The following was originally posted on FoodGrads.com
When I say I always knew I wanted to be a food scientist, most people are shocked. My mom told me about the major when I was in middle school. I was amazed when I heard it was a real job that people had. It combined the two things I really loved at the time – cooking and science. Although my understanding of the food industry was minimal, once the idea of studying the science of food was placed in my head, my mind was made up.
My desire to go into the food industry became even stronger as I grew older. I ran into a slew of health problems my last two years of high school that left me so sick I began to doubt the notion that I could attend college at all. Thankfully, I overcame my health scares through a revamping of my diet.
I loved the idea that feeding yourself the right foods can make you feel great. For a while, I thought I would change my mind about food science and become a nutritionist. But I realized that one of the largest hurdles I faced in overcoming my health issues wasn’t figuring out what I should eat – it was going to the store and finding products that I actually could eat.
It’s been said many times before: the difference between a nutritionist and a food scientist is that nutritionists tell you what to put in your body, while food scientists give you the option of what to put in your body. I realized the great potential there is in the world of allergen and diet friendly foods once I had to go to the store and find these kinds of foods for myself.
I think one of the most exciting parts of my journey with my own health has been discovering foods that I can eat and love to eat. I love going to the grocery store and finding new products that fit within this new diet. After high school, I knew I wanted to go into the food industry in order to provide that sort of excitement to other people living with dietary restrictions as well.
Of course, my undergraduate classes and experiences have deepened my understanding of the food industry and have only made me more passionate about this industry. I’ve had the opportunity to have serious discussions about the people in my generation facing issues like food security, world population and hunger, and science communication.
Even though I discovered my passion for food science through my health issues, that passion continues to be strengthened in me as I discover more ways I can help others by being a member of the food industry.
Food is at the center of so many issues facing today’s society and choosing to work in this industry connects me with millions of people. It’s crazy to me how small but influential the food industry seems to be.
Everyone says the industry is small and you end up running into the same people a lot in your career; I’ve already experienced this multiple times as an undergrad. However, food also effects just about every part of society. I’m excited to have the opportunity to leave my mark not just on a company, but on the country or world through the work I do with food.
I’m particularly passionate about science communication and connecting food scientists to consumers. Even I had a lot of misconceptions about the food industry before attending college, and I want to do everything I can to increase the public’s understanding about how and why food companies do what they do.
Future food scientists like me will have the chance to make great products, but we’ll also have the chance to contribute to the solutions for the food problems our world is facing.
Entering this industry knowing I have the ability to make a change in not just one person’s, but millions of people’s lives, it’s what lets me know I picked the right career path for me.
Written by: Elena Bailoni