1894 Scientific Speculations about Foods in the Year 2000

Christina Agapakis, a blogger at Scientific American, recently discovered an interesting 1894 article describing the speculations of renowned early chemist Marcellin Berthelot on the likely nature of foods in the year 2000. Instead of agriculture,

The epicure of the future is to dine upon artificial meat, artificial flour, and artificial vegetables…Wheat fields and corn fields are to disappear from the face of the earth, because flour and meal will no longer be grown, but made…Coal will no longer be dug, except perhaps with the object of transforming it into bread or meat. The engines of the great food factories will be driven, not by artificial combustion, but by the underlying heat of the globe.

Agapakis notes that Berthelot was far ahead of early science fiction writers or NASA in suggesting that humans could rely on food pills synthesized from coal using geothermal power:

We shall give you the same identical food, however, chemically, digestively, and nutritively speaking. Its form will differ, because it will probably be a tablet. But it will be a tablet of any color and shape that is desired, and will, I think, entirely satisfy the epicurean senses of the future.

We should keep in mind that H.G. Wells’ first science fiction book, The Time Machine, wasn’t published until the following year, 1895.

“Foods in the Year 2000”
Christina Agapakis, Scientific American Blogs, March 31, 2012

“Foods in the Year 2000”
Professor Berthelot’s Theory That Chemistry Will Displace Agriculture
Henry J.W. Dam, McClure’s Magazine, September 1894, pp. 303-312

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