Food Science? Like Heston, right?
Actually, no. Not like Heston. Well a little, in that we Food Scientists can help him with his hydrocolloid formulas so that the bubbles of kipper & marmalade flavoured creme anglais can stay inflated on the plate, sure.
But the scope of Food Science (FS) is far broader than that. In fact most of us find what goes on within the confines of a single plate the least interesting aspect of all.
There is so much more, so many wormholes of research expand exponentially when you start looking outside the plate. Knowledge and questions open out like concertina folds between the harvest of a food commodity and the moments before you consume it or cook with it;
From watching proteins work their way down an electropheris plate to determine which sample really is from a top dollar West Australian rock lobster
to developing a method to release healthful carotene from waste banana skins or creating biofilms from grain proteins to use as sustainable modified atmosphere packaging there is so useful stuff much to get one’s teeth in to.
And the kinds of professional roles FS find themselves in are infintely fascinating. Just looking around my classmates on the post-grad course at Curtin University is almost as interesting as the course content. Perhaps just as interesting. If I can persuade one or two them to be interviewed for Crackling you will see what I mean.
For my part, research in to food and the advancement of the human condition has always appealed more than single occasion dishes. Perhaps it is something to do with being amongst those directly sworn at by Bob Geldof in Wembley Arena in July 1985.
And I feel vindicated today on reading a report from the Copenhagen Consensus 2012 Expert Panel – a think-tank which publcises the most effective ways governments and philanthropists can spend aid and development money. Apparently, of the 16 smartest ways to improve the global quality of life three of then can be undertaken by the FS community, and they are
- Micronutrient invterventions – delivering functional health beneftis within a basic food commodity: golden rice, for example, was modified to provided vitamin A in a familiar form helping to reduce blindness and child mortality rates in Asia.
- Research and development to increase yield enhancements – yes, this may include genetic modification, but also best harvest practises and things as simple as teaching farmers to build the right kind of storage facilities for their crops to prevent spoilage.
- A salt reduction campaign to reduce chronic disease – public health will spearhead this, however the FS are already work on salt reduced food products.
so that’s nice. And not a shred of deep-fried leek as garnish amongst them.
Whilst I personally find more than 30 seconds of Heston Blumenthal as showman style chef somewhat tedious, I am pleased he wrote the foreward to my favourite FS book Food and The Chemistry of its Components.
Any mate of Tom Coultate is all right with me. Bacon and egg icecream cones notwithstanding.
P.S. This article is getting a lot of views, and I would be fascinated to know how you ended up here reading it, or looking at the pictures. Would you be kind enough to leave me a comment and let me know? Many thanks, Susanna.