The Taste of Tomorrow
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  • November19th

    Dear TofT Readers:  Simgresorry for the woefully belated update! My New Year’s resolution is “better web site feeding.” There are a couple of new developments to report…

    First, in September, I started writing about the future of food and agriculture for TIME.com.

    One recent piece “The Frankenburger is Coming Sooner Than You Think” takes a look at the state of cultured meat research — one year after The Bite.  A second piece “Forget Kale: Try These Three Real Superfoods” spotlights a couple of highly nutritional plants with extraordinary world-saving qualities (that’s not hyperbole). And the latest piece, “You Won’t Believe the Source of the World’s Most Sustainable Salmon,” focuses on a promising way of raising fish that is finally starting to get some well-deserved attention by the Consumer Reports of seafood.  I will post my TIME pieces here on the TofT.

    I am also very excited to be part of National Geographic’s documentary The Story of Food.  The first episode, Food Revolutionaries, airs on Friday, November 21st at 9pm.

    Finally, I’m having a great time curating a new Taste of Tomorrow magazine on Flipboard.  If you don’t know Flip, check it out. My Flip site is my nearly-daily take on interesting ideas, people, and technologies shaping the future of food (in other words, it’s The Taste of Tomorrow’s reading list in the aesthetically-pleasing Flipboard format!)

  • April23rd

     

    Barton Seaver is my favorite chef. 

    It’s not necessarily because of his food.  I’ve never been to Cafe Saint-Ex or Bar Pilar or Blue Ridge or Hook, his DC-restaurant that had 78 species of seafood on the menu in one year.  And I haven’t had a mind-blowing, life-altering experience with his cookbook, For Cod And Country. 

    No, the reason why Barton Seaver is my favorite chef is because he’s about as rare as a California condor in the foodie world — he’s sensible about sustainability.   

    I first discovered Seaver two years ago  – I was driving to a party in Kenosha, Wisconsin, when I heard him on Here on Earth, a show on Wisconsin Public Radio. Initially, I was just captivated because here was this enthusiastic, hyper-articulate guy talking about fish, especially lesser-known species of fish (a particular interest of mine).  Americans only eat about 10 species of seafood, even though the ocean offers hundreds of varieties, and Seaver argues that we need to take advantage of the huge variety of fauna out there. Amen. He struck me — with his energy and passion and gift at seafood porn —as a kind of Rick Bayless of seafood.

    But what really made me fall in love with Seaver — what created the NPR driveway moment (specifically, it was the parking lot of Pic-n-Save on 63rd Street) — was hearing his answers to questions like:  “Should I eat wild or farmed fish?”  (You can hear his answer to that on  at around 9:49 of the Here on Earth interview.)

    My point: here was a chef with some of the foodiest bona-fides possible —hailed as Chef of the Year by Esquire’s John Mariani — who talks the importance of INDUSTRIAL aquaculture.  “It’s our patriotic duty to eat farm-raised mussels, clams, and oysters,” he says.

    Why is this such a huge deal? Why was it so exciting to hear a chef talk about the importance of industrial-scale fish-farming?  We live in the age of Pollan, and for so many chefs — local, organic, wild-caught  = sustainable — has gone from a well-intended ideal into an inflexible dictate. Too many chefs have a view of the world in which the definition of sustainable is organic, local, artisanal.  End of story.

    Seaver, by contrast, talks about sustainability in a refreshingly nuanced way. 

    “You and I could rent a canoe and harpoon a blue whale,” he says. “Just because it’s local, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.”

    He talks about seasonality and diet— when is the right season to eat your sablefish or your halibut, why you should eat smaller portions, why you should eat species that are lower on the food chain. Yet he also talks, with equal passion, about the virtues of canned fish (yes, industrially-produced canned fish)  He even explains that a sustainable choice can involve shopping at Walmart —  yes, Walmart, that paragon of industrial scale, globavorism can be part of “restorative seafood.”

    That’s why Barton Seaver is my favorite chef. It was exhilarating to hear a guy who shared a kitchen with Jose Andres, a guy who can make you literally ache for a crab cake,  talk so pragmatically about sustainability.

    The reason I’m enthusing about Seaver right now, today, is because I just stumbled upon an old interview with him on another radio program, The Splendid Table.  Here, in a show titled, “Seasonal Seafood,” that was recently rebroadcast, is a little taste of my favorite chef talking about the virtues of canned products — and a suggestion for how to work with canned pink salmon.  

    Then look at some of the other canned products: sardines, mackerel, herring, pink salmon, clams, mussels, oysters, and my favorite, anchovies. I mean these are nearly across the board some of the very best things we should be eating. And talk about ease of Tuesday night, when you’re coming home from ballet and soccer and you’ve got a report due. Pull out two 7-ounce cans of pink salmon; drain it off; add a little bit of mayonnaise, fresh dill, bread crumbs, and lemon juice; throw it in the oven under a broiler; and in 10 minutes you’ve got a beautiful, pink, salmon cake, crisp and crunchy on one side, soft and moist all the way throughout, perfectly cooked. You’ve got your protein portion for four people for $4 or $5, you’re ready to roll with your broccoli and there you go.

    Check out the Splendid Table site for two of his recipes for Pacific cod and mackerel.

    ALSO… a promise to TofT readers. One of these days…  when I get back to DC, I will try to meet and interview Seaver… And if I do, I will post the interview , along with a collection of canned tuna/salmon/anchovy/sardine recipes, right here on the TofT site.

    Till then.. have some canned sardines or anchovies tonight and watch this Ted Talk “Sustainable Seafood — Let’s Get Smart.”

  • November6th

    Saskatoon, Sask, the Paris of the Prairies.

    Saskatchewan, a province of the North American nation of Canada, is not home to Sasquatch. But it is home to a surprisingly ridiculous amount of our food. Your beer, your bread,  your cooking oil, your lentils, your frozen peas, your pasta– there’s a good chance that you can trace all of it back to some lonely farm on the Canadian prairie…

    Saskatchewan is the world largest  producer of canola, the world’s largest grower of lentils — more, yes, than even lentil-mad India.  More than 10 percent of the world’s wheat comes from Saskatchewan.  Nearly 50 percent of the arable land in Canada — the world’s second largest country — is in Saskatchewan.

    What’s most surprising is that notoriously frigid Saskatchewan –  a place where winter temperatures can sink to 40 or 50 below –  could also be home to the Next Superfruit… Yes, that’s right — the Next Blueberry or Goji berry… could be coming from not the Hawaiian tropics.. but  from a place that’s 700 miles north of Chicago  (which is not exactly balmy).

    Where's Saskatoon? Three hours north of North Dakota.

    A few weeks ago, The TofT’s Canada-o-philiac Josh Schonwald visited Saskatoon to give a speech on October 16 — that is of course World Food Day (more on The World Food Day Meal forthcoming).

    ToT radio host Chris Bentley sat down with Josh to get the report on his 36 hours in Saskatoon — and his visit to the U of Saskatchewan (the UC-Davis of Canada).

    IN this 35 minute interview, Josh talks about a candidate for Next Superfuit, and his talk with Bob Bors, who could be the world’s northernmost — or at least coldest — FRUIT breeder. We’ll also hear about  nanotech research that could eventually lead — in 20 years — to a guilt-free chocolate cake..   AND… Josh will talk about Saskatoon’s surprising booming economy (less than 4 percent) and why American who love REI and Obamacare should love Saskatchewan.

    Listen now….

  • July3rd

    In a Slate piece,  “Why You Should Love Grasshopper  Tacos and Kelp Pasta: How Overcoming the Yuck Factor Can Help Save the World” I briefly amended the Perfect Sustainable Meal, introducing version 2.0.

    For those of you who haven’t read The Taste of Tomorrow yet, you might be wondering  “What is version 1.o? Well, here (below) are the three elements of the original. In brief,  it’s intended to be symbolic — a kind of sustainability seder — in an effort to make the simple point:  There is no silver bullet. Feeding the world in a sustainable way will require a mix of strategies—some natural and ancient, others high-tech, and, yes, yucky-seeming.

    Seasonal, Local Salad Mix from Farmers’ Market. It doesn’t matter if it’s radicchio, if it’s puntarelle, if it’s iceberg, or even sorrel. It doesn’t even matter, really, if it’s a salad. What is important is that you go to your nearest farmers’ market and buy something local and grown outdoors from a small farmer.

    Genetically Engineered Hawaiian Papaya.Track down some Hawaiian papaya, but not any papaya. You must make sure that it is genetically modified.

    Recirculating Aquaculture System-Farmed Barramundi or Tilapia. Go to a live fish market in New York, Toronto, Washington, or Boston. Buy a fish that is raised indoors in a recirculating aquaculture system.

     There’s more explanation on p 278 and 279 of why these three ingredients were chosen, and why the concluding slogan of the book is:  Go to Farmers’ Markets. Eat GE Papayas. Buy Fish from Indoor Recirculating Systems.

    The Perfect Meal will now be updated to include a chocolate-covered grasshopper and kelp pasta. (Illustrated version forthcoming!)

  • May4th

    Dear Slate Readers:

    If you’ve heard about  The Taste of Tomorrow  for the first time today, or if you’ve devoured the book—and you’re curious, interested in more conversation and information about foods and food-making technologies of the future — sign up for The Taste of Tomorrow’s email newsletterYou can also like us on Facebook.

    Sincerely,

    The Editors

  • April25th

    The Washington Post’s Jonathan Yardley  — that’s the esteemed, frequently bluntly critical, Pulitzer Prize-winning Jonathan Yardley — likes The Taste of Tomorrow!

    Read Yardley’s nice review in last weekend’s Book World. (And yes, as was conceded on the TofT Facebook page,  getting a nice word from Yardley is creating a Christmas/Hannukah/Packers-win-Super Bowl-type of vibe here at ToT’s Evanston headquarters.

    Also….admittedly, a thought did occur: that on Sunday, April 22, the residents of a large White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,  may have possibly leafed through the WP’s Book World, and possibly noticed the words “Chicago journalist,” and then possibly talked about how this “future of food book” may have some ideas for, say, the garden, and then, perhaps, this all culminated in the following exchange:

    Michelle:  “Maybe we should invite this guy for dinner?

    Barack: “Great idea.”