In January 1810 Nicholas Appert won a price of 12,000 francs from the French government for an invention that would change the world. His process of sealing jars sealed with cork and wax, then boiling them, was the beginning of canning. His invention allowed Napoleon to feed vast armies in his campaigns of conquest across Europe. What containerization did for trade, and the Internet did for communication, canning did for food.
Speaking at the inaugural Silicon Valley Bite conference this month, Jose Andres highlighted Appert and shared that a signed book by Appert was one of his prized possessions.
We have always modified our food
The conference held in June in California suggested that food is likely to change more in the next 50 years than it has at any time since the days when ambitious military commanders like Napoleon forged great empires.
First of all food crazes will go global faster than ever before. Also speaking at the conference, foodtruck innovator Roy Choi noted that until 2008, foodtrucks were known in Los Angeles as “roach coaches” that catered to working class angelenos. Just two years later, thanks to twitter, such eateries earned Zagat ratings.
Secondly, new technologies will shape food’s future. For example, 3D printing, which is changing logistics in a number of industries, is already affecting food. Currently the technology is used to produce colorful and tasty candies but there is a lot of potential for other things.
But, some changes will be more than just aesthetic. Josh Tetrick, CEO of food-tech start-up Hampton Creek, is now making mayonnaise and cookie dough without eggs using vegetable substitutes instead. These eggless varieties, the company claims, have already saved land for other uses and 1.38 billion gallons of water. To do this, his team of scientists continues to gaze at plants under microscopes looking for new genetically modified traits. All this may make the anti-GMO crowd squeamish, given the anti-GMOs emphasis at present, but humans have been manipulating their food for a long time. Today there are some 5,000 varieties of potatoes all from a single species grown along the Peruvian-Bolivian border some 7,000 years ago.
A change is coming
How food is cooked and foodwaste managed will also change. Both problems are as old as humanity itself. Jose Andres is a leading advocate of cooking with biofuels and solar cookings. His new restaurant Beefsteak, a fast casual restaurant, aims to provide sustainably high quality food to inner city dwellers.
Last month, France voted to end food waste at supermarkets other promising efforts are coming. Andres told The European he sees change coming “we need to improve the entire food production chain. It is good for us and good for the environment.” Food will continue to change and who knows who will be inspired by an autographed copy of a book in the centuries to come.