Tim York's Centerplate
( Markon Cooperative )

I can remember summers in Southern California as a kid, and though I didn’t want to go back to school, it seemed as though summer dragged on — there just weren’t enough things to do to stay busy. 

But now, at this stage of life, time truly seems to fly. There’s not enough time to devote to the myriad of things that interest me, and between work, errands, and life, where’s the time? 

In the July 2016 Scientific American, Dr. James Broadway addressed why our perception of time varies. 

As Dr. Broadway posits, our brains encode new experiences, but not familiar ones, into our memory, and our judgment of time is based on how many new memories we build. As we move along in years, we have more experiences and learn countless new skills. Thus, later in our years, life is simply more routine and we have fewer new moments, resulting in the perception that time is moving more quickly. 

Yet, in our rapidly evolving and changing business, if we allow life to become routine and we aren’t learning new skills, we can very quickly find ourselves left behind. 

Whether you are in foodservice, retail or a produce grower/shipper, all parts of the agri-food chain would be wise to make growth and learning a high priority. 

Blockchain, produce traceability, food safety, recall processes, business practices, employee management, new products and packaging innovation are just a few areas where change is rampant and opportunities to learn are plentiful. In fact, there is always room to grow, and even the savviest among us still has opportunity to learn. 

Whether you are in foodservice, retail or a produce grower/shipper, all parts of the agri-food chain would be wise to make growth and learning a high priority. 

There are multiple opportunities to grow via our produce trade associations’ conferences and seminars. The Center for Produce Safety has an annual symposium that updates attendees on the latest insights on food safety. It should be on your list of “must-attend” events. 

The United Fresh Freshstart conference last month had a keynote and panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities with school foodservice.

Produce Marketing Association’s October Fresh Summit convention had a terrific session featuring disruptive innovators addressing trends and opportunities. 

The International Foodservice Distributor’s Association has conferences and classes on foodservice, and there’s also the National Restaurant Association convention. The Food Marketing Institute also offers conferences and seminars to educate about the retail sector.
Intel co-founder Gordon Moore observed that computer capabilities double every two years. Are you twice as valuable to your company as you were two years ago? 

Don’t let yourself become stale in your knowledge and abilities about the industry. Make time to learn new skills and information that helps you grow and remain important to your company. You might just find that time does seem to slow down, and so there is no time like the present to sharpen our skills and learn. 

And while professional growth is critical, so too is personal growth. Most of us no longer have the luxury of a full “summer break,” like we did as children, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make time to explore and learn. It just may be time to take those ukulele classes you’ve been thinking about.

Tim York is CEO of Salinas, Calif.-based Markon Cooperative.