Apr 21, 2018
In this episode, I interviewed
Dr. Matt Kleinhenz, a
professor at the Ohio State University in vegetable crop physiology
who has done research in many areas of horticulture and crop
sciences. We talk about high quality food production, how growers
and consumers view nutrient density, how farmers can influence the
market, Matt’s views on nutritional yield, and how growers can stay
up-to-date on the latest crop breakthroughs.
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Episode 5 - Dr. Matt Kleinhenz -
[0:03:20] - Matt’s memorable
moments that have brought him to where he is today
interactions with growers bringing him questions, especially
focusing on “how to produce more of a better quality
[0:04:10] - Where is the demand
coming from for growers who want to produce a higher quality
demand comes from grower’s ethics who see themselves as part of a
- Business wise - maybe coming from complaints or
questions of the quality of their product.
[0:05:00] - What defines quality
for growers? What are they seeking to produce?
does quality mean in the eyes of a particular group? Shape, size,
texture, aroma, flavor, etc.
[0:07:00] - What has Matt
observed in terms of nutrient density? Will there be a demand for
“nutrient dense” foods?
- Nutrient value/density is a complex topic, and
we need to be specific when discussing it.
there be a time when more people are paying more attention? Matt
thinks so, but we aren’t there yet.
[0:11:00] - Is there evidence we
have lost nutrient density in our food supply?
thinks it’s possible.
market is not demanding nutritional value, so it makes sense
farmers are not focusing on it.
does a farmer display nutritional value?
[0:19:00] - Organic industry
[0:20:40] - What has been the one
thing that has really puzzled Matt for a long time?
has seen some farmers have a lack of understanding around the basic
biology of the crops they grow.
can’t be as effective as possible without a firm grasp of the
are following a process, not understanding the crop they are
[0:23:40] - What are the
important pieces growers should study?
- Understanding can come from many different
the process of farming: Take notes, take pictures, and review
these. Install ways to record information such as temperature and
rainfall. This information is good for farmers themselves, and when
getting outside help.
listen, watch videos.
- Keep a
healthy skepticism, but not to the point of being close
- Implement as many ways of knowing as possible,
and start with the simple ones.
- How do
other professions describe nutritional value?
[0:30:00] - One characteristic of
the most successful growers
seek to understand “How do we make money?” They seek to understand
the specific characteristic to their crop that is most desired by
the market, and how to manage it.
sales come from quality. Improve the value of the transaction by
improving the product.
has little bearing on nutrition
[0:34:54] - What does Matt
believe to be true about agriculture today that most don’t believe
to be true?
area Matt hears about less is asking what role growers play in
society and our daily lives?
[0:36:35] - How to remedy
underappreciation for growers?
thinks growers need to ask more of themselves, and they could be
more assertive about what they do, how, and why.
[0:38:50] - What makes growers
who make an impact stand out from the rest?
need to be able to see their product as the buyer sees it, not as a
[0:42:50] - John’s story of farm
with hail damage with an interesting crop response
[0:48:05] - What is the job the
buyer wants from food?
should be as informed as possible about what their buyers expect
from the product, and what they aspire to.
different perspective of food of cancer survivors, for example. Are
growers knowledgeable about what these people are looking
[0:52:20] - Where is the greatest
opportunity for growers today?
- Continue to do what they’ve done, but
- Be a
partner in the process of enhancing the social component of what
they do; be connected.
natural resources well.
- Be a
student of the farm and all aspects of the business.
[0:54:20] - Matt’s single
recommendation for growers to learn more
something new. Challenge yourself to learn new things about your
crops or your farm.
- Get an
alternative point of view, and don’t become too comfortable with
what you “know” to be true.
exposure to research if you have none.
aware of some of the newest trends
[0:57:30] - What technology or
ideas is Matt excited about for the future of
- Grower-friendly technology for monitoring
computing power to take advantage of data
[1:00:10] - What is the question
Matt wished he was asked? What would Matt like to discuss the
- Nutritional yield = yield x nutrient
- Can we
move the needle on nutritional yield?
are growers hearing from people in terms of quality?
[1:02:00] - Should we measure
crop production in terms of carbohydrate or protein production per
- Some of
this is already being done.
hard to ask farmers to fully understand this, but getting an
understanding is important.
need to create the market, not just respond to it
[1:02:40] - How can a grower
shift perspectives in the market?
- Be as
informed as possible.
conversant with this information to be able to showcase nutrient
density when it isn’t obvious
able to understand what contributes to making better color and
flavor, for example, and how these characteristics relate to the
nutrition of the food.
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