While many of us are moving backwards foodwise, reveling in heritage vegetables, foraging woods for forgotten greens and enjoying farmhouse dinners, Josh Schonwald is looking towards what we’ll be putting on our tables in the years to come.
Will it be cobia, touted as “the next salmon” and prized because it grows ten times faster than most fish and is tastier than Chilean sea bass, a new microgreen or meat grown in a Petri dish?
These are topics that lead Schonwald to travel the world and chronicling his adventures in his very witty and easy to read book The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches from the Future of Food (Harper 2012; $25.99).
The taste of tomorrow is also about the taste of yesterday.
“There used to be just one lettuce,” says Schonwald who lives in Evanston, Illinois. “Iceberg.”
And it use to come in a round ball and people either tore it into pieces or cut it into wedges. Now we face rows of bagged shredded mixes of greens in the supermarket.
Schonwald became interested in how food evolves after interviewing a professor of aquaculture at the University of Miami who believed in the cobia revolution.
“What intrigued me was that there were people like him who had such strong ideas about breakthroughs in food,” says Schonwald. “And I started thinking, if there’s a new fish, is there a new cow, a new tomato?”
Though he’s somewhat hesitant to make future food predictions – after all cobia still hasn’t come to market – Schonwald does believe that purslane, a green favored by Alice Waters, herself a foodinista who changed the way we eat.
“It’s native to India and they say Gandhi loved it,” says Schonwald. “And it not only is very high in vitamin A and beta carotene, it has more omega 3’s than any leafy green plant.”
Crickets also make his list as does Sub-Sahara cuisine.
“Why some foods make it and some don’t and the people who believe in them fascinates me,” says Schonwald who also explores GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and a Pentagon lab developing food substitutes.
But for those who still yearn for the foods our grandmother made, take heart.
“I think one of the foods of tomorrow,” says Schonwald “will be the foods of the past.”