Tara Grauwet

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The milestone of Tara Grauwet 

Professor Tara Grauwet, researcher at KU Leuven's Laboratory of Food Technology, is working on food processing and its impact. To make the right food available to everyone, we need to expand our knowledge on how food building blocks interact with one another and how nutrients are released from them. “We can only take steps forward by working together.”

Makes healthy food accessible to the whole world

Tara’s research at the Laboratory of Food Technology is focused on fruit, vegetables and legumes. “Our team is internationally renowned for the models we use to simulate human food digestion. That means we don't have to do any human or animal testing. We look at how a certain food product behaves in the mouth, the stomach and the small intestine to gain more insight into what's happening to the various food building blocks and how nutrients can be released. That knowledge is important if we want to start developing healthier food for everyone. However, our society is diverse: an older person who has difficulty swallowing and a relatively slow metabolism has different food needs than a child that is growing up. Besides, more and more people are affected by food-related diseases, such as obesity or diabetes. By 2050, we'll have ten billion mouths to feed. These are just some examples of current challenges in the food sector.”

“Our team is internationally renowned for the models we use to simulate human digestion."

Tara Grauwet

Thinking beyond disciplines

“A major interdisciplinary milestone that inspires me is the WHO’s ‘One Health’ concept. It stands for an integrated, unifying approach to balance and optimise the health of people, animals and the environment. It means that the potential harm that an innovation causes to another part of our ecosystem has to be considered and balanced out. It’s the only way to create sustainable change. This way of thinking is always in the back of my mind, and it is a driving force behind my work.”

“At a conference, you can really connect with people and learn to understand each other.”

The only way to tackle the world's food challenges is through collaboration, according to Tara. “As food scientists and technologists, we need to establish a dialogue with agricultural or medical experts, for example. It's so important to cross the borders between disciplines and find the right partners. A conference is the ideal place to find and establish new collaborations. It allows you to really connect with people and learn to understand each other. In addition, being able to put a face to a name always works better than a blind email request. If I've learned anything in my career, it's that a network is a catalyst for achieving things.”

Dreaming undisturbed

“In 2024, I'll be chairing the European Federation of Food Science and Technologist (EFFoST) conference in Bruges. We aim for a sharp focus on dialogue and collaboration there, also with the world beyond science, and even beyond industry. Today, when we talk about food and its processing, we often find influencers tackling the same topics, but from a very different standpoint. At the conference, we want to start the conversation with them too.” As to the location, Bruges was a very deliberate choice. “It's a beautiful city, of course. And its gastronomy and international accessibility open up perspectives.”

“I want to focus on dialogue and collaboration, also with the world beyond science and industry.”

“You can find heaps of information today, but it’s not always easy to see the wood for the trees,” says Tara. “With its programme, a good conference does the selecting for you. It provides you with an overview of recent trends and insights in a well-thought-out structure. You can just go, sit down and let the information come to you, so to speak. This is a much better alternative to the many days we spend sitting behind our computer or at our desk. Personally, I always come back from a conference brimming with ideas. It's a unique opportunity to dream undisturbed and to think.”

Schouwburg Kortrijk - (c) Mark Depaepe

What’s your milestone?

Set it with a conference in Flanders.

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