Last week the nation celebrated Food Day, a movement for healthy, affordable and sustainable food. The marquee for the event was a conference entitled Future of Food 2050.

Our advisor Dr. David Katz was a guest panelist at the event, speaking alongside Eric Meade, Vice President and Senior Futurist, Institute for Alternative Futures and Andrea Thomas, SVP for sustainability at Walmart.

We had the opportunity to connect with Dr. Katz prior to the event, asking him some of our questions regarding the future of food. Here are some highlights:

Butter Beans: What will the role of the lunch server be? Will there be an educational component to school cafeterias?

Dr. Katz: The only food options will be wholesome, mostly direct from nature, mostly plants. Education about food will be culture-wide, and by 2050 there won’t be much need for it in cafeterias anymore.

Butter Beans: Will nutrition education be incorporated into state and national education standards?

Dr. Katz: Yes. Food literacy will be as important and universal as any other kinds of literacy. There will be gaps, as there are with literacy, but not for want of embracing it as a priority.

Butter Beans: What will Myplate look like in 2050? What will the ratio of meat:vegetables be?

Dr. Katz: Meat will be optional/discretionary. MyPlate will no longer exist because the government will have acknowledged its conflicts of interest, and outsourced dietary guidelines to an independent organization such as IOM.

Butter Beans: How do you see the role of nutrition and food education evolving in schools and government policy?

Dr. Katz: The primary driver of dietary change will be culture change, and that in turn will change the food environment. Good choices will be easy choices, and often the only choices – reducing the burden on the educational system. But education about food choice, food important, food effects, food selection, and food preparation will be universal because these will be considered basic, modern survival skills.

Dr. Katz also noted that, “In the case of food, much depends on whether we make decisions while we still have options, or have decisions imposed on us because our options have run out. 2050 will look one way if we choose to update our culture, and quite another if we wait for demographic, economic, health and ecological calamities to make our choices for us.”

What will the state of our food system look like in 2050? Dr. Katz reflected that if our culture deemed that our health mattered as much as our wealth, you would see investments in our health increase.

Dr. Katz believes that we have to find ways to get our culture to think of health as a form of wealth, and not address health issues after they have manifested themselves, rather address them beforehand. He promotes prevention as a solution to health problems down the road, and in his vision of 2050 we are all much better off than we are now, as long as our culture collectively decides, and acts on creating a better food future for all.

Photo courtesy of trendhunter.com and usda.gov