The Science Behind Your Salad

Crossing the globe to discover how the best ingredients that end up on our tables are grown

The Science Behind Your Salad is a podcast for the whole world. We’re not only in search of the best food on the planet, we’ll be telling the stories behind how that food is grown. We’ll meet the scientists searching for the next innovative breakthroughs in food production, we’ll hear about new technology already revolutionizing the way crops are grown and the stories of the growers.

And we’ll meet the farmers, those pioneers striving to do one of the biggest jobs on earth, putting food on our plates every day in the face of huge challenges.


The Idea

The world is changing. Producing crops is no longer as simple as sowing seeds and waiting for them to grow. Resources are becoming more precious as the population continues to grow, so with more mouths to feed, the biggest job on earth is to handle available resources better. This podcast series, made by BASF, produced by Fresh Air Production, an award winning production team based in London, will shine a spotlight on the innovation, science and technology that will try to ensure that planet and people stay healthy.
Different vegetables, seeds and fruits

Our latest episode Seeds

Seeds are the powerhouse of the agricultural world. Often tiny, energy packed sources of fruit and vegetable crops, without seeds we wouldn’t be able to produce food for the planet’s hungry mouths.

But, as we’ll discover in this episode of The Science Behind Your Salad, we don’t just plant them, we can eat them too as nutritious snacks and as healthy salad toppers. But once in the ground, ready to germinate and fulfil their potential by growing into crops and then being harvested to be eaten, farmers do everything that they can to protect and nurture the seeds. Crop scientists are working constantly to find new ways to improve and protect seeds to give farmers the best chance they can to improve their yields. Join Jane Craigie as she delves into the world of seeds and as she munches a few too during the process.

Our first guest: Michael Keller

22 November 2018, Rome, Italy -  Michael Keller, Secretary General, International Seed Federation. International Symposium on Agricultural Innovation for Family Farmers - Parallel 6: Increasing access to markets and engaging the private sector to accelerate innovation. Panel 2: engaging the private sector to accelerate agricultural innovation. FAO Headquarters (Red Room).

Photo credit must be given: ©FAO/Alessia Pierdomenico. Editorial use only. Copyright ©FAO.

Michael was appointed to Secretary General of the International Seed Federation (ISF) in June 2014.

Graduated from the Universities of Mannheim and Bonn in Germany with a Law State examination, he pursued post-graduate studies at the Paris-Sorbonne University. In 1999 Michael joined the French Senate in Paris as a Parliamentary Advisor and moved to the Mayor’s Association of France where, as Head of European and International Affairs. Between 2008 and 2014 Michael held the post of Director of Regulatory and Public Affairs at DuPont Pioneer in France. During the same period Michael was a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee at the Union Française des Semenciers (UFS) and Chairman of the UFS Regulation and Innovation Commission.

Our second guest: Jennifer Riggs


Jennifer Riggs has held various research and development (R&D) roles within the seed treatment industry for 26 years.  She currently manages a number of global and U.S. seed treatment R&D objectives and projects that support the business’ key strategic imperatives. Her work includes engaging in innovation initiatives to identify opportunities for new product concepts or integrated solutions that maximize BASF’s differentiators in the global seed treatment market; while advocating seed treatment use with growers to achieve sustainability goals for their land and crop productivity. 

Jennifer holds a doctorate in plant pathology and microbiology; a master’s degree in plant protection; and a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry.

Get in contact with our experts on LinkedIn and find more information about seeds.

BASF’s hybrid wheat is intended to provide farmers with higher and more stable performance in yield and quality to advance one of the world’s most important crops.

Episode Wheat



Episode Rice (Part Two)

In the second episode devoted to one of the biggest crops on the planet: rice, Jane Craigie explores the way in which rice production in Australia is producing some of the world’s highest yields whilst using minimal amounts of water, and improving wildlife habitats. Across the globe Erik Andrus is in Vermont, USA where he practises Aigamo – the Japanese method of raising rice crops along side ducks. And Russell Reinke from IRRI explains the origins and development of Golden Rice that could deliver vital doses of vitamin A to those most at need. We explore the background to this controversial crop and look at how the story is everchanging.

Tuna salad with rice and vegetables on black dish

Episode Rice (Part One)

In this episode we discover that the method of paddy rice production is a huge contributor of greenhouse gases and so the tide is turning away from the paddy field system, towards something called Direct Seeded Rice. We also discover the way to cook perfect, plump and fluffy rice. 


Episode Tomatoes

How did the humble tomato rise from its early beginnings as a small, hairy fruit to become one of the most celebrated and versatile crops on the planet? We trace the journey of the fruit from the mountain slopes of Mesoamerica to the giant of the salad bowl – and beyond – today. It’s a fruit that forms the base to many dishes all around the world: from ragus to curry dishes. So what does the future hold for the bright red, juicy tomato?


Behind the scenes

About Fresh Air Production

After twenty years of creating award winning radio shows for the BBC, Fresh Air Production now make high quality podcasts for brands. Working for organisations such as Shell, WWF and Audi, they create podcasts that stand out from the crowd with broadcast-quality journalism and production. They use the intimacy and immediacy of audio to tell fascinating and powerful human stories.  

Presenter – Jane Craigie

I see the world in people and their stories
Jane Craigie

Jane is an agriculturalist, a traveller and a marketer. She lives on a smallholding in north east Scotland where she keeps livestock and grows her own fruit and vegetables. 

Jane was brought up in Cyprus, India, Turkey and the UK and, aged 16, she decided agriculture was the industry she wanted to work in, and it was communicating the wonders of the industry that have always been her passion.

Jane has a science degree in agriculture, a post-graduate qualification in marketing and she is deeply involved in the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, a membership organisation that represents journalists and communicators from 54 countries in all regions of the world.  

Producer and Journalist – Martin Poyntz-Roberts 


Martin has almost 20 years’ experience as a journalist and producer working on a variety of subject matters from natural history television to live news radio. He was at the helm of BBC Radio 4’s Costing The Earth series for much of his time at the BBC, produced several documentaries about President Trump and has recently carried out undercover filming for a BBC series in Malaysia. He recently won a Lovie Award for The Big Steal Podcast.

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