Brittany Towers Lewis
From tips for pickling vegetables to information about foods that can help you sleep, in 60 Seconds, Ohio State graduate Brittany Towers Lewis is working to bring food science to the masses through a booming social media message .
Towers Lewis, known as @theblackfoodscientist on her Instagram and TikTok accounts, provides energetic and informative lessons on food, nutrition and cooking techniques. Towers Lewis, a graduate of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in food science, was back on the Columbus campus Monday to discuss science communication on social media.
“I wanted to find something that I really love and am passionate about. When I came to, my mother was telling me about food science [Ohio State], but I kind of shrugged it off,” she said. “But I reconsidered and switched majors in the middle of my junior year, which is probably the best thing I’ve ever done. Because I absolutely love food science.”
Her love of food science has led to a career in industry as a project manager at PepsiCo and now Vital Proteins. But it also inspired her to turn to social media to share her knowledge.
Towers Lewis said she first started making videos in 2021 and is motivated to help correct the misinformation about science that she saw brought to the fore during the pandemic.
“A lot of people don’t know how to communicate science very well, which causes people without a scientific background to have a kind of fear of science,” she said. “I thought, ‘Okay, how can I help people understand science and make it more accessible to people?’ I think food is an absolutely great way to do that.”
She answers popular questions like the difference between baking powder and baking soda and why chopping onions makes people cry. Ideas come from family, colleagues, and some of her 37,000 Instagram followers or nearly 68,000 followers on TikTok.
While most of her posts are popular topics, the topic of food does not go unchallenged. For example, Towers Lewis has debunked myths about monosodium glutamate and plans to make a video about genetically modified foods.
“I’m talking about things that people might not fully know about. So I think it’s really important to look at it from a scientific and objective point of view,” she said. “I give people the facts. I don’t tell people how to feel or what to eat. You can choose what you want to eat, but I just want to make sure people aren’t choosing it based on misinformation or based on something that isn’t true.”
There are disadvantages to learning about controversial topics online. Towers Lewis said she’s not immune to trolls, but takes it easy.
“[The response has] been overwhelmingly positive. It’s really great,” she said. “Obviously there are trolls out there, very few. But if you have trolls, that means you’ve made it into the social media world.”
Growing your audience and ignoring trolls is made easier with an approach grounded in experience and passion for your subject.
“I think it’s just my personality that fits what I’m doing, which is also very important because I want to do something that’s authentic to myself.”
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