Monthly Archives: May 2020

Ask Dr. Universe – Popcorn

How was popcorn discovered? – Jalen, 12, Benson, N.C.

Dear Jalen,

There’s nothing like popcorn in progress: the snapping kernels, the warm buttery smell, and the knowledge that a delicious snack will be ready in minutes. It gives you some good time to think and wonder: how did humans first start doing this?

To find out where popcorn came from, I visited my friend Erin Thornton, an archaeologist at Washington State University. Archaeologists study how humans lived in the past—including the things they ate.

To learn the story of popcorn, we have to trace the history of maize.

Maize is another word for what you think of as corn. Humans grow it all over the world today, but it all started in Mexico.

Long before maize, there was a plant called teosinte (tay-oh seen-tay). If you saw teosinte in person, you probably wouldn’t guess it’s the grandparent of your popcorn. “It doesn’t really look like modern maize at all because it lacks large cobs—instead it looks more like a weedy grass,” Thornton said.

But over time, ancient people selected teosinte plants with softer and larger numbers of kernels. Over many generations, this resulted in the plant we know as maize.

Many scientists think all the first corn was popping corn. It was very important to the people who made it. The Aztecs used popcorn for both decoration and for eating. They also had a word, “totopoca,” for the sound of popcorn popping.

The Maya even tell stories about humans being created from maize. “It speaks volumes about how important this crop was to people who lived at that time,” Thornton said.

Popcorn is easily destroyed, so it can be hard for archaeologists to find it after hundreds or thousands of years. But the oldest popcorn ever found comes from a cave in New Mexico, estimated to be 5,600 years old. (Not quite as fresh as your popcorn, straight out of the microwave.)

We don’t know exactly who first discovered that popcorn can pop. But it’s a process that would have happened when people first started mixing dried kernels and heat.

Popcorn pops through interaction with heat. If you’ve ever looked at popcorn kernels before popping, you know they have a very hard outer shell. The insides are very hard too—until heat touches them.

When heat meets the natural moisture in the kernel, it creates pressurized steam within the shell. This steam softens the kernel’s insides. That heat and pressure increases, until the kernel can’t hold it anymore. And then pop! It explodes.

With that pop, the pressure in the kernel suddenly drops. The steam expands. All that inner goodness puffs out. That’s why popcorn looks like a little cloud.

We don’t know if the first popcorn-makers used flavorings. But when European colonists first learned about popcorn, they enjoyed eating it with milk and sugar like cereal!

Thornton told me white cheddar is her favorite popcorn flavor. Which kind do you like best?

Sincerely,
Dr. Universe

Fruitport Village Council Meeting Minutes – 04/20/20

VILLAGE OF FRUITPORT
COUNCIL MEETING
APRIL 20, 2020

1. Call to Order
President Roger Vanderstelt called the meeting to order at 7pm.

2. Roll Call
Present: Roger Vanderstelt, Bill Overkamp, Amy Haack, Jeff Guiles, Carl Rothenberger, Jay Bolt and Ann LaCroix
Absent: Donna Pope (excused)

3. Approval of April 20th Council Meeting Agenda
Motion made by Amy to approve the agenda, supported by Bill. With a unanimous vote the motion carried.

4. Approval of March 30th council meeting minutes
Motion made by Amy to approve the meeting minutes, supported by Jeff. With a unanimous vote the motion carried.

5. Public Comment
None

6. Correspondence
Ann shared an email from Sue Halter regarding the Dancing Into Sunset tentative schedule for this summer in lieu of the Governor’s Stay Home Order.

7. Reports from Officers
Amy advised the council that signs have been placed throughout the Park, Playground and Boat Launch regarding the Governor’s Stay Home Order.
Carl advised that 2 of the DPW crew will be returning to work. They will alternate days that they come in and work on necessary things that can safely be done by one person.
Jeff – nothing to report.
Jay – nothing to report.
Will – nothing to report.
Roger – nothing to report.

8. 2020 3rd Avenue Project
Jay gave an update on the 2020 3rd Avenue Project. The project has been delayed until spring of 2021 due to COVID-19. The project will go out for bidding in September. Jay and Roger will be attending a virtual meeting about the project tomorrow. Jay will provide a report to council with updates from the meeting.

