It’s week three of University. Slowly but surely, I’m getting back in to the swing of things. I’m starting to find that all-important academic voice. It’s a voice that is very different from the voice you develop as a marketer, or indeed a blogger.

A question I’ve been asked a lot, and continue to ask myself, is “why are you studying Gastronomy?” I graduated in 2002 with a degree in Food Product Development, and worked for quite a few of Scotland’s best food companies. I’ve helped bring hundreds of products to the marketplace including Disney Birthday Cakes, Guinness Sausages, Suki Tea and Raw Cakes. Most recently I ran my own business for two years, Clyde Valley Tomatoes, growing and selling Scottish tomatoes at Farmers Markets, Morrison’s and Waitrose supermarkets. So, I should know everything I need to know about running and advising a food company? No, No, No. You can never stop learning.

What I began to realise over the past year was that my experience, although wide, was focused on one area – feeding a consumer society. I’m very comfortable designing products that consumers want to buy, and companies want to make. Whether I will attain that elusive feeling of self-actualisation doing that for the next 25 years is a different question. I was introduced to the concept of ‘the rocking chair test’ a few years ago – will what you are doing now pass ‘the rocking chair test’ when you are old? Will you look back and say ‘yes, that was a good thing to do’.

I chose to study Gastronomy because it encourages us to step back and re-evaluate the food system we know today. Gastronomy covers everything from soil science to anthropology, taking a much more holistic approach to the world of food. It’s an approach that wasn’t really considered when I chose to study ‘food’ back in the 90s. The approach then was much more about food as a commodity, and funnily enough, that’s how many of us view food today.

I’m only in week three of study, but already I can feel myself questioning things much more. I’ve reverted to that five year old child I was who continually said “but why?” The difference now is that I’m asking those questions to myself, using the tools around me to start to answer those questions.

The next year is going to be transformational, and I look forward to sharing my journey as it happens.

David Craig, MSc Gastronomy

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