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Matt Martinelli: Josh, you say Fresh Truck is refocusing away from food deserts and making it more accessible in terms of price. Is that your biggest goal in the next 10 years?
Josh Trautwein (co-founder of Fresh Truck): Yeah. It’s getting more affordable, healthy foods into low-income neighborhoods. I would build on that by saying we’re also looking to embed ourselves more deeply into the community health sector as we do that. That’s sort of the strategy as we grow to scale. In addition to our retail model, we have what we call a food prescription called Fresh Cash that enables those stakeholders to actually invest in healthy food for their population of families by prepurchasing gift cards that families can actually use to shop on the truck. We’re not the only ones doing that. I think it’s a broader trend, and I think it’s something that’s only going to grow in the next 10 years, so we’re really excited to watch that and be a part of it.
What’s the biggest obstacle to putting something in farther-out neighborhoods? Would it be transportation to get enough employees, or would it be making the price structure work?
Joanne Chang (owner of Flour; chef/co-owner of Myers + Chang): I would think for all of us—well maybe not for Josh because he has a truck—but transportation is such a huge issue when we think about where to put a new bakery. The first thing I think about is, “How will the staff get there?” If they can’t get there easily, then it’s going to be that much harder to find people. Finding people is already so difficult, and if you add that obstacle of making it hard for them to get there via public transportation, then that’s one of the biggest hurdles for sure.
Josh Trautwein (left), Joanne Chang (right)
Do you think the city’s population growth makes it more challenging to serve everyone, or is there more of a talent pool, presumably to hire restaurant workers?
Douglass Williams (chef/owner of Mida): It seems like the city wants to make strides, and hopefully we’re following [up] on our promises, and the city’s following up on its promises to make those strides for housing. That’s my biggest wish for 2028. It’s that we come through and really make some affordable housing. And knowing that having workers live close to their job is really the most important thing, if not a top-two item on the list—that I think will solve a lot.
Does anyone envision that indoor farming—kind of like Freight Farms—will be the main source of food 10 years from now?
Joanne: I guess if we can. I don’t know physically speaking how many acres you’d need in Boston to do a Freight Farms-type of model to supply all of our produce. But I do think that if we can fast-forward 10 years from now, that something like that has to happen because of global warming, because of the logistical challenges and the cost of transportation. I think it’s getting more and more difficult for us to access really great produce that’s coming from really far away. So I do think we will have to start coming up with some different model where we get all our food.
Douglass: It could be a thing in 10 years. But it taking over? Absolutely not. But the trajectory of it is what’s important. So the trajectory in 10 years will be up. It won’t be able to make our decisions that much different. But hopefully the trajectory is going up, so we’re like, “Oh, let’s support this.” Support is massive, and we can really start to change that.
Josh: I agree with that too. I don’t think it’s close that we could develop the infrastructure that we would need for supporting the food supply for Boston, let alone Massachusetts.
Is there a cuisine or ingredient that you’re hoping or predicting might be big 10 years from now?
Joanne: One thing that we’ve begun using at the bakery that’s been a lot of fun is aquafaba. There’s a whole Facebook group for aquafaba. Aquafaba is the cooking liquid for chickpeas, so you cook a batch of chickpeas to make hummus. You take that water and it acts like egg whites. So you can make meringue, buttercream. You can use it to make aioli, so we’ve used it now for a vegan Sriracha aioli. So we make hummus, and we have all this as part of the chickpea that we would just dump. Now we save it and we use it as egg whites for our almond macaroons, and there’s a perfect example of a byproduct that is useful that we haven’t tapped into yet. So 10 years from now, that’d be fun. Do you think bugs will be in? [They’re] a good source of protein.
Douglass: To even sort of digest the thought of serving bugs artfully or cleverly is a huge challenge. But that would be awesome because everyone would be walking around so beefy, just diesel. … I know it seems like nothing that regular consumers care about, but in my bubble of life, it’s about having affordable sparkling water that I don’t have to try to contract a company to put in. I just want it to be cheap and there. I think that would be huge for the guests, huge for the staff and huge for health because everyone would drink that and wine, and I think that would be great. We wouldn’t even need soda. I know that’s weird, but that’s what I think is important.
Josh: I do have a pretty wacky friend who is growing moringa in the Caribbean, which I’ve heard is the next superfood. I think another trend related to ingredients is the climate impact on food. I think people are acutely aware of what it means to be eating so much meat. So I think veganism will continue to be a trend in terms of how people align their ethical values with what they eat. I don’t think it’s going to be a trendy sort of cultural thing, so much as an ethical decision that people are going to begin to make. It’s not like people are going to stop eating meat altogether—although I think that will be a thing, which is why I think bugs will be a trend because it’s hard to find protein within that diet.
By 2028, what do you want changed the most?
Joanne: I think in 10 years, hopefully [no tipping] will become a thing and there’s a little more equality between the front of the house and the back of the house. I sign the paycheck, I look at that. I see how much more the servers make versus the cooks. I get it, I’m a cook, and I see why people make that choice to be in the back of the house versus the front of the house. Sometimes it’s pretty drastic, and it can be demoralizing as a business owner to know: These people who are equally great, one of them can take vacations in the Caribbean and live right in the middle of Boston, and the other one doesn’t take vacations and travels from many, many miles away. And the second thing I hope for in 2028 is that by then this whole #MeToo, sexual harassment and harassment thing has become a thing in the way that we look at racism. I recognize that racism is still a thing, but you watch any old movie and you realize: “Wow, we’ve got a long way to go, but we’ve certainly come a long way.” So I really hope that by then, we’ll look back at us 10 years from today and say, “Wow, I can’t believe that existed.” And we’re all looking back and saying, “Yup that was my generation, and I grew up in that and I’m so shocked.” That’s my hope.
Josh: I really hope and expect for food to become a more deeply integrated part of health care and how we treat patients. It’s so foundational to our health outcomes. The number-one cause of chronic pain and disability is food. People aren’t eating the right stuff, and if you become overweight, it’s bearing down on your body. That has the cascading impact of not being able to work, not being able to get to doctors appointments, diabetes.
Boston 2028: FASHION | FOOD | FITNESS | PERFORMING ARTS
Shot on location at Convene Boston
Catering provided by Convene