In my last blog, I talked about how purpose guides my professional and personal choices, and how I believe that companies are responsible for providing us strong reasons to leave our loved ones every day. In my view, picking a job and a company that help you make a difference is a key step to fulfilment and balance.
However, before making that call, I believe that it's good to ask ourselves which industry we want to play a role in. In my view, industries exist to fulfil social needs - so the real question about your career choice is, "where do you see yourself being more useful because that industry answers needs that you relate to?" In my case, I have chosen to work for a food company because I believe that not only does nutrition play a crucial role in our future lifestyle and health, but that our food and drink choices are a key part of who we are and the world we want for our children.
Historically, the very first seeds for human success were sown in an open air kitchen. When our ancestors realized that they could use fire to cook food, they started a revolution. Because, by cooking their food, they could intake more energy in one go, and therefore could spend more time investing in other human needs, such as socialising and inventing. Food became absolutely central to allowing them to achieve a purpose in life and also their future potential. In short, food allowed them to start to thrive.
For me, my own connection between purpose and food started in a depressing supermarket at till rush hour. As I was queuing, wishing I was anywhere else, it woke me up to the fact that as humans we don't have much of a choice: we all need to eat. Glancing at my neighbours' baskets, people's food choices were so different; some of them more colourful, some of them with lots of packed meals, some meals for one, some clearly destined to be feasts or romantic rendezvous - and all ranging the full health spectrum.
It was in that slow-moving queue that I had my little eureka moment: I realized that even though we didn't have much of a choice about whether or not to go grocery shopping, we did all have a choice about what to put into our baskets. And this choice is important; it can dictate our lifestyles and health, both as individuals and as a society. And that's how I decided that I could see myself trying to make a difference working for a food company that believes that each time we eat and drink, we vote for the world we want to live in.
Changes are already afoot to help make that world the best it can be for people. Reformulation is happening as the food industry steps up to the plate to match consumer expectations. Healthier options are fostered. Yet, food is something that goes beyond ingredients, calories and labelling. Food also has a key role to play in defining what we want to become. Food transparency and sustainability is linked to our desire for the world to be fair and responsible. Food is what makes us feel safe, brings us together and helps us decide which future we want to be part of.
And many people have experienced this. After a national disaster or major incident people often rush to stock up on food. Our minds make us think about how we protect ourselves and our futures, and how we secure our daily routines. Immediately after 9/11 I found myself in a New York supermarket buying tuna and milk - the very same things that those around me were also buying. Sharing similar baskets made us feel safer and more human. Whether it is milk and tuna, or comfort food like chocolate, without necessarily realising it, we use food as a means of uniting as a community, healing and organising ourselves. While bigger things are happening in the world, food has the power to at least make us feel connected to other people and in some form of control.
Looking at our future, control is so important. With a growing population, a changing climate and an increasing concern for the planet's precious resources, we need to transform the way food is produced and how the industry is perceived - not just for the sake of sustainability, but also for the health of our society. It's about making tomorrow's food fit for purpose. Food is what keeps us alive and awake on this planet, but it is also what helps us define what tomorrow should be about. We all have the power to influence healthier and more sustainable eating and drinking practices that can enable us, and generations ahead of us, to continue to thrive. But only if we truly care and dare.
Whether you work in the food industry or not, I am convinced that now is the time to step up to the plate and make dietary choices that are responsible towards our planet, healthy for our families and respectful of our local cultures and communities' needs. Bon appetit!