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There are countless benefits from joining a cooperative, including sharing the risk and rewards that come with the fluctuations in the agriculture industry.
Blog Update
“Is this an agricultural co-op or a tech company?” This was a question recently posed by “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl in a segment about Land O’Lakes, Inc.

Everyone Is Needed to Help Ensure Food Security

Posted by Land O'Lakes, Mon, September 24

While she was growing up, Ariel Garsow developed a number of interests by participating in hobbies and extracurricular activities. She especially loved cooking with her grandmother. In high school, she was naturally drawn to science. These interests, combined with her attendance on church mission trips, sparked Ariel’s passion for helping feed the hungry.


“If you combine two of those passions — science and food — you get food science,” says Garsow, who earned her bachelor’s degree in food science at the University of Minnesota in 2017. “I didn’t realize I could combine food science with my desire to help ensure food security until I was a Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge Emerging Leader.”


Garsow, who served as an Emerging Leader during the 2014–2015 academic year, visited four countries in sub-Saharan Africa (Botswana, Malawi, South Africa and Zambia). During that time, she observed local food processes such as the full dairy value chain, from smallholder farm through the milk processing plant. She also observed legislative policymaking in Washington, D.C., and learned about the cooperative system at Wilco cooperative in Oregon’s Willamette Valley as part of her internship.


Relationships built, roads traveled
Garsow was the only food science major in her group of 10 Emerging Leaders, and she enjoyed working with cross-disciplinary teams from other universities. “It was an enriching experience to work alongside people who had different perspectives, such as supply chain, advocacy, marketing and communications,” she recalls. “The local, national and international components were also a highlight. It was a full picture of how we can feed hungry people and what that looks like — from a hazelnut farm in Oregon to farm policy in D.C. to a cooperative in Malawi.”


Working to preserve water resources
Garsow continues to use the lessons she learned as an Emerging Leader today in her role as she pursues an MS Degree in the Department of Food Science and Technology at The Ohio State University. She is a Graduate Research Associate in the Dale A, Seiberling Food Engineering Research Laboratory.


Ariel's research deals with finding ways to reduce fresh water usage during cleaning of food-contact surfaces in food manufacturing facilities. To achieve this goal, Ariel is determining the effectiveness of ozonated water to remove biofilms (bacteria that adhere to a surface) from the interior of stainless steel pipes. The goal is to demonstrate the use of the ozonated water for cleaning and sanitizing surfaces, so the technology can be utilized in specific situations in order to reduce the amount of water used for cleaning and sanitizing in food manufacturing operations.


Lessons learned and applied
During her time as an Emerging Leader, Garsow came to appreciate the opportunity to work with new people who had diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. The experience also taught her how to communicate complex scientific phenomena in a concise manner. Garsow regards her Global Food Challenge experience as “a transformative opportunity,” and she continues to apply the knowledge she acquired.


“The big thing I learned as an Emerging Leader is that everyone is needed to help ensure food security,” she says. “Food security is a goal worth fighting for. Everyone sees the statistics about the number of people who go hungry every day. But these aren’t just numbers. These are real people. Through the Global Food Challenge, I learned that extreme poverty is real. And that it isn’t something we can walk away from anymore. We need to step up and be part of the solution.”


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