Food, glorious food! Lab-grown bacon and mustard. While we’re in the mood, ants, algae and custard. It may sound unappetising but, if Dickens wrote Oliver in 20 years time, how far off the mark could this be?
A recent study revealed that Britain’s top ten foods are bacon, chicken, chocolate, steak, beef, lamb, bread, banana, baked beans and apples. While I was surprised pasta wasn’t higher than 13, what with it being the global number one in a 2011 survey, I wasn’t shocked that we are, mostly, a nation of meat eaters.
It also got me wondering how different a food top ten would look in 20 years. Diets and tastes have changed massively over the centuries, a natural result of agricultural development, changing climates and travel, so I’d expect some changes in 2032.
But would our favourites actually change? I’d expect what we actually eat to change significantly over 20 years, but perhaps less so our favourites. After all, I like a good steak, but finances dictate I can’t eat it every day.
A partridge in a pear sauce
Meat came in as our second favourite food worldwide last year. But with meat prices predicted to double in the next five to seven years, as the sustainability issues of rearing meat, we need to start looking at alternative proteins to replace it.
Perhaps we’ll look to the past and dine like a Tudor king, with spit-roast squirrel or seagull? Maybe we will just change the animals we eat rather than cut down?
Looking forward, lab-grown burgers may not be long off the menu, but what about sonic-enhanced food? Apparently smell isn’t the only sense to have an effect on our taste buds. Sounds a bit far-fetched to me, but I like the idea of having a replicator popping out tuneful morsels for me feast on.
A nation of ant-eaters?
Alternatively we could look east for inspiration. When Patrick asked for victims… ahem… volunteers to try edible insects, I was definitely fighting my way to the back of the queue. But am I too squeamish?
I certainly cringe at the well-known bank ad, starring a young Cambodian girl who turns her nose up at ants on a stick, until sprinkles are added. But is this the way forward?
Another suggested solution to food shortage is algae. Seaweed, already popular in some Asian countries, has many potential uses, including as a salt replacement. With around 10,000 types of seaweed, the world really could be our oyster.
What foods do you think will be popular in 20 years time?