This is one of five vignettes showcasing faculty research related to redesigning 21st century agri-food systems.
Doing more with less is fundamental to the work of reimagining 21st-century agri-food systems. Carmen Moraru, professor and chair of the Department of Food Science, is addressing that challenge by developing new foods using underutilized agricultural commodities – such as peas, chickpeas and lentils – or waste from fruit and vegetable or dairy processing. Using novel processing technologies and techniques, Moraru’s lab converts these materials into high-protein, tasty, nutritious foods and snacks, with the goal of creating more markets for farmers’ products, producing more food with fewer resources and improving human health.
Her lab is also developing new methods to concentrate fruit juices, coffee and tea in a way that preserves their sensory qualities and health-promoting bioactive compounds. Traditional thermal processing is effective and promotes food safety and increases shelf life, but it can also decrease a food’s nutritional quality and taste. Processing techniques used in Moraru’s group are based on filtering and pressure, rather than heat, and they maintain more nutrition while using less energy.
“Our work directly impacts farmers and the food industry, but very importantly, it will impact consumers, because we work to provide everyone with high-quality foods through a safe, sustainable food supply,” Moraru said.
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