By Jonathan Mein
We all know that we should eat more fruits and vegetables, but not many people get to advance that cause as a career. As a Nutrition Scientist in our global vegetable division, I’m one of the lucky few.
The reality is that most of us don’t eat as much fruit and vegetables as we should. That is where the cool part of my job begins. I get to think about and address the challenges we face in providing consumers with safe, nutritious and, most importantly, delicious vegetables.
Most people don’t even realize that Monsanto has a vegetable business, let alone cares about taste, flavor, convenience, and nutrition. But in fact, we care a lot. I was in a colleague’s office the other day and made the comment that if people only knew how much time and effort goes into understanding how a tomato tastes, they would never believe it. That is true for a lot of the work we do in vegetables.
BellaFina mini bell peppers are a perfect example of the work that we do in vegetables to provide taste, nutrition, and convenience to consumers. Not only do they taste great, but their size makes them a great vegetable option for children. As a new dad, I can appreciate making vegetables fun for everybody. Any time we can make consuming vegetables tastier, more compelling or more convenient, I feel we have done our jobs.
I probably have spent more time thinking about broccoli nutrition over the past week than most people will over a lifetime. With almost 12 years of conventional breeding efforts behind it, our Beneforté broccoli has resulted in a variety that tastes like broccoli but with enhanced levels of the phytonutrient glucoraphanin. We’ve taken the science behind the antioxidant benefits of glucoraphanin and combined them with our expertise in conventional breeding to produce a broccoli with truly added benefits. We all know broccoli is good for you, but we’ve managed to make it even better.
The research, thought, and passion that goes into filling your local produce aisle is a behind-the-scenes journey that starts with our people. As I walk through the produce aisle at my local grocery store, I don’t just see the bright colors, smell the sweet scents and sample the great tastes. I see the hard work that goes into that experience, and I am proud to say that I am a part of that hard work. Every time I see a tasty tomato, broccoli stalk or other vegetable go into a shopper’s cart, I can enjoy a bit of satisfaction in a job well-done.