Seed World

Here’s Why Your Plate Needs More Color

What was the last thing you remember learning about food growing up? Was it the food pyramid, learning what foods were better and more nutritional than others? Or did you grow up hearing that you need to ‘eat the rainbow’?

Well, eating the rainbow isn’t just about Skittles anymore — experts in nutrition say that eating foods that are different colors can help provide more health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, red, orange, yellow, green, white, blue and purple foods have health benefits that can include improved vision, decreased inflammation, reduced risk of chronic diseases (including cancer, heart disease and diabetes) and strengthened immune systems due to the phytochemicals naturally occurring in the foods.

Next week on Seed Speaks, three experts — Patty Buskirk, Laura Ann Diehl and Lily Sheridan — are joining us at 12 p.m. CDT to teach us more about how plant breeders and nutrition experts are talking about breeding — and eating — the rainbow.

Buskirk serves as managing partner and plant breeder at Seeds By Design — As the managing partner for both Seeds By Design and Terra Organics, she oversees of all day-to-day administration, research, development, marketing and production activities. Buskirk began her journey in the seed industry in 1981 as a squash breeder’s assistant in Chico, Calif. where she also attended CSU Chico, as an agronomy and ag business student. She’s a California native and always knew as a teenager that she wanted to work in agriculture. After college, Buskirk accepted a position in Gilroy as an assistant brassica breeder. She moved back home to northern California in 1989, to start a family and continue my seed breeding career. In 1994, Buskirk and her partners started Seeds by Design. Now, after being employed in the seed industry for almost 40 years, she considers herself lucky to have the opportunity for her career to be in such a friendly, family-based industry.

Diehl is the Pacific Northwest research manager and plant breeder for table beet at Sakata Seed America — She joined Sakata in 2015 after graduating from Texas A&M University with a PhD in plant breeding. Diehl currently manages the research and breeding facilities in Burlington and Mount Vernon, Wash., where Sakata’s breeders are developing new varieties of spinach, table beet, baby leaf beet and chard, and pumpkin. Her own breeding work focuses on development of competitive beet varieties for the global fresh and processing markets, with key focuses on adaptability and disease resistance.

Sheridan is the farm to school coordinator and community liaison at Cooking with Kids — a northern New Mexico non-profit founded in 1995 that empowers and educates children and families to make healthy food choices through hands-on learning with fresh, affordable foods. She has worked in food education for over a decade (6 of those years at Cooking with Kids!) and holds a master’s degree in food culture and communications with a concentration on food systems and sustainability from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. She loves cooking, growing food in her garden and getting people excited about food!