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June 14, 2019

Carola GrebitusThe Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems focuses on innovative ideas and solutions to the many challenges of current food systems. In this series, we’re sitting down with the Swette Center affiliated faculty to catch up on food systems, innovation and what makes a good meal. See the rest of the series on our Food Systems Profiles page.

Read on for an interview with Carola Grebitus associate professor of food industry management at the Morrison School of Agribusiness  in the W. P. Carey School of Business.

Question: How did you get interested in food systems issues?

Answer: When I was in high school, I was a runner, that sparked my interest in nutrition. When looking into going to college, I found out that they offered nutrition classes. So I got a BSc in Food Science. I then continued with a MSc in Home Economics and Food Economics, and a PhD in Agricultural Science. I worked in Germany for a number of years, and then the position in the Morrison School of Agribusiness at ASU opened which was perfect for my interests and my research areas.

Q: Share a glimpse of your current research and how it applies to food systems transformation.

A: My research relates to understanding healthy and sustainable food choices. One of the biggest projects I work on right now is related to urban agriculture. It is sponsored by USDA and NSF. My role in the research team is to introduce the consumer’s perspective into our understanding of urban agriculture.

Urban farms are located in the community, and that may lead to friction if consumers don’t accept the farm in their immediate surroundings. At the same time the community might be excited because of the access to local and fresh food. I use a mix of experimental economics and survey work to learn more about what consumers feel towards these initiatives. For this project, which is focused on Phoenix and Detroit, we’ve used different online surveys and expert interviews.

Q: What’s an innovation in the food systems world that you’re excited about?

A: I think vertical farming and growing towers are awesome. I love the whole idea of making use of small spaces to grow food, and that these technologies can be used everywhere. We have a growing tower on campus, and it produces a lot of veggies.

Q: What’s your favorite food?

A: German chocolate! Germany has so many really good chocolates. There are chocolates with caramel & sea salt, chili, raisins and nuts, or marzipan. And I do make my own truffles which is such an easy recipe, it’s just dark chocolate and cream. Also, any food that my dad is cooking for us is awesome!