Meet the Farming Community: Natalie Brassill, Water Quality Food Safety Extension Scientist.
What is your job role?
I work for the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension as a Water Quality Food Safety Extension Scientist. I have the opportunity to do research and teach about Food Safety & Water Quality Microbiology for Farmers in Maricopa and Yuma County and all over the state of Arizona. I specialize in Fresh Produce Food Safety, so we grow vegetables like spinach and romaine lettuces (and more!) to investigate cross contamination on crops from water that may be contaminated with fecal bacteria.
What is your family’s favorite leafy green vegetable?
My family’s favorite leafy green vegetable is spinach! I love to eat spinach raw in salads and also cook it into all sorts of dishes like the Greek spinach and feta pie, spanakopita.
What is the biggest challenge you face every day?
The biggest challenge that I face each day is providing practical information for growers, harvesters, packers and coolers of fresh produce to help protect food safety and public health. It is my job to provide material, courses and workshops that help industry understand practices that they can implement to keep irrigation water safe for use in agriculture. I want to be involved in research that helps to provide data to strengthen our food safety practices helping provide safe and nutritious food to the consumer and still think about soil health and long-term impacts of our environment.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love teaching courses about irrigation water quality microbiology and seeing the ah ha moment on a participant’s face when they get the concept about food safety practices. I also feel so appreciated by industry when they tell me how much our hands-on workshops helps them to understand complex concepts and tools. I really feel like my job is valuable and I am proud to help the Leafy Green Industry learn more about Food Safety Practices.