Tamia A. McClain/Chef Tim-The Future of Food

24 07 2009

I saw a documentary not too long ago entitled The Future of Food. It was about how almost everything we eat now-a-days, is processed, genetically modified, and bad for the environment and us. Over the past year, I have been able to not only look at the industry, but to feel, taste, smell, and touch it. I see where food is going and I don’t like it. But, I also see where it could go, and it excites and inspires me. Ultimately, it will be up to my classmates and I to dictate the directions we all take, and to create the future of the industry.

With the economy the way it has been worldwide, the strain on our resources, and the lack commitment from the current generation to excellence (only 1/10 will be in the industry in a couple of years), food has been headed in the wrong direction for years.

Fast food has been the easy answer to dramatic and hectic lifestyles, but it also continues to contribute to the disproportionate waistlines of Americans and our growing health problems. Genetically-modified and chemically engineered food, have allowed us to have the potential to feed the masses, but it has come at the cost of quality, safety, and integrity in service. More and more fish are becoming extinct because of our fishing practices. Will we change, or commit to more of the same? Most of my friends saw the documentary about McDonalds entitled Supersize Me, and some still frequent the establishment. We continue to accept mediocrity, are inundated with advertisement, and lured by convenience. I’m convinced that we don’t appreciate or respect food as much as we should. Some of chose not to, some of us can’t afford to.

Chefs like Alice Waters give me hope, inspire me. The things that she is doing out in California are simple yet groundbreaking.  I’m a huge fan of slow food, of returning to the basics, and respecting ingredients and our environment.

I see food going in three directions, the only question is which one will dominate, change, and move our culture the most. The first direction is toward more of the same. And, I say that because we are continuing to modify food, overfish, and harm our environment and ourselves. The second direction is headed up by the likes of the guys at El Bulli. I’m not a huge fan of molecular gastronomy, because although I think it’s fascinating, I also think it’s weird. There is no question that Adria is a genius, but most people I know wouldn’t be able to afford to go out and eat at his restaurant. But his genius will not be ignored, and he will continue to explore and in the process inspire and influence where food is going. The third direction is a return to the basics. A return to home-cooked meals, local-ingredients, and seasonal comforts. I am so ready for the change in food that is coming soon, and hope to be a major player, not just on the sidelines looking in.

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