Wellness Foods

Report from 2005 IFT Expo

This year's IFT show served up a plethora of new and wondrous ingredients, the wisdom of Malcolm Gladwell, and the announcement of the World Food Prize.

By David Feder, RD, Editor

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) annual conference and food show was quite the trip this year. In the Big Easy - New Orleans - most of the Food Processing / Wellness Foods staff joined 25,000 or so visitors, exhibitors and IFT support staff at the many informative sessions. We scoped out the exhibitors' wares and attended numerous meet-and-greet sessions with old friends and new in the universe of food ingredients. And indeed, there are lots of new, impressive health-oriented ingredients and foods coming out, folks!

First, let me get the kvetching out of the way: Not enough time, too much to attend to. Not helping things was that the guide to the sessions was confusing and hard to read. OK, I admit middle age has the best of me but c'mon, guys…8-point type??? And New Orleans in the summer would have been more tolerable in a cleaner, nicer - and better air-conditioned - venue. Also, this convention center was one of the least convenient for getting around that I can think of.

But the show itself was excellent. Keynote speaker Malcolm Gladwell was a tough opening act for anyone to follow. His presentation, based on his best-selling books "The Tipping Point" and "Blink," gave incredible insight into the workings of the human mind when it comes to the process of decision making. I sincerely hope anyone who is in a position of managing new ideas was listening. Here are some quotable quotes from Gladwell's speech:
  • "We must be careful about how we construct the environment in which insight is expressed."

  • "The gift that brings innovation - that brings new ideas - is enormously fragile…and we need to do whatever it takes to keep this quality alive."

  • "There are endless consequences to the endless complicating of decisions."

  • "We must not disable the ability of people to make a successful instantaneous judgment."

  • And my favorite, "Experts only have confidence when they're in cultures that empower them."
One exciting development announced at IFT was the winner of the 2005 World Food Prize. Putting action to the Chinese proverb, "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime," Indian scientist Modadugu V. Gupta, Ph.D., won the annual Nobel of food by teaching microaquaculture to the poorest of the world's poor in South and Southeast Asia.

As explained on the World Food Prize web site (www.worldfoodprize.org), "Dr. Gupta's pioneering breeding of carp and other pond fish adaptable to a variety of different environments in rural areas - from Bangladesh to the Mekong Basin countries - combined with his tenacious efforts to help millions of small-holder farmers gain access to innovative aquaculture techniques to produce a vital supply of nutritious food brought a Blue Revolution to Southeast Asia and beyond."

Gupta will accept the prize at the 2005 International Symposium on Nutrition: The Dual Global Challenges of Malnutrition and Obesity on Oct. 13 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Eat well!

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