Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY
"You'll be able to walk in, talk to the appliance, and it will do whatever you ask it to do," Cat Cora says.
By Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Food won't just feed you in 30 years.
It will make you feel better and have less junk in it. It will be purchased without having to push a cart up and down the aisles of a supermarket. At home, food will be prepared on a foolproof, fully computerized appliance that will do virtually anything you ask it to do. That's right: You'll speak to your appliances.
Oh, and producing food will be easier on the Earth, too.
Among her projections about what people will eat and how they'll cook and produce food 30 years from now:
In every house, a computerized kitchen. Say goodbye to the multitude of gadgets and appliances -- from blenders to microwaves to refrigerators -- you now have in your kitchen. A single, ultra-computerized device will replace them all. It will juice, cool, cook and freeze, Cora, 45, predicts. "You'll be able to walk in, talk to the appliance, and it will do whatever you ask it to do." Everything in the kitchen will be voice-activated, she says. Ask for a bowl of hot tomato soup, and presto! It will appear.
In every kitchen, robots and avatars. People will no longer be able to claim they're lousy cooks. Android robots will do most of the work. "Technology will take over the kitchen," Cora says. "Even if you can't boil water, your personal avatar -- which will look like you -- will walk you through all of the steps."
Restaurants will be fewer -- and splashier. Because cooking at home will be simpler, the restaurant business will decline, and eating out will be more for celebrating special occasions. Restaurants increasingly will be vehicles for entertainment and no longer places to simply sit and eat. Oh, and waiters and waitresses will mostly disappear --replaced by computerized, order-taking devices.
Junk food will reinvent itself. Fast food, at least as we know it, will no longer be a majority, but a minority. Major chains will have to adjust to selling better-quality and more nutritional foods. "Either McDonald's will adjust, or it will go by the wayside," Cora says. "We are an intelligent, highly capable country; therefore, we know our health and our planet rely on seasonal, local and sustainable foods."
Supermarkets will do it all for shoppers. The grocery store will do most of your shopping for you. Computerized shopping carts and special high-speed conveyor belts will fetch products. You'll simply tap or plug in what you want to a computerized attachment to your cart.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner all will change. The first meal of the day still will be all about convenience and on-the-go eating, but it will be much more focused on healthy ingredients. Lunch still will be quick but very different in quality from current standards. For example, burgers will be super-lean and low in fat with whole-grain buns; fries (often made with sweet potatoes) will be baked, and salads will be mostly local and sustainable. Dinner increasingly will be eaten at home, because it will be so nutritious and simple to prepare.
Snacks won't be so salty. Junky snacks such as high-fat, high-preservative chips will largely disappear, replaced by fresher, healthier snacks that enjoy long shelf lives because of advances in packaging technology. "Our palates will evolve away from salty snacks with layers of fat," Cora says. Signs of this already are evident, she says, with Frito-Lay now selling Baked Doritos, and kitchen appliances now available that fry french fries via air-fryers and dry-fryers.
Foodies will rule. People who never had an interest in cooking will become foodies. Technology, after all, will make it much easier to become a foodie. "Foodies will go from minority to majority," Cora says.
Ordering space food. Scientists will figure out how to grow food in space. "This is an obsession for me," says Cora, who says she had spoken with NASA officials about developing simple recipes for past space shuttle flights. In the future, Cora says, a hydroponic technology probably will be used to grow plants in space -- such as for a mission to Mars. "It would be very exciting," she says, "to explore foods that can possibly be grown in space."
Mother Earth may yet win out. The food we eat will be mostly organic and sustainably grown, and most of the packaging will be recyclable. "People will have the peace of mind that what they eat is good for themselves -- and the planet."