NEWARK, Ohio, November 21, 2016 – Aaron West of Newark is going to be asking some questions this year before he eats any of the food served at Thanksgiving. The 26-year-old information technology student took an elective environmental science class during the summer of 2016 at Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) that changed the way he looks at food.
"The course seemed like it was something that would be really useful in real life, so I decided to take it," said West.
West took Biology 105 - Environmental Science from Instructor Casey Tucker. Tucker teamed up with COTC Culinary Science Instructor Matt Russo during the course to show the students how their food is made and where it comes from.
"I've never taken the time to learn about what I am eating and how everything is processed," said West. "It was an eye-opening experience. I was excited to go to this class."
"Chef Russo and I offered a new lab activity where we had students taste-testing various organic and sustainable agricultural products versus traditional agricultural products," said Tucker. "We explained the advantages and disadvantages of these different agricultural practices relative to the environment. It was a popular lab among the students, but Aaron revealed to me that after that lab he stopped eating fast food, and that later he and his wife had their first fully-organic meal together."
"The flavors were wildly different without the pesticides. My whole diet has now changed. I haven't gone to a fast food restaurant since the class," said West. "I haven't stopped and picked up a burger because it's unreal when you know what you are putting in your body."
West graduated from Newark High School in 2009. He started taking classes at COTC after getting out of the U.S. Army. West credits the course with helping him lose some weight. At his heaviest, West weighed 253 pounds. He now weighs 210 pounds.
"I have been eating healthier, much less fast food," said West. "My wife and I changed where we get our meat. We are going to the farmer's market to get our vegetables and meat now. I've never been the kind of person that would care much about where my food came from, but I do now. I learned so much about where everything comes from and sadly, how destructive we can be to our bodies."
Central Ohio Technical College opened in 1971 and is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2016. COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs, as well as encouraging the professional development of students, staff, faculty and administrators to assist them in achieving their maximum potential. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.