Course:FNH200/Lessons/Lesson 01/Page 01.2

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01.2 How Old is the Discipline of Food Science?

Fig 1.1 Ancient Egyptian Wine Making Scene
Fig 1.2 Nicolas Appert's Canning Jar

Food science as a distinct discipline is quite new. However, many aspects of "food science" have existed for many centuries. Products derived from food fermentation (biotechnology) have existed for thousands of years.For example, there is evidence that people were fermenting beverages in (A) Babylon circa 5000 BC, (B) ancient Egypt circa 3000 BC, and (C) pre-Hispanic Mexico circa 2000 BC. Today we know that fermentation not only contributes to a wide variety of food products, but it also involves food processing and preservation.

Another example dates back to 1795, when Emperor Napoleon offered 12,000 francs for a new way of preserving food for its army. It was the French confectioner François Nicolas Appert who won the prize by placing food in wide-mouthed bottles, then corking and heating them in a water bath. The existence of bacteria was not known at the time, and Appert did not know the principle upon which his process depended; however, he was correct in the thought that heat could preserve food. Appert is therefore known as the discoverer of the process later known as canning.

Want to learn more?
  • Make a list of questions you have about the science of foods. For example; why tomatoes are red, why gravy thickens, what is used to make "sugar-free" candy? Save your questions and search for answers as you complete this course.