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The future of food

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Introduction

With population growth and climate change, we might have to radically change our diets in the future. There are all sorts of developments going on to help feed us in the future, from growing artificial meat to developing insect-based foods. In 6 Minute English we discuss what we might be tucking into in the future and serve up some useful vocabulary.

This week's question

In which continent did tomatoes originate? Is it...

A: South America

B: Africa

C: Asia

Listen to the programme to find out the answer.

Vocabulary

a futurologist

a person who studies and predicts how we will live in the future

a trend

a way to refer to something that is popular now or that is becoming popular

to latch onto

become very interested in

a hunch

a feeling you have based on your knowledge and experience that something might be true even though you don't have any real evidence

ingesting

taking into your body, i.e. eating and drinking

stringent

strict, strong

Transcript

Note: This is not a word for word transcript

Neil

Hello. This is 6 Minute English. I'm Neil.

Sam

And I'm Sam.

Neil

Sam, have you considered the future of food much?

Sam

Well I think in the future I might have a sandwich - in about 30 minutes in the future.

Neil

Not quite what I meant! With the population of the world increasing along with the negative effects of climate change and other global issues, we might have to radically change our diets in the future.

Sam

Ah, yes I have heard about this - there are all sorts of developments from growing artificial meat to developing insect-based foods.

Neil

Mmm, tasty. Well we'll look a little more at this topic shortly, but we start, as ever, with a question and it's a food-based question. In which continent did tomatoes originate? Is it...

A: South America

B: Africa

C: Asia

What do you think, Sam?

Sam

No idea. I'm going to say Africa, but that's just a guess.

Neil

OK. Well I will reveal the answer later in the programme. On a recent edition of BBC Radio 4's The Food Programme there was an interview with Dr Morgaine Gaye. She is a futurologist. A futurologist is someone who studies and predicts the way we will be living in the future. Her particular area of expertise is the subject of food. What two things does she say she thinks about?

Dr Morgaine Gaye

As a food futurologist, I think about not just what we're going to be eating in the future but why. Why that thing, why that trend, why will people suddenly latch onto that food, that way of eating that food at that particular time? And when I work for large companies, that's what they want to know. There is an element of a hunch. And then proving or disproving that hunch.

Neil

So, what two things does she think about?

Sam

She says that as a food futurologist she thinks about what we will be eating in the future and also why we will be eating that food.

Neil

Yes, in particular she looks at why there are particular trends. A trend is what is popular now or what is becoming popular. For example, at the moment there is a trend for eating less red meat.

Sam

She also looks at why people latch onto particular trends. To latch onto here means to be very interested in something. So if you latch onto a particular food trend, you start to follow that trend, you might start eating that particular diet.

Neil

Information about future trends is very important for companies in the food business. How does she actually predict these trends?

Sam

She says she starts with a hunch. A hunch is a feeling you get that something is true. You don't have any real evidence, but your experience and knowledge makes you think you might be right.

Neil

Let's listen again.

Dr Morgaine Gaye

As a food futurologist I think about not just what we're going to be eating in the future but why. Why that thing, why that trend why will people suddenly latch onto that food, that way of eating that food at that particular time? And when I work for large companies, that's what they want to know. There is an element of a hunch. And then proving or disproving that hunch.

Neil

Dr Gaye goes on to talk about how on the subject of food, there are restrictions. Why is that?

Dr Morgaine Gaye

Food business of course has different restrictions around it because it's about safety, we're ingesting that. The supply chain and the labelling laws are very stringent especially in this country so it takes longer to get an idea from just a concept that's discussed around a table to an actual production facility, labelled, branded, tested, marketed and put on the shelves.

Neil

So, why restrictions?

Sam

Well, it's about safety. Because we are ingesting food, which is a way of saying we are putting it into our bodies, it has to be safe.

Neil

It can be a long process of developing a new food and getting it into the shops because of the need to be safe and meet the laws of different countries. In the UK she mentions that the food safety laws are very stringent. This means that the laws are very tough, very strict. Let's hear Dr Gaye again.

Dr Morgaine Gaye

Food business of course has different restrictions around it because it's about safety, we're ingesting that, the supply chain and the labelling laws are very stringent especially in this country so it takes longer to get an idea from just a concept that's discussed around a table to an actual production facility, labelled, branded, tested, marketed and put on the shelves.

Neil

Right, well before we review our vocabulary, let's get the answer to the question. In which continent did tomatoes originate? Is it...

A: South America

B: Africa

C: Asia

Sam, what did you say?

Sam

I made a guess at Africa.

Neil

Well, I'm afraid that's not right. Congratulations though to everyone who said South America. Right, let's recap today's words and expressions.

Sam

OK, well we started with the word futurologist. This is a noun to describe someone who studies and predicts the way we will be living in the future.

Neil

Then we had trend. This word can describe what is popular now and the way in which what is popular is changing. For example now we are seeing a trend for eating less red meat in some parts of the world.

Sam

If you latch onto something, you become interested in it and associate yourself with it - we heard that people very quickly latch onto food trends

Neil

Then there was hunch. A hunch is a feeling about something you think might be true even though you don't have real evidence for it. Ingesting something means taking it into your body, so eating or drinking it.

Sam

And finally a stringent rule is a very strict rule, a tough rule or law which in connection to food is designed to make sure it is safe and of a suitable quality.

Neil

OK, thank you, Sam. That's all from 6 Minute English. Goodbye!

Sam

Bye!

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