Article: The Future of Food: Experts Predict How Our Plates Will Change

Excerpts of quotes that I find interesting/related:

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. For that, we need a farm policy inextricably linked to health and environmental policy. We can achieve that, but only with serious advocacy and political engagement.

Marion Nestle is professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University.

Looking forward, there might be some higher tech food but I don’t see a lot of soylent in our future. The highly processed junk that dominates our diet takes advantage of the way we grow and process crops and turns them into food-like substances that to many people taste good, provide enough calories, and are cheap and familiar enough to tolerate, but they barely sustain basic nutrition. There might be some fancy footwork but a 3D printed cheeseburger will still be a cheeseburger.

We could fix that, and if we did … well, then we could be looking at a much better scenario. But this would take big-picture change in diet and in agriculture. The changes go hand-in-hand – a diet more heavily reliant on plants and less on animals and junk, and a more sustainable agricultural system that moves away from chemical-intensive monocropping – but they are not going to happen without a fight. Or a tragedy.

Mark Bittman is a writer for the New York Times and the author of How to Cook Everything.

The dream of a meal-in-a-pill has been with us at least since the Jetsons, and this “dream” keeps retreating further into the future. (The current manifestation is Soylent, a meal in a powder for people too busy to be bothered to eat.) Why hasn’t this dream been realized? Two reasons: we don’t know enough about nutrition to simulate a diet that will keep us healthy longterm. 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. But the other reason the dream won’t be realized is that we don’t just eat to fuel our bodies—we eat for pleasure, communion, identity, etc. and you can’t get all that in a pill or powder.

Michael Pollan is the author of Cooked, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and In Defense of Food.

Feeding people in America now and going forward is three-part challenge. First, we need to grow more food on the current cropland. We’re already farming the best soils and expanding into new areas can destroy natural habitats or have other environmental impacts. Second, we need to grow food more efficiently. Globally, agriculture is the biggest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions and water use, as well as a major driver water quality degradation and habitat loss. Third, we need to use what we already grow more efficiently. In the U.S., about two thirds of all the calories produced on croplands are used as livestock feed. It takes a lot of feed calories to produce a calorie of meat. Further, from 2000 to 2010 the amount of corn production used for ethanol jumped from 6 to 38 percent.Further, somewhere between a third and half of the food we produce gets wasted in the food service industry, retailers, and our refrigerators. The good news is that even small changes in either diet or waste reduction can have a tremendous effect on food availability.

Paul West is the co-director and lead scientist for the Global Landscapes Initiative, a program within the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota.


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