Indeed, the UK Government’s list of key employees aiding society in dealing with the epidemic was a long one. However, a portion of the individuals who keep us going have been left out.
While supermarket employees, as well as delivery personnel, have legitimately earned the status of heroes, less thought has been paid to the source of the products they sell or transport.
Someone has to create the unprocessed, raw food ingredients. Someone else then has to transform these ingredients into the kinds of prepared food products that line the shelves of the supermarket. For months, they’ve been dealing with a record-breaking demand.
There are, naturally, different levels of process and human involvement needed to produce the food we would like to consume. At a minimum, primary processing involves cutting, cleaning, packing, and storing the raw food prior to its delivery to the consumer. Farmers are the ones who raise livestock, for example, that is then sent to abattoirs. There, the production team assures that there is a constant supply of different cuts for butchers as well as ready meal producers.
It was fascinating to observe among the first food items that were mentioned in stories of panic-buying and hoarding, including pasta, canned tomatoes, and sausages. They are all food items that are processed in a secondary way and are defined as unprocessed ingredients transformed into edible or more useful varieties. This requires the knowledge of those often overlooked workers who are involved in refinement, purifying, extraction and combining basic food products.
A lot of people’s baskets of groceries are made up of these processed food items, which comprise dairy products as well as flours, oils, and sweeteners. They are the basis of a myriad of fast, easy and affordable food items, and it’s only natural that they were so popular. In the midst of uncertainty about transport and imports food processors and companies that packaged food were working hard to keep stocks as sales increased.
Cooking at home
In addition to a spike in sales of flour as well as canned tomatoes, lockdown also brought a new level of interest for recipe sites (and some even saw the BBC launch of a brand new show on cooking every day. Perhaps, in the years prior to lockdown, we had become dependent on takeaways, eating out, or ready meals, and less comfortable with our own cooking skills.
The apparent deficiency in knowledge and expertise in the field of food could be attributable to the virtually complete elimination of what was once known as “home economics” and is now called “food technology” becoming more and less popular in British colleges and schools.
As a nutritionist, I was a nutritionist and found it gratifying in a way that supermarkets were running short of both the primary and secondary processed food items. It was a sign that people were working to cook healthy for their families as well as themselves. Every grocery store was full of foods that were processed and ultra-highly processed on its shelves. They included sweets, biscuits, cakes and confectionery. Maybe this was a sign that a nation was changing certain poor eating habits and shifting towards healthier, home-cooked meals.
If you consider the complexities of food production, you’ll understand why workers in the food industry are included on (the mostly ignored portion of) the list of key workers. One of the ways that the industry has adapted is by speeding up the process of recruiting. Like doctors, Final year students who study food technology and science are discovering employers requiring them much earlier than they anticipated before graduation to ensure that the production rate is up to date with the demands.
A part that is part of this process. Shutterstock/Vladimir Nenezic
Food technologists are starting their graduate scheme positions early, working in a range of positions, including factory and office situates, which range from sustainability to labs, security, and processing.
Food industry professionals are crucial to ensure an uninvolved food supply. The food industry is an extremely compassionate, dynamic job market.