9. Kayak Launch
Amy gave an update on the Kayak Launch. She anticipates an update on the grant funding in June or July.

10. Senior Millage
Amy advised that the Letter of Intent and the Senior Millage Municipal Portion application were submitted. Muskegon County Commissioner Zach Lahring contacted the Village to advise that the application could be repurposed due to COVID-19 if the Village chose to. Amy recommended sticking with the original application for the Band Shell parking lot.

11. Approval to add Delinquent 2019-2020 Garbage Bills to Taxes
Motion made by Carl to add the delinquent garbage bills to the tax bill, supported by Jeff. With a unanimous vote, the motion carried.

12. Bridge Street Bridge Grant
Jay gave an overview of the two bridges in the Village. Both are rated fair. The bridge on Bridge Street needs repair. Jay would like approval to contract Brechting Bridge and Engineering Inc. to apply for an MDOT grant for the repair work. See attached motion and resolution.

13. Public Comment
None

14. Warrants
Motion made by Roger to approve the warrants dated April 16, 2020 that were included in the council packet, supported by Jeff.
Roll call AYES: Haack, Rothenberger, Overkamp, Bolt, Guiles and Vanderstelt.
NAYS: None
Absent: Pope

15. Adjournment
Motion made by Amy to adjourn the meeting at 6:58pm, supported by Carl. With a unanimous vote the motion carried.

Respectfully submitted by,

Ann LaCroix
Clerk

~

Click the image below for the Council’s Meeting attachment (PDF format).

attachment

Fruitport Charter Township Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes of March 23, 2020

A work session of the Fruitport Charter Township Board began at 6:30pm on Monday, March 23, 2020, in the township board room.

Members Present: Heidi Tice, Supervisor; Andrea Anderson, Clerk; Rose Dillon, Treasurer; Trustees Greg Hulka, Jeff Jacobs, Terry Knoll, Denise Winebarger
Members Absent: none

At 7:00pm, Heidi Tice opened the regular meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a prayer.

Also Present: 1- residents; 1- employees; 0- guests; Director of Public Utilities, Steve Biesiada; Director of Public Safety, Brian Michelli; Attorney Ron Bultje.

The motion by Terry Knoll, supported by Rose Dillon, was carried unanimously, to approve the minutes of March 9, 2020 as presented.

The motion by Heidi Tice, supported by Jeff Jacobs, was carried unanimously, to approve the agenda as presented with the following addition:

Item 8-E: Resolution for Temporary Emergency Measures

CORRESPONDENCE / REPORTS
1. Steve Biesiada reported that the DPW has completed an inventory; the valve in the Smiley water tower should be hooked up soon to be able to communicate with the filtration plant.
2. Brian Michelli reported that the Fire Department has enough PPE to last a few weeks; there have been policies put in place to limit employees responding to calls as well as cleaning procedures; contact between Police Officers and the public is being limited; the Public Safety departments have applied for additional supplies with little luck.
3. Heidi Tice shared that the Lions Club Easter Egg Hunt has been cancelled; she also gave a Census update.

PUBLIC COMMENTS REGARDING AGENDA ITEMS: none

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

20-034 2020/2021 Budget discussion
Ken Hulka, Parks Director, would like to see unused funds rolled over to the next budget. The Parks Commission is trying to get a building for concessions and restrooms at the soccer park; rough plans were presented.

20-035 Budget Public Hearing
(a.) The motion by Terry Knoll, seconded by Rose Dillon, was carried unanimously, to open the Budget Public Hearing at 8:23pm.

(b.) Public Hearing: The Supervisor announced the proposed millage rates as follows: General Fund at the millage rate of .9962 mills, Public Safety at 1.50 mills, Police at 1.00 mills, and Street Lights at .40 mills.

There were no comments heard.

(c.) The motion by Rose Dillon, supported by Terry Knoll, was carried unanimously to close the Public Hearing at 8:25pm and return to open session.

19-036 2020/2021 Budget Adoption
The budget was agreed upon as presented with the change of budgeting $120,000 plus the requested roll over for the Parks Department.

