Wednesday, September 5, 2007

That 60's Food of the Future

The May 4, 2003 New York Times Magazine ran an interesting piece by Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma. An excerpt appears below. The piece can be read in its entirety at Michael Pollan's own site.

When I was a kid growing up in the early 60's, anybody could have told you exactly what the future of food was going to look like. We'd seen "The Jetsons," toured the 1964 World's Fair, tasted the culinary fruits (or at least fruit flavors) of the space program, and all signs pointed to a single outcome: the meal in a pill, washed down, perhaps, with next-generation Tang.

The general consensus seemed to be that "food"—a word that was already beginning to sound old-fashioned—was destined to break its surly bonds to Nature, float free of agriculture and hitch its future to Technology. If not literally served in a pill, the meal of the future would be fabricated "in the laboratory out of a wide variety of materials," as one contemporary food historian predicted, including not only algae and soybeans but also petrochemicals. Protein would be extracted directly from fuel oil and then "spun and woven into 'animal' muscle—long wrist-thick tubes of 'fillet steak.' "

See also:
Just Imagine (1930)
That Synthetic Food of the Future (Ogden Standard-Examiner, 1926)
Food of the Future (Indiana Progress, 1896)
Delicious Waste Liquids of the Future (1982)
1999 A.D. (1967)
Frigidaire Kitchen of the Future (1957)
The Jetsons "A Date With Jet Screamer" (1962)


Mark Plus said...

Ironically this hostility towards traditional biological foods fits in with the vegan agenda. I don't think vegans would object to extracting protein from "fuel oil," if it allows us to stop killing and eating animals.

Anonymous said...

They may not have supplanted meat, but we do have foods made from textured vegetable protein, mycoprotein, and wheat gluten.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine ingesting anything from fuel oil could be that good for you. I think the future is soy cubes that are fortified with vitamins. Accept for those that are allergic to soy.