Posts Tagged With: future

Most wanted: The name without a face

State Records NSW. Flickr. February 4, 2011.

State Records NSW. Flickr. February 4, 2011.

The proliferation of web-enabled crimes and criminals has prompted employee training by companies managing proprietary, privileged, and confidential information.  Seemingly slang terms like phishing, spoofing, and smishing have become professional jargon.  Communities are just beginning to resolve questions of legality and jurisdiction.  If those issues weren’t a sufficient challenge, the anonymity permitted by these crimes prevents even victims from identifying the perpetrators.

Unlike violent crimes, possession and use of a firearm or knife isn’t needed for web-enabled crimes.  Superior physical strength or an intimidating demeanor isn’t required, either.  Unlike conventional low-skilled white collar crimes like fraudulent check cashing or retail theft, there’s no need to show one’s face in public.  Even more, the skills needed for web-enabled crimes can be self-taught.  There’s no need for a college degree in accounting or finance to commit postmodern white collar crimes.  Identity theft can be lucrative and accomplished just by social engineering scams.

What’s the future of crime?  Will shoplifting, purse-snatchings, and, even, retaliatory drive-by shootings disappear?  After all, the risk of incarceration or death is greatly reduced by the camouflage of a computer screen.  Online shopping with someone else’s credit card can be accomplished far away from the surveillance of department store security guards.  Obtaining those credit card numbers requires only deceptive email messages, not loitering on darkened streets in isolated areas.  Instead of purchasing and using an unregistered handgun, gang members need only begin an online campaign against a chosen victim.  Names and incriminating video evidence can be posted anonymously.  What could be a better revenge against an enemy than his or her lengthy prison sentence?

Our perceptions of the safety of the web would be rudely and permanently dismissed by increasing news reports of virtual crimes.  For law-abiding people, though, the retreat of criminals from the streets would dramatically change the routines of daily life.  Nightlife could include people of all ages and inclinations.  Firefly chasing, outdoor night basketball games, and all night porch chatting might add some respectability to club hopping and partying.  Early risers could safely meditate in parks.  Families could leave gates and doors unlocked.  Community would again become local blocks rather than international chat rooms or social media.  Criminals, not neighbors would become the faceless strangers to be mistrusted. Serenity would reign.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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Future travel: Virtuosity not virtuality

Antony. Flicktone. Flickr. February 17, 2007.

Antony. Flicktone. Flickr. February 17, 2007.

The nature of travel has changed in many ways since the days of our grandparents.  It is both longer and faster.  Global commutes that encourage dual citizenships are becoming more frequent.  International vacations aren’t just the province of the wealthy.  The speed of air travel, its increased scheduling, and its declining expense permit shorter trips.  Working travelers can afford limited tours of Europe or select stops in Asia, Africa, or South America.  Global travel has fostered international commerce, a global economy, and a culturally diverse America.

Closer to home, cross-country travel can be accomplished in hours or days via plane, train, or bus.  Highways offer us express lanes and wireless toll way passes to speed even high-speed auto travel.  Paradoxically, concerns with global warming have prompted bicycle lanes and bicycle commuters.  Telecommuting has added virtual travel to our repertoire.  Still, the emerging practicality of electric cars will likely minimize air pollution by local drivers.  Computer-aided traffic management has the potential to greatly reduce traffic congestion.

Our efforts to buy locally grown foods and American-made goods might soon be environmentally unnecessary.  Our pride in our freedom of movement will likely easily overwhelm our economic insecurity due to the decreased cost of fuel.  After electric charging stations become widespread, the cost of fueling a car will be neither expensive nor capricious.   Electric buses would stem and reverse the increasing cost of tickets for local and national travel.  Frequent visits to relatives and friends would be practical.  Visits to our South American and Canadian neighbors would be possible.

