The Future of Food
Updated: Jul 19, 2020
I see a not-too-distant future where restaurants and recipes ask a few questions to preface their offerings:
What flavors do you love?
Are you more adventurous or comfort-seeking right now?
What are you missing in your diet today?
How do you want to feel after this meal?
Humans are meant to eat fresh things, not heavily preserved, long traveled and stored goods with the word ‘fresh’ on the cleverly designed label.
Humans are meant to eat with the seasons: stone fruit, berries, root veggies, squashes, leafy greens, herbs, melons, grains, legumes and seasonings to match the climate and the needs of the organisms living through it. Everything tastes better and nourishes bodies more effectively when eaten in the same place it was grown, shortly after harvest.
Humans are meant to experience variety, to eat and drink on a vast spectrum of colors, textures, and nutrients, not be coddled and slowly poisoned by the same breaded, frozen, over-sugared-and-salted brown and beige foods day after day.
Humans are meant to heal themselves through plant medicines that treat overarching causes of disease, not chemically derived pharmaceuticals that only treat symptoms and come with their own grisly list of side effects. Antibiotics work best rare, not constant.
Humans are meant to replenish, rejuvenate, rehydrate, and revive through what they put in their bodies... but much of our commercial food supply does the opposite. High sodium convenience foods and caffeinated beverages dehydrate us. Ever present processed oils and sugars make us sluggish and foggy. Cancer causing chemicals like nitrates and sulphates mess with every fine tuned system we possess. Already overworked, stressed, and feeling perpetually behind, we compensate with untested fad diets, energy drinks, and junk. We make it ‘cool’ to sleep less and let our anxieties run unchecked. We choose gas station and delivery convenience over health. These options should be once/week or once/month ‘treats‘, not standard routine.
I know not everyone has the time and resources and experience to eat the way I do. I think diet and fitness, however universally helpful, is personal, and I have no judgment for what anyone else eats or doesn’t eat. I’m just illuminating the ways our food system is often corrupt when we assume it has our best interests in mind.
All of this to say that I can’t wait for the day, post COVID-19 vacc, that I can sit down at a restaurant and have them bear actual health in mind with their selection. Not just vegan knock offs of rich fan favorites like burgers and fried chicken. Not just $25 oil-soaked salads for the newly woke rich folk. Not just yoga hippie juice shacks with intimidating flavors like spirulina and kelp. Not just buzzy ‘lean and green’ dishes based on calorie counts and FOMO.
I want simple, well articulated flavors, creatively assembled in dishes that reflect seasonal availability and actual health science. I want energetic longevity in a bowl. I want to end hidden ingredients and hidden agendas. I want to have conversations like this:
Me: “I want something warm and savory, but I want to still feel light and clearheaded afterward...”
Server: “The menu is divided by health benefits... so you have post-work energizers and replenishers in the middle there, cleansing/detoxifiers at the bottom (great for hangovers or vacations), brain food at the top, and the back page is for gut, heart, and respiratory health specifically. We cater the flavors to what you like by making flavorful garnishes, proteins, and sauce compliments that work with pretty much any dish. For you I might recommend the cabbage and heirloom root vegetables in miso broth with crispy tofu and cilantro avocado pesto... not too light and not too heavy. Or you could try the lettuce wrapped seasonal tacos with house made pico.”
Me: “Perfect. I’ll have the citrus CBD tonic, and the cabbage thing— no oil on the tofu if you can.”
Waiter: “We don’t cook with oil unless specified. We use lemon juice and broth. We also don’t add salt, as you have a Himalayan salt grinder tableside.”
Me: “Everything is so logical here.”
Waiter: “Well it stopped making sense some time ago to make cheaply fortified, barely satisfying, overpriced dishes and try to make them ‘look worth it’ to our bourgeois customer base. So we started working with the community to create a more local supply chain, and make healthy, healing meals more accessible to everyone. We sell the full experience, but we also offer cooking/shopping programs to help people in food deserts and underserved education districts learn how to grow and cook better food to match their lifestyle.”
Me: “Fuck. We’ve been needing this for a long time. Thanks for taking the time to explain.”
Waiter: “No prob. It has been kind of incredible to witness the ways people’s lives change when they change what they put in their bodies. Plus we’re steering money away from corporate shit heads and setting good people up to live longer. Wins across the board.”
Me: “We should celebrate. A round of turmeric/ginseng shots for everyone, and a little house bread with low dose garlic canna-butter so we can slow down and properly enjoy this experience.”
Waiter: “Great idea. I’ll have those out right away. Would you like some alkaline water for the table? It’s charcoal filtered and blessed by a Reiki master...?”
Me: “Fuck yeah. What’s your name?”
Waiter: “Jericho. They/them/theirs.”
Me: “Thank you, Jericho. We’re so happy and grateful to be here.”
Jericho: “I can tell. :)”
I admit it might be too specific of a scenario, but it strikes me as interesting that we most often feel the need to relinquish our own health just to cook and eat with friends. It should be the opposite. Being with the people we love and cherish and work with most should be cause to treat our bodies with care to the point of indulgence. I want to emerge from a cocktail hour, glowing from antioxidants and good company. I want hemp seeds and pickled superfoods to trend as much as brand-curated tequilas and fried mayo-drizzled things. I want literally any store bought dressing to be oil free. I want there to always be a hassle-free healthy option, and I want it to be cool to choose it. Because it should be cool to take good care of yourself. And if it isn’t cool, there should be a better reason than food deserts and manipulative corporate branding.