Rose Dillon moved, supported by Heidi Tice, MOTION CARRIED to adopt the April 1, 2020- March 31, 2021 draft budget as revised and to approve the millage rate and millage levies. Fruitport Charter Township Board of Trustees shall cause the listed millages to be levied and collected on all real and personal property within the township upon the 2019 general property tax roll an amount equal to the above shown mills as authorized under state law and approved by the electorate.
Ayes: Knoll, Jacobs, Anderson, Tice, Dillon, Winebarger, Hulka
Nays: none

20-037 MCRC Local Road Project Contract
Under the agreement the following local roads will be improved with a chip seal:

Shettler Road, Walker Road, and Cline Road: from Sheridan to Brooks (approx. 2.3 miles)
Quarterline Road: from Shettler Road to Hile Road (approx.. .75 miles)
Walker Road: from W. Fruitport Road to Pontaluna Road (approx. .5 miles)
Sheringer Road: from Dangl Road east to end (approx. .5 miles)

Project(s) estimate: $130,037
Fruitport Township share: $65,018.50
Muskegon County Road Commission share: $65,018.50

Heidi Tice moved, supported by Terry Knoll, MOTION CARRIED, to approve the local road project contract with the Muskegon County Road Commission and authorize the Supervisor and Clerk to execute the presented agreement.

Ayes: Hulka, Winebarger, Dillon, Tice, Anderson, Jacobs, Knoll
Nays: none

NEW BUSINESS:

20-038 Banking and Investing Resolution
Rose Dillon moved, supported by Denise Winebarger, MOTION CARRIED, to adopt the resolution approving the use of financial institutions and investments for the 2020-2021 FY.
Ayes: Knoll, Jacobs, Anderson, Tice, Dillon, Winebarger, Hulka
Nays: None

20-039 Budget amendments
Rose Dillon moved, Heidi Tice seconded, MOTION CARRIED, to approve the Treasurer to make end of fiscal year April 1, 2019-March 31, 2020 final budget amendments. The amendments will ensure that all department budgets have zero impact on the total of each budget.
Ayes: Hulka, Winebarger, Dillon, Tice, Anderson, Jacobs, Knoll
Nays: none

20-040 Police Cruiser Purchase
The Public Safety Committee recommends moving this pre-approved purchase from Ford Motor Lease Program to get an installment purchase from Shelby Bank for $50,775 at 2.4% interest.
Andrea Anderson moved, Terry Knoll seconded, MOTION CARRIED, to approve the change, and receive an installment purchase loan from Shelby Bank.
Ayes: Knoll, Jacobs, Anderson, Tice, Dillon, Winebarger, Hulka
Nays: none

20-041 Senior Millage funds allocation
Ron Bultje recommended asking for a contract with terms for the agreement.

Rose Dillon moved, Heidi Tice seconded, MOTION CARRIED, to adopt the resolution and have the Supervisor work with AgeWell to gather a binding commitment in writing.
Ayes: Knoll, Jacobs, Anderson, Tice, Dillon, Winebarger, Hulka
Nays: none

20-042 Resolution for Temporary Emergency Measures
The resolution covers items that may need to occur without board approval while the Governor’s stay-at-home order is in place such as making changes to public meetings, payment of invoices, and making changes to office hours.

Rose Dillon moved, Denise Winebarger seconded, MOTION CARRIED, to adopt the resolution as presented.
Ayes: Knoll, Jacobs, Anderson, Tice, Dillon, Winebarger, Hulka
Nays: none

20-043 Payment of bills
Terry Knoll moved, Gerg Hulka seconded, MOTION CARRIED, to approve bills as presented for payment in the following amounts: General Fund $6,511.54; Public Safety $7,887.89; Water $1,038.38; Sewer $1,464.93; Street Lights $14,560.31
Totaling: $31,463.05
Ayes: Knoll, Jacobs, Anderson, Tice, Dillon, Winebarger, Hulka
Nays: none

ADDITIONAL REPORTS: none

PUBLIC COMMENTS PART II: none

The motion by Rose Dillon, supported by Heidi Tice, was carried unanimously, to adjourn the meeting at 8:55pm.

ANDREA ANDERSON, CLERK
HEIDI TICE, SUPERVISOR

Social Security Honors our Military Heroes

by Vonda Van Til, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
May 2020

On Memorial Day, our nation honors military service members who have given their lives for our country. Families, friends, and communities pause to remember the many great sacrifices of our military and ensure their legacy lives on in the freedoms we all enjoy. We recognize these heroes who, in President Lincoln’s words, “gave the last full measure of devotion.”

