A Brief History of Food: Where We Are Going
If you have followed the entire Brief History of Food series, thank you! This post draws from all of that context to present our working manifesto on the future of food. If you are new, or want the nutshell version of our views, this is a great place to start.
The modern relationship with food is one filled with judgement and fear. Food has been tied to our weight and health, giving rise to a diet industry and all kinds of ways of eating. Depending on where you look, arguments are made for everything from a vegan diet eating no meat to a carnivore diet eating only meat, and every variation in between. A lot of enemies have been conjured from cholesterol and saturated fat to sugar and carbs, and eventually we’ll probably find some fault with protein. In our view, the future of food revolves around breaking free from these fears and celebrating the role of food in our lives and its connection to the health and well-being of society and the planet.
Life, nature, and eating comes down to balance. Every human has a slightly different balancing point and process of getting there based on unique aspects of biology and the events of life. So we are not here to proclaim any way of eating as the perfect diet for the future of humanity. Instead, our goal is to bring light to the qualities of the foods available to us and assist in understanding the impacts of foods on our bodies and the environment.
We believe the highest quality foods are ones that come from systems that work in harmony with nature. Advances in technology have allowed humans to produce, store, and manufacture foods in whole new ways. These technologies have led to increased food production, transport and storage for year-round availability of fruits and vegetables, and consistent, long-lasting processed foods. But, in a lot of ways, these achievements have come from using technology to fight natural processes. From pesticide and fertilizer use in agriculture, to preservatives and food additives used in manufactured foods, to fungicides and biochemical manipulators used on fresh fruits and vegetables, these technologies have worked to suppress nature. While it is often difficult to pinpoint the direct effects these technologies have on our health, one can wonder if the efforts to control nature may be also fighting our own biology and lessening our health.
In contrast, we see the food systems of the future focusing on promoting life and supporting vibrant health in all parts. This will take some alterations and adaptations in how we do things, from eating more seasonally and locally to integrating regenerative agricultural principles into growing practices. But all of these food systems that focus on promoting life exist today, and in many circumstances have existed for millennia prior to introduction of recent technologies. These systems have largely been pushed to the side but can be brought forward to be the predominant means of food production. For this change to occur, consumers will need to lead the way with their food choices.
When it comes to selecting food for quality and health, we have the best instruments created in our smell and taste. Mother nature doesn’t do anything without a reason. And when it comes to the tastes of food, it makes sense that what naturally tastes good to us would also be what is good for our physiology. This gets tricky in our modern food system where food manufacturers also understand this and have exploited these flavors in processed foods. So, some discernment is required to select foods that not only taste good, but also come from natural sources without great manipulation. And with quality ingredients, a vast array of flavors and experiences is available to us from the melting pot of cuisines and cultures that make up our world. Exploring good food and the many ways it can be prepared is a joy worth sharing and part of what we are seeking to do.
The number of things that fill time in our lives rarely ever seem to go down, leaving less and less time for food preparation. So convenience and processed food options are unlikely to go anywhere. But what can be changed is how we go about producing and constructing these foods, placing less emphasis on being cheap and consistent and more on quality ingredients thoughtfully put together. Reducing reliance on food additives and preservatives largely new and foreign to our bodies and shifting focus to use of natural ingredients can go a long way in changing the health consequences of processed foods.
Along with prepared foods, convenient means of preparing meals at home will also play an important role in a healthy future of food. Nothing connects you to your food and helps understand quality like preparing your own meals. Cooking skills that have been lost over the last several generations can be relearned and updated to utilize new technologies of modern kitchens, allowing production of high quality home cooked meals in less time. While the thought of cooking one’s own meals can seem daunting, the skills of preparing food are attainable by all and an intrinsic part of the human experience. While we seek to provide you with high quality food, we are also here to assist you with improving your cooking skills.
We view the food of the future as part of systems that promote life and health, tastes great, and is convenient to prepare. Is that too much to ask for? There are many challenges to achieving this future which may seem like nothing more than wishful thinking to many. In the end, we are much more interested in creating the future than we are in predicting it. We see no better use for our farm than to produce high quality food and provide it to a community connected to the food and the land.
We hope you enjoyed the ‘A Brief History of Food’ series. In moving our farm towards direct marketing beef and pork, we are excited to work towards building this future and would be grateful for you to be part of this journey with us. To get started, you can sign-up for our email newsletter below.