Futuristic thoughts while grocery shopping

selina xu fat man

This marks the end of my third week in New York. Say what? It is true.

This means three weeks of LIVING ALONE in the biggest city in the United States, actually WORKING eight to nine hours a day in a cubicle on the 21st floor of a massive glass tower, and actually being a self-sufficient, disciplined adult. Which all means: BE INDEPENDENT.

My biggest hurdle has been feeding myself, which is quite unexpected.

Due to a mixture of crazy reasons like…

(a) I need to lose weight (b) I cannot eat too late at night (c) New York restaurants are very solo-female-eater-unfriendly compared to somewhere like JAPAN THE LAND OF SOLO DINERS (d) I do not know how to cook (yes, call me useless) (e) I have strangely not mustered any motivation to learn how to cook (yes, I am lazy) (f) Ubereats takes an hour and I have no time to toggle the app until work ends and it’s too late (b) I cannot eat too late at night, remember? (g) I am always hungry (h) I am even hungrier now that I’m working (i) I return back home by 7pm earliest and then roll/flop around before realizing I have to feed myself when it gets dark outside (side note: New York’s sunsets in the summer are really late; usually the sun sets at around 8.30pm.) (j) I need more friends to eat with 😢

…I have henceforth discovered the capitalist joys of ready-made food and have found grocery shopping very revelatory.

Here are some discoveries:

  1. Instant self-heating Haidilao hotpot which only needs COLD WATER to heat up by itself. *mind blown*

Haidilao self-heating hotpot

  1. Seaweed soup and miso soup that you can make instantly just by pouring hot water onto a cube/mixing it with a premade packet.
  2. Frozen and ready-made MIXED VEGETABLES that I can eat just after microwaving.
  3. Frozen and ready-made MEATBALLS that I can just microwave.
  4. Frozen and ready-made WONTON SOUP that I pour cold water in and microwave, and voila, it’s soup.

Frozen foods

  1. Prepared omelet rolls that can last for a week.
  2. Instant rice. Who even needs a rice cooker?

Conclusion: I don’t even need to touch the stove. Therefore, I have not.

Remind me, how far are we from ingesting ready-made food tablets again? I used to scoff at that thought. As a self-proclaimed foodie, I enjoy the very experience of eating: often, it’s communal, it’s aesthetic, it’s pleasurable. But living by myself (different from being on a college campus) has reduced me to convenience. While a future of meal-in-a-pill seems quite unromantic still, the future of work is poised to compel increasingly creative solutions that can liberate humans from unnecessary drudgery in the kitchen.

The numbers in the spotlight in China right now is 996, which means working from 9am to 9pm, six days a week. Call it ‘hustle culture’ or ‘rat race,’ I think the bulk of the workforce that turn to ready-made meals will eventually create a demand for technology like a robotic sous-chef (imagine selecting a recipe on an App Store-like interface on the commute home), 3D-printed foods, nanoparticles that give bursts of flavors, personalized online ordering (completely tailored to the individual like cooking for yourself), and more.

If you’re interested, here are some articles I read while mindlessly waiting in line for checkout at the supermarket:

Will supermarkets even exist in the future? Probably not. It’s really a pain carrying heavy bags back home.

What do you think is the future of food, hmm?

Lots of love,

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 11.16.46 PM

9 thoughts on “Futuristic thoughts while grocery shopping

  1. kwyoke says:

    Omg the selfheating hotpot!!! I must try someday haha
    You know i used to be curious about how vegetarian restaurants imitate meat, i believe they use the same base ingredient of some beans, and i was wondering if it could be used like the 3d printing plastic to create simulate any food thay we want haha

    But then again probably no one wants to eat lol. Like a lot of my friends love cooking cos then they have control over what is in their food but yay Im finally moving to a new place with catering so no more cooking muahahaa

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sel says:

      i know!!! that’s so interesting because i think we are poised to move to a more plant-based diet in the future because of sustainability issues & climate change — so maybe a lot of the “meat” that we consume in the future might be simulated; perhaps veganism will be the new norm

      also re: joys of cooking, I think *control* is the major element — but if we have less time in the future, i think it’s very likely that the technological evolution of food delivery will be extremely personalized ordering (where you can exercise the same control but outsource the cooking to another remote kitchen), which is the same idea of a “share economy” as Uber, Airbnb, Style Theory. In short, think about 衣食住行; now we only have 食 left 👀

      Yay happy for you moving to a new place with catering ❤️ that really rocks (๑˃̵ᴗ˂̵)


  2. Huahao says:

    Omggg Selina I LOVE your post!!!! I feel the drudgery in the kitchen SOOO MUCH this summer!!! But I made a few good dishes, including non-self-heating-realish hot pot, Korean rice cake, chicken soup, and endless chicken breast… They took a long time… Yeah, we need a meal in a pill. I can share my recipe with you if you want lol..

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sel says:

      omg YAY!!! i feel your pain, fellow comrade : ) wow, so impressive you’ve actually made your own hotpot HAHA – would love your recipes but i highly doubt my own inner drive to replicate them 🐷

      also, time for someone to invent meal-in-a-pill and us to invest!!!!


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