28618734802_d2d2254c0a_kThat tasty tomato that you just ate? A whole body of science has determined the size, color and sensory elements of it to anticipate your satisfaction.

Sensory scientists like Monsanto’s Chow-Ming Lee shape fruits and vegetables as they move toward market. Through thorough consumer testing, their mission is to find the right level of sweet, bitter, salty or sour and even color and size. They use a nine-point scale to rate consumer preferences.

“Everybody’s tastes are different,” Lee said, as National Press Foundation fellows themselves conducted a brief taste-preference test of watermelons, tomatoes and cantaloupes. The question that sensory scientists must answer is, “what do consumers want, what do they prefer,” Lee said.