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Pandemic. Economic disruption. Global supply chain interruption. Obesity and diabetes skyrocketing. Scientific thinking under fire. We are living in extraordinary times. These challenging times are requiring us to be more creative, more nimble, more adaptive, and to rethink the paradigms that we have held for so long. With the world in turmoil and the global food industry being challenged in ways never before experienced, it’s an opportune time to lead this organization. These global crises require us to ask tough questions. Times like these are perfect to question what’s important, who we are, and what needs to change. We have to use this crisis to help accelerate the disruptive innovation needed to create a better future.
More than ever, the science of food requires multidisciplinary and diverse thinking—beyond the traditional. Our IFT community is uniquely qualified to leverage our broad and deep knowledge to address the significant global challenges we are facing, but we need to widen our circle. We need to expand beyond food scientists and technologists to include business leaders, futurists, entrepreneurs, chefs, nutritionists, doctors, and others who can broaden the lens through which we view and address the issues at hand. A collaborative and comprehensive scientific, academic, business, and regulatory approach is the only way we are going to take our vision to the next level and effect the type of change our industry and our stakeholders desperately need. This is a significant priority for me in the year ahead.
Destigmatizing science is more important than ever. With the rise of misinformation and access to an overwhelming amount of content on the Internet, it has become far too easy for people to find information that is not fact-based and reinforces what they already believe to be true, rather than seeking out evidence-based scientific findings that challenge conventional thinking or popular opinion. It is going to take radical change in how we communicate, and what we communicate, to break through and change perceptions. Now, more than ever, we have a responsibility as scientists and technologists to help people understand—not just by stating the facts—but by making an emotional connection. Universal acceptance of sound science is essential to address these challenges.
IFT needs to engage members and external stakeholders beyond our current reach and scope. We must seek out, and invite in, more diverse voices to our conversations to dispel the myths around the science of food. I would not have joined IFT if it were not for the encouragement of my father, a food scientist, my university advisors, and my professional mentors. They all told me to be involved with IFT, stay up-to-date with emerging science, and develop a strong network. Throughout my 37-year corporate career, my membership in IFT helped me be a better scientist, contributor, mentor, coach, and leader. We all must reach out and invite others to join the science of food and become part of the solutions.
Let’s not waste this crisis. The time has never been better to address the rapidly changing landscape of the science of food. Let’s do it together. Together, we can have greater impact and create a better future.