I don’t mean to lump in all of the remainder of these experiences on to one post, as they really should each be given their own. To be honest, I actually finished my project experience today! I was able to give a presentation about everything that I’ve learned over the past few weeks. It was so nice to have been able to reflect on all that I’ve accomplished in making progress towards having my idea become an actual product.
However, I feel like while everything is still fresh in my head, I want to be able to recap the last few opportunities I got to learn something from.
#1. Going to a real food lab for surveys and sensory analysis!
Well, it’s actually a food lab unique to Drexel University! Located in Philadelphia and just across the street from Monell Sensory Center, the Food Lab is part of Drexel’s School of Hospitality and Management, and they offer an array of courses under the umbrella of their Culinary Science program. This is one of the schools that I applied to but ultimately did not choose because they do not offer students to get an undergraduate degree in Food Science. That being said, through connections I have I was able to schedule myself an opportunity to sit in on a class. Moreover, I was allowed to bring in samples of my product for culinary students to try. I brought samples of the desserts pictured in the previous post, and gave them the option to take a survey that I created. While it wasn’t the most optimal way to conduct a survey, students were pretty honest about what they thought. Even still, I got pretty positive feedback, which is promising!
I asked them these questions such as these:
- What was your first response to the product?
- What were the least favorable qualities about the product?
- What were the most favorable qualities about the product?
- How innovative is this product?
- Would you recommend this product to a friend?
- Over the last 30 days, what specialty food products have you purchased? (They could choose from a list, such as gluten-free, high-fiber, low cholesterol, organic, non-GMO, etc.)
- Responses to the dessert sensory qualities such as appearance, taste/flavor, texture/consistency, aroma/smell, and overall acceptability.
After the surveys, I was able to have some help reformulating my recipe from the students. I had a student studying pastry arts help me! The improvements helped the efficiency of the making of my dessert, removed some of the “gritty” or “starchiness” some people tasted, and improved the density by focusing on a factor called over-run.
This feedback and reformulation of my recipes showed me the importance of collaborating when turning an idea into a product!
#2: Visiting another organic, sustainable farm!
It was like a re-hash of Z-Food Farm, but this visit felt much more personal to me. I visited to pick up a dozen farm fresh, free range eggs. Not only did I get these eggs, but the reinforcement to continue my persistence into supporting local agriculture.
The eggs are pricey, to be sure. From speaking with Mike, a farmer at North Slope Farm whose “project” is the raising of the hens, a $7 carton of eggs is a more than fair price to pay, and it might not even be enough to support the worker responsibilities at 10 dollars an hour.
I was able to see ethically and sustainably raised egg-laying hens and their pastures in which they have a symbiotic relationship with. The hens live a stress free life and are truly free to run around and graze on the grass and the chicken feed and bugs. This is closer to the ideal in which they should be living; not cooped up in battery cages where they are forcibly ravaged for their eggs, pumped with hormones, and crowded so tightly together that they can barely move, breathe, or see the light of day.
I don’t think my summary here encompasses what I experienced and learned on that day, but I can say that it has been a defining event for my own personal values and what is important to me. We can’t be perfect in everything we do, for sure, but it’s the little things we do to help that can make a big impact. I’d like to be able to support more operations and farms like the ones I have visited throughout my experience some day. It’s amazing to me that the product that I am currently in development of now can one day be a means of change in the food system, local economy, animal welfare, and environment!
#3. Drafting new ideas for product formulation.
There’s not much to say here except that I spent a portion of my time creating new ways my recipe can be made when I was away from shadowing my experience facilitators, popping up at farms, or making my dessert the “traditional way.” One variation simply utilizes free-range, organic, grass-fed, etc. ingredients (the model I’d like to move towards someday); and a variation that is allergen-, vegetarian, and vegan-friendly. It’s a plant based formulation that I’m not so sure I will share just yet as it is still in the very early phases of formulation, but it has potential! It’s promising because it will allow for a wider range of people to be able to enjoy my product without worry of an allergic reaction or their morals and ethics being compromised.
#4. Creating a proto-type website for my product! Perhaps the link will come soon.
Well, that sums it up for my product experience. What is seen here on this blog is a very condensed version of what actually has transgressed over these past 3 weeks. If you’re interested in learning about more, please don’t hesitate to contact me! I’m wrapping up my high school experience in these next few days, and I’m excited to start writing about more food science, cooking, and nutrition findings again. Thank you for taking the time to read and coming along on the journey with me!