He calls it “fire in the gut.” It’s the excitement, the burning drive to work through a problem and see the solution. It’s staying up at night, turning something over and over in your head and feeling exhilarated when you finally come up with an answer, says Chris Hardin, Professor and Chair of the Nutritional Sciences Department.
Will describes a recent collaboration with a neurologist, in which they studied food intake during pregnancy and analyzed its affects on the later onset of autism in baby mice. Though the project initially seemed disconnected from his other initiatives, Will notes that collaborative work “gives you more inspiration for your own project.”
So far, U.S. agriculutural policy has been geared toward making cheap food. According to Hardin, it hasn’t done much in the way of encouraging healthy food. With his research and the new metabolic kitchen, he’s hoping to be able to suggest a new policy that will focus on making healthy foods accessible.
Hardin gives a tour of what will become MU’s state-of-the-art metabolic kitchen. Although the space in the basement of the Nutritional Sciences building is currently full of old rat cages and unusable lab equipment, Hardin envisions shiny countertops and places to package food. He also hopes to be able to record cooking demonstrations and investigate the way children select their food.
There are many facets of our nutritional landscape that contribute to the obesity epidemic Hardin is fighting. As a culture, we eat out too much, we take diets to the extreme, and our children don’t play outside as often as children in past generations. Hardin knows our culture has a problem, and he is working to combat it with healthy food and educational intervention.