On the heels of World Food Day (October 16th), preparing for The Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Food Day (October 24th), looking forward to the New York Times Food for Tomorrow Conference (November 11th-12th), and anticipating the holidays right around the corner (gulp!) the food zeitgeist is ever present. As it should be. Each of the aforementioned events will take a look at how everyone on our planet can celebrate and experience real food and ensure that they have this right seven generations (and longer) into the future. We would all do well, to think about these fundamental questions all the time, but occasionally, in our busy lives, it’s nice to have someone else do it for us. Sarah Begley’s recent Time article does just that as she quotes 14 thought leaders in food systems on their predictions for the future.
Many of these thinkers point out the dangers of playing out the status quo, such as Marion Nestle’s idea on the bifurcation of our food system. Yet she still allows for hope...
Unless there are big changes within the next 20 years, I foresee a two-class food system. One class will eat industrialized food produced as cheaply as possible at the expense of its workers and natural resources. The other will enjoy home gardens and locally and sustainably produced food, at greater cost. I’m hoping for the enormous expansion of this latter approach.”
Many also opine on technological advances playing a big role in feeding cities and beyond, such as Stuart Brand...
There’s a good chance for some industrial districts of cities turning into semi-agricultural districts with year-round vegetables and fruits grown in dense indoor farms using LED lights and surprisingly little water. They would fill the old industrial buildings floor to ceiling. The short distance to market and savings of energy and water would make them economically viable. Really fresh vegetables—pick ‘em yourself.”
And others look toward nutritional science to solve our food crisis, such as Richard Branson…
Twenty years from now companies like Beyond Meat will be making foods that taste just like meat but eliminate the need for cattle and other animals to be eaten. This will result in us being able to utilize 35 times less lamb, 15 times less water and could be as much as 20 times less costly.
Other sages, like Michael Pollan, look towards good ol’ human biology and nature for the answers:
. . . we don’t know enough about nutrition to simulate a diet that will keep us healthy long term. Example? Baby formula still doesn’t keep babies as healthy as mother’s milk, and we’ve been at that project for almost 200 years. The human requirement for food is more complex than we know.”
It’s nice to read well-informed opinions that are not necessarily pitted against each other. If anything it is a combination of all of these solutions and more that will help us get to the Food Day ideal espoused above.
In the mean time, if you are looking for more reading on the future of food, National Geographic’s The Plate just launched an app called The Future of Food that houses all of their writing and photos from their last year exploring the topic. This is informed journalism with some award winning images, and its a free app, so indulge to your hearts content.
Lastly, to have a current look at what some food looks like around our globe, take a look at Hannah Whitakert and Malia Wollan’s New York Times Magazine piece on the varying breakfasts of children from 6 different countries. Cute and delicious!
Download the “Future of Food” App via National Geographic The Plate
Rise and Shine: What kids around the world eat for breakfast via NY Times Magazine