Carl interviews Devon Zagory, a global expert in food safety. (Full disclosure: Carl and Devon are good friends!) Devon has decades of experience working on produce safety with agricultural producers, fresh-cut industries, and university researchers. He has worked internationally as a consultant in the fields of food microbiology and modified atmosphere packaging.
Devon was also the founder of Davis Fresh Technologies, which had dozens of employees and five offices around the world. He sold that company in 2006 and became a multi-millionaire. He has written numerous scientific publications and given many presentations about produce microbial safety, packaging, quality and operations.
What does all Devon’s background actually mean? Is Devon Zagory a Superhero for food safety around the globe? YES. And he still is at age 73, consulting when he wants for as much as he wants. Devon has travelled to over 70 countries around the world, with a mission and a continued passion: Working with poor farmers in rural countries to make their lives a bit better with technology.
Devon was a bookish kid with the typical childhood in the Bay Area of Northern California. His father was a family physician and his mother raised four kids. He went to UC Berkeley, where, as Devon says, “I had too much fun. Then I quit.” He decided to travel around the world for two years with a buddy and visited many rural farms. The experience made him realize what he wanted to do with life. He went back to school, earning a PHD in plant pathology, plus an agricultural degree. He founded his company and has worked with giants like Subway, Costco, Safeway, Raley’s and Outback restaurants in addition to farmers.
About 5 years ago, Devon said he felt tired and cranky and made an announcement he was done with consulting and he definitely was not going to work anymore. What he didn’t know at the time was that he was sick. (No wonder he felt so tired all the time.) After the doctors found and treated a heart condition, Devon realized he still enjoyed his work and didn’t want to stop. He also participates in a weekly walking group and a Masters Swim program.
Insights on (un)retirement:
1. Push your comfort zone. Devon is an analytic scientist who now is exploring his creative side through becoming more social, playing music and writing a memoir.
2. Do what you love to do, feel moved to do. Volunteer, help out, give back, do what needs doing!
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” weekly blog.