An education in food science covers scientific principles relating to the preparation, consumption, enjoyment, sustainability, and health components of human sustenance. Courses reveal how our physiological makeup applies to cooked food, geographical and cultural influences on food, and rationales behind food preparation. Food Science also covers public health crises, such as obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, and their link to unhealthful eating.
Food Science is becoming increasingly important to learn as the consumption of heavily processed foods proliferates, and as culture shifts away from the preparation of food at home. It’s crucial that learners interested in the field gain expertise in the prevention of diet-related diseases, the ability to create meals based on scientific principles, and methodologies related to sustainable food production.
Learners who study Food Science can enjoy career opportunities in gastronomy and health-related fields, such as Chef or Nutritional Therapist, as well as other roles that incorporate food-based skills. The myriad of jobs available include Food Scientist, Quality Assurance Manager, Food Toxicologist, Product Development Scientist, Scientific Laboratory Technician, Biochemist, Flavor Chemist, Food Ingredient Sales, Food Inspector, Sensory Scientist, and many other roles related to the study or handling of food.
Online courses are a great way to earn credits, or boost professional development, in Food Science. Courses offered through Coursera include practical discussions about food and the environment in which we consume it, helping learners have the tools they need to distinguish between foods that will support or harm their health. Sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics are covered, and how recent changes in food have greatly altered the way our bodies process it. Wider issues in sustainable manufacturing and bioethics are also covered, as well as how these technologies translate into real-world applications that benefit society and our daily lives.
Assignments in Food Science courses show learners how to appreciate the scientific basis of various recipes, develop their own recipes, recognize the influence of the material world on our five senses, and understand the art of integrating science into cooking and dining. Successful learners will be able to present their rationales for healthy eating, create a long-term weight management plan, practice science-backed cooking methodologies, and examine ways to ensure a growing human population is fed.
Because food science combines so many topics, a background in chemistry, biology, biochemistry, agriculture, chemical engineering, nutrition, microbiology, physics, and physics can all be helpful if you're planning to study the topic. And, of course, any background you have working in the food industry can be helpful. Even if you simply worked an entry-level job in the food industry—such as a stocker in a grocery store or as a server in a restaurant—you will have some knowledge to help you better understand food science. Many food scientists work in labs, research institutions, and universities, so a background working in these settings may be helpful too.
People suited for roles in food science should have a mind for and an interest in science. But you'll also need an interest in people and their health. After all, much of food science is determining how to get food from its origin to the public without problems. You'll also need to be a stickler for details, especially when it comes to safety and hygiene. You must be able to work independently as well as part of a team, which means you'll need good communication skills. Food scientists and those who work in the food science industry will also need some background in computer science, business, and math.
A professional or personal interest in science or the food industry is a good indicator that learning food science is right for you. You may be considering a career in the industry, or you may already work in a related field and want to advance your career. Perhaps you're a farmer, nutritionist, food manufacturer, or food marketer and want to know more about the science behind the food we eat so you can apply it to your job. Even as a consumer, learning about food science can help you shop smarter and eat healthier. You may learn about topics like nutrition, growing food, the evolution of food, manufacturing, and packaging.
This FAQ content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.