I really love food. I love shopping for the ingredients, preparing meals, and sharing them with friends and family. But, I never thought that I could have a career related to something I enjoy so much. That was until I met Bodie, an Australian shepherd who lives down the road from me. I also love animals, maybe even more than I love food!
Bodie and I became friends in February 2012 when I was laid-off from my Associate Chemist job with the University of Iowa Pharmaceuticals. It was a win-win situation for the both of us: he is obsessed with tennis balls (lacking any livestock to herd) and I had a lot of free time on my hands. His owners grew concerned about his extended absences from their home but I assured them that it wasn’t a burden to have him hang out at my house and toss the ball around, especially since I was unemployed…
“Oh, well, what kind of work are you looking for, and what’s your background?” was the following question from Bodie’s mom. I told her that my professional experience involved twelve years of analytical chemistry positions, along with some stints at animal shelters. She then gave me the contact information for a local company called Genetic ID that did GMO testing. The bad news was that Genetic ID wasn’t hiring. The good news was that their sister company FoodChain was looking for help and received my resume. They called me in for an interview and the rest, as they say, is history!
What started off as just a job (as a Technical Evaluator for the Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program) that rescued me from unemployment, soon became a magical experience: I got to use my analytical skills from my previous incarnation as a chemist to evaluate food products for compliance with the NGP standard, and when all the pieces came together, shazaam, the product was verified and the butterfly logo could manifest on the package! I was part science nerd, part foodie, and part problem solver. I could say to myself for the first time in a long time, “I love my job!”
Helping participants overcome their particular challenges, whether related to ingredient compliance, facility reviews/inspections, or overall program questions, provided me with an immense sense of satisfaction. I enjoyed connecting with the participants and learning about their processes, goals, and projects. And, it felt great to see items on the grocery store shelf and say to myself, “I verified that!”
When I left FoodChain four years later (in mid-March 2016), I knew that I had to keep doing the work that I loved and was passionate about. As a consultant, I want to help drive the non-GMO movement and support those companies that are providing transparency and non-GMO options for consumers.
The various non-GMO certification programs available to manufacturers and brand owners are rigorous, and I empathize with participants who are struggling to get their products verified. I want to use my expertise and understanding of non-GMO standards to help clients cross that divide and reach the other shore!
Over the past three years I’ve also added to my suite of skills to include Organic, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Plant-Based and Clean-Label certification consulting. If there’s a third-party certification standard your company is interested in attaining, I can help!
Please contact me for more information at Karin@KnowGMOs.com.
Karin Tobin, Certification Consultant