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The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches from the Future of Food Hardcover – April 10, 2012
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“Josh Schonwald is an adventurous reporter and engaging writer whose appetite for his subject, so to speak, produces prose with just the right leavening of humor. If we are what we eat, his real subject is cultural self- definition” (Ron Rosenbaum, author of Explaining Hitler and The Shakespeare Wars)
“In his candid, sensible survey, Schonwald weighs carefully the pros and cons of our well-intentioned, but often blindsided ‘foodie fundamentalism.’” (Publishers Weekly)
“The Taste of Tomorrowis a fascinating adventure through what will controversially, inevitably, and desirably be on your grocery list of the future.” (Dan Koeppel, author of Banana: The Fate of the the Fruit that Changed the World)
“[An] enthusiastic exploration of a range of possible food futures.” (Booklist)
“The author effectively pairs his personal experiences with significant research, interviews and lively anecdotes. An articulate food book that has an opinion without being preachy and that exudes a joy about food without being oversimplified.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Schonwald is a good-natured and curious guide whose lightness of touch keeps you reading. A non-foodie at the start, he grows into his quest, championing sustainable, local and even genetically modified food to help feed the world.” (Financial Times)
“[Schonwald] has come up with a great deal of interesting information, much of which will surprise people who eat food without giving much thought to where it comes from.” (Washington Post)
“This is a fun book…Schonwald has the talent to explain serious, complicated issues in ways the average reader will understand. He does it in an entertaining, often irreverent way that keeps you turning the pages…a provocative book.” (Chicago Tribune)
“…all this food exploration is divided into manageable and palate-pleasing bites.” (Associated Press)
From the Back Cover
A fascinating look at the people, trends, and technologies transforming the food of today and tomorrow
In The Taste of Tomorrow, journalist Josh Schonwald sets out on a journey to investigate the future of food. His quest takes him across the country and into farms and labs around the globe. From Alice Waters' microfarm to a Pentagon facility that has quietly shaped American supermarkets, The Taste of Tomorrow is a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse at what we eat today—and what we'll be eating tomorrow.
Schonwald introduces us to a motley group of mad scientists, entrepreneurs, renegade farmers, and food engineers who are revolutionizing the food we eat. We meet the Harvard-trained pedia-trician who wants to change the way humans raise fish; a New York chef who believes he's found the next great ethnic cuisine; a lawyer-turned-nanotechnologist who believes he can solve human nutritional needs without using food.
In this lively and fascinating book, Schonwald explains how new foods happen; why some foods explode on the scene virtually overnight while others take decades—and countless failures—to catch on. And he doesn't shy away from controversy. Although the book begins as a simple search for "the salad, meat, seafood, and pad Thai of the future," Schonwald becomes increasingly focused on finding environmentally friendly foods of the future. Ultimately, he comes to believe that emerging scientific breakthroughs—genetic engineering, nanotechnology, food processing—are essential to feeding the globe's expanding (and hungry) population.
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Midwest Independent Research, educational websites. Alternative agriculture, mwir-alternativeag.blogspot. There are book lists here.
The reality is, writing about the future of food for an entire planet is a very complex undertaking. Much of what he writes about is highly speculative---like the lab grown meat, for instance--it is still little more than a concept. The scientists have not been able to grown anything even slightly resembling meat that is more than a cell or two and there may not be money to fund the research needed to do so.
The book is also somewhat limited; he covers vegetables, fish and lab grown meat, food pills and ethnic foods.
Yet--the book is entertaining, educational and thought provoking. I enjoyed his descriptions visiting the trade shows, farms and the meat lab in the Netherlands. I appreciated getting the inside scoop on what the vast farms in Salinas look like. And I liked the chapter on ethnic food and our constant quest for the next new food. (According to the food experts, African food seems to be the next big trend...but in 2035? By then, my guess is that the phrase itself ethnic foods will cease to have meaning...)
I think Schonwald would have been better off if he had not used 2035 but the "near future" because he simply does not have enough supporting evidence to show what we'll be eating in almost 25 years.
Update 3/8/12...Just read more about lab grown meat and it will probably be doable in the not so distant future...
Now, being a vegetarian doesn't mean per sé that I'm not interested in the chapters about meat and fish (I do actually eat fish every now and then). Depending on why one is a vegetarian one might enjoy a nice slab of laboratory-grown meat. No animals are hurt in the process, although the basis is animal cells. You will have to wait a bit: it looks like the research into lab meat is only happening on a small scale in a small country.
The book begins with salad, however, and discusses how new salad ingredients have conquered the supermarket shelf quite recently and chances are that yet new varieties will be added in the near future. Then there's meat and fish. For the latter the author explores big, indoor fish tanks where fish are reared not unlike chickens and other meats currently: close together, not much room to move, but very controlled conditions which will produce the safest and highest quantities of fish. I don't know that I like that!
Schonwald also discusses the virtues of genetically modified food (although he is not in the first instance a proponent): higher yields per acre (feed the world), reduction in pesticide use (using crops that are not tasty for pests), nitrogen output reduction (crops that absorb nitrogen) and his favorite: a GM vitamin A-enhanced rice that can stop children in developing countries from contracting blindness. Interesting!
The final part of the book discusses ethnic food - the last frontier is African food. No, not the well-known North-African food, but the sub-saharan food that many people don't know. It's the only continent left unexplored!
Sometimes the book goes a little too deep into the subject matter but I never found it exactly boring, just sometimes wasn't sure I needed to know all this. The writing is very personable, never technical, and always easy to follow.