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Social Media, Transparency, and More Will Affect the Future of Food

"Consumers are turning their loyalties towards restaurants that they trust to have their best interests in mind."

Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Since Monday,'s Future Week has covered everything from NASA solving the space food problem to what fast-casual restaurants will look like in the decades to come. To cap it off, restaurant CEOs, epidemiologists, chefs, and readers think about what changes are coming to the world of food.

Nicolas Jammet, co-founder and co-CEO of sweetgreen: At the restaurant supply chain level, the future is all about transparency. Increasingly, diners want fresh, unprocessed food that isn't just local, but also grown by partners who understand the impact that they have on the environment and our health. The best food will be raised with practices that are not just low-footprint, but also restorative to their community. With more transparency, the food system will become vastly more efficient; once diners understand more about their food, we'll create greater demand for healthy agriculture, supporting the next generation of farmers and reducing waste.

Jennifer F. Myers, epidemiologist/surveillance coordinator: In addition to solving foodborne illness outbreaks faster, by harnessing technological advances commonplace in the private sector, foodborne outbreaks affecting the community can also be identified earlier by mining social media platforms. In recent years especially, emerging evidence on the effectiveness of social media has been demonstrated most notably with flu but has expanded to include foodborne illness complaints among other conditions. Foodborne Chicago is a pioneer, having rolled out a model in 2013 to understand this utility better and how social media data can be used to complement traditional surveillance approaches in the future. I look forward to further civic engagement efforts to improve current methodology in the field.

Dave Wolfgram, CEO and president of Yalla: Fast-casual restaurants are giving consumers the opportunity to gain access to the high-quality ingredients and the bold new flavors of cuisines previously only available in full-service restaurants. Consumers are also turning their loyalties towards restaurants that they trust to have their best interests in mind. Restaurants earn this trust through thoughtful and relentless sourcing of products that are good for both the guest and the planet.

Jason Tilery: I do not see an end of fine dining so much as a transformation of fine dining. I expect to see something like the neo-bistro movement in Paris happen here in America. It has already begun in NYC with restaurants like Thirty Acres, Contra and Battersby. It is only a matter of time before this concept starts to spread to other cities.

An alternative would be the ascent of chef tasting counters. With the rise of the minimum wage beginning to gather momentum, high-end restaurants will be forced to cut staff. Duties that were once  performed by two or three employees will be reduced to one. High-end restaurants will look less like Eleven Madison Park or Le Bernadin and look more like Momofuku Ko and Atera. Chefs will become the servers. This is not a new concept, but it is one that will become much more necessary for restaurants that want to survive.

Mary Saint-Marie: I feel there will be less and less meat eaten as time passes. The first to go will be the cattle industry. It is destructive to the environment and it is the biggest water user over everything. The subject that no one has wanted to look at will finally be looked at.

More and more people will be dining on organic, local, raw, vegan food. People like David Wolfe are promulgating the ideas of super-health and teaching thousands around the world via books, conferences, and videos. The link between food and our bodies and our minds will be understood and will reflect our world of dining, whether at home or out.

I believe that the Slow Food Movement out of Italy will continue to grow and replace the Western World's toxic fast food craze that has brought great sickness and pollution in its wake. We will be dining on food from local areas and farmers markets.

I believe that people are waking up to the realization of their Wholeness. How and where they dine will reflect this spiritual awakening. Beauty of environment will be received!

Becky Krystal: It's a dystopic future unless it includes a "Back to the Future II"-style food rehydrator.

Lauren Daen: There will be no more "fast food" as we know it. All food served will be whole foods — no more food containing GMOs, chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, non-food ingredients, or poisons of any kind.Entire menus will be created from fresh organic food sourced within a 100-mile radius. Diversity of available food ingredients within that radius will have expanded enormously.

If any red meat, chicken, or pork is still eaten, it will be sourced from only free range on organic soil, and humanly treated animals.There will be no more farmed fish. All fish eaten will be wild and sourced from pure waters. Because, in the future I envision, we will have banned from the planet all GMOs, large factory farms, and conventional farming with the use of contaminants of any kind. Therefore, our oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams will all be drinkable again, just as they used to be! Buen provecho!

Ian Boden: Interesting how over and over again chef/restauranteurs are saying the future of food is "fine dining will be more causal". This has been happening for years! Detail-oriented food in a relaxed environment. Isn't that what we've been working toward since the economy [fell apart] in 2007?

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