A team of UC and University of Florida scientists have received a nearly $6 million grant from the USDA for a project designed to improve the flavor and texture of fruits and vegetables found in American grocery stores, according to reports of a variety of media outlets.
"The purpose of our project is to improve the flavor quality of fruits and vegetables that are available to consumers. With the ultimate goal of getting people to eat more," co-project leader Beth Mitcham told an ABC-affiliated reporter. Mitcham is a UC Davis Cooperative Extension post harvest pomologist.
The TV story was broadcast in Sacramento, Fresno and on the CNN website. Articles also appeared on the Sacramento Bee blog 'Appetizers' and in the Central Valley Business Times. The Sacramento Fox affiliate - KTXL Channel 40 - placed a story on its website and interviewed Mitcham in the studio during its morning program.
The story was originally written up by Diane Nelson of the UC Davis Plant Sciences Department for the UC Food Blog.
The Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI) work began about a year ago. The researchers are studying the challenges growers, packers and shippers face in getting crops from the field to the market in a condition shoppers will buy. Slowing down the ripening process, changing handling procedures and determining how produce flavor is affected by harvest are are issues to be examined.
The ABC news story showed a researcher slicing samples of pears in a lab.
"What we want to do with these pears is we want to understand a bit more about their ripening biology," he said. "How they change from green to this lovely yellow, ripe, flavorful product."