"The Future of Food" is a lively and entertaining primer on the state of food and nutrition today and where current developments are leading in the decades to come. Brian J. Ford puts forward a balanced view of apparently opposing forces such as organic farming versus agribusiness and natural foods versus engineered foods. He lays out the arguments fairly and well, backing them up with many examples.
His text is on the whole clearly and straightforwardly written, with very little jargon, but the quality of his writing is not quite up to the standard of someone like Colin Tudge ("Future Food: Two Radical Views of 21st Century Eating" by Michael Heasman & Colin Tudge). There is the occasional clumsy turn of phrase and, for a short book, there are rather more typos than one would expect. I was left with a sense that more care could have been taken in the editing stage and feel that the book would have had more of an impact as a result.
He makes many good points throughout the book, such as the hypocrisy inherent in European objections to the use of growth hormones in US cattle whilst at the same time European animals are routinely dosed with antibiotics to achieve a similar result. Early on in the book, he relates how previous predictions, such as that of Thomas Malthus, who thought population would always outstrip food supply, have been proved hopelessly wide of the mark. However, in the latter part of the book he undermines his earlier statement by going on to make may predictions himself, expressing them as if they will undoubtedly be fulfilled. For example, he states that "Much of the food of the future will be produced like pet-food pellets, created and combined to provide a perfect balance of vitamins and minerals... The final presentation ... will be... as chocolate snacks for example." Perhaps it's a question of tone, but there seems to be an element of crankiness in some of the statements he makes which detracts from the overall sensible and level-headed approach to food demonstrated throughout most of the book. I was left with the eerie feeling that the editors of satirical magazine The Onion had somehow got hold of the manuscript and had added a few of their plausible implausibilities.
Unfortunately, the book cannot be used as a starting point for further research as there are no references to the material he uses in the text and there are no suggestions for further reading.
Ultimately, I did find my time spent reading "The Future of Food" worthwhile but was left feeling that the blend of fact and sometimes quirky anecdote without specific supporting references undermined Brian J. Ford's message.
Ian Ford (no relation)