by Bruce Sachs
In 2015 National Geographic wrapped up an 8-month-long initiative that “explores our complex relationship with what we eat and where our food comes from.” The Future of Food first appeared in National Geographic magazine in May 2014. Throughout the year, the focus was extended to include websites, an interactive app, and a miniseries on the National Geographic Channel called Eat: The Story of Food.
Content from all of these platforms is pulled together on natgeofood.com which contains a wide range of topics and perspectives related to food — from a farm in Iceland to hunters in Tanzania to the future food policy of the U.S.
I’ve been following the content on “The Future of Food,” because of National Geographic’s unique approach that ties together the cultural, social, environmental and economic impact of what we eat. The site is rich with daily food facts, great videos, articles, infographics and photo essays.
Some of the content that I initially wrote about in 2015 is no longer available online. If you’re interested in the future of food, there is still a lot of information to expand your knowledge base. Here are a few highlights.
This interactive infographic illustrates how diets around the globe have changed over the last 50 years. You can compare daily eating habits in 22 countries and break down the data by type of food, such as meat, produce or grain. The chart shows that a growing consumption of vegetable oil is the single biggest factor behind the increased caloric intake in the United States.
If you want to see how much meat consumption has risen, there's a separate chart just for that. For example, poultry consumption (measured by calories) has doubled in the US, but there has been a slight drop in beef and pork intake since 1961. China’s meat consumption, however, has skyrocketed. “The average person in China consumed almost 20 times more grams of pork per day in 2011 than in 1961.”
Blog posts from a chef, biochemist, journalist, writer/attorney and designer provide a wide range of perspectives on current food topics in this informative site. I was intrigued by Chef José Andrés’ article about dining on a steak that was raised for 13 years just for him at El Capricho in Spain. He is about to open a fast-casual, vegetarian restaurant in Washington, DC and focuses on the need to have a better connection with the food that we eat and the necessity to change our habits to something more sustainable.
Other contributors to the site include college students and food bloggers. One such contributor, Sasha Martin, has a website, Global Table Adventure, that tracks her nearly-4-year journey to cook a recipe from every country in the world. Her article “The Problem with ‘Ew’”offers a great lesson about respecting and appreciating other cultures by being open-minded with what you eat. Food is a common denominator amongst all people. On her website she states, “We create peace in this world when we learn about each other.” One simple way to do that is through food.