Already week 6, and this course shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
On Monday, we discussed Scotland’s food culture (or whether there really is one the country can claim). We heard from Pete Ritchie of Whitmuir Organic Farm and Executive Director of Nourish Scotland, an organisation working to improve and create a sustainable food system for Scotland. He gave us a brief, but very comprehensive history of Scottish food as well as the challenges and efforts to improve the country’s food system including the current initiative to becoming a Good Food Nation.
We also heard from Christine Knight, who discussed her research on Scottish food stereotypes, specifically the deep fried Mars bar, which many of us (including those native to Scotland) tried for the first time. Verdict? Not as unpalatable as we expected; although we were fortunate to have one of our lecturers fry them up for us, but could definitely use some salt to cut through the grease and sweetness.
On Tuesday, we continued our food transformation series with Scott Fraser, and paid a visit to Dawnfresh’s facility just outside of Glasgow, where the majority of their salmon and trout processing is done. There we saw the operational (and physical) guts of fish processing. In the morning, we learned about the company and the logistics that go into safely and successfully producing fish fillets and related products. We then split into three groups for a tour.
We geared up with wellies, white lab coats, and hairnets. After scrubbing up twice, and lathering up with foam hand sanitizer, for what felt like preparation for surgery, Scott took our group of six on the tour of the factory. Along the way, he showed and explained the transformation of a whole fish into filets and other ready to cook or ready to eat products. Through a small plexiglass window, we saw the room where the products requiring the most care (aka ready to eat items) were being produced.
We then went on to the main processing area where we saw large and small trout cut open, guts and other unsavory and potentially toxic bits taken out, filleted, pin bones removed and small fillets sorted, ready for packaging and ultimately shop shelves. For the large fillets, came a machine that cut them into smaller portions. After that, we saw a room for packaging the fish and another for shipment, along with a massive several story-high freezer filled with product that will end up in places like M&S, Tesco, and even points much farther away like Los Angeles (Us Americans love Scottish fish).
After the tour, Scott told us about his role as a development chef at the company, and the time and effort that goes into creating a successful and popular product like their eye-catching salmon mousse pearls that he created for M&S’ holiday range last year.
Apologies for the lack of photos and videos (there were so many things I wanted to snap a photo of or video), we unfortunately couldn’t take any phones or cameras into the factory, due to the potential risks of a dropped phone (broken glass = line shutdown and costly cleanup).