LiveBIG Staff, November 29, 2016

As food culture evolves, the lines between science, art, nutrition and business continue to blur.

Wisconsin?s Seed to Kitchen Initiative is one program where chefs and horticulturalists are exploring just how specialized the ingredients of a menu can get.

Jonny Hunter, co-founder of the Underground Food Collective and chef at Forequarter restaurant – both located in Madison, WI – is a U-W alum working with the school?s Department of Horticulture on its Seed to Kitchen Initiative. The program breeds plants specific to certain growing conditions as well as to the preferences of vegetable suppliers and consumers like Hunter.

In the video below, Hunter talks about why he is involved with the program.

?The idea that we could work with a plant breeder to be able to hone in on unique characteristics of a vegetable was incredibly exciting for me. Because the flavors that have kind of been developed happened over thousands of years of selection. Now we have an opportunity to identify traits, say we really like that and see the possibility of that affecting how we cook here, day-to-day."

Julie Dawson, an assistant professor in the department, leads the program. According to a recent profile in Grow magazine, Dawson says bringing chefs in at the seed level helps the program elevate flavor in breeding processes which are often more concerned with creating vegetables that conform to certain shipping needs. Doing so creates more demand, thereby helping farmers as well.

For more on the program, watch the video below and read more of Grow magazine?s profile.