Anxieties about such travel would be diminished through the review of the virtual vistas on the web.  More travel would prompt demand for more efficient border crossings.  Blooming cultural understanding due to frequent cross border interactions would prompt the easing of emigration laws.  Cultural diversity would flourish; the domination of American popular culture would be replaced by an appreciation for indigenous cultures.  Traditional oral arts and native languages would survive.  Even local travel would become more than just moving from A to B.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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Inside out: Emerging interior design

F. D. Richards. Flickr. October 13, 2012.

F. D. Richards. Flickr. October 13, 2012.

Global warming will encourage us to spend more time outdoors.  Our needs for shelter from the sun and heat and conservation of electricity will prompt the design of hybrid dwellings.  Sunrooms, porches, patios, and skylights will expand the definition of indoors.  The sunroom won’t just be a playroom, reading room, or afternoon snooze nook.  The kitchen table will migrate to a sunny corner of it.  Breakfast, after school snacks, and neighborly chats will grace it daily.  Patio designs will offer partial shade through awnings and roofs as well as lawn furniture and carefully placed trees.  Mobile barbeque grills will become obsolete.  Barbeque pits will become sophisticated built in grills powered by the sun.  Solar ovens will bake bread, cookies, and root vegetables.

Eventually, indoor kitchens will disappear.  Finished garages will sport refrigerators accessible to children seeking drinking water and parents barbequing dinner.  They will be easily stocked with groceries by opening the adjacent van door.  The mudroom’s washer and dryer will be accompanied by a dishwasher.  A china cabinet will decorate its upper reaches.  The nearby bathroom will offer a sink for mandatory hand washing before dinner.  Instead of retiring to the dank if cool environs of the basement to cook and relax, families will enjoy the cooler evening air outdoors on their patios as they dine.

More families will grow their own vegetables and flowers, too.  Greenhouse designs will become human as well as plant friendly.  Instead of utilitarian rows of seedlings and delicate flowers, they will be atria harboring pools of koi, raised bed flower gardens, and family picnic areas.  In ground pools will be an expected feature of single family homes like garages and basements are today.  Swimming classes like driving instruction will be a curricular standard at public schools throughout the United States.  Expert, certified swimmers will live in Kansas and Ohio as well as in Florida and California.

Inside homes, skylights will permit indoor landscaping.  Gardens and trees will help manage the temperature, humidity, air quality, and sunshine.  Less electricity for heating, cooling, and lighting will be needed.  Floors of ceramic tile and stone will eclipse wood and carpet in their durability, ease of care, and cool comfort.  Furniture will be more functional and less decorative.  Its comfort, mobility, durability, and cleanliness will be assured by its design and composition.  Lightweight, folding frames of aluminum and washable cushions will permit immediate furniture re-arrangement to accommodate changing purposes, numbers of people, and events.

Despite the global rhythms of life in the Information Age, humans will be able to live closer to the land.  They will be able to observe the seasons and cope with changing climates rather than avoid or conquer them.  Their respect and care for their neighbors, communities, wildlife, and the earth will grow.  It will inform their daily life and their plans for the future.  This stewardship will foster the wholeness for which people long.   A nap on the couch can become Shangri-La.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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At a computer near you: Customized culture

Kinchan1. Hopkinton, Massachusetts. Flickr.
April 19, 2010.

Public entertainment is an Industrial Age phenomenon.  Beloved ball parks, shopping malls, cinemas, symphony centers, restaurants, and theaters are less traditions than innovations.  They helped to foster the cultural diversity and social equality that we cherish today.  Surprising though it may be, their continued presence in the Information Age is not guaranteed.  Youthful consumers are already making the transition to online shopping and entertainment.  The advantages of online commerce for both customers and businesses are already evident to many of us.  For Americans, our striving for convenience is amply rewarded by online shopping.  Our demands for freedom of speech are fulfilled by social media.

Despite concerns about Main Street, small businesses, publishing, and the postal service, American values are still supported by online commerce and communication.  It is the development and institutionalization of social norms to govern our participation with which we are struggling.  As we learn from sometimes sad experience, we are writing policies and passing laws to make the Information Age pleasanter and safer for all of us.  These formal rules enable institutions to protect us from unethical businesses and predatory criminals.  It is public events that lack the security we now need because our famed ingenuity has yet to find solutions.

