What is your favorite food? (I have a pretty long list.) Now what would you think if it was no longer available?
This has actually happened before. A piece on The Atlantic magazine’s website claims we have eaten thousands of species into extinction; passenger pigeon pie used to be a common comfort food (https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/11/foods-humans-ate-extinction/601573/). And it gets worse — an article on BusinessWeek.com claims that twelve common and popular foods are in danger of disappearing due to climate change. These include avocados, (horrors!) chocolate, soybeans, and (double horrors!) coffee (https://www.businessinsider.com/food-going-extinct-2018-2).
I became interested when I heard about a new book on this subject — Lost Feast: Culinary Extinction and the Future of Food by Lenore Newman. Ms. Newman examines the history of foods we have literally loved to death. In addition, she enlists an ecologist friend and fellow cook, Dan, to recreate past meals in a series of “extinction dinners,” and to illustrate how our cuisine might change in the future.
Every time I walk into a major supermarket, I can’t help but marvel at the abundance and variety of foods. The present era is really a historic anomaly. How much longer will this cornucopia last? If you’re also wondering about our food security, this book will give you a clue to what could happen in the near future.
Another way to explore this topic is through the Science Friday book club at https://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/book-club-lost-feast-launch/. Bon appetit (I hope).