What I’ve Learned from Studying Food Science for Two Years

Five years ago, I was fully certain that I would grow up to be a filmmaker. Three years ago, I knew I was bound for the pharmaceuticals. One year ago, my endeavors were set on beginning a start-up focused on agricultural sustainability and plant-based nutrition. Now two years into studying Food Science, I have absolutely NO idea where my long-term career lies.

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I have ALWAYS been the girl with a plan that was miles ahead of the present. Low and behold, not everything goes to plan. In general, I learn to accept these shifts and discover some pleasant and not-so-pleasant surprises along the way. Ever since pursuing Food Science, my journey in college embodies this mantra. Expect the unexpected. Be flexible. Anticipate messiness. Prepare yourself for HARD labor. So. Much. More.

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But I love it all, and I cannot be more excited for what’s to come. Here are twenty of the most important factors that I have learned in my Food Science path, and I hope they benefit you in your college, work, or general life experience!

  • Go far and beyond to gain experience.
  • Food processing is exactly what we do in a kitchen on a larger scale.
  • Bread. Takes. Too. Much. Patience.
  • You will come across at least ONE recipe that you will not succeed at for the first time.
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  • ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS bring tupperware and to-go containers to a cooking lab.
  • When in doubt, ask questions.
  • Sometimes you need to allow curiosity to take the lead. This led me to create blue tofu, which is by far one of my favorite recipes of all-time.
  • There is no such thing as being too safe (and sanitized).
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  • Any lecture amounts to almost nothing in comparison to a hands-on procedure.
  • Flavor is not just how a food tastes. It is a culmination of taste, smell, vision, sound, texture, and temperature.
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  • Quality matters in networking. Form long-term relationships with others rather than accumulating shallow exchanges.
  • Legally established serving sizes are based on customarily consumed amounts per eating occasion. Gee, I don’t see anybody consuming seven tortilla chips or two correctly measured tablespoons of peanut butter (seriously, measure out two tablespoons of peanut butter. Sad looking, right?) as “customarily consumed” portions.
  • People will correct and critique, but for the most part, they just want to help you succeed.
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  • Chemistry SUCKS (mostly biochemistry) but is crucial to food storage, safety, packaging, processing, and culinary mastery.
  • Cooking with friends is SO much funner than cooking by yourself.
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  • Food is meant to bring people together, bring memories, bring pleasure, bring nourishment, and bring a sense of healing, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally.
  • Leave the kitchen better than how you found it.
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  • Don’t lose hope in the career field. If you don’t know what to look into, keep exploring. There are so many opportunities in Food Science–many of which haven’t even been invented yet.
  • Your home kitchen is the best place to practice.
  • Follow as I say, not as I do: no jewelry in the kitchen. If you have earrings, cover them with your bouffant cap (but you’re really better off removing them completely).

What have you learned from your college experience (so far)?

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