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Culinary students get strawberry preview

SALISBURY — More than 30 culinary students from Johnson & Wales University will visit the Piedmont Research Station near Salisbury Friday as part of the N.C. Strawberry Project.
The strawberry project aims to breed a better strawberry and connect chefs with farmers, ultimately boosting the state’s economy. Project coordinators expect to grow strawberry sales from $20.8 million to $26 million.
The project is a partnership between N.C. State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis and Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte.
Students on Friday will learn about the research and science behind creating new food products. Project creators hope that educating culinary students on the benefits of using locally grown foods, including increased nutrition, freshness and flavor, will encourage them to supply their future kitchens from local farms.
With more than 1,000 acres of land divided into four units of research (dairy, poultry, field crops and horticultural crops), the Piedmont Research Station is the site of much of Dr. Jeremy Pattison’s research for the N.C. Strawberry Project. Pattison is an N.C. State faculty member and strawberry breeder.
Pattison wants expertise from the culinary industry to help determine specific attributes — flavor, color, texture and size — to incorporate into his traditional strawberry breeding program.
N.C. State expects the ultimate beneficiaries to be the consumer. By facilitating relationships between plant breeders, chefs, farmers and consumers, project coordinators hope more people become aware of and involved in the food production process.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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