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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

August 12, 2004


Some fat boosts veggie benefits

A recent study conducted by Wendy White, associate professor of food science and nutrition, shows that eating salad vegetables with some added fat promotes the absorption of lycopene, alpha- and beta-carotenes, all of which aid in the fight against cancer and heart disease.

On the flip side, eating a salad completely devoid of fat deprives your body of these beneficial substances. Likewise, if you eat a handful of carrot sticks, but without the accompanying ranch dressing or dip, your body can kiss the beta-carotene goodbye.

"We're certainly not advocating a high-fat diet, or one filled with full-fat salad dressing," White explained. "If you'd like to stick with fat-free dressing, the addition of small amounts of avocado or cheese in a salad may help along the absorption."

Back to the farm

Consumers are becoming more interested in the origin of the foods they eat and devoting more of their expendable income to the purchase of value-added foods and unique food-related experiences. Interest in the concept of "agritourism" also has grown as a possible opportunity for farmers to market not only their products, but their way of life.

Writing in the summer 2004 issue of the Iowa Ag Review newsletter, Roxanne Clemens, managing director of ISU's Midwest Agribusiness Trade Research and Information Center, cites farmers in the Veneto region of Italy, where she recently studied agritourism and other research topics.

"Over the past five years, agritourism in Italy has increased by 25 percent, mostly because of the increase in the number of farms offering overnight accommodations," she wrote.

In Italy, as in other countries of the European Union, farmers have incentives to produce high-value food products and encourage customers to visit their farms to experience rural activities, social customs and locally grown items. In the EU, this kind of agritourism is highly regulated and functions mostly as a secondary activity to support basic farming operations.

Clemens suggests that the United States would need greater policy incentives to nurture similar agritourism ventures on U.S. farms. The article, "Keeping Farmers on the Land: Agritourism in the European Union," is available online at


Research at Iowa State shows that some fat helps boost the cancer-fighting components of salads, and that "agritourism" is growing as another way for farmers to market not only their products, but their way of life.