The benefits we provide can help the families of military service members. For example, widows, widowers, and their dependent children may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits. You can learn more about those benefits at www.ssa.gov/survivors.

Thinking about retirement? Military service members can receive Social Security benefits in addition to their military retirement benefits. For details, read the Military Service page of our Retirement Planner, available at www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/veterans.html.

Ask Dr. Universe – Green Grass

Dr. Universe: What is inside a blade of grass and why is it green? Green is my favorite color. We really like reading your articles in our newspaper.Luke, 5, Ogden, Utah

Dear Luke,

I’ve been wondering the same thing lately.  Every time I go on walks, I notice new splashes of color. Watching bugs in the grass, I pretend they’re crawling through a jungle. Everything is bright and bursting with green.

When I saw your question, I knew Michael Neff would know the answer. Green is his favorite color, too. (In fact, when we talked over video, he wore a green Hawaiian shirt.) Neff researches plants at Washington State University, and he is especially curious about grasses.

If you chopped a piece of grass and looked at it with your eyes alone, you might not see much. But if you looked at it under a microscope, you’d see tiny structures containing even tinier parts.

All living things—you and grass included—are made of cells. Cells are like little building blocks with different jobs. Every blade of grass is made of millions of them.

Plant cells contain a smaller part called a chloroplast. “Chloroplasts look like fat sausage-shaped balloons,” Neff said.

Chloroplasts have a special job: making food. Grasses can’t search for food like animals can. So instead they make it themselves, taking in sunlight and carbon dioxide.

“Food for a plant is a combination of sunlight and carbon dioxide together,” Neff explained. “And the chloroplast is the factory that turns those two pieces into energy.”

But where does the green color come from? Something else inside the chloroplast is responsible: a special pigment called chlorophyll.

Your eyes see color based on light. Many different colors make up sunlight, and objects either absorb or reflect them. When light gets absorbed, you don’t see its color. But when light reflects off objects, including grass, the color reaches your eyes so that’s what you see. That’s why the sky often looks blue. It’s absorbing all the other colors of light, except blue.

The same thing happens with chlorophyll. “Chlorophyll does a very good job of absorbing all colors of light except for green. When we look at the blade of grass, we’re seeing green light being reflected off the blade of grass,” Neff said.

But maybe you’ve noticed grass isn’t always green. Depending on the time of year and where you live, different grass grows at different speeds. Here in Washington, most grass grows in the cool spring and fall weather.

Spring grass looks especially green because it contains new cells. New cells have tons of chlorophyll, reflecting green light.

In the summer and winter, grass might turn brown or yellow. It’s still alive. It just doesn’t have as much chlorophyll. It isn’t putting as much energy into new growth.

But when spring returns, so do the ingredients for growth—lots of water, light, and carbon dioxide. The grass takes it all in, making new cells full of chlorophyll. The cycle begins again.

Tiny blades sprout. Patches of color creep in. And before you know it, green surrounds you everywhere you look.

Sincerely,
Dr. Universe

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Ask Dr. Universe – Sinkholes

What is a sinkhole? What causes one? – Kathrine, 12, Calgary, Canada

Dear Kathrine,

Sinkholes can be scary to think about. They don’t happen too often, but when they do, they can take people by surprise. The solid ground disappears, and a hole suddenly appears.

It might seem like sinkholes appear out of nowhere. But they actually need specific conditions to form.

To have a sinkhole, you first must have a cave.

“You can think of a sinkhole as the end of the life cycle of a cave,” Kurtis Wilkie explained. He teaches Geology at Washington State University. He is very interested in how Earth’s features form over long periods of time.

A lot happens underground that we can’t see. Dirt and rock layers lie beneath our feet. Water flows around them, shifting and moving these layers.

With the right type of rock, enough water, and a lot of time, a cave can form.

Wilkie said caves often occur in rock called limestone. Limestone is made mostly of calcium carbonate (the same substance that makes up seashells!).

