Why we do something is so much more important than what we do or how we do it. Why do we do anything in life? Why do we feel compelled to do one thing over another? ‘The why’ is the thing that keeps us doing it, makes us happy and gives us fulfilment.
Here’s ‘my why’. I grew up in a small village in Hampshire, England. Trips to the egg farm, the butcher, the bakery, the green grocer were normal, everyday life. At the butcher shop, Winston the owner, would greet us warmly by name like he did everyone else, and there was nothing he didn’t know about meat.
He would go to the cold storage room, leaving the door open and I would stare at the pigs, lambs, birds and cows hanging upside down, blood sometimes still dripping into a puddle on the floor.
The Bloody Butcher
Then worse of all he would start chopping and slicing, then pretend to cut off another finger for our entertainment (several fingers were already missing) and as a young girl this would fascinate and freak me out all at the same time! While Winston was entertaining us, I learned where our Sunday Roast came from.
The egg farm was a little drive away (and much less harrowing) I would see the chickens running in their coops, and we would enter–I loosely term–a ‘shop’ that consisted of trays and trays of eggs and an old fashioned till in the corner. The scent became so familiar to me over time and we would walk away with our eggs that were covered in dirt and feathers.
It wasn’t long before the village next to ours opened a ‘Tesco’. My Mum started working full time which meant the daily trips to the shops became less frequent, and the once a week trip to the grocery store became the norm as convenience was all the rage.
We never questioned the products or whether there was anything in them detrimental to our health, ‘they’ wouldn’t be able to sell food products that are bad for us. That would just be wrong, it wouldn’t be allowed, right? Obviously we knew the cream cakes were a treat over the fruits and veg but that was about the extent of our general food knowledge.
We thought of convenience foods as progress and the new norm, and as a modern, busy family; we embraced it.
I just turned 40
An older Millennial or young Gen X so to all intents and purposes, not that old. But I am sure to many, my account of the past made you think I was much older. Where you grow up makes a huge difference to how your experiences shape your views and the knowledge that you take for granted— my husband is a few years older than me and thinks its hilarious when I share my stories of growing up in a village, and my kids, well they just think I’m prehistoric!
Many kids today have no idea where food comes from, I asked my niece a few days ago where milk comes from and she answered “the fridge”.
What have we done?
We need to make food part of the conversation at school in more than just health and nutrition terms. A broader conversation about farming, processing, innovation, technology etc. and how they–when they grow up–can be part of this exciting industry.
What solidified my ‘why’ was when a very close family member was diagnosed with cancer. I read Kelly Turner’s book–Radical Remissions–and it changed my whole outlook and I would recommend it to everyone to read.
Although the whole book, in my opinion is a must read, the first chapter inspired me and my family to do things differently, but most of all ‘think’ differently about food as a whole and educate ourselves.
I don’t plan on preaching here but food is about the most important thing we can concern ourselves with for health and wellness. I don’t need to remind anyone that without ones health, nothing else really matters. I sadly got to witness this first hand, and until you go through losing someone you love, you never really can describe how the experience changes you.
Food has never been as important to me as it is now, I don’t claim to be an expert but I’m learning and I’m passionate about sharing the knowledge and most of all attracting people to this industry.
We need talented, socially conscious, curious, forward thinking young people to make positive differences and influence the way things are done.
The changes are well under way with regards to transparency in labelling and action towards healthier ingredients and processes within the industry. Its wonderful that not a day goes past that we take another step in the right direction.
Now is not the time to point fingers and cast blame–the past is the past–now is the time to discuss the importance of the food system and the food industry. As an industry the conversation should be focused on how collaboratively we can strengthen it by attracting talented people for a better, healthier, sustainable tomorrow.
Why pursue a career in food?
Do you care about your health, the health of your family, community and strangers that your work will touch (locally and on a global perspective)? How and what you do will come down to what your strengths are, what your dislikes are, what you are most passionate about, your personality and what environment suits you best. But rest assured, there is something for everyone in the food industry and your profession WILL make a difference in this world.
What’s your ‘Why’?