As awareness of environmental issues and animal welfare grows worldwide, the import and production of various foodstuffs such as foie gras and shark fins are beginning to be regulated. The columns summarizing such ingredients are popular and widely read on table source as well.

[Related Article] Foie gras, caviar, and 18 other ingredients that restaurants may no longer be able to serve in the future.

While interest in these disappearing foods is growing, attention is also turning to “sustainable foods”: in 2019, “WWF UK”, in collaboration with leading food brand “Knorr”, is launching “The Future 50 Foods”. Future 50 Foods. The report lists 50 nutritious foods that are affordable and have a low environmental impact.

In this column, I would like to introduce the 50 foods listed in “The Future 50 Foods” with explanations.


“Algae” are responsible for half of all oxygen production on earth and have a significant impact on aquatic ecosystems. It contains essential fatty acids and is a source of antioxidants. Algae is rich in protein and contains “umami,” and in recent years has been used as a raw material for meat substitutes. Nori and wakame seaweed, which are familiar to the Japanese, can be harvested year-round without the use of fertilizers or pesticides.

[01] Laver

“Laver” is an essential ingredient in Japanese and Korean cuisine. In the Welsh region of England, nori is slowly cooked and seasoned, and used as an ingredient in “laverbread,” a traditional dish served with hot buttered toast.

[02] Wakame seaweed


Beans & Other pulses

Pulses are a rich source of fiber, protein, and B vitamins. Many legumes can be grown with less water than other crops and can be expected to yield more even in dry land. They also contribute to rich soil because they incorporate nitrogen into the soil during the growing process. They are often affordable and versatile enough to be used in a variety of dishes, which is another sustainable point.

[03] Red beans

In Japan, “red beans” have been cultivated since as far back as the Jomon period, when they were excavated from archaeological sites. It is an ingredient deeply rooted in the Japanese diet, used in Japanese sweets and sekihan (red rice), but in recent years, its versatility, high nutritional value, and flavor have made it increasingly popular around the world.

[04] Black turtle beans
[05] Broad beans (fava beans)

“Broad beans” are widely grown and eaten around the world. In recent years, it is increasingly used as an ingredient in plant-based foods.
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[06] Bambara groundnuts/Bambara beans

“Bambara beans” are still a little-known food in Japan and many other parts of the world. They originated from the Bambara tribe in Africa and are widely grown in Africa. They can be used in a variety of dishes, and in East Africa, they are roasted, lined, and used as a base for soups. They taste similar to peanuts, with a slight sweetness.

[07] Cowpeas

Native to Africa, it is now grown in warmer regions of the world, including Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the southern United States. The leaves can be eaten like any other leafy vegetable, and the pods can be eaten when young and used in stews. The seeds, with the outer skin removed, can be ground into a powder and used in fried, steamed, or baked goods.

[08] Lentils
[09] Marama beans

It is native to the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. It is believed to be an ancient food that has been consumed since the time humans lived in southern Africa. Today, they are also grown in Australia and the United States. Roasting gives them a flavor similar to that of cashews, making them ideal for stir-fries, curries, and other dishes.

[10] Mung beans

In Japan, “mung beans” are used mainly as seeds for bean sprouts. Around the world, it is used in noodles, rice dishes, curries, stir-fries, etc. It can also be scrambled like eggs or pureed and eaten like ice cream.
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[11] Soy beans


Cactus Cacti

Cacti are used as ornamental plants in homes around the world, but many cacti are also grown for food. Succulent cacti can be grown in dry areas because of their ability to store water. It has long been used in Mexican cuisine and has been widely grown in Central and South America, Africa, and the Middle East. In recent years, it has also become a popular food in Australia and Europe.

[12] Nopal Nopales

The fruits, flowers, shoots that grow from the stem, and even the oil are rich in nutrients. Nopal is a common ingredient in Mexican cuisine, and the leaves and flowers can be eaten raw. The leaves and flowers can be eaten raw, and they are often made into juice or jam.

Cereals & Grains

“Grains” or “cereals” have been a major component of the human diet for thousands of years, and thus have played an important role in shaping civilization. The report states, “Diversifying sources of carbohydrates, from staples such as white rice, corn, and wheat to the still less common grains, will provide more nutritional value and improve soil health.” It is stated.

[13] Amaranthus

A member of the daylily family of grains, its fine yellow seeds are rich in magnesium and protein. Native to Peru in South America, it was a staple food for the ancient Aztecs and an important grain used in their ceremonies. It has a mild, slightly nutty flavor and gelatinous texture and is used in soups, side dishes, and risottos.

[14] Buckwheat
[15] finger millet

finger millet is a grain of the grass family that has been cultivated for thousands of years and is now widely grown in arid regions. It is more resistant to insects than other crops of its kind, allowing for higher yields without reliance on pesticides.

