Lenore Newman’s new book Lost Feast: Culinary Extinction and the Future of Food is equal parts homage to cuisine, inspiration and elegy.
From the passenger pigeon, a species so populous the flocks were referred to as “a living wind” and lent its Quebecoise name (tourte) to the still iconic meat pie, to the fish under threat in our oceans today, humans tend to love their food into extinction, says Dr. Newman.
In Lost Feast, she asks us to be much more thoughtful about the joys on our plate. “Even as we enjoy a time when food is cheaper, more diverse and more available than ever before, the spectre of extinction threatens to radically challenge how we eat. In fact, it is already happening,” she writes.
Even as we enjoy a time when food is cheaper, more diverse and more available than ever before, the spectre of extinction threatens to radically challenge how we eat.— Dr. Lenore Newman, Author, Canada Research Chair in Food Security and Environment at the University of the Fraser Valley
Yet in the countless interviews she’s been featured in since the book’s publication in October 2019, Dr. Newman, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Food Security and Environment at the University of the Fraser Valley, says she is optimistic.
“I’m optimistic about some of the new advances in sensor technology, so that we can water, fertilize and treat pests only when and where we need to,” she says.
She adds that the remarkable popularity of oat milk may significantly reduce the natural habitat razed in order to expand the dairy industry, demonstrating the power of consumers to change the way food is produced.
Despite the world’s history of extinctions and the many factors that threaten food species today, she says, there are positive factors too, such as expanded greenhouse production and indoor growing that will increase the availability and quality of fruit and vegetables.
As she ends the book, “The future of culinary extinction is still to be written.”
In other words, it’s really up to us.
Produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved in its creation.