The Food Forever Experience

New York City

On 25th September 2018 in New York City, we challenged ten leading chefs to conceptualize and cook dishes of the future.  Crickets, algae and unusual edible plants were on the menu as chefs and leaders from business and politics got together to cook up and taste the future of food at Google’s offices. 

The event showcased what we might be eating in 2050 if we embrace some of the weird and wonderful foods yet to break into the US culinary mainstream. It was one of a series of events taking place around the world to mark the United Nations Global Day of Action on the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Meet the Chefs

 

The Ingredients

  • Amaranth

    Nutritious and gluten-free, this small grain has recently been popularized as a superfood in some countries. The plant has been cultivated since Aztec times, when it was also used in religious ceremonies. More recently, Europeans have mostly used it as an ornamental, but in countries like Mexico, amaranth is once again becoming an important staple.

  • Arrowroot

    A rainforest plant native to South America, arrowroot has been cultivated since around 5,000 BC. It was known as aru-aru (meal of meals) by the Arawak of the Caribbean islands due to its versatility. Today, arrowroot starch is used for bakery and confectionery, industrial and cosmetic products, and for medicines. The gluten-free starch has twice the thickening power of wheat flour, and demand for the crop has grown in recent years due to increased awareness of its possible health benefits.

  • Bambara Groundnut

    This colorful legume, originally from West Africa, is a superstar among neglected crops. It’s drought resistant, hardy in a variety of soils, and nutritious. The crop is conserved in several seed banks, and international researchers and entrepreneurs are studying the entire value chain to explore ways for it to deliver on its great promise.

  • Breadfruit

    Breadfruit is a species of flowering tree in the mulberry and jackfruit family, originating in the South Pacific, from whence it was taken far and wide, including by Captain Bligh of HMS Bounty fame. Its name is derived from the cooked fruit, whose texture is similar to freshly baked bread and tastes like potato. Recent advances have allowed breadfruit to be processed into flour for use in baking and even to make pasta, which has opened new market opportunities for farmers.

  • Chayote

    Chayote is native to Mesoamerica and is believed to be one of the earliest plants to be cultivated in that region. With edible fruits, roots and flowers, this crop is high in vitamin C, and is commercially important in several countries, particularly in Latin America and parts of Asia.

  • Crickets

    Over 1 billion people worldwide consume around 1,000 different kinds of edible insects, often harvesting them from the wild. Farming bugs like crickets produces much lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to more conventional animal agriculture, while also requiring much less water and land, so they could be an environmentally-friendly protein choice for future food systems.

  • Date

    Date palm cultivation goes back millennia, especially in the Gulf Region and Western Asia, where it continues to be an important source of food and is of great cultural importance. There are an estimated 5,000 different varieties of date palms cultivated worldwide.

  • Fonio

    With its tiny but versatile seeds, fonio has been cultivated in the Sahel for more than 7,000 years and is regularly found in West African cuisine. It can be boiled, baked or even brewed into beer. Its resilience in the face of challenging climates, combined with global demand for alternatives to wheat, is now bringing fonio to a much wider audience.

  • Jackfruit

    The largest tree-borne fruit on Earth, jackfruit grows in South and Southeast Asia, as well as parts of South America. Jackfruit is a nutritional treasure trove that is rich in carbohydrates and vitamins. It is so versatile that it can be used as a replacement for meat in some dishes.

  • Kernza

    A cousin of wheat developed by the Land Institute, kernza is showing up on plates in top restaurants across the USA. Traditionally, wheat is planted, grown and harvested in a single year. Kernza, on the other hand, is a perennial crop, living for many years, and can be harvested periodically. Its roots can extend 10-15 meters deep, stabilizing the soil and preventing erosion, improving soil structure, and storing carbon. In the kitchen, this grain can substitute wheat in almost any recipe, and can even be used to make beer.

  • Oca

    Oca is a tuber that originated in the Andes over 5,000 years ago. It is one of the most important staple crops in the region due to its easy propagation and tolerance of poor soil, high altitude and harsh climates. Tubers are long and thin and range in color from white to deep grayish purple.

  • Moringa

    Moringa is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree native to India, but found in many parts of the tropics. It is sometimes called the “Never Die Tree” because of its extremely hardy nature. The young seed pods and leaves are used as vegetables and many other parts are used in traditional herbal medicine.

  • Salsify

    A root vegetable belonging to the dandelion family, salsify is known as the oyster plant because of its taste when cooked. The root looks similar to a parsnip, with white flesh and a thick outer skin. As with most root vegetables, salsify can be boiled, mashed or used in soups and stews.

  • Saltwort

    Native to the salt marshes of Japan, saltwort is an evergreen shrub with long succulent leaves and a crunchy texture. It’s typically used in salads and sushi, but the seeds of saltwort can be exploded like popcorn and the juice of the roots can be made into beverages and used as a natural sweetener. Saltwort has been used as a cover crop in areas where hurricanes or tropical storms have destroyed the natural vegetation, as it protects low-lying areas and thrives where few other species will grow.

  • Sugar Kelp

    Resembling – in its raw form – slimy lasagna noodles, sugar kelp is a seaweed with a wide range of uses, from food to cosmetics to textiles. While sugar kelp and other algae are frequently used as food in Asia, their potential in the American diet is largely untapped. Sugar kelp has a sweet taste and can be used fresh (added to soups, stews and stocks), dried (flaked as a salty sea spice) or fried. Using algae in our diets isn’t just delicious, it can be sustainable too: it needs no arable land and cleans the water where it grows.

  • Teff

    A cereal native to the highlands of the Horn of Africa, teff has been central to diets in Ethiopia for centuries. It is the main ingredient in the national dish of both Ethiopia and Eritrea: a flatbread known as injera.

  • Tepary Bean

    Tepary beans are native to the southwestern United States and Mexico and have been grown there since pre-Columbian times. They come in a range of colors, including white, yellow, brown, red, pink, black, and some are speckled. Tepary beans can survive in hot, desert-like conditions, and are considered one of the most arid-adapted crops in the world.

  • Tigernut

    This grass-like plant produces, despite its name, a tuber. It is one of the earliest domesticated crops, and has even been found entombed with Egyptian pharaohs. Tigernut can produce hundreds of tubers each season, which can be used for making flour, and non-dairy milk and butter.

  • Ulluco

    Ulluco is the second most widely cultivated tuber in Peru, after the potato. Though its vibrant colors make it very attractive, its leaves are also eaten and treated like spinach. It is of great economic and nutritional importance for smallholder farmers in the Andes and is easy to grow at high altitudes under difficult conditions (drought, freezing temperatures, and strong sunlight).

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