As I reflect upon my year as president of the Institute of Food Technologists® and recall the challenges and opportunities we faced, I am reminded of a story about the great Michelangelo. Every day, a neighborhood boy would visit Michelangelo’s studio to watch the famous Renaissance sculptor chip away at a massive block of marble. For months, the boy would come and watch in fascination as the magnificent form of David began to take shape. When Michelangelo had completed the masterpiece, the boy was utterly amazed by the transformation of stone into a majestic structure. He asked Michelangelo, "How did you know he was in there?"
Much like the great Renaissance artist, IFT exists to anticipate change, navigate through uncertainty, uncover hidden opportunities, and provide us with the tools needed to succeed as professionals today and tomorrow. The idea of discovering opportunity is a powerful one that our organization embraced this past year. We started working with a new governance structure and unveiled a comprehensive strategic plan to guide our organization, foster our most valuable programs, services, and resources, and ensure IFT’s future growth. Consequently, the Board of Directors adopted a new organizational community model that aligns our volunteer resources with the new strategic plan. In addition to this exciting transition, we spent the past year moving forward on a number of other critical initiatives.
For instance, the Board of Directors appointed an advisory panel to further increase the scientific quality and focus of IFT’s activities and to identify current and emerging issues that IFT must champion. The panel met recently, and some of its initial recommendations will be evident during next year’s annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif.
On the global front, IFT and the Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology co-hosted another successful food summit in November 2007. The summit—Better Living Through Food Science, Food Safety, and Food Standards—attracted more than 500 food professionals from seven countries. IFT addressed its commitment to "provide an inclusive and welcoming community for all food science and technology professionals and the knowledge and tools they need to enhance their professional capacity and competency" by conducting a comprehensive communications audit. As a result, new communications initiatives have been implemented. In addition, we will continue to publicize IFT and our mission through strategic communications and expanded public affairs efforts.
Moreover, IFT has continued to take the lead in a joint task force with representatives from the American Society for Nutrition and the International Food Information Council. To help advance research at the interface of food science and nutrition, the task force hosted a workshop on writing competitive grants.
In June 2008, IFT recognized two members of the U.S. Congress for their outstanding contributions to science-based food policy—Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Rep. Ed Whitfield, R.-Ky. In addition, IFT received a special citation at the 2008 Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Honor Awards Ceremony.
Finally, during this year’s Annual Meeting & Food Expo®, research directors, principal investigators, and representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service summarized the status of their research projects and offered input on the direction of food science. Also at this year’s meeting, IFT staff and members volunteered for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana.
How did we know that these opportunities—and many more—were there, waiting to be tapped? I believe it is because our volunteer leaders and capable staff were eager to envision IFT’s great potential and bold enough to create it. The impossible is often just the untried.
As a scientific society, we remain committed to developing our organization, advancing our profession, and more importantly, enhancing our members’ professional reach. To that end, I urge all of you to continue to voice opinions, bring forward ideas, take seriously the responsibility of advancing the science of food, and become more involved in IFT, our organization.
I end my last President’s Message with a quote from my favorite ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, who said, "The perfect human being is all human beings put together, it is a collective, it is all of us together that make perfection." That is what I believe about IFT: It is all of us together that can create a perfect Institute of Food Technologists. Let’s all work together to continue IFT’s success for many years to come.
by John D. Floros,
IFT President, 2007–08
Professor and Head, Food Science Dept., The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa.