Processing Food’s Future

Question: In 40 years, how will we evolve with cooking? 

Richard Wrangham: In modern society the future of food is, if it continues on its present path then we will be eating food that is increasingly highly processed because with every decade the great mills of the industrial food companies are grinding our foods into tinier and tinier particles. So, probably 40 years is too soon, or maybe it's a science fiction future anyway. But I could imagine that there will be a day when our foods will be piped into our houses in some form of algomash that we can then turn into the equivalent of today's hamburgers and donuts. The sort of the basic food that is cheap and very quickly processed. And I suppose exactly how it will happen is unclear, but what you can predict is that the food will become easier and easier to process, more and more processed outside the home, and therefore having fewer and fewer constraints on the domestic economy; on the organization of labor within the home. 

So, in a sense, that's a pessimistic view because it makes food sound uninteresting and maybe the world will be rich enough that it can afford the nice flavors and the interesting textures that the upper classes are able to play with nowadays, that would be nice. But it's also optimistic in the sense that the more that we can move to a world in which the traditional biological constraints on our social relationships are gone, then the more we all participate as equals, and particularly the more we erode the traditional placing of the woman in the home. 

Recorded on March 5, 2010

There will be a day when our food will be piped into our houses in some form of algomash that we can then turn into the equivalent of today's hamburgers and donuts.

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