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Modernist Farming?


Shalmanese
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For all the crazy experimentation that goes on in the kitchen, the raw ingredients coming in the back door are still being produced via a process that would be recognizable by 18th century agrarians. In fact, it seems like the more modernist the kitchen, the more old fashioned the suppliers tend to be, with small farms and heirloom varieties predominating.

Is there going to be a modernist farming revolution similar to the modernist cooking revolution? If so, what form is it likely to take? What would modernist farming look like?

PS: I am a guy.

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I think industrial farming is pretty modernist in itself. YMMV.

That said, I think we're going to see more "vat-grown" stuff and/or highly processed "imitation" foods (thinking surimi) in markets as technology advances and demand for luxury-type foodstuffs increases with the standard of living in places like China, India, etc.

Although the focus of GMO's and breeding programs appears to be on more productive, disease-, predator-, frost- and drought- resistant varieties that are otherwise similar to conventional foodstuffs, I do remember reading about someone (Japanese?) developing a pig that has marbling. So there might be some interesting new ingredients in the future for us to play with.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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There have already been successful efforts to produce meat in vitro from stem cells. Not the whole animal, just the parts of the animal sold as food. It received extensive news coverage a few months ago, for example:

BBC, Grow Your Own Meat

National Public Radio, Burgers from a Lab

The New Yorker, Test Tube Burgers

Maybe labs will be the large-scale farms of the future.


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Hydroponics is the near-future of farming - vegetable-wise. It uses 30% less water than conventional farming, and about 10% of the space required of conventional farming. You can grow just about anything - although, due to the higher cost of indoor farming (lights, fans, etc) it is usually being done with higher profit and fast growing crops. Hydroponic farming has been done for a long time now - but the newest idea is the vertical farming, where towers of food can be grown in the middle of cities where they are going to be used. Things can be picked at the peak of ripeness rather than picked green and "reddened" to minimize damage in shipping. Check it out.

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I think industrial farming is pretty modernist in itself. YMMV.

I think industrial farming would not be considered modernist in the same way that the twinkie is not considered modernist cuisine, even though it uses a lot of the same techniques and chemicals. I see modernist farming as borrowing a lot from the techniques of industrial farming but adapting them towards optimizing flavor rather than yield.

PS: I am a guy.

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This is one new direction farming is taking... Even as snow falls outside, workers harvest tomatoes year-round at Backyard Farms in Madison, Me. About 200 of them tend a half-million plants under 42 acres of glass, roughly the same amount of floorspace as in the Chrysler Building.

On a smaller scale, quite a few local growers are now using hoop houses to extend the growing season and sometimes to grow greens all winter.

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I'd say that square-foot gardening techniques and some forms of permaculture would qualify as modernist. Personally, when it comes to growing food I'm an 18th century kind of gal, though.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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I think industrial farming is pretty modernist in itself. YMMV.

I think industrial farming would not be considered modernist in the same way that the twinkie is not considered modernist cuisine, even though it uses a lot of the same techniques and chemicals. I see modernist farming as borrowing a lot from the techniques of industrial farming but adapting them towards optimizing flavor rather than yield.

OK.

I think new technologies in farming are going to come from big agro-industrial outfits and university/gov't farms, simply because those are the people who have the money, expertise and interest in doing this stuff. Operations making small amounts of high quality ingredients for a relatively tiny (if affluent) market segment will continue focusing on traditional ingredients and farming techniques, simply because heirloom tomatoes (or whatever) are a lot less expensive and risky than tomato/salmon hybrids. So if you automatically disqualify industrial farming methods from the term "modernist," you're stuck with 19th C methods of food production. This doesn't sit right with me; a lot of the ingredients and techniques used in modernist cooking were originally developed for Twinkie production, so to speak.

That said, I think there's going to be some really interesting stuff happening in the near future with ingredients and farming technologies. Vat-grown meats, vertical hydroponics, farming of fish and seafood that are currently only available wild-caught are all in the works already.

Here's my modernist idea: Some kind of tabletop automatic climate-controlled hydroponic farm so apartment dwellers who hate gardening can have really fresh herbs year-round. If any of you want it, you can have the idea in exchange for a working model.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Here's my modernist idea: Some kind of tabletop automatic climate-controlled hydroponic farm so apartment dwellers who hate gardening can have really fresh herbs year-round. If any of you want it, you can have the idea in exchange for a working model.

Such a thing already exist.

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Neat! Unfortunately I already blew my kitchen stuff budget for the near future.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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