By: Emily Del Bel
In the past 48 hours I have seen at least four articles touting the demons of a variety of food science-related topics pop up on my Facebook newsfeed. Naturally I can’t resist reading them. Then follows the internal debate about whether or not I have the time to look up sources to dispute them, clarify the misconceptions, and if it will do any good. Since I know that starting an argument I can’t possibly win is a lesson in making one’s self crazy, I inevitably decide that it’s not worth the time or energy and move on. But today, an article from the Intrepid Culinologist showed up (posted to Facebook by the IFT page) that I really wanted to respond to.
This article opens with the amazing statistic: only 350 students in the ENTIRE United States this last year graduated with a bachelor’s degree in food science. Because I am one of those 350 students (Oregon State ’12), it caught my eye. The author, Rachel Zemser, a food scientist and certified culinary scientist, then goes on to question why there are so few students pursuing this degree since, she states, those graduates are almost guaranteed job placement for life! She believes the reason behind this is that we disguise food science with marketing schemes such as “silly rabbits, green giants, and doughboys.” According to her, we need to show the public our true identities as scientists who work diligently to create food in a “safe and routine way.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Last July, I wrote about the challenge of explaining my career choice to friends and family, and how I intended to use the World Without Food Science video to help explain it to them. In addition to this video, there are some other great ones about how the food that we eat is made, such as How It’s Made website. The show has been airing on the Discovery Channel for years and contains a great collection of videos about how a wide variety of foods are made, in plants and kitchens of all shapes and sizes, from little Mom-and-Pop companies to international distributors.
This is the food science that people need to see. Not, as Ms. Zemser describes it, “Aunt Jemima’s probably-not-HACCP-certified kitchen”. (Hah!) Add to that a dose of the Day in the Life videos produced by IFT and you get a better idea of the fantastic contributions that food scientists are making.
We must educate the public about the true role of food scientists. We work tirelessly to ensure that there are a myriad of product choices, and that food is widely available, safe to eat, nutritious, and fun. So the next time you see one, thank them! (And thank you, Ms. Zemser, for inspiring me to write this post!)
How do you handle it when people post misinformation about something you’re passionate about? Let us know in the comments below.