Much to See and Learn
This year’s IFT Annual Meeting + FOOD EXPO® has something for everyone—continuing education courses, technical sessions providing results of basic and applied research, hot topic and forum discussions of newsworthy and controversial issues, a thought-provoking and motivational keynote address, recognition of outstanding individuals, both those established and those still students, many exhibits of ingredients, laboratory, processing, and packaging developments, and services, special pavilions, videos, competitions, and much more.
Don’t Miss the Keynote Speaker
Joel A. Barker—the futurist who pioneered the application of paradigm shift theory and invented tools to help forecast long-term implications of change—will present the keynote address on Monday evening. His newest work addresses how clusters of technologies, which he calls Technecologies™ because they organize themselves into technological ecosystems, will play a major role in shaping the long-term future of the planet. See page 26 for IFT President Ann Hollingsworth’s interview with him, and be sure to hear his keynote address on Monday evening.
Eight Continuing Education Courses
It’s not too late to sign up for IFT’s eight continuing education programs to be held on Sunday and Monday, just before the Annual Meeting Technical Program. The courses range from Nutrition and Weight Management to Process Control for the Food Industry. See page 180 for details.
Nearly 2,000 Papers
This year’s technical program features nearly 2,000 papers presented in oral and poster technical sessions, hot topic sessions, symposia, and forums. See page 137 for a complete listing of the technical program as of press time. The complete technical program and abstracts are also available in searchable form online at www.am-fe.ift.org.
Nearly 2,000 Booths
As of press time, nearly 900 companies from all over the world will be exhibiting their products and services in nearly 200,000 sq ft of exhibit space. See page 133 for a list of exhibitors.
In addition to the regular International Pavilion and Healthy Foods Pavilion, there will be two special pavilions this year.
At the IFT/Mintel Global New Products Trends & Tasting pavilion, Mintel representatives will discuss health and wellness ingredient trends, ethnic flavor trends, and convenience and packaging trends and illustrate them with a tasting session of new products from around the world.
At the IFT/Research Chefs Association New Product Development Pavilion, top chefs from diverse market segments will work side-by-side with food technologists to create new culinary dishes. Teams are now being formed. The results of the collaborative development will be presented by each team via a step-by-step review of the process—from concept development through distribution, including key aspects of formulation, nutrition, cost, safety, consistency, and on-site preparation.
Editors Preview Papers and Exhibits
See page 39 for a preview of the technical program and exhibits. Food Technology’s editors present highlights of selected technical papers and exhibits related to ingredients, nutraceuticals, laboratory, processing, packaging, and services. Each section also includes a list of exhibitors in that category and their booth numbers as of press time. See www.am-fe.ift.org for information about exhibitors whose information arrived too late for inclusion in this issue.
This year’s IFT Achievement Award winners and newly elected Fellows will be introduced during the Opening Session on Monday evening and feted at the President’s Awards Banquet on Tuesday evening. Past and present honorees will also be featured in a new “Hall of Honor” located in the lobby of the Las Vegas Convention Center. The hall will also recognize the Section and Division members who have shown exceptional efforts in volunteerism.
Winners of IFT’s undergraduate and graduate research paper competitions and other deserving students will be recognized at the Student Association Welcome Assembly on Wednesday evening, and winners of the various IFT Division–sponsored competitions will be recognized at the Phi Tau Sigma breakfast on Friday morning.
It’s Not Too Late to Register
Register online at www.am-fe.ift.org
IFT President Interviews Keynote Speaker
IFT President Ann Hollingsworth recently spoke with futurist Joel Barker to preview what he’ll say in his keynote address at this year’s IFT Annual Meeting + Food Expo.
Ann Hollingsworth: You coined the phrase “paradigm shift.” Please define it and give some examples.
Joel Barker: A paradigm is a system of rules that we use to solve problems. A paradigm shift is basically a change in the rules of operation. If you change the rules, you change the game. When the food industry began freezing foods, that was a paradigm shift. Before that, it had all been canned foods. Frozen food was a completely new ball game. Dehydrated food was another. It’s a mark of all paradigm shifts that we’ll be able to solve problems that were impossible to solve with the old rules.
AH: What kinds of paradigm shifts do you foresee in the food area?
JB: One paradigm shift may be smart wrappers that basically measure what’s going on and announce that food is spoiling. We never had smart wrappers before. Now they’re going to talk to us, communicate with us.
Fish farming is another example. New rules are triggering a trend—treating fish almost like plants, certainly like cattle, tending them, feeding them in a certain way to dramatically drive down price. This represents a new “fishing” paradigm because the boundaries of the process are changing dramatically and the rules within the boundaries are also changing. Both those rule changes are necessary for a paradigm shift. Some people look at this trend and say that’s really dangerous because genetically modified salmon could get loose and really mess up the natural genetics of the general salmon population. They’re saying we don’t know the long-term consequences of such genetic mixing. So in this one paradigm shift example, we have two emerging trends: one is increasing utilization of biotechnology in our food, and the other is a growing trend of concern about the passing on of the engineered genes beyond the target animal.with us.
Food preservation is a third example. We have the electron-beam group who say we should sterilize food in such a way that we don’t have to refrigerate it at all. That’s a very interesting technology. And we have others who are against that because it is radiation.
One last example of paradigm shifts that I’m fascinated with is acoustic refrigerators. We can now take sound and utilize it to create cold air. No Freon, no moving parts other than a loudspeaker, and yet you can refrigerate and freeze. It is 50–70% more energy efficient than anything we’re doing right now, with no chance of polluting the atmosphere with CFCs. That’s a great paradigm shift because it allows us to refrigerate much more efficiently than before and also environmentally thoughtfully.
