Former Miami New Times writer Josh Schonwald isn't a psychic or a pundit, but if he had to predict the future of food (and give us a hot tip for investing our savings), he would do it in one word: purslane.
Purslane, once the bane of farmers who considered it a weed, is now finding favor as a food. Who's a fan of purslane? You'd be surprised. "Alice Waters is a big fan of it. It's native to India, and apparently Ghandi loved purslane," Schonwald explains. "It's got a mild flavor, a crunchy texture, and an okra quality. I love it with olive oil and sea salt. It's going to be the next superfood, with more omega 3's than any leafy green plant. It's very high in vitamin A and beta carotene."
Schonwald should know a little about what's hot in the food world. The author of The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches From the Future of Food (HarperCollins $25.99), he has researched every possible future food scenario -- from synthetic meats to insects to factory-farmed fish. Which is how, by the way, the book came about.
While working on a feature story about farming cobia for New Times, he met Dan Benetti. "This man felt that he had
the perfect species of fish. That cobia was going to be as popular as
salmon in five years and he said that with such certainty," Schonwald says. "What
intrigued me was that there were people like Benetti who had such strong
ideas about breakthroughs in food."
The book is structured
into a series of searches, he tells Short Order: "What's going to be the
salad of the future, what's going to be the meat of the future..."
For Schonwald, that meant researching everything from alternative
animals to be sourced for meat, such as rabbits and kangaroos (apparently
they are less flatulent than cattle), to looking into test-tube meat
growers in the Netherlands. Other chapters include the future of fish
farming (based on the New Times story) and the continued surge in ethnic foods.
a self-confessed nonfoodie, is now (pardon the pun) hungry to discover more. Now that the book is done, he's looking forward to some
food-centric travel. "I'd like to travel to Japan and poke around the
food culture there," he says, "and I'd like to explore some of the
farmers' markets in California. I'm definitely going to continue to explore food and people with exciting food ideas.