics degree (R.D.) could certainly serve you well, but seeing as you are interested in working in the food industry, a food science degree would also seem to be a logical pursuit. Along with learning essential information about the science of food production, you would be more marketable when it came time to look for a job. You might consider a grad school that has both a food science department and a nutrition department (at some universities, these departments are combined).
I would recommend you check out the Institute of Food Technologists (ift.org), the professional organization for that industry. The group is based in Chicago. IFT's website offers information about careers in the food industry. Also, consider attending one of the many trade shows put on by the food industry. This would provide you with some excellent exposure to products, approaches and opportunities. IFT has an annual meeting, but there is also the Fancy Food Show (specialtyfood.com) and a host of others.
Whatever schools you are considering, I encourage you to ask for a list of the research interests of the faculty. Academic department success relies on the strengths of its faculty, and this is a good way to see how a department is oriented. Look for a school with faculty members whose interests are aligned with your own. I wish you well with this important decision.
DEAR DR. BLONZ: Is there any value to be gained from drinking wheat grass juice? Is this a reasonable thing to do if I do not have enough vegetables in my diet? -- J.J., Berkeley, California
DEAR J.J.: Supplements are not a substitute for healthful eating. Drinking wheat grass juice will only provide a modicum of nutrients, along with some healthful phytochemicals. Aside from testimonials, there is little in the way of evidence to support its benefits.
If you try it, you will notice its unsurprising "grassy" taste. Find an organically grown product, if at all possible. Feel free to drink it if you like the taste, but it isn't a go-to product that will cancel the impact of poor food choices. Ending a cheeseburger-and-fries dinner with a shot of wheat grass juice doesn't make it all better.
Then there's the fact that these supplements are usually quite costly. All in all, I encourage you to rethink the juice and strive to eat more vegetables instead.
Send questions to: "On Nutrition," Ed Blonz, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to email@example.com. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.