Limestone isn’t a very strong type of rock. It’s full of tiny cracks. They’re hard to see, but big enough for water to run through. Lots of contact with water can make those gaps get bigger. Over time, the limestone dissolves and breaks apart. This process is called erosion.

As the rock dissolves, empty space gets left behind. Eventually, that space gets bigger and bigger until a cave forms. This happens extremely slowly, much longer than any human’s lifetime.

“We’re talking not just thousands of years, maybe millions of years. It’s not as if you start the process now and then 10 years or 100 years from now you have a cave. It takes a very long time,” Wilkie said.

Most caves remain caves. But if water continues to interact with limestone, it can keep slowly eroding. The cave’s roof can become too weak to hold the heavy ground above it. If the roof collapses, the ground above it falls through. That’s how a sinkhole happens, and part of the cave comes to an end.

A sinkhole is the end of a cave’s life—but not every cave’s life. Most caves don’t ever collapse or turn into sinkholes. A sinkhole only happens if the cave’s roof becomes too thin and unsupported. Humans can cause sinkholes to happen more than they would naturally by pumping water from underground, reducing support for the ground above.

Sinkholes happen more in some places than others. You might hear about sinkholes in Florida, an area with lots of limestone. But here in Washington State, where I live, other types of rock abound. So sinkholes are very rare.

The odds of the ground collapsing beneath you are very small. You’re much more likely to get to visit a cave someday.

And if you do, you can look up at its walls and remember the forces that shaped it. All it takes is a special rock, a lot of water, and plenty of time.

Sincerely,
Dr. Universe

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Social Security – Suspicious Callers

by Vonda Van Til, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
May 2020

“I want every American to know that if a suspicious caller states there is a problem with their Social Security number or account, they should hang up and never give the caller money or personal information. People should then go online to report the scam call to Social Security,” said Commissioner Saul. You can report these scams at oig.ssa.gov.

Learn how to protect yourself and report any suspicious calls or emails right away. If you have already been a victim of one of these scams, please do not be embarrassed. Instead, report the scam at oig.ssa.gov so we can stop these scammers and protect others. Please share our new Public Service Announcement video with your friends and family at www.youtube.com/socialsecurity.

Ask Dr. Universe – The End of the Universe

Where does the universe end? – Oriah, 8, Pullman, Wash.

Dear Oriah,

When you look up at the night sky, it can feel like the universe is a big blanket of stars above you. But unlike a blanket, the universe doesn’t have corners and edges. Far beyond what humans can see, the universe keeps going. As far as humans know, it never stops.

When I saw your question, I went straight to my friend Michael Allen to learn more. He is a Senior Instructor of Physics and Astronomy at Washington State University.

The universe is bigger than the biggest thing you’ve ever seen. It’s bigger than the biggest thing this cat can imagine. It’s so big that even your question has more than one very big answer.

Allen explained that you can think of the universe kind of like a rubber band. If you look at a rubber band’s flat surface, you can see it has no beginning and no end. It keeps going around and around in a loop.

Imagine you drew dots on that rubber band. If you pull on the rubber band, what happens? The rubber band stretches, and the dots move further apart. The universe is like that. The distance between all its galaxies, planets, and stars is stretching all the time, like dots on a rubber band. It never ends, but it’s also constantly expanding.

Scientists don’t think there is a true edge of the universe. But there’s an end to what humans can see of the universe. This is called the edge of the observable universe. It’s the farthest we can see, based on how we get information from light.

Everything you see depends on light bouncing off objects. Light reflects off the things around you and your eye absorbs it. When you look at your hand, you see your hand in that exact moment.

But when you look at a star, you’re actually seeing that star in the past. That’s because the light has to travel a very long time to reach your eyes. The farther away the star, the longer it takes. It takes light from the nearest star, the Sun, eight minutes to get to our eyes. Light from the next nearest star, Proxima Centauri, takes about four years to get to us!

Light moves very fast — about 186,000 miles per second — but the universe is very big. So the farthest edge of the observable universe is the oldest light we can see: about 13.8 billion years in the past.

But that edge is just what we can see from Earth. But that’s just what we can see from Earth. Earth isn’t the center of the universe. It’s just one location. The edge of the observable universe depends on where you are. If we were somewhere else in the universe, we would have a different view.

