One inconsistency always bugged me while watching The Jetsons. During some episodes, machines would cook the family a traditional meal instantly, like a steaming, cartoon roast chicken. In others, poor Elroy would just nosh on some peanut-butter-and-jelly pills. Well, which future is it going to be, Hanna-Barbera? Not a single animator challenged the whole flying-cars thing. Will humanity cease to eat normally or not?
It’s a question that Food & Wine posed to some of the greatest food thinkers of our time—along with architects, artists, and designers. But rather than simply asking the question, they sent out white paper plates to serve as a blank canvas for creativity.
The results were every bit as varied as you’d hope. Some entries were pure futurism, like Nathan Myhrvold’s 3-D printed plate. Some entries were sheer parody, like Dave Arnold’s (delicious-looking) fried plate. And some entries just stuck it to the man with gleeful nihilism, like Anthony Bourdain’s “food of the future for the 1%” plate—a giant bug that’s not going down without a fight.
But laughs aside, the undertones here are often quite serious. Following an era of ultimate abundance and globalized food, we’re faced with a deteriorating climate, overfished oceans, and an industrial farming system that’s inflexibly configured for monoculture. In other words, we’d better stock up on edible 3-D printer cartridges, or start getting used to the texture of antenna.