The New “How Does It Grow?” Video Series Demystifies What It Takes to Produce Everyday Foods

Did you know that planting a Golden Delicious seed in your backyard will get you an entirely different apple? These are the little knowledge gaps that HDIG is trying to fill.

Just because apples are the second most popular fruit in the United States doesn’t mean that producing them isn’t complex. Many people don’t know much about the apples that line our grocery stores. This is where a webseries called “How Does It Grow?

row?” (HDIG) is stepping in to educate consumers about the foods we take for granted, one bite at a time.

Did you know that planting a Golden Delicious seed in your backyard will get you an entirely different apple? Or that most of an apple’s nutrients are contained in that often-peeled skin? These are the little knowledge gaps that HDIG is trying to fill. In addition to this video (which was produced in part by our own talented photo editor Scott Gordon Bleicher), they’ve also educated the world about mushrooms, garlic, cauliflower and cranberries since their launch in February 2014.

It all started when journalist couple Nicole Cotroneo-Jolly and Mark Jolly successfully funded a Kickstarter campaign to get the project off the ground. And I’ve followed it since the beginning — covering HDIG’s fundraising efforts and the release of their first video on mushrooms. (Did you know that half of all mushrooms in the United States come from indoor farms in a single Pennsylvania county?)

Somehow HDIG has exceeded even my highest hopes for the project. They recently signed a distribution contract with Yahoo where viewers can already see their videos. “They started releasing our videos last week, and we’re already nearing 200,000 plays on the Yahoo platform alone,” Cotroneo-Jolly says. But that’s not all. Educational organizations have also been using HDIG episodes in their curriculum. Edible Schoolyard, FoodCorps and the California-based Food Literacy Center have all adopted HDIG as an easily digestible teaching tool for students and volunteers alike.

“Our reach is expanding,” Cotroneo-Jolly says, “The apple episode was the first time where we worked with a sponsor which was wonderful.” Food delivery service Red Tomato both sponsored and facilitated the episode by giving the HDIG team access to an apple farm they distribute from. “They also worked with the farmer to come up with the integrated pest management program we talk about in the episode,” Cotroneo-Jolly adds.

On October 24, the episode will also be included in materials for the annual Food Day campaign. “The theme happens to be apple crunch,” Cotroneo-Jolly says, “It was perfect for the timing for this latest episode.”

Even with such great support, you can be assured there’s even more good news on the horizon. Though the episodes came out slowly in the beginning, HDIG has started producing one episode per month. “That’s the pace we’re hoping to keep,” Cotroneo-Jolly says.

If you’ve already sampled the first five episodes and want to know what’s next, HDIG is moving to warmer climates. Viewers can expect peanuts, avocados, strawberries and more in the months ahead.

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Tove Danovich is a food and agriculture journalist based in Brooklyn, NY. She is a contributor to Modern Farmer, Miracle of Feeding Cities, Civil Eats, and others. Follow her on Twitter or visit her website.