No matter where you are, you can think of yourself as a time traveler of sorts. When you gaze up at the stars, you’re looking up at the past.

Sincerely,
Dr. Universe

Fruitport Township Board of Trustees Meeting Agenda – 05/11/20

A G E N D A
FRUITPORT CHARTER TOWNSHIP BOARD OF TRUSTEES
FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP HALL
5865 AIRLINE ROAD, FRUITPORT, MI 49415

MAY 11, 2020

6:30 P.M. WORK SESSION
7:00 P.M. BOARD MEETING

This meeting will be held virtually via Webex.com
Information to access the meeting: Meeting number (access code): 622 722 579
Meeting password: jdGqgZKp466 (53474957 from phones and video systems)

01. Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States
02. Roll call
03. Approval of board minutes: 3/23/20
04. Approve / amend agenda
05. Correspondence / reports
06. Public comments regarding agenda items

07. Unfinished Business
none

08. New Business
A. First reading: Zoning Map Amendment Ordinance

09. Approval of Bills
10. Reports
11. Public Comments
12. Adjournment

The Township will provide necessary reasonable aids and services for this meeting to individuals
with disabilities by writing or telephoning the following Township Clerk: Andrea Anderson, Fruitport
Township Hall, 5865 Airline Road, Fruitport, MI 49415 (231) 865-3151

Baby Names and Social Security Numbers

by Vonda Van Til, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
May 2020

Are you thinking about having children or already expecting a newborn? If so, at the top of your new parent or guardian to-do list should be “get my child a Social Security number.” It’s one of the first steps that you can take to protect their bright future. To learn more about this topic, read our Social Security Numbers for Children publication at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10023.pdf and explore our Parents and Guardians page at www.ssa.gov/people/parents.

Are you curious where your own name appears in the baby names list? See how your name ranks, as far back as 1879 at www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames. Be sure to view the latest top 10 baby names when we release them in time for Mother’s Day.

Ottawa County Road Commission Wins the Michigan LTAP 2019 Great Ideas Challenge

The Ottawa County Road Commission (OCRC) won the Michigan LTAP 2019 Great Ideas Challenge, which seeks to promote and celebrate innovation in the state of Michigan by asking transportation agencies to submit unique innovations used by their agencies.

tailgateThe mechanics at the OCRC designed a box tailgate extension to solve a problem frequently faced by local road agencies when using dump trucks to transport materials.

Material can often get caught in the chains of the tailgate, making unloading difficult or even causing the tailgate to fall off. The OCRC had the idea to attach a solid side plate to the tailgate pins to extend the wall of the tailgate. Therefore, the box tailgate extension has a wall that prevents material from being caught in the chains and allows the material to slide out of the truck bed smoothly. The innovation also includes a tailgate lock that keeps everything rigidly in place.

According to recently-retired Equipment Supervisor Randy Nagelkirk, a mechanic can make the box in three to four hours.

“The task involves welding, drilling holes for the tailgate pin, and cutting off bolts,” he said.

The expected cost is $400. Nagelkirk said he encourages innovations such as this one at tje Road Commission because they “save time, save money for the road commission, and make life easier for the people doing the work.”

For winning the state-level Great Ideas Challenge, Nagelkirk received a monetary award for the OCRC to put toward attending employee training conferences and events. Additionally, the design was automatically submitted to the Federal Highway Administration’s LTAP Build a Better Mousetrap national competition. There, the OCRC will compete with transportation agencies from across the nation.

Central Michigan University December 2019 Honors List

Central Michigan University’s December 2019 Honors List includes:

Fruitport:
Nicholas James Klimek

Muskegon   (49444):
Anna  Christensen
Elizabeth Liane Nowak
Caroline  Price
Jazmin Marie Wright-Zornes
Taylor Ann Zylstra
Hannah Nicole Ladd

Nunica:
Colin Charles Arends
Michael Rutledge Bruno
Marisa Lyn Stroebe

Ravenna:
Hannah Kay Anderson
Trevor John Baushke
Owen Riley Bonthuis
Skyler Jo Conran
Jesse Edwin Eckhardt
Madison Anne Lewis

Spring Lake:
Amanda Mary Absher
Hannah  Carey
Lauren Delaney Czajka
Hannah Renee Firos
Danielle Marie Foulkes
Joseph  Molenkamp
Samuel  Pranger
Darby  Sepulveda

Ask Dr. Universe – Liking Different Foods

Why do I like buffalo wings and not broccoli? – Joe, 10, New York City, NY

Dear Joe,

You’re not alone—cats don’t like broccoli much either. As a carnivore, I think a nice, meaty buffalo wing sounds great.

