In discussions surrounding sustainability and environmental harm mitigation, automobiles and energy choices get the lion’s share of attention. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with electric cars and low-flow kitchen appliances. (They continue to have an appreciable impact on the environment!). But it’s important to remember that energy and transportation are only one facet of the overall fight against environmental damage. 

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Food systems and eating habits are another facet – a sizeable facet. In the next 30 years, experts estimate that the world population will reach 10 billion. It’s imperative that we figure out sustainable ways to nourish those 10 billion people so that we can preserve the planet for future generations. 

That’s where the Future 50 Foods report comes in. 

What’s the purpose of the Future 50 Foods report, what kinds of food does it list, and how can you eat in accordance with the list? In this short guide, let’s explore the answers to these frequently asked questions. 

What Is the Future 50 Foods Report? 

First off, let’s take two steps back and answer the obvious: What exactly is Future 50 Foods? 

The Future 50 Foods first took form in a report co-commissioned by The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) and Knorr. It’s a collection of foods modelled after the Food and Agricultural Organization’s research on sustainability and nutrition, which also takes into account affordability, nutritional value, taste and accessibility. (I.e., you won’t find any obscure medicinal fungi on the list). 

The result is a tangible list of foods that can help decrease the environmental impact of our food. 

What Kinds of Food Are on the List? 

The list of whole, plant-based foods is broken up into 11 broad categories, like “beans and pulses,” “cereal and grains,” “mushrooms,” and “leafy greens.” In each of these categories, you’ll find specific ingredients prized for their sustainability and nutritional diversity. Many of the ingredients on the list are plant-based protein sources that can encourage meat-eaters to explore earth-friendly, cruelty-free alternatives. 

Here’s a short smattering of ingredients you’ll find on the Future 50 Foods list: 

For a complete list of the 50 foods, visit the WWF’s official report, which is linked in the last paragraph of this article. 

How to Eat the Future 50 Foods? 

The ingredients listed in the section above represent the more accessible end of the list – ingredients you might commonly find at a well-stocked grocery store, such as walnuts or wild rice. If you’re interested in cooking in accordance with the list, those ingredients might be a wise place to start. 

An even easier way to try some of the 50 foods is to find a vegan restaurant that focuses on local ingredients and Future 50 Foods in their dishes. Toronto vegan restaurants like Parka incorporate several of the list’s ingredients in accessible, delicious and fun dishes like quinoa chilli and spicy black bean burgers. Even if you set aside one or two nights a week to order vegan, “50 foods-inspired” meals, you can help impact global food practices. 

In summary, the Future 50 Foods offers a robust roadmap toward sustainable global foodways. Further, it reminds us that we can eat more holistically with the environment without sacrificing flavour and fun. Interested in a late-in-the-year New Year’s Resolution? Give the Future 50 Foods a try by expanding your culinary repertoire at home or ordering from a vegan restaurant in Toronto this weekend.