By John Salisbury
As a result of this miserable Pandemic experience, some changes may be on the way in the next decade of what, where, when, and how we eat, drink, and farm. The Wall Street Journal ran an article by Elizabeth G Dunn on ten changes that maybe what we will be seeing in the years to come.
- First: Booze will lose traction (the Horrors!). Aside from the quarantine blip, alcohol consumption has been declining in the states for the last few years. The new generations, X, Y, Z (what is next, ran out of the alphabet!) that I recently wrote about are a mindful health-conscience group that will shift away from the Martinis and Manhattans to low and no alcohol choices. Things like aperitifs, adaptogen-infused mocktails (healing herbs), non-alcohol spirits, seltzer, session beers (light alcohol beer around 3.2% that we were allowed on the post in the Army back in the day), Piquette in last month’s column, and low-alcohol wines. I have to admit I had to look some of these up to see what the heck they were and wondering why bother drinking pseudo alcoholic concoctions? Have a Coke instead – the soda, not the other stuff.
- Second: Families will eat and cook together more often. That might be a benefit of the Pandemic. Many families began to eat together more often, with kids pitching in with some of the cooking. With remote work at home becoming another result of the shutdown, maybe the next generations kids will learn kitchen skills they normally wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise. Kid cookbooks sales have doubled in recent months. I have been tickled to exchange recipes with my kids and grandkids.
- Third: Regionalism will heat up. European centric meals and recipes have been declining, and new concept foods will be explored – Asian, Appalachian, African, South American, and others.
- Fourth: Restaurants will wear many hats: All-day cafes, meal kits, cooking classes, more wine clubs, and food retail will be increasing. Chefs will play the role of a curator assembling take-home boxes of select groceries and house products for cooking a hot meal at home.
- Fifth: Zero-waste will be all-important. Consumers will demand better biodegradable delivery packaging for composting at home and buy from the burgeoning waste-reducing grocers. Zero Foodprint, Rethink, and other organizations will grow working with restaurants to reduce waste and carbon imprint plus push sending off extra food to support organizations that will have to increase their storage capacity, especially refrigeration and freezing.
- Sixth: Plants will rule. The reduction of animal protein isn’t a fad anymore, especially with the upcoming generations. Plant-based dairy and meat substitutes will surely improve and do well. This will bring in plant-centric dishes from the Middle East and Eastern India (curry anyone) to be tried and promoted. Soon, I will be writing about robots producing hands-free produce. Scary, but necessary for farmers to survive.
- Seventh: Heterogeneity will be the new normal. Food brands and restaurants will be staffed with a more different group of chefs, entrepreneurs, and executives than ever before. Talented ethnic women and men will bring in new ideas and flavors.
- We’ll upgrade from “Organic” to “Regenerative.” The word organic has been degraded to mean almost anything these days. Now look for regenerative products that are grown and raised using methods (things I have been writing about) that improve the soil, capture carbon, and push for biodiversity. There is a new Rengenerative Organic Certified program that was just launched in August that will be showing up stamped on food packaging at the grocery soon. This will not be too hard for modern farmers to qualify for because the many good ones have been doing that for years because it makes sense, economical, and protects the soil for many more future crops.
- Ethical employment practices will take root. The farm-to-table revolution was all around the ethics of how the food was grown. More local products farmed by responsible growers and even the restaurants themselves will be on the increase. Those restaurants that survive the pandemic will most likely pay a decent wage to their loyal staff and encourage them by bringing them in as part of the company, valued employees, and encourage them to come up with new ideas and meals.
- Comfort will be the vibe du jour. Tough times make for simpler table settings, product-driven cooking, old school recipes both at home and at restaurants. Restaurants might go back to tablecloths, rounder table edges, cozy fabrics, comfortable seating, and softer lighting. Anna Polonsky, a restaurant designer, said, “In a chaotic world, all one wants is stability.”
A note and not meant to be political. In light of the recent shooting in Compton and the protesters shouting “We hope they die” outside of their hospital, how about simply waving or a thumb’s up to the law enforcement, fire department, or ambulance driver when you see them coming at you on the road for a show of support for the dangers they are especially facing now. Their morale and insecurity must be at an undeserved all-time low. Sure, there is a very small minority of rotten apples in the law enforcement and first responders departments, but “Let’s not throw the baby out with the wash water.” Besides, name a single business that doesn’t have problem personnel.