By Thomas Siebertz
Whenever someone asks me about my major, I almost always get a confused look. The usual reply is, “So…you’re taking culinary arts?”. The next few minutes are spent trying to convince them I am not a chef, followed by a great discussion on all the wonderful things food science is and how I arrived in such a great place.
It usually goes like this: I have loved all things science since I was a kid. However, when I got to high school, I still lacked direction on what I wanted to do. I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but soon realized that it wasn’t for me after an eye-opening internship with an orthopedic surgeon. Feeling like I wanted to drop out of college, I met someone in the food regulatory world by chance and they told me exactly this: if you want to get a good job, study food science. I was skeptical, but I thought it was a better option than dropping out, so the next semester I changed my major to Food Science.
What a great decision I had made! It seemed as though I had missed out on a whole universe. I got to learn all about different kinds of foods and food processes, microbiology, chemistry, food sanitation (one of my personal favorites) and of course HACCP, one of the most important concepts in this industry. I remember one of the best classes I ever took was Brewing Science and Fermentations. We learned how to make beer, wine, cheese and even pickles! I remember wondering why no one ever told me about this before. I was so glad to finally find something worth doing. The previous semester I had been enrolled in health science and I actually had a whole class devoted to health insurance. What a nightmare!
I had a really great professor that would take us to every IFT meeting and help us network with people working in the industry. He also had great connections with local food companies and would take us on field trips to tour different food processors. Halfway through my second semester, I was offered a job at a seafood processing plant in the quality assurance department. I took the offer because they allowed me to work part time, while still in school. It was a great experience, which qualified me for my current job as a seafood inspector for the federal government and here I am today!
It feels great knowing I can apply my skills and experience over a wide variety of foods and processes. I also love the job security that goes along with the food science degree and working in the food industry. I only regret that I’ve had to turn down quite a few job offers because I would love to experience working in different segments of the food industry, but it just wouldn’t be practical to change jobs that often! I have only completed my Associate’s Degree so far and already have a great career. I am now pursuing my Bachelor’s in Food Science from Kansas State University, which will give me even more opportunities.
Of course, I always like to ask people, what got you into food science? What are some of your favorite subjects?
Thanks for bringing the idea of “not everyone knows about our profession.” I have been asked multiple times throughout my studies and even after I have graduated, what do you do? Now, the prospect of graduating as a food scientist is amazing. You never know until you try to be one.
Why I got into food science? Primary reason for the food technologies that transforms raw materials into food products. But, later it turns into a miracle. When I got into the program, my view on food science was changed, I started to see the connection of those courses that I am taking with the real world examples. It is like a puzzle, that pieces together. Imagine the consequences of losing a piece of the puzzle?
I would leave that open to everyone who view this.
Going into the food industry at the moment seems like the best idea and that’s exactly why I chose it. Most people think when doing a “food degree” all one does is work in a kitchen but it is so much more than that. Before a meal can be bought to the table a lot of work, thought and preparation needs to be put into it. Food is about nutrion, sustainability and passion and you have definitely shown that you have that. Your article was thoroughly inspirational.
Yes it’s very interesting, when you look at food production in any form, there are many disciplines that are involved which come together to make a product. There is engineering, physics, chemistry and microbiology plus the business, sales/marketing side of it. I think you are spot on when you say it’s like a puzzle and each piece has an important role. Good comment!
I am looking for a course that wil suite me in the university. I am not that good in math..well, a bit slow. So , do u think food science is the best? Help me pleaseeee
Hi Yun! Math is definitely a central part of any science, so a typical food science curriculum will likely include some type of calculus course. The fundamentals learned in those classes will then also likely be used in core food science classes. You can find a list of IFT-approved undergraduate programs at this link: http://www.ift.org/community/students/approved-undergrad-programs.aspx