ADM tour offers taste of ag careers

ADM tour offers taste of ag careers


DECATUR – During a tour of Archer Daniels Midland Co.'s Randall Research Center on Tuesday, Mark Floerke described what may be the best job ever.

Part of the research that is under way there involves tasting products to decide if the flavor and consistency are acceptable. Sensory specialists taste for appeal, and the descriptive panel tastes to create descriptions.

“They literally describe the taste,” Floerke said to the visitors from Big Brothers Big Sisters who toured the center. “They might taste four types of chocolate bars and they might detect smoke notes or rubber notes.”

Floerke explained that in some countries where cocoa beans grow, the people use old tires to build the fires that crack the shells, and that could make the chocolate taste of rubber.

ADM Cares invited Big Brothers Big Sisters to visit and bring their Little Brothers and Sisters along for two reasons. One was to announce a $100,000 donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters to aid in the organization's activities.

The other was to open the kids' eyes to the wide variety of careers available at ADM. Floerke, for example, trained in Germany to be a baker and pastry chef and showed off his talents in that regard with a dessert he'd made of ingredients from ADM acquisitions, including pistachio and almond flours. His full job title is “project leader, culinary and bakery ingredient applications.”

Labs and test kitchens at Randall Research Center cover every aspect of food, from breaking down ingredients to testing ways to make cookies healthier to developing a dog treat that will fix Bowser's bad breath. The center employs some 400 people who do jobs in research, science, baking and cooking test batches in kitchens that can replicate giant commercial kitchens' conditions, and people who work in labs figuring out how to make snack cakes more fluffy and how to get more protein into products to improve nutrition in Third World countries.

He's also a Big Brother, and his Little Brother, C.J. Barbee, soon to turn 16, was one of the “littles” on the tour. The two of them spend a lot of their time cooking and eating out together and once Floerke made a “cookie cake” for C.J.

“He gives me a place to go when I need to talk,” C.J. said.

That's also what Taryn Veasy hopes to provide for her Little Sister, Alyse Carey. The two have been matched since October, and Veasy, who works for ADM, said they spend time doing fun things together but her main purpose is to provide Alyse a friend who will listen when she needs to talk.

Big Brothers Big Sisters serves 250 families in Central Illinois, with 70 to 80 children on a waiting list.

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