Thoughts on Food

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright February 2016


Thinking about food changes constantly with time. It is at the intersection of changing production technologies, changing urban legends about good and bad foods and good and bad cooking styles, and The Curse of Being Important -- lots of people have strong opinions on foods.

As a result, thinking about food in the 2050's is going to be quite different from thoughts in the 2010's.

Here are my speculations on the differences.

Greenhouse Farms

I read in the 2016 Kiplinger Letter Future Forecast that a lot of future farming may be done in multi-story buildings that are located close to urban areas -- high tech greenhouses.

The big difference this makes is having urban humans being close to their food sources. This means a lot of human dilettante activity can be food related. This means that how labor and decision making on dilettante food issues will be split up between human and cyber is not as clear as when food producing happens mostly on remote farms. This will take more thinking about because it will affect human thinking on foods.

Urban greenhouses or not, the farming done on open farm fields will be handled mostly by cyber, and what these fields produce will be the core of commodity food making. But the more these high-tech greenhouses become popular, the more humans, and human dilettante food making and preparing, will be contributing to overall food producing and preparing. This will likely lead to even stronger concerns about where a food is grown, and who is growing it.

The question then becomes: who will care the most?

The answer is those who are: a) most heavily influenced by urban legends about food, and b) can most afford to be fussy.

TES Necessity Folks -- those spending necessity money -- will likely do a lot of protesting about this. They will want dilettante foods as a right. Those folks with luxury money will fall into two categories: a) those who care about the legends and spend with them in mind, and b) those who are more legend resistant and spend with "home economics" principles in mind.

Vat growing and nanoparticles

And on the other extreme: How will vat-growing of bacteria, algae and fungus products that are precursors to the pseudo meats, fruits and vegetables that become prepared foods fit into this nutrition picture?

And even more extreme: How independent of the taste and texture of food will the nutritional value get? When can nanoparticles in the food and wearables in the human's body custom-adjust the nutrition the body gets completely independent of what the eater eats?

The products of vat-growing will be cheap, nutritious, and widely reviled. Who will be eating "this shit"? How will it be disguised so that many people will eat it -- in particular those eating "necessity food"? Part of this challenge will be met by persuading celebrity chefs to use these fungus foods. (The next part of this challenge is convincing viewers these chefs aren't selling out.)

This will resemble 2010's GMO controversies, only more so.

Exotic foods

How interested will people be in exotic foods?

Those who travel may be, but how about the TES stay-at-homes? They will be much more numerous than travelers to exotic lands. Will they want, and consume, much that isn't familiar? Not likely, unless they get into following rock-star chefs of the sort who get into exotic.

Related: how much migrant activity will there be in 2050? If there is little, then exotic foods won't be popular because TES people will be even more insular than just being in the basement much of the time.

But, migrants or not, there will still be food fads, and these will be influenced a lot by popular opinion makers. The 2010's examples are TV rock star chefs and afternoon talk show hosts.

Plants Rights

Somewhat related, and a personal curiosity: When will "Save the Plants" join "Save the Animals" as a social justice warrior cause?

When will we have high-profile protesters who chant, "Eat fungus and bacteria, not plants or animals."

Animal Rights in its current incarnation has a lot in common with Creationism in terms of its philosophical justifications. As in, when viewed from the biological perspective that plants and animals are both complex living organisms, it seems like an arbitrary choice.


Food raising and meal preparing are faddish. They are going to still be faddish in 2050. 2050 will be filled with continuations of the kinds of fads and arguments that are going on today... mixed with all sorts of new technologies and techniques.

Further Reading

This 1 Feb 16 WSJ article, Sizzling Steaks May Soon Be Lab-Grown Startups raising funds to produce meat from cells cultivated in bioreactors by Jacob Bunge, talks about lab grown meats becoming a boom industry.

From the article, "The startups’ lofty goal is to remake modern animal agriculture, which the United Nations estimates consumes one-third of the world’s grains, with about a quarter of all land used for grazing. The companies say that growing meat with cells and bioreactors—similar to fermentors used to brew beer—consumes a fraction of the nutrients, creates far less waste and avoids the need for antibiotics and additives commonly used in meat production."



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