November 3 is National Sandwich Day, a day to celebrate the beloved meal of meats, cheeses and veggies (or more) stacked between slices of bread.
Named in 1762 by John Montague, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, who was looking for a meal he could eat without cutlery, sandwiches have become the cornerstone of many restaurant menus. They are main course in home-packed school lunches and Joey Tribbiani’s favorite food on the beloved television series Friends – a versatile option that is perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a midnight snack.
The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s robust portfolio of programs touches just about any ingredient you could put on a sandwich, from grains to meats to dairy to fruits and vegetables. The projects below illustrate examples of work being done across the nation focusing on the common sandwich ingredients of bread, turkey, cheese and lettuce.
- The University of California – Davis is enhancing resource utilization for sustainable lettuce production in changing climates. Researchers are working to determine the genetic basis of tolerance to heat, cold and salinity to improve resistance to abiotic stresses.
- Dairy products account for the most foodborne bacterial illnesses and hospitalizations. Researchers at the University of Connecticut are evaluating potential pathogen control strategies to enhance food safety. The goal is to develop strategies to enhance the microbial safety of dairy foods, like raw milk and raw milk cheese, thereby enhancing consumer confidence, sustaining demand, and preserving the economic viability of dairy farms and the quality of life for farmers and consumers
- Researchers at Michigan State University are working to define molecular mechanisms associated with the development of superior meat quality, so that effective breeding, nutritional and management strategies can be developed to promote the production of consistent, high-quality muscle food products. The overall objective is to define the underlying mechanisms by which thermal challenge – particularly heat stress – alters turkey breast muscle growth, development and ultrastructure.
The Imvela Corporation in Brooklyn, New York, is developing a proof-of-concept natural preservative that extends the shelf life of bread and other baked goods, by preventing or slowing the growth of mold. Since baked goods account for 4% of food waste nationally, the project could ultimately lead to significant decreases in food waste.
Top image: Left image of sandwich and right image of producer in garden. Images from Adobe Stock and USDA Flickr.