These four examples all illustrate what happens when you change the fundamental rules of doing something. Old, unsolvable problems go away and new opportunities open up that could not have been accessed before.
AH: What about in the area of rules and regulations?
JB: We’ll see new definitions for what it means to have safe foods. This relates especially to the issue of obesity. Last June, I spoke at an international meeting on obesity attended by leaders of top food companies, and they were stunned by the data on obesity in children.
AH: The technical people saw it coming, but they never got the message to the top people to warn them.
JB: The technical people couldn’t get the message across to the leaders so they could act in advance of the problem before it got to them. It shows what happens when one group has one paradigm, and another group has a different paradigm—you don’t get clear communication. So, the technology leaders saw what was coming but were not successful in communicating it to the chief business officers. Had they been able to show them the cascade of consequences of the industry’s behavior in a proper way, the leaders might have acted.
AH: Sometimes even when you say it, they don’t want to see it.
JB: Part of my work is to get them to see it, get them to say, “We didn’t think about it that way.” If you get them to discover it themselves, you can get 90% across to them. If you have to tell them, it’s more like 50%. My work is to get people to discover the long-term implications for themselves. Self-discovery gives them permission to say, “Look what we discovered. I now know something I didn’t know before.” In the past five years I have focused on creating those mechanisms for self-discovery of long-term consequences.
AH: How will paradigm shifts affect food companies, consumers, associations, and government, and what kinds of changes are going to be necessary to be able to deal with them?
JB: When a paradigm shifts, it puts everybody back to zero. We all are at the same starting line with the new rules. The dilemma is that if you’re an old-line company really great at the old paradigm, you’re really worse off because you don’t want to even run the race. So you keep trying to run the old race, while everybody else takes off on their own course. For example, Kodak had best electronic-imaging device in the world in the 1980s, but gave up its lead to the Japanese because it wanted to stick with film rather than do electronics. If you’re a very successful company in the old paradigm, you have to be really alert to the paradigm shift, or you won’t even know the race is being run.
AH: You also coined the term “technEcologies.” What are they,and why are they important?
JB: That’s part of my new book, Five Regions of the Future, written with Dr. Scott Erickson, that will be published next January. We have a radical thesis: that our technologies are beginning to form into complex systems that act a lot like ecosystems. Hence, the term “technEcology.”
In our book, we identified five different technEcologies. Each technological ecosystem has certain fundamental problems it must solve. But, just like Mother Nature, each solves it in a substantially different way. How each technEcology deals with energy is a good illustration: The “Super” technEcologist believes in providing “more than enough of everything for everyone,” so its energy source would be fusion power, because the key fuel is hydrogen, which is almost unlimited.
The “Super” technEcologist believes in providing “more than enough of everything for everyone,” so its energy source would be fusion power, because the key fuel is hydrogen, which is almost unlimited.
The “Limits” technEcologist believes “that all the easy-to-access resources have been exhausted,” so its energy is derived by producing “negawatts,” megawatts saved via energy efficiencies. For example, insulating all the houses in Minnesota is smarter than building another power plant and wasting precious energy sources.
The “Local” technEcologist believes “that energy should be generated within local domains,” i.e., by windmills where wind blows, by wave power where waves crash, by solar power where the sun shines, etc.
The “Nature” technEcologist believes “that Mother Nature has already provided solutions to our problems” so they would get liquid fuels from “diesel trees” (yes, they actually exist, with sap that burns perfectly in diesel engines), hydrogen from bacteria, and heat from exothermic plants, plants that actually produce excess heat.
Because the fifth technEcology is all about “human technology,” the energy example changes from the physics of energy to the psychology of energy—enthusiasm, optimism, inventiveness. The book shows how it all fits together.
All of the above technEcologies give you the energy necessary to live the Good Life, but they all do it in dramatically different (paradigm-shifting) ways.
AH: But isn’t that contrary to globalization?
JB:The fact that we can communicate worldwide doesn’t make us totally globally connected. When was last time you bought food from India or purchased energy from Brazil? We have the myth of globalization, when in fact the best we’ve done is regionalization. We have bilateral movement of goods from China to the United States, from China to Japan, but everybody is not trading with China and China is not trading with everyone and for sure China is not trading everything with everybody.
We need to begin to understand how the world could operate to keep the diversity of technology, just like nature tries to keep the diversity of living things. A single, globalized technology would be highly dangerous. Plant a square mile of wheat in Kansas and you have a very vulnerable food supply, because if a fungus grows in one corner of that field, there’s nothing but food in front of it. Nature through her diversity spreads out a broad mix of plants so it’s much harder for pathogens to find the plants they want to attack.
Real “globalization” is maybe 100 years away. But I am willing to bet we will never end up there, because we will have finally learned to appreciate the power of diversity— in culture, in ecosystems, in technEcologies. The Super technEcology reigned for first half of the 20th century, then these new technEcologies began to spring up. They have at least as much viability as Super Tech, because they deal with the planet in a different way. We are now beginning to understand that sustainability is a really important idea. Limits Tech, Local Tech, and Nature Tech are all highly sustainable technEcologies.
We’ve written the book to be provocative.We expect a lot of people to see alternatives to it, but you have to start somewhere. If we do no more than get people to realize that globalization is not automatic, we’ll be very happy.
AH: Thanks for your comments. We look forward to hearing your keynote address in July.