But humans are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and meat. They’ve developed a taste for all kinds of things growing and living all over the world. So where do individual people’s preferences come from?

To find out, I visited Carolyn Ross, a professor of Food Science at Washington State University. Like you, she is very curious about why people like the foods they like.

You probably got part of your preferences from your human ancestors. Humans tend to seek the taste of fat, sugar, and salt. These ingredients are more scarce in nature, but abundant in foods we cook today. (That’s why it can be hard to stop at just one buffalo wing.)

Your individual experiences shape your tastes in a big way. If you’re familiar with a food and have good memories of it, you’re more likely to keep eating it.

But your genes also have an impact. Genes are like instructions written inside the body, which you get from your parents. They affect all kinds of things about you, including the way some foods taste. That’s why some people think cilantro makes a great addition to tacos, and some think it tastes like soap.

Your genes might even make you a “supertaster”—someone very sensitive to bitter tastes.

Your tongue is covered in little bumps called tastebuds. Tastebuds help you sense the flavor of what you’re eating. Humans’ tastebuds can detect five basic flavors: sweet, bitter, salty, sour, and umami (a savory, meaty taste.)

Supertasters have more tastebuds than most, making them more sensitive to different tastes. About 25% of people in the U.S. and Canada have a supertasting tongue. It’s possible you’re one of them.

Supertasting might seem like a superpower. “But being a supertaster is a gift and a curse because you’re very sensitive,” Ross said. Sweet things taste sweeter, but bitter things taste much more bitter.

Broccoli is one of the foods supertasters tend to dislike. “Supertasters find broccoli to be more bitter than people who are not supertasters and may eat less of it, at least when they’re younger. They also find cheddar or aged cheese to be exceptionally bitter. Their food choices are somewhat based on that,” Ross said.

If you’re a supertaster, you might always find broccoli to be too bitter. Even regular tasters find there are some foods they never love. To this day, Ross doesn’t like raw broccoli.

But your tastes might also change over time. It takes about six tries before your like or dislike for a food becomes a stable preference. So give it a few more tries. Check in with your tastes now and then. You might find a food you once hated eventually becomes enjoyable.

As a cat, though, my taste buds can’t sense sweet things. I’ll never know what you humans like so much about donuts.

Sincerely,
Dr. Universe

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Grand Valley State University Fall 2019 Graduate List

More than 1,200 Grand Valley State University students participated in commencement ceremonies this past December at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. A list of the names of Grand Valley’s most recent graduates follows.

Students who graduated at the conclusion of the Fall 2019 semester in December include:

Fruitport: Sarah R. Barnes, MSE; Ian M. Heil, BBA; Jade N. Johnson, BBA; Lauren R. Sander, BFA; Paige D. Silva, BA; Frances Wrighthouse, BA

Muskegon: Brittany T. Banks, BS; Kanisha N. Brazil, BS; Kyle R. Ferris, BBA; Mikaela P. Hall, BS; Abigail M. Heminger, BA; Samuel B. Innis, BA; Jessica M. Jackson, BS; Jodi R. Juergens, MED; Lindsay R. Kendra, MHA; Branden L. Maue, BBA; Breeana R. McGlothin, BA; Max P. Moreira, BA; Christyn V. Pek, BBA; Kiernan G. Pitts, BBA; Junella Rule, MED; Jennifer L. Sollars, BS; Trevor F. Tejchma, BS; Michael P. Valachovics, BBA

Nunica: Hollie S. Blagg, MBA

Ravenna: Brooke M. VanDonkelaar, MS

Spring Lake: Matthew D. Cassar, BS; Olivia J. Dykstra, BS; Michael T. Farwig, BS; Kyle W. Hall, BS; Rachel L. Howard, BS; Tyler S. Murak, BBA; Laura A. Schoemer, BS; Bridgett E. Shafer, BS