For me, like many people, it’s the time of the year when we reflect on the accomplishments of the outgoing year and look forward to moving into a new year, abundant with possibilities. We’ve had a remarkable year at IFT.
A year ago, we continued on our journey, as articulated in our strategic plan. As an organization, we promised to DEVELOP the science of food professionals and provide resources that allow us to learn, lead, give back, and be recognized. We promised to offer productive NETWORKS to connect locally, globally, digitally, and around specific topics and areas of interest. We promised to INNOVATE by providing members with resources to stay current on the latest advancements and opportunities to publish novel research and convene around issues that affect our profession. And we promised to ADVOCATE on topics that impact our profession and our shared mission and vision.
While this year’s list of accomplishments is long, I’m highlighting one hallmark advancement, against each of our promises, which has touched everyone in our community.
• DEVELOP. With the official launch of IFTNEXT at IFT17, we introduced an exciting new area of professional development and innovative content. IFTNEXT will become part of IFT’s events, publications, and digital spaces. It will enable discussions and debates, while expanding our understanding of what the future holds for our profession.
IFTNEXT brings together ideas from a variety of disciplines, inside and outside of food science, to help us imagine the future of food. This initiative challenges us to be bold, daring, and entrepreneurial, and to innovate intrepidly and responsibly. IFTNEXT was made possible by the generosity of Ingredion and will include podcasts, articles, webinars, courses, competitions, and discussions that will propel our profession forward.
• NETWORK. To provide membership access to a broader base of professionals in the science of food, IFT’s members voted to approve significant changes to our membership offering. These changes allow a lower financial barrier to entry for those who wish to network and engage with our community, and in particular with the IFT Sections and Divisions that are at the heart of our organization.
New and returning members taking advantage of this new offering will bring ideas, nuance, and fresh perspective to our discussions and will add new flavor to the essential networks that make up IFT.
• INNOVATE. IFT’s Food Technology magazine and peer-reviewed journals are still the best sources of information available to professionals in our community. Meanwhile, our annual event in Las Vegas saw a record-breaking number of exhibitors who shared advancements in the science of food that we can taste, smell, and touch.
Nevertheless, for IFT to be a space for innovation, the institute itself must innovate. We’ve heard your concerns about the IFT website and recognize that it must be best-in-class to deliver the information our members need. This year, the IFT Board of Directors approved the overhaul of our website for a new ift.org. This project is no small undertaking—it contains over 10,000 pages of content. While the new website will likely not launch until early 2019, the work is well underway to provide our community with the very best resource for the science of food anywhere on the internet.
• ADVOCATE. To celebrate IFT’s 75th Anniversary, we published a series of thought-provoking articles under the banner FutureFood 2050. The capstone of this project was a documentary film, which IFT commissioned and funded, and the aim of which was to advocate for sound science, for scientists, and for solutions to the challenges encompassed by FutureFood 2050.
The film was produced over a three-year period under the creative control of Academy Award–nominated director Scott Hamilton Kennedy. This year, Food Evolution was released in theaters and on multiple digital platforms. The film is a bold, controversial, and poignant discussion about the use of sound science in the global food system viewed through the lens of a hotly debated and polarizing topic: GMOs. IFT is proud to be a part of this story and to begin a new conversation about sound science and the essential role that scientists play in delivering a safe, nutritious, and sustainable food supply for everyone. To date the film has had over 206 theatrical screenings in over 34 countries—with many more screenings currently scheduled.
It has been an exceptional year of progress for our institute and our profession. As you pause to reflect on the past year, I hope your engagement with IFT, in whatever form it may have taken, makes it onto your personal highlight reel. Serving as your president is at the top of mine. As we look forward to 2018, we’ll maintain our focus on the important promises we’ve made to you. On behalf of IFT, I wish each of you a healthy, prosperous, and joyous New Year.
Cindy Stewart, PhD, CFS
IFT President, 2017–2018
Global Cultures and Food Protection Technology & Innovation Leader, DuPont Nutrition & Health, Wilmington, Del.