Unless there are big changes within the next 20 years, I foresee a two-class food system. One class will eat industrialized food produced as cheaply as possible at the expense of its workers and natural resources. The other will enjoy home gardens and locally and sustainably produced food, at greater cost. I’m hoping for the enormous expansion of this latter approach. For that, we need a farm policy inextricably linked to health and environmental policy. We can achieve that, but only with serious advocacy and political engagement.
Looking forward, there might be some higher tech food but I don’t see a lot of soylent in our future. The highly processed junk that dominates our diet takes advantage of the way we grow and process crops and turns them into food-like substances that to many people taste good, provide enough calories, and are cheap and familiar enough to tolerate, but they barely sustain basic nutrition. There might be some fancy footwork but a 3D printed cheeseburger will still be a cheeseburger.
We could fix that, and if we did … well, then we could be looking at a much better scenario. But this would take big-picture change in diet and in agriculture. The changes go hand-in-hand – a diet more heavily reliant on plants and less on animals and junk, and a more sustainable agricultural system that moves away from chemical-intensive monocropping – but they are not going to happen without a fight. Or a tragedy.