Popular Class Urges ‘Eating With Eyes Wide Open’ Taught by ANSC's Dr. Apter

Students Analyze Impact of Culinary Choices While Sampling Fare From Food-making Demonstrations

Students watch as Senior Lecturer Charlie Apter makes fresh mozzarella during his perennially-popular class, "Eating With Eyes Wide Open," which teaches them to critically examine where their food comes from and broadens their palates.

Image Credit: Stephanie S. Cordle

November 18, 2022 Karen Shih

In front of a table featuring a bubbling bucket of beer in the making and a glass jar of fermenting kombucha, Senior Lecturer Charlie Apter presented a tray of faintly yellow mozzarella, still warm from the cheese-making process.

“Is there anyone who’s not a cheese lover?” he asked, prompting three hands to go up in his class. “How un-American,” Apter joked.

The soft, stretchy pieces he offered for tasting rivaled the flavor you’d find at a fine Italian restaurant—though they weren’t quite as smooth and round as a store-bought version. The mozzarella, which got its unusual golden hue from grass-fed Guernsey cow milk, transformed from liquid to solid in just over half an hour in a lab in the Animal
Science Building.

“The goal is for students to know where their food comes from and make more informed choices, rather than just eating whatever is in front of them,” said Apter, a self-described “professor who doesn’t look like a professor,” with his nose ring, baseball cap and fully tattooed legs.

He has taught the class, which fulfills an I-series general-education requirement and is part of the sustainability minor, for almost a decade, and enrollment hits capacity every spring and fall semester. In lectures, he covers the impacts of commercial agriculture, including animal welfare and the carbon footprints of different crops and livestock. Then, in weekly labs, he and 60 students (across three sections) make and taste bread, pickles, soy milk, cider, dehydrated apples and more.

Read full story in Maryland Today