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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Jan-18 > Lab cuisine

Lab cuisine

Farmers’ markets and slow foods are sold as the heart-warming answer to our nutritional needs. But neither we nor the planet can wait

The future of Food

In 2014, the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award— awarded for the best food writing each year—was won by the journalist John Jeremiah Sullivan for an essay on jam.

Taking its title from the first line of a 1919 Wallace Stevens poem, “I placed a jar in Tennessee” described a process of preservation and transformation through sugars, jellies and canning that Sullivan—and the preserve-obsessed friend whose story he tells—fears is becoming a lost art. His friend’s obsession is kicked off by an urge to conserve, to save a “giant flat of ripe strawberries” from rotting. The pair draw on the memory of grandmothers, who lived life “in sync with the natural world in a way that went beyond daytime/nighttime.” In a line which reminded me of my partner’s love of baking sourdough bread—a process which he cheerfully undertakes via a series of small tasks spread over three days—the friend finds that making jam helps him regain that sense of time: “You were always monitoring some jar in the kitchen, observing its changes. It gave the whole house a clock to go by.”

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s January 2018 issue: Five writers attempt to plot the impending advances in shopping, politics, sex, food and computing through 2018. James Plunkett looks at shopping and explains how personalised prices will hand even more power to the big companies; Theo Bertram outlines why political volatility is here to stay and what it means for us; Kate Devlin argues that sex robots are only a part of the impending sexual revolution; Stephanie Boland outlines why we’ll all end up eating lab grown food; and Jay Elwes explains the next steps in our computing quantum leap. Elsewhere in the issue: Dani Rodrik uncovers the truth behind the great globalisation lie—there were always going to be losers, Iona Craig delves into the war in Yemen—the world’s worst humanitarian disaster, Chris Tilbury explains why Britain urgently needs a plan for its failing prisons