A Farmer, Scientist, and Dietitian Walked into a Greenhouse/Farm/Restaurant…

I was invited to Germany (#sponsoredtravel) to learn from and talk with experts from a variety of backgrounds from farm to table (and beyond). We talked about farming and our food in the future. This is the first of what will likely be several posts to share what we learned.

We seem to be more concerned than ever about what we eat, where it comes from, how and who is raising and growing it. There’s amazing things happening before we even set foot on a farm, with smart, clever, compassionate and dedicated people working hard to help think about how to make our food supply better in so many ways. The conversation is complex and deep, with many things to talk about.  For starters, here are some examples inspired by what was discussed (including some links I like for a deeper dive as you wish in addition to what we learned at this event) to look at some of the great work being done in agriculture.

You love your smart phone. So does a farmer. We hear about technology in farming but when we think about this, we may not be equating it to how much we love apps to help make things easier, like figuring out how to get somewhere (farmers need to know this too, to pinpoint areas in each field that need specific attention). What about using drones in agriculture to scout fields and monitor plant health? Yep, that’s a thing, too.

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Look closely to see the drone hovering over the farm!
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That’s a map providing specific information for the field to the farmer – the image is fuzzy because it was raining and I was holding the phone, an umbrella, and a bag. 🙂

You love the latest fashion, music, or whatever other trend is catching your attention. Scientists are working hard to figure out how to do things better, whether that’s the seeds being grown, fighting weeds and insects that impact our food supply, or what animals should eat for their health and the health of the planet. (Dietitians like me try to do this for people, too!)

You love your hair dryer and straightener and upgrade these as new versions are available to have the best results. We learned about new types of nozzles that farmers can use to pinpoint spray in the fields to maximize results while minimizing overspray.

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To the left is a live demo of the nozzles, the video is of a tractor showing the difference in spray from different nozzles, allowing for better control of the spray.

You love trends in food, whether it’s a great new item to try or a new way to cook. Some of my colleagues on this trip met someone who has dedicated an entire career to leeks. Yes, there can be/is that much focus on one vegetable. Pretty awesome.

You think it’s cool to hear about celebrity babies. What about cute “baby vegetables”?  Did you know there are people working to make vegetables even easier to eat? We got to try cucumbers that are sized to be more snackable. They were the cutest little things, easy to eat and take with you.

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Petite and ready to eat cucumbers

We think about bees, and so do lots of other people. One of my stops was to learn more about bees of all types that are important to agriculture worldwide.

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Just one of many fun facts on the wall in the “bee building” (English and German)

You love to try new foods from different countries, local to an area, and prepared in traditional or fresh new ways. We got to do that, too. I ate a cheeseburger that was local to the on farm restaurant, Rusticus, and our experience ended with a hands-on cooking class, preparing our own dinner featuring foods from each food group.

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Where we had our hands on dinner event in Dusseldorf
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Some of the cheese from the farm where we ate lunch and I had my cheeseburger!
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Rusticus

I’ll be sharing more over time here and in social media, and would love to hear from you – what topics are of most interest to you in this conversation?

What confuses you the most about food?

What’s the coolest thing you’ve heard about lately in agriculture?

What inspires you in the kitchen?

Let me know and let’s keep the conversation going. Knowledge is power, and understanding more about our food is fun, inspiring, and helpful. We can feel good about what we eat and why we eat it. That’s one of the reasons I became a dietitian – to understand it myself and be able to have a conversation with you about how you can, too.  Check out #FutureFarming if you want to see additional information.

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One of the corn mazes for kids on the farm