By Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, Monsanto Vegetable Seeds
“I just ate 400 tomatoes!” Eat tomatoes, we did…along with so much more. We had the pleasure to host a group of food and nutrition professionals who got “hands-on” at our Vegetable Seeds Research and Development headquarters in Woodland, California. As a food and nutrition professional myself, specifically as a registered dietitian/nutritionist now working in an agricultural company, I was so excited to share more about what we are working on everyday to make sure vegetables are not only available but also appealing to us all.
As a part of this immersion experience, participants took in panel presentations by experts at Monsanto; learned the latest trends from produce, retail and culinary experts; got their shoes dusty in the fields with Monsanto plant breeders; and, gained further appreciation for the realities of agriculture today from a panel of family farmers.
The group also savored a unique sensory and tasting experience, which for tomato lovers was absolute bliss. While they may not have actually eaten 400 tomatoes, they did have an opportunity to sample more than one hundred varieties of tomatoes and experience the widely varying flavor, texture, size and color characteristics that are produced through our traditional plant-breeding techniques.
Our time in Northern California also included a grocery store tour highlighting what’s hot now in the produce aisle, along with conversations about how vegetables are showing up on menus of professional chefs and home cooks across the country and around the world. We shared more about who Monsanto is, what we do, and how and why we do it. We had a little fun along the way, too.
Designed to be a true educational immersion experience, the takeaways were many – as noted from one participant: “Vegetable science is incredibly complex and just as fascinating. [This experience] has changed the way this vegetable fan will see vegetables from here on out.”
We were delighted to open our doors in Woodland with the goal of thoughtful, honest dialogue and debate. We came together to dig into, not only vegetables, but some of the most pressing agriculture, food and nutrition topics of our time. Personally, I came away from the experience inspired, energized and more confident than ever about the passion, dedication and expertise surrounding the foods we enjoy – from seed to supermarket to sauté pan.