Something Inside of Us Sleeps, The Sleeper Must Awaken

Inside a tech-driven S.F. tasting menu event, inspired by food 10 years from now

Imagine a world where the steak is made from microscopic fungi, the lettuce is grown by robots and the cheese is biologically identical to the real thing, yet never came from an animal.

Actually, all of those items already exist.

Bay Area journalist Larissa Zimberoff hosted two “future food” dinners at San Francisco’s 18 Reasons this week inspired by her new book, “Technically Food: Inside Silicon Valley’s Mission to Change What We Eat,” as well as by what high-tech vegan eats are likely to be on our plates 10 years from now.

The intimate 24-seat dinners were open to the public and demonstrated how those foods can be used in familiar dishes. Cooking in the future is “going to be more futuristic, more Jetsons,” Zimberoff said.

Much of the innovation happening in the food tech industry is based in the Bay Area, and it’s drawing billions in investment. The alternative protein sector alone raised $3.1 billion in 2020, according to the Good Food Institute, an advocacy nonprofit focused on plant-based and cultivated meat. Bay Area companies such as Impossible Foods, known for its soy-based Impossible Burger, and Eat Just, popular for its mung bean-based egg, became household names after entering major chains like Burger King.

Still, despite the ubiquity of certain products, Zimberoff predicts that these foods are unlikely to make up the bulk of our diets. “It’s going to take 10 years for these things to really be out there. But even then, it’s going to be a tiny fraction,” she said.