[16] Fonio Fonio

“Fonio”, a member of the grass family, was cultivated in ancient Egypt, and is known as the “lazy man’s crop” because it grows in 60 to 70 days and is easy to cultivate. Its disadvantage is that each grain, as small as sand, must be threshed and dehulled before it can be eaten, but recently the world’s first fonio mill has been developed to replace the threshing and dehulling that has been done by hand.

[17] Khorasan wheat

“Khorasan wheat” is grown in about 40 countries around the world. It can withstand various climates without the use of artificial pesticides or fertilizers. It is twice the size of regular wheat and has a richer, creamier, nuttier flavor when cooked.

[18] Quinoa

Since the early 2000s, it has become increasingly popular as a nutritious “superfood” in Europe and the United States. Various recipes have been introduced in Japan, such as adding quinoa to white rice and cooking it.

[19] Spelt wheat

“Spelt wheat”, with its thick hull, is resistant to disease and pests. It has a mild, nutty flavor, and spelt flour is commonly used in Germany and Austria for bread and pastries. It is often used in place of rice in pilafs and risottos.

[20] Teff

“Teff” is a grain of the grass family rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus. In Ethiopia, the government is working to introduce new varieties and improve production methods. Teff flour has a mild flavor and can be used in a variety of dishes. It is steamed or boiled and used as a side dish or to add bulk to dishes.

[21] Wild rice

“Wild rice” is not rice, but a grass seed of the grass family. The elongated seeds are covered with a green, brown or black shell. They have a nutty, toasty, chewy texture and are often mixed with brown or white rice.


Fruits vegetables

The term “Fruits vegetables” refers to edible fruits and seeds of vegetables such as squash, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and corn. Most fruits and vegetables are rich in carbohydrates and water, and are sweeter than most vegetables. Often grown in warmer regions, they can be eaten in a variety of forms and tend to be high in vitamin C and fiber.

[22] Pumpkin flowers

Pumpkin blossoms contain vitamin C and many other nutrients. The bitter center (stamen) is removed and used for stir-frying or deep frying.

[23] Okra
[24] Orange tomatoes

“Orange tomatoes” contain about twice as much vitamin A and folic acid (B vitamins) as red tomatoes, and are characterized by their sweetness and low acidity. In terms of cultivation, they are also resistant to pests. It can be used in the same way as common red tomatoes.

Leafy greens

Leafy greens are used in a variety of dishes throughout the world because they generally grow quickly and can be eaten cooked or raw. They are low in calories and contain fiber and many vitamins and minerals. Beets and squash, both fruit and leaves, are highly nutritious.

[25] Beet leaves

Although often discarded, “beet leaves” are actually a highly nutritious food, rich in vitamins as well as magnesium and potassium. Beets also grow well in cooler temperatures, are resistant to frost, and grow at a faster rate.

[26] rapini

Also known as “broccoli rabe” or “Italian broccoli,” “rapini” is a member of the Brassicaceae family, characterized by its small, broccoli-like flower ears and jagged, turnip-like leaves. It is high in vitamins and folic acid and can be harvested 7 to 8 weeks after planting. In Italy, Portugal, Poland, and Ukraine, it is routinely eaten boiled or sautéed with garlic and chili peppers.

[27] Kale
[28] Moringa

“Moringa” is gaining worldwide popularity as a health supplement due to its high nutritional value. It contains vitamins A, B, and C, calcium, iron, amino acids, and other nutrients essential for maintaining good health.
[Related article] Absorbs 14 times more CO2 than cedar trees? What are the benefits and possibilities of Moringa, which is attracting attention in the food and beverage industry?

[29] Pak-choi or bok-choy
[30] Pumpkin leaves

“Pumpkin leaves”, which are often left in the field after the fruit is harvested, are rich in iron, vitamin K, and carotenoids. They can be eaten raw as a salad, although some varieties have a bitter taste. When steamed or sautéed, they have a sweeter flavor, and in West Africa, they are used in soups and stews.

[31] Red cabbage
[32] Spinach Spinach
[33] Watercress


Mushrooms Mushrooms

There are more than 2,000 varieties of edible mushrooms. Because of their taste and nutritional value, they have been cultivated for centuries. Because they do not photosynthesize, they are classified as fungi, not plants.

[34] Enoki mushrooms
[35] Maitake mushrooms
[36] Saffron milk cap mushrooms

“Saffron milk cap mushroom” is an indispensable part of Russian cuisine. Rich in dietary fiber, it has a nutty, savory flavor and a meaty texture. In many Western restaurants, it is used in risotto and pasta.


Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds are widely eaten around the world, but of the many varieties, only a few are commonly eaten. They contain protein, vitamin E, and good fats.

[37] Flax seeds

“Flaxseed”, a small seed from the flax family of plants. It is commonly mixed into salads and cereals, and can also be used to replace half of the flour in baked goods such as bread and muffins. Flaxseed oil, made from flaxseeds, has gained popularity in recent years as a healthy oil rich in the essential fatty acid “omega-3”.

[38] Hemp seeds

“Hemp seeds”, are used around the world in pancake mixes, margarine, and a variety of other applications, and in Japan they are commonly found in shichimi chili peppers in their shells.

[39] Sesame seeds
[40] Walnuts


Root vegetables

Root vegetables contain a variety of vitamins and minerals and are hardy crops that grow in cool seasons. Once harvested, they can be stored for a relatively long period of time compared to other vegetables.

[41] Black salsify

The light cream-colored flesh beneath the thick, black skin is rich in fiber and contains vitamin E and iron. It grows well in cool and warm climates in France, the Netherlands, and Germany. It is roasted and used in soups and stews, or boiled, mashed, and baked like potatoes.

[42] Parsley root

“Root parsley”, also known as “Dutch parsley,” is said to have originated in the 15th century as a main ingredient in Dutch vegetable stews. It is characterized by its aromatic flavor, somewhere between celery, carrots, and parsley. It can be sauteed and made into fritters or chips, or grated raw and used in salads.

[43] White icicle radish (winter radish)



The history of sprouts dates back 5,000 years, and Chinese physicians used them as medicine because of their extremely high nutritional value. Although seeds and beans require a hot and humid environment to germinate, and thus pose a risk of bacterial growth, they have been selected as one of the “50 Foods of the Future” based on experts’ opinion that “in healthy people, the high nutritional value outweighs the risk. In Japan, “bean sprouts,” kaikai daikon, soybean sprouts, and broccoli sprouts are known as familiar sprouts.

[44] Alfalfa sprouts

“Alfalfa” is the most commonly used sprout in the United States. With its crunchy texture and mild flavor, it is eaten raw as a salad or used in sandwiches and soups.

[45] Sprouted kidney beans

Kidney beans are used to make plant-based meats because of their rich protein content and texture. Sprouting them triples their nutritional value. “Sprouted kidney beans” are used as a topping for soups and salads, and their slightly bitter taste goes well with sweet sauces and dressings.

[46] Sprouted chickpeas

“Chickpeas” are yellow, round beans commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking. They have a rich, creamy, nutty flavor and, like kidney beans, are a popular ingredient in plant-based meats. Sprouting them increases the absorption of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc.


Potatoes Tubers

Potatoes, which are high in carbohydrates and a valuable source of energy. They can be boiled, baked, sweetened, and eaten in a variety of ways.

[47] Lotus root
[48] Ube (purple yam)

“Ube” is native to the Philippines. It is also called “yam,” “red yam,” or “daijo” in Japan. It is known as a “famine crop” in the tropics and subtropics because of its high nutritional value and rapid growth. Its bright purple hue comes from anthocyanins, which are flavonoids, and it is rich in vitamin E and dietary fiber. It can be cooked in the same way as potatoes and is often eaten in the Philippines as “ube halayá,” a sweet pudding.

[49] Yam bean (jicama)

“yam bean” is a leguminous vegetable native to Mexico. It is a high-yield plant and can be easily grown in tropical and arid regions. Growing hicama also helps to improve soil fertility through nitrogen fixation. It is a low-calorie food containing vitamin C and dietary fiber, and its high water content gives it a juicy, fresh flavor. Sliced and eaten as a salad or snack.

[50] Red Indonesian (Cilembu) sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes from the village of Cirembu, West Java, Indonesia. It contains essential nutrients such as vitamins A, C, E, and manganese. When baked, it has a unique aroma and honey-like sweetness. Demand has been increasing in recent years, and it is exported to Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia.


Editor’s Note

How was it? In “The Future 50 Foods,” we read the following statement: “In a world full of advice and pressure to ‘don’t eat’ for health and the environment, we want to offer more food choices and inspire positive change. In a world filled with advice and pressure to ‘don’t eat’ for health and environmental reasons, we want to offer more food choices and inspire positive change.”

Among the 50 ingredients listed in the report, there are a number of ingredients that are familiar to Japanese people, such as seaweed, soybeans, okra, and maitake mushrooms. It would be a good idea to start by proactively incorporating these familiar ingredients into the menu to get one step closer to creating a sustainable restaurant.

[Related Article] Foie gras, caviar, and 18 other ingredients that restaurants may no longer be able to serve in the future.

[Reference site] The Future 50 Foods

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