Joe’s Food Science Hall of Fame

Reader Dan writes:

Hi Joe. You said in a post I recent read that George Washington Carver is “one of” your favorite food scientists. Who are some of your other favorites if I may ask? Can you give me your top ten?

I’m not sure if Dan is on the level here or if he’s having me on. But heck I’ll bite. For indeed I have many food science heroes. Nicholas Appert springs to mind, the inventor of canning. He really is the grandfather of modern food science. I’m also an admirer of Alfred Bird, inventor of stable baking powder and instant pudding (custard). There’s Otto Rohwedder, the sliced bread guy, and chocolate chemist Coenraad Van Houten. The truth of the matter is that “food science” encompasses so many different disciplines, from biochemistry to agriculture, engineering, and sensory analysis…it’s hard to limit oneself. But Carver was a botanist/agronomist…so in that vein I’ll say I’m a big fan of Thomas Jefferson, an agronomist who I’m told also had a hand in writing the Declaration of something-or-other. Also Luther Burbank, and of course my all-time agronomy hero, Norman Borlaug. Don’t know if you were serious or not, Dan, but thanks for a thought-provoking question!

2 thoughts on “Joe’s Food Science Hall of Fame”

  1. Also great were/are:

    Fannie Farmer, who we can thank for systematic measurements.

    Ellen Swallow Richards, whose work led to cleaner water and safer food in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

    Louis Pasteur, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for food safety (even though I still love me some raw milk cheese).

    Julie Stewart and Sarah Thompson, whose (seldom credited) work at Stouffer’s led or at least significantly contributed to that company’s successful partnership with NASA.

    Harold McGee, who pretty literally wrote the book.

    Shirley Corriher, who IMO brought a great deal of lofty food science down to the level of us normal folk.

    Representing the ladies (mostly) here, Joe, in nerdly solidarity. 😉

    1. As I said, the list is nearly endless! The size and scope of food production is truly breathtaking when you think about it — and surprisingly few people do it seems! Thanks essbee!

      – Joe

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