On October 16, we will once again have a chance to celebrate the importance of World Food Day. This annual campaign honors the 1945 founding of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and its goal of ending hunger and making safe and nutritious foods available to all.
Thanks to food science and technology, we have made incredible progress feeding people on a global scale, which is a point clearly emphasized in the white paper, Feeding the World Today and Tomorrow: The Importance of Food Science and Technology, published in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. But as this paper also points out, we still have a very long way to go when it comes to countering hunger and making sure people have access to safe and nutritious food. Feeding the estimated 9 to 10 billion that will likely reside on the planet by 2050 will require new ways for food scientists to develop, produce, and transport food while also tackling a major issue—food waste.
Although meeting future food demands will require new innovations and new technologies, our digital age has spawned a new need for food scientists to master increasingly complex and rapidly-changing communication technology. In a world of instantaneous, viral digital communication, the role of the food science advocate will be even more important in television, radio, print, and especially social media.
For World Food Day, IFT has developed the tools to help our members take on the role of advocate and ensure that the story of food science is not only told—but increasingly viral through sharing. To tell that story, we have created the World Without Food Science campaign to demonstrate the critical role of the profession in ensuring that multiple audiences understand where their food comes from. The video campaign, launched at the 2012 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo®, included a provocative public service announcement that shows what happens in a grocery store when there is no food science. Two expert interview segments, featuring Colin Dennis and Bob Brackett, focus on how food science makes food globally available and also how the profession makes it safe for consumers. A new segment unveiled on October 16 features Mary Wagner of Starbucks discussing how food science and food processing provide sustainable solutions throughout the food system. You can view these videos at www.worldwithoutfoodscience.org.
Do you want more content to share? IFT Food Facts (www.iftfoodfacts.org) offers consumers and the media real-life, practical tips that can be used in the home or on-the-go. The web page includes facts sheets and consumer-friendly videos featuring IFT Food Science Communicators, who are volunteers that regularly participate in media interviews. The Day in the Life video series features food scientists in action at NASA, Disney Consumer Products, and Tetra Pak. This series (www.ift.org/knowledgecenter/learn-about-food-science/day-in-the-life.aspx) shows what actually happens on-the-job, so the public has a better understanding of the important contributions of food science—and that being a food scientist is a pretty cool career.
On World Food Day, it is not necessary to do everything, but it’s important to do at least one thing. It starts by sharing a simple message: there simply would be no food on World Food Day if it were not for food science. To help IFT members take that first step in being an advocate, there are some very simple ways that you can communicate the value of the profession by using some of the tools that we have created. For those of you in industry, World Food Day is an opportunity to share the resources in this article with your communications department to help counter some of the myths about the profession. For those in academia, the materials may be a valuable teaching aid to show what the profession offers and why food science is a viable career path. More broadly, all IFT members can use these materials to create a positive dialogue on the profession—during public presentations, through discussions with the media, and to correct misinformation or counter myths with friends and family.
Probably the most valuable opportunity to use these resources is in social media to drive online discussions. If you have a blog, these materials can be included to add visual content that will attract viewers. For Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, posting this information will create a unique perspective and contribute accurate information in a digital world fraught with inaccuracies about food. The IFT Community is also a great way to connect with others to gain additional resources or hear other views from IFT members. Mostly, World Food Day provides an opportunity to offer a science-based perspective on the importance of the profession and the value of food processing—and what we will need to do to tackle the many challenges ahead of us in the coming years.
Jerry Bowman is Vice President, Communications & Media Relations, IFT, Chicago, IL ([email protected]).