“In the year 2525, if man is still alive, If woman can survive…” go the lyrics of Zager and Evans’s 1969 song. The tune keeps resonating as I reflect on our family’s cooking and eating habits during nearly two years of the coronavirus pandemic. What will be on people’s plates in the year 2022 and beyond?
In the new year, will our life become sedentary and automated? Will our thoughts become pre-programed into pills for people to consume? What will we be eating? How can we survive?
The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred some changes in the fundamental ways we live and eat. As the pandemic highlighted many of the weaknesses of the global, industrial food system, consumers shifted more of their food source choices to local options.
Because food and nutrition play a crucial role in the health of our people and their communities, hunger and food insecurity moved to the forefront. The health and safety of agricultural and food service workers, once taken for granted, became vital to our food source. We became aware and we took action.
People began practicing more acts of culinary self-reliance: bread baking, pickling, gardening, root cellaring, raising rabbits, chickens and pigs. Hunting, foraging and fishing progressed beyond a backyard hobby to putting food on the dinner table. Home cooking and comfort food became the new norm.
Will these trends continue?
The good news is that our food choices are increasingly becoming more about the intersecting needs of personal and planetary health, environmental sustainability, immunity and mental well-being.
As we continue to understand the importance of health and sustainability, emerging trends will include carbon-neutral, local foods, dairy free milk, sea farms and sea plants and plant-based charcuterie. Look for foods that support our immune system like mushrooms, grains that give back and buzz-less spirits. Food pundits predict the return of the blonde or white pizza, social media as the modern cookbook and egg-based breads such as brioche or challah. Either of those breads can be used in the recipe for stuffed French toast accompanying this column.
This spirit of independence, demonstrated by folks breaking away from the industrial food chain, gives me great hope. Helping your neighbors start an organic garden, collaborating with friends to staff a community soup kitchen, teaching children about growing and cooking their food are all small acts of global kindness that humanity desperately needs.
I know in my heart that to have control over your food supply provides one with a deep sense of security. May 2022 bring you and yours good health and delicious food!
Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected]
Stuffed French Toast
Makes two servings
4 slices brioche or challah *
¼ cup milk
4 Tbsps. fresh goat cheese, local soft cheese or cream cheese
4 Tbsps. favorite jam of your choice
Maple syrup for serving
Powdered sugar for serving
Assemble ingredients and tools.
In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs and milk. Lay the bread in a shallow pan, and cover with the egg mixture. Use a fork to poke holes in the bread so that the bread completely soaks up the egg and milk.
Measure out the soft cheese and jam and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F and heat a platter to serve the French toast.
Heat a large griddle over medium-high heat and lightly brush is with butter. Grill the bread on one side, and then turn over. Spread the cheese on two slices of bread and the jam on the other two slices. Brown the bottom, and then carefully combine the two sides.
Slice the stuffed treat into quarters and arrange on the heated serving plate. Sprinkle some powdered sugar over the top and serve with maple syrup.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 434 calories, 22 grams protein, 67 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams fat (0 grams trans fat), 510 mg. sodium, 6.4 grams fiber.
* Brioche and Challah are both rich, eggy breads. Challah, made in the Jewish tradition, does not contain any dairy products. Brioche, of French origin, uses lots of butter!