The future of food is often envisioned as very practical, we will just take a pill for dinner that has all the nutrients we need. Many would argue eating is a social or cultural phenomenon and the act of having dinner would eventually prevent the rise of ‘pill dinners’. The cultural blindspot is often a problem when it comes to future predictions, but were our predictions of just a pill for dinner so wrong?
The last few years we have seen a strong countermovement to modified eating in the health food movement. Food has to be as natural as possible again, no additive, preservatives or GMO food and fastfood was countered with slow food. After sloughed we are now seeing healthy fastfood, which translates in the growing amount of take-out healthy food (local examples for Amsterdam include Sla and Stach). At the same time artisan versions of fast food have also gained popularity, in Amsterdam you actually need a reservation for some of the hottest hamburger joints, while the amount of gourmet burger joints keeps increasing.
While there is a strong move towards more natural and healthy food, it is also a trend towards easy food. Take-away or quick dinner out are the modus operandi of most health food ‘restaurants’. A more efficient meal leaves us with more time for work. Efficiency gains, in particular too have more time to work, were not envisioned for the self driving car but they were envisioned for food. And its not just quick ‘real food’ dinner that are gaining popularity. By now many of us have probably heard of Soylent, a nutritious drink that eliminates the need to waste time eating. Marketed mostly on efficiency gains throughout days it is a perfect example of the values of today’s society. A more efficient meal leaves us with more time for work. Not surprisingly Solent was developed in a typical Silicon Valley mode with starting out with a crowdfunding campaign and continuing with venture capital. Soylent may not be a pill, but its ‘pure’ form and ideology do have striking similarities with the ‘dinner pill’.
So where are we going, back to real food or towards a dinner pill? or perhaps both? In the future we may strike a balance, as many solent users actually do. When lacking time we will grab a ‘fake’ meal, making eating ‘real food’ even more of a special event. And we may even make quite a spectacle of food. Harvard bioengineering professor David Edwards’ Café ArtScience may be a clue as to what spectacle food may look like when we get to a time where we consciously take time to eat. Using science to create an entirely new eating experience spectacle is an appropriate word for the food offered. At the same time Edwards has also joined the pure nutrient food movement and has developed vaporised food as well as vaporised supplements for ao energy, sport, and sleep. So will eating become an experience in the future, something we experience, much like going to see a movie, while practically feeding ourselves with nutrients throughout the day without wasting any time?