By Emily Yee
Gallons of caffeinated drinks and piles of sandwiches are the reason why I’ve been surviving this semester so far, because holy crud, did you know that first semester of junior year for a Food Science major is packed with lectures on water, proteins, fluids and food-borne illnesses? And actually, that’s not even the entire semester, that’s just been the first month of the semester. I look back at the date of my first post and feel kind of awkward for such a late follow-up, but I can explain! I found myself lucky to catch even the slightest breath in between calculating viscosities of purées and figuring out why mishandled deli meats can cause diarrhea.
If it isn’t clear by now, Food Science courses have come at me like a wrecking ball — not the kind of wrecking ball that Miley Cyrus sings about, because instead of shattering emotional defense mechanisms, this one is trying to pulverize my GPA.
It’s a lot, guys. Let’s launch into a winded explanation, shall we?
In Food Science, your tub of ice cream isn’t just a cure for a rough day, nor is that strawberry pop-tart just a quick breakfast option. Nope, they are formulations of carbs, proteins and lipids that are carefully crafted so that you can indulge in edible novelties without approaching Death’s door.
No really, I don’t exaggerate; this is what we food science majors have learned so far:
- Food Engineering: water is a big deal.
- Food Chemistry: protein is a big deal.
- Food Microbiology: bacteria, pathogens, intoxications and infections are all big deals.
- A combined understanding of #1-3 is necessary to keep the consumer alive.
This is going to make a dent in the romantic view of food most people have, but a food product is the manifestation of engineers, chemists and microbiologists concerned not only for the consumer’s experience, but also the consumer’s safety. Sure it’s fun to learn about the chemical reactions that cause favorable sensory characteristics, such as the browning that gives bread its crust, or gelatinization that gives tofu its bounce, but how do we balance food quality and food safety?
According to my classes, the answer lies within equations used to solve for nutrient retention and bacteria reduction. The math behind protein folding and denaturation might have something to do with it too. I’ve got two midterms this week, so I guess I’ll let you guys know after I get those test scores back … wish me luck.