There is a growing body of research that suggests gratitude has a direct correlation to our mental and physical health. With benefits ranging from making us happier and improving our relationships to helping us manage stress, improve decision-making, and sleep better, gratitude is key to well-being, much like eating a healthy meal and reducing our sugar intake, science indicates.
When I think about what I am grateful for each day, my family, friends, and health certainly top the list. But my 47 years of IFT membership is up there as well. Especially at times like these. Our global food system is challenged in ways it has never before experienced, and we, as food scientists and technologists, are being challenged to adapt and innovate in unprecedented ways. The support, guidance, and inspiration we find within the IFT community is a respite amid these demanding days. Surrounding ourselves with people who understand what we are facing on a personal level and as a global profession, and who share a common goal to feed our planet safe, nutritious, delicious, and sustainable food, is incredibly powerful and motivating. I can’t imagine what my professional life would have been like if it wasn’t for IFT and the many wonderful people I’ve met through my participation over the years.
I am also grateful for all our amazing IFT volunteers. IFT wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t for them. Despite having significant demands on our time, changes to work locations and schedules, new safety requirements, and a complete merging of our home and work life, we had more than 1,400 member volunteers in various capacities in the last year. The participation of these members on different committees, task forces, and juries, as well as serving on our board of directors and everything in between, has kept the organization moving forward in a positive direction. To say I’m grateful for all of these smart and talented people is an understatement. I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and engagement!
IFT has reached a critical juncture this year, much like many of the companies throughout the food value chain. Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the business models for associations had already begun evolving, and IFT embraced this opportunity to shift and grow. Then COVID-19 hit and exacerbated our need to evolve in a way we couldn’t have predicted. Our strength and sustainability as an organization depends on our ability to be even more creative, more nimble, and more adaptive, and to rethink the paradigms that we have held for so long.
It will take our collective diverse experiences, perspectives, and engagement to create the IFT of the future. It will also require a willingness to learn and stretch and reach beyond our normal boundaries. Ask yourself: Who do you know that could bring valuable insights to the table? Whether they work in the science of food or are outside our typical boundaries but have expertise you think would be valuable and aligned with our mission, invite them to get engaged.
Though you might feel challenged and pulled in so many different directions, your dedication to improving the lives of countless people around the globe does not go unnoticed. Nor does your commitment to IFT. You make a tremendous difference every day and are greatly appreciated. I hope you experience the same sense of gratitude I do from doing such fulfilling work and that this helps you get through these challenging times.
I am confident that if in the year ahead we have the courage to ask tough questions, make difficult decisions, and invite others to join us, we will emerge stronger than ever.