The future of food What will our plates look like in 2050?

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Nutrition experts gathered recently in Washington, D.C., for the second annual Food Day.

Here’s some of their predictions for our future food:

Healthier processed foods

A variety of salt substitutes will have been developed and added to soups, baked goods and condiments, predicts Michael Jacobson, executive director of the nonprofit nutrition activist group Center for Science in the Public Interest and organizer of Food Day. “Safe sugar substitutes and sweetness enhancers will end the problem of diets too high in sugar,” he adds.

Less meat and chicken

Plant-proteins in fake meat, seafood and milk will replace 75 percent of the animal products we now consume. Limited supplies of energy, water and land will make it too costly to maintain a steady diet of burgers and hot dogs.

Health planners

We will invest in our future health, says Dr. David Katz, founding director of the prevention research center at Yale University. “We need to figure out what and how to eat before we get obese or have that first heart attack.” He predicts personal health coaches, which could be a nurse or physician’s assistant, will help us plan our daily menus as we learn to value our health as much as our bank accounts.

A single computerized device

We have streamlined our lives with smartphones, so why can’t we have a single appliance that juices, cools, cooks and freezes our food? “You’ll be able to walk in, talk to the appliance and it will do whatever you ask it to do,” predicts the Food Network’s chef Cat Cora. She also thinks supermarkets will have computerized shopping carts that automatically fetch what you need.

Home gardens

Aeroponic technologies, where plants are grown in an air or midst environment without much soil, will allow us to have refrigerator-sized gardens that can produce some of the vegetables and legumes we need, says Eric Meade, vice president of the Institute for Alternative Futures. We’ll also be more likely to participate in community gardens.

Lower costs for more nutritious foods

Products will be numbered from 1 to 100, based from least to most nutritious and will be priced accordingly, with more nutritious foods costing less. About 1,700 supermarkets are already using the grading system called NuVal, says Katz who serves on the company board. Some experts envision cost-reductions going further with challenges to create nutritious family meals for less than $10, with cost-efficient recipes that people can scan into their smartphones while shopping.

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