FoodGrads Podcast Episode 58: Transforming how food and agricultural companies harvest data for a better future with Pedro Medina, E.E., Founder & Chief Data Farmer at Haystack Data Solutions

On episode 59 of the FoodGrads we interviewed Pedro Medina, Founder & Chief Data Farmer at Haystack Data Solutions. Haystack is a certified minority-owned technology solutions provider for food & agricultural businesses. Since 2014, they have been committed to solving their clients’ toughest challenges. Their mission is to help agri-food companies realize the power, potential, and value of data by developing effective solutions that bring growth to their bottom line, help feed the world, combat climate change, and expand opportunities for women and data scientists of color. They were also recently recognized with ‘Best in Baking Award’ at the International Baking Industry Exposition for their notable achievements that foster better plant efficiency, improved bakery formulas, streamlined operations and otherwise drive continued growth of the baking industry.

On this week’s episode Pedro and Veronica talked about Haystack and what they are doing to help food producers, processors and distributors. They talked about Pedro’s career journey and how he got to where he is today. Because this podcast’s episode is themed around data Veronica asked Pedro what exactly is data and how it is used in the food industry. They chatted about why he believes the food industry has been slow to adopt digital technologies and how Haystack is helping them take their data analytics from Excel to non-coding softwares like Kelva.

Show Notes


[2:46] Pedro talks about Haystack and what he does there

[5:18] Pedro talks about what “data” is, the difference between data science and data analysis

[9:49] Pedro talks about a how Haystack has created a solution that has helped a food business out

[16:21] Talking about the inaccessibility to new tech for small businesses 

[22:40] How Excel is a valuable tool

[23:20] How Haystack helps small bushiness with no code solutions

[32:59] Systems thinking approach

[33:50] Cloud based solutions

[36:36] Skills that Pedro is currently working on

[42:55] Suggestions on what students can do in data in order to improve their resumes

Haystack Solutions

Programmable Logic Computers

Microsoft SQL server


Haystacks Youtube Channel

Pedro Medina Interview Quotes

And I see an enormous amount of opportunity for data science applied to sustainability, but more importantly for the sustainable manufacturer and processing of food.

Pedro Medina

Technology is not a panacea, it’s not gonna solve all of your problems. But it will make you more efficient, more effective, more streamlined, and if done right, you can automate a lot of these things.

Pedro Medina

Every day there’s a new platform. Every day there’s a new technology. There’s a lot of things happening, and it’s very difficult to stay on top of it all. I consider my job is to help you navigate that ecosystem and to really separate the valuable stuff from the hype and some of these technologies and tools that promise more and they can actually deliver.

Pedro Medina

We’re gonna have to feed 10 billion people over the next 30 years. And it’s gonna be incumbent on us as members of this industry of the food industry as a whole to adopt, every piece of technology out there to help us get there. And data is gonna play a key role in all of that.

Pedro Medina

My recommendation to any student that wants to build their skills in data science and analytics is to find a passion project. I mentioned Kaggle earlier but there are plenty of open data sets available online. You can go out there and find organizations out there that ask for volunteers.

Pedro Medina

YouTube is an amazing resource. You can find hour long training courses entirely for free on any tool. So say you wanna learn about machine learning if you wanna do that than you can learn how to build machine learning models in a cloud based platform.

Pedro Medina

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