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Part 2: Are our societal views on food and baking and pastry arts education connection?

by Dina Hamed

While Summer and I were both in agreement that our various players in the industry could use more in-depth education, going through the college system, the most expensive and time-consuming option, might not be ideal for everyone. So, how can we elevate the education of those currently working in the industry? This led our conversation down an interesting path, one where the first concern on our minds was the state of our current educational models, the main one being the 1–2-year baking and pastry arts college programs. We asked ourselves, are these, more general/introductory programs enough? Summer unearthed an excellent point:

The [societal] system itself is broken. How we view food and how we interact with our environment, is not sustainable. And I think just having our food education or our culinary education…be so rushed and hectic, just shows how little we value that. The people who are making our food are really important and the people who are growing our food are really important. And having food be grown locally and made locally should be something at the forefront of people’s minds in terms of health and having a sustainable economy. But people don’t think of it like that. (Summer, personal communication, September 28, 2021).

This was a very eye-opening statement for me. As Summer spoke, I realized that the current state of our baking and pastry arts educational system may be linked to a greater issue: our societal relationship with food and a general lack of respect or appreciation for our food. I asked Summer, what she thought it would take for people to start valuing food production:

Honestly, a collapse of the entire system. Literally…If people had to grow their food…If you had to go out there and get eggs from your chicken and then slaughter that chicken, and rotate your crops, and plant vegetables, and deal with pests, and then try and process some of the grains you were growing and then try and keep them for a year without going bad…If you were involved in every step people would go crazy. That’s why communities come together for those kinds of things because everyone takes part in that complex system. And I hate to say it, but I don’t think people will really understand, unless they were put in that position. (Summer, personal communication, September 28, 2021). 

If our current formal baking and food education is indeed a direct reflection of how we appreciate or don’t appreciate food, perhaps, this is where, at a grassroots level, the baking and food industry players need to begin to elevate our education. We need to change our production practices and educate the consumer on what it truly costs to provide the ever-sought after from-scratch baked goods made from locally sourced ingredients. Perhaps if our production demanded more in-depth food knowledge, we, as employers, would demand more educated candidates, and we could begin exploring ways to provide the necessary deep training our industry players need.