Experience Food Science: Field to Package 2022

Food science is a major industry in Ohio. The Experience Food Science: Field to Package workshop, sponsored by the Ohio Soybean Council and the Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT), allowed twenty-four teachers to see how this topic connects with their science standards. Presenters and GrowNextGen leaders Trevor Horn and Matthew Headington led the group through a variety of food-related lessons.

Ohio Soybean Board member and farmer Nathan Eckel greeted the group and shared about the Ohio Soybean Council’s support for education. “You are important in helping students understand what we do as farmers.” Eckel explained the soybean check-off and its designated money for education. Eckel farms nearby, and he talked about the many careers involved in his farming operation simply in gathering, transporting, and processing his crops.

Participants made dough for tortilla chips, then created their own salsa. But wait, there was more! They had the opportunity to explore pitching their product. This included developing a display panel with nutrition information. A taste test helped them understand how to talk about the flavor profiles of their recipes.

The groups made tortilla chips fried in Plenish oil, a high-oleic soybean oil that lasts longer and is better for heart health. These chips were made with different types of flour—rice, corn, and wheat—to learn about working around allergen issues, an important concern today. Team 2’s salsa won the taste test, and each member of the team received a yogurt maker.

Before lunch, the group took a tour of the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen, a nonprofit commercial kitchen facility designed to assist entrepreneurial efforts and expand current food-related businesses. It focuses on the development and production of specialty, value-added foods. The kitchen facility maintains a baking and canning license and is approved by both the Wood County Health Department and the Ohio Department of Agriculture. On the grounds, berries and hops are grown vertically. BGSU is doing research at the site on growing plants in sludge, both in greenhouses and outside.

GrowNextGen teacher leader Abby Campbell showed the participants how to use Canva to create a label and nutrition facts panel for their product. Each group then gave a pitch to ‘sell’ their product, presenting it to the larger group.

Industry guest Bill Hirzel of Hirzel Farms and Hirzel Canning Company talked about product design and how to appeal to consumers. Hirzel commented, “As I think about it, it would require an industry company weeks or months to do the same thing these people did in a few hours—truly remarkable! It’s great to see teachers through their students building the foundation for our future society”

Trevor Horn finished up with an overview of the GrowNextGen website, talking about the importance of connecting science with agriculture in classroom lessons. “Our goal is to make things relevant,” Horn said. “I teach what I wish someone had taught me in high school.”

Participants took back supplies including fryers, tortilla presses, knives, and utensils to use in their classrooms.

Visit GrowNextGen for all kinds of food science resources!