Stories of shopping downtown, walking the mall, riding public transportation, and cheering at sports events are now fraught with tragedy.  The achievements of national and international athletes are overshadowed by the heroic recoveries of victims and first responders.  Memories of finding treasures on sale at the mall are lost in experiences of bullying or assault in the parking garage.  The feeling and experience of security that should be each individual’s birth right is escaping our grasp.  Its restoration may only be practically possible at home. High definition television, international radio broadcasts, downloadable music, films, and books, and home theaters enable us to choose our recreational companions.

We can also feel confident in the safety of that venue; wireless alarm systems, automatic exterior lighting, surveillance cameras, electronic locks, and gated communities are affordable to homeowners.  Routine overtime hours for police officers, federal background investigations, and securing public places through environmental design prior to sports and entertainment events would overwhelm the budgets of communities, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.  Paradoxically, then, our virtual relationships will burgeon due to international social media.  At the same time, the local, public, in person mass gatherings that foster so much community loyalty will gradually disappear.  Protests and nostalgia over the closing of department stores such as Marshall Fields, bakers such as Hostess, and local cinemas will be replaced.  Virtual friendships in online communities, individual online reviews of restaurants and retailers by customers, and online shopping malls will enable both the conviviality and security we need.  What’s your screen name?

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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Snacks 2.0: Bytes not bites

Lee LaGlitzer. Flickr. December 18, 2008.

Lee LaGlitzer. Flickr. December 18, 2008.

For many of us today, cookies are the identifiers left on our computers by the web sites we visit.  Unlike grandmother’s brownies or dad’s scones, they are hidden and questionable gifts.  The soft sweetness of these treats has become subject to greater scrutiny since grandmother’s youth, though.  Despite carob powder, honey, and whole wheat flour, there’s now concern about calories, saturated fats, and glucose.  Purchased, packaged cookies must have detailed labels of their ingredients, portions, and calorie counts.  Like digital cookies, they are now viewed with suspicion rather than smiles.

Will apples, pretzels, and nuts be not only the preferred, but also the required snacks of the future?  The absence of cookie jars from contemporary kitchen counters, homemade chocolate chip cookies from grade school bag lunches, and macaroons from the dinner table may be popularly attributed to the demands of paid work on parents’ time.  An inventory of kitchen cabinets, pantries, and grocery lists is required to test this hypothesis.  Further investigation of grocery receipts and glove compartments may be necessary.  Perhaps, cellophane packages of sandwich cookies, cardboard boxes of ginger snaps, and waxy bakery bags of sugar cookies are now reduced to guilty impulse purchases.  That is, they are plunked into a shopping cart only under the duress of a whining toddler or hungry adult.  Eaten quickly and surreptitiously in the car, the only remains are a few indistinguishable crumbs.

Although the ample variety and number of colorful packages in the cookie aisle at the local mega food mart belies these concerns, consider the strident advertising of their manufacturers.  If we increasingly ignore their saccharine flavor innovations, discounts, and reduced calorie counts, we may become slimmer and healthier.  Our culture, though, will have to change some cherished rituals.  Will auntie dole out boxes of raisins rather than oatmeal cookies for good behavior?  Will the local bakery specialize in vanilla biscotti and peanut butter bread sticks rather than snickerdoodles?  Will Santa Claus have to share Rudolph’s carrot and celery sticks?  Like cell phone manners and texting slang, the future is ours to embroider.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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Just in time shopping: The smart closet

City of Marietta, GA. Flickr. May 19, 2010.

City of Marietta, GA. Flickr. May 19, 2010.

Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley notwithstanding, shopping can seem magical today.  If it weren’t for the human delivery person and the wait for his or her arrival, the whole process might seem downright ethereal.  Isn’t loading that virtual shopping cart with clicks and beeps comparable to waving a magic wand?  There’s no need to soil your fingers by handling cash or the soles of your shoes strolling the mall.  Now, if only the purchased item would instantly materialize on the desk beside the computer.  For those of us who would sooner eat Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans than window shop, even perusing web photos for new shoes may be exhausting.  Mobile applications simply compound the demands on your time and attention.  After all, a store window is a store window even if it is the screen on your mobile phone.  Is there hope for even the virtual shopping adverse?

Personal shoppers may be one source of sustenance.  Their enthusiasm for style, browsing, and purchasing cannot be quenched or fulfilled by their own needs for clothing.  They have ample to spare for any number of the fashion unconscious and shopping phobic.  Their services, though, usually require meetings, telephone conversations, and loyalty to a major department or apparel store.  Virtual consumers may have to wait for the innovators of the near future.

What will they provide?  Automated and digital shopping services customized to fit your personal tastes and lifestyle.  Like the smart refrigerators that maintain a digital inventory of their contents, they will develop smart closets.  Digital tags will document the demise of clothing.  Even more, the closet will automatically shop and purchase items to replace items that are shabby or outmoded.  Your credit card or store account will be debited.  Each store’s staff will package and ship your purchases to you.

Human stylists and programmers will design interfaces that permit you to complete a profile of your tastes and your physique online.  You will be able to add a digital mannequin with more detail than currently offered by some online apparel retailers.  Those personal shoppers will have the store all to themselves as they shop for their absent clients.  Video conferences will still be available for customers who want to have final approval of their purchases.  Such conferences will be routinely available for special purchases such as evening and wedding gowns and interview suits. For those of us for whom shopping is recreational, museums and theme parks will be developed.  For the price of admission, visitors will be able to window shop on Main Street and purchase souvenirs that memorialize shopping malls and department stores.  Will you want a patent shopping bag adorned with the colors and vanished logos of Marshall Field’s or Circuit City?  For the truly nostalgic, only a replica of a paper cup with a food court restaurant logo will suit.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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At the end of the rainbow: A wealth of “plastic”

Jake Wasdin. Flickr. April 6, 2008.

Jake Wasdin. Flickr. April 6, 2008.

Does the demise of the Canadian penny foreshadow the future of money itself?  More Canadians and Americans may find they have left home with plenty of “plastic”, but no money more often.  Even if you choose to avoid credit cards, you likely have a plastic bank debit card that permits you to make deposits and withdrawals at automatic tellers.  Of course, this same debit card can be conveniently used to pay for purchases.  Grocery and drug stores will even permit you to make cash withdrawals during your purchases.  If these conveniences haven’t been enough to convince most people of the benefits of “plastic”, store membership cards will provide discounts.  More commonly, too, riders of public transportation must pay for rides via pre-paid plastic cards.

While money may appeal to the senses with its shiny surfaces, ornate decorations, and substantive relative heft, it can’t offer the security of those lightweight, disposable plastic cards.  Lost and stolen money remains that way.  Colorful, fragile plastic cards are easily replaced.  Even better, the cash or credit behind them is promptly protected by a telephone call.  This security for hard earned cash may dissipate even lingering nostalgia for the jingle of coins and the crinkle of crisp paper.  If more security isn’t sufficient, the greater efficiencies of payment are sure to convince Americans.  Already notorious in their penchant for speed, Americans can avoid spending time counting out cash at the check-out counter if they pay with “plastic”.  Paying at the gas pump permits the buyer to avoid the time spent walking to and from the cashier’s office entirely.

Given these astounding advantages of “plastic”, the simple charm of money is overwhelmed.  Its presence will fade from view as we become accustomed to its virtual representatives.  Bank statements, debit cards, discount cards, and transit cards have already been joined by “app’s” that permit mobile payments.  Payment for airline tickets and highway tolls must be made virtually.  Shopping on the web requires one of money’s virtual representatives.  Cash registers have long been computers that calculate purchase totals and dispense change in coins.  Self-check-out lanes are becoming a routine option at major grocery and home supply stores.  Even public clothes washers and dryers often accept credit and debit cards.  Soon, there will be no products or services for which paper bills and coins are accepted.  The expense of processing them will prevent them from being instituted at all.  What will be the color of money?  Any color you choose.  Like bank debit cards, you will be able to put your picture on it, too.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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Hope for privacy in the 21st century

Alan Cleaver.  Flickr. November 14, 2009.

Alan Cleaver. Flickr. November 14, 2009.

It isn’t just that the opportunities for attention and self-promotion have expanded.  If you’re reading this blog, you are probably aware of other blog hosts, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube.  You also know of many more social media applications.  Nearly all are free; professional versions for the seriously attention deprived are usually low-cost.  Small marketing firms and self-employed marketers to tell us how to employ social media in service to our public image have also proliferated.  Of course, the nefarious among us have been quick to exploit social media for cyberbullying, pedophilia, and identity theft.  Nonprofit organizations and government agencies have responded with advice and strategies for social media users to protect themselves.  These numerous brochures, slideshows, videos, and webinars are – needless to say – distributed by social media.

It isn’t just that social media are so widely and freely available; it is that so many people are actively choosing to use them to communicate.  The latest toothpaste commercial, coupons for the newest toothpaste flavor, and a customer preferences survey can all be easily offered worldwide online.  Pride in junior’s first word, too, can be easily shared on Facebook with grandparents living across the world.  It can also be shared with whoever on both continents uses Facebook.  Unfortunately, free access to social media has convinced some marginal sorts that any publicly posted photos, videos, and text can be copied and re-purposed as they wish.  Toothpaste manufacturers may view this appropriation as free publicity.  Junior may regret becoming a celebrity at the age of one year.

For these reasons, it is more important, yet more difficult to protect your own privacy.  Choosing to avoid the web entirely is no longer an option for people in the paid workforce.  Even if you decide not to become a member of the LinkedIn professional network, your employer may post your profile and photo on the company web site.  Use of email to communicate within and without the company is routine and required.  Etiquette for its use has improved, that is, most formal organizations have policies stipulating its format, content, and purpose.  Still, very little policy and, certainly, not any oversight prevent people from forwarding any email message they receive.  The threaded nature of email conversations is often forgotten as people are copied and recopied on new messages.  Being circumspect about the content of your email messages or demanding a phone conversation can prevent the accomplishment of tasks or the development of important business relationships.

In the future, then, both definitions of privacy and social norms about its protection will most likely change.  Just as children learn to use the telephone through parental instruction during conversations with grandparents, they will learn to post on the family social network page.  Neighbors will welcome new residents to the block or housing development by posting to their social network page.  Play dates, birthday parties, and weddings will all be scheduled and invitations issued online.  Although interest in and incidents of sexting will decline, bullying will move nearly in its entirety from the athletic field and sidewalk to the web.  No longer will people be enamored of establishing their own fame or infamy on the web, though.  Few individuals will have Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest accounts.  Even the creation and maintenance of web sites by individuals will decline.  The web will become just another, albeit virtual, communication and home management appliance like an automatic washing machine or a television.

This winnowing of participation in social media will facilitate the management of your reputation online.  Slanderers, bullies, and other interlopers will be fewer and more readily identified.  Due to the instruction of children in the etiquette of social media by their parents, bullying behavior will become less severe.  Often, it will be the equivalent of silly, anonymous jokes.  Even these infractions will be promptly identified and routinely punished by service providers.  Due to this permitted and expected prior review, not background investigation of new acquaintances, life will be less surprising, but it will be much more serene.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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Fashion forward: What will we wear?

Novita Estiti. Flickr. November 14, 2008

Novita Estiti. Flickr. November 14, 2008

Casual dress escaped the barn and garage to transform the backyard and the shopping mall.  Then, it jumped the fence to the office, the classroom, and religious services.  Ease of care, freedom of movement, and promotion of equality prompted this fashion trend.  Cotton blend clothing needs no ironing.  It can be cleaned in an automatic washer with soap and water.  It breathes to help regulate body temperature and dries quickly.  Chino, gabardine, and denim fabric can endure frequent washes without diminishing the longevity of the garment.  Cotton knits drape the body comfortably and attractively because they stretch with movement.  They represent visual equality in that they can be economically mass produced.  No matter one’s income or occupation, it is possible to be well-groomed.  No more stains even if work requires more exertion than sitting at a desk.  Wrinkles are nonexistent even when ironing isn’t in one’s repertoire.

In earlier times, clothing distinguished social status.  Hand tailored clothing created of delicate, natural materials demonstrated that the wearer was a person of substance.  The cut and fit of the outfit, the expense of the fabric, and the demands of its care were evidence of taste, intellectual pursuits, and wealth.  Well-educated and professionally employed people wore silks, wools, and fine cottons.  Housekeepers, laborers, and trades people wore durable, loose-fitting, and easy to clean clothing in fabrics such as denim and twill.  Today, the boss is likely wearing the same type of clothing as his or her staff.  Whether it is overalls, blazers and slacks, or polo shirts and chinos, the company dress code applies to all.  Position is demonstrated by performance, not appearance.

Concern about environmental pollution, conservation of water, and the institutionalization of two paycheck families, not social status will have major influences upon fashion in the near future. Working adults want to spend less time on laundry.  They want to live in communities with clean air and sufficient water supplies.  They’re concerned about the quality of the life that their grandchildren will live.  Clothing that is self-cleaning is already under development.  Imagine never having to wash clothes again.  Anti-bacterial clothing is now for sale, but needs improvement.  Knits are likely to prompt the demise of ironing.  Add the electricity savings to the savings from using unheated water to wash clothes.  Business casual workplace dress codes permit cardigan and v-neck sweaters, turtleneck tops, stretch slacks, and knit dresses.  Knits may ensure the disappearance of the fastener, too.  T-shirts, sweatpants, turtlenecks, pullover sweaters, and elastic waist skirts need no zippers or buttons.  Even dressing will consume less time and energy.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2012

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What’s for lunch in 2020?

Cindy Funk. Flickr. January 21, 2006.

Cindy Funk. Flickr. January 21, 2006.

Mass transportation and mass production dramatically changed American diets during the Industrial Age.  We are accustomed to canned tuna and ham, frozen turkey, packaged crackers, and year round fresh fruits and vegetables.  Mass immigration brought us a rainbow of ethnic foods.  Tacos, pizza, pierogi, chop suey, and bratwurst and sauerkraut compete with meat and potatoes for a place on American dinner tables.  Dining on vending machine foods by the glow of a computer screen has become an Information Age habit.  Who could have imagined 24-hour self-service of shortbread cookies, bars of chocolate and nuts, and bags of crispy sliced potatoes?

What will Americans be eating as the 21st century progresses?  Important influences are likely to be global warming, the obesity epidemic, and increasing numbers of single person households.  Burgers and fries, cold cereal, and even eggs are already being replaced by soup and salad, oatmeal, and yogurt cups.  Flavorful chili and artisan greens overwhelm yesterday’s chicken noodle soup and iceberg lettuce.  Oatmeal sweetened with dried fruits is available at fast food restaurants.  Single servings of creamy yogurt have an abundance of delicious additions.

Dessert will likely disappear.  Witness the shrinkage of the cake slice into cupcakes, the bankruptcy of Hostess, and the introduction of 100-calorie packages of cookies.  Public schools are considering bans of party snacks.  Employers are restocking vending machines with nuts, crackers, and bottled water.  Grocers offer more fruit sorbets than brands of chocolate and vanilla ice cream.  Singles have little or no time for baking homemade cookies, pies, and cakes.  Even devoted homemakers are challenged by the rising prices of chocolate and sugar.

Solo and insular living will continue the trend away from meals.  Snacking will become a healthier means to daytime rejuvenation than energy drinks.  Smaller portions will