How do I Combine my Interest in Science with Food?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Lasagna is wonderful, but so is chemistry; therein lies the dilemma of people with passions for both science and food. Luckily, there are a variety of ways to combine science with food that can even lead to lucrative careers. Finding out how best to combine science with food is a task filled with creative and even delicious possibilities.

Food scientists perform research in laboratories.
Food scientists perform research in laboratories.

What many do not realize is that cooking is a type of science. Based on chemical reactions in combination, the often-called “art” of cooking is actually a lot closer to chemistry than to painting. A variety of career possibilities lay down the path of combining science with food.

Many food scientists study the chemistry and microbiology processes of various foods.
Many food scientists study the chemistry and microbiology processes of various foods.

For those who love to experiment, creating and testing recipes for packaged food companies is one way to combine science with food. Understanding the reaction of ingredients to heat, cold, microwaves, and storage is vitally important to creating tasty, pre-packaged food for people on the go. As global food becomes more popular, research and development chefs must also discover ways to convert new and exotic recipes into frozen entrees and ready-to-go snacks. Although working for a large corporation can be exciting, nothing prevents the brave experimental chef from starting a new company, too.

Those with a love of cool-looking science may end up at the forefront of culinary innovation. Tech-chefs, as they are sometimes called, are renowned for their ability to use unique science-based preparation techniques to produce delicious meals that look as though they might have been beamed down from aliens. Creating flavored foams, freezing ice cream instantly with liquid nitrogen, and injecting flavor into meats with syringes are all examples of a tech-chef's skill in combining science with food. For those who would rather create a hi-tech cocktail using scientific principles, the field of molecular mixology has jumped into being requiring equal mastery of liquid concoctions and chemistry.

For those interested in medical science, learning to combine food with science can become a rewarding career that even saves lives. Nutritionists specialize in creating healthy diets that allow humans to maintain a healthy weight and receive all necessary nutrition. These food scientists are behind classic nutritional concepts like the food pyramid and recommended daily allowances. By educating the public about healthy food choices, nutritional experts do their part to create a healthy, happy public.

Combining food with science can also be a great way to teach children about both areas. School teachers have a wonderful opportunity to teach kids about basic scientific principles and nutrition by performing food-related experiments, such as the old soda-will-dissolve-teeth trick. Creating exciting and informative experiments may also inspire young minds to develop their own food and science passions, thereby securing the future of food innovation.

Food science is a broad field that studies things like food composition, process, safety, nutrition, and consumption.
Food science is a broad field that studies things like food composition, process, safety, nutrition, and consumption.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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Discussion Comments


@Mor - Just because it gets misused doesn't mean that food science technology has no place in the world. There are also scientists out there trying to add vitamins into rice to prevent deficiencies in children, or working on 3D printers that will be able to print out food for starving people on demand.

Whether we like it or not, very little of the modern diet is wholly "natural", but that's not a terrible thing.


@KoiwiGal - I'm not a huge fan of science with food, to be honest. I read an awful article a few months ago about how companies use food science to try their best to make their food as addictive as possible. They hide sugar and salt in huge quantities and manipulate food so the texture feels good, even though it means putting substances like gelatin into yogurt.

Considering how much difficulty a lot of people are having at the moment with overeating cheap, nutrition-less food, I think it's deplorable that companies and scientists are actively trying to make the problem worse.

Food should be wholesome and natural, not a Frankenstein creation built solely to tempt people into overeating.


I love the idea of using science to create better food options. I've never had the chance to eat at one of those restaurants that follows a policy of using the latest scientific knowledge to create their menus, but I've always wanted to do so.

We take food too much for granted in everyday life. I've read that scientists are even beginning to get to the point where they can create edible "skins" to cover food so that we don't have to use plastic that would then be wasted. There was a guy a few years ago who did that with ice cream, so that you could basically eat it with your hands without getting it all over yourself.

I've also always thought it would be wonderful if they could come up with more ways to play with food. I know that sounds odd, but I eat less if it's difficult to get to the actual food (like, say, with sunflower seeds). That could be a way to regulate food intake by using the natural instinct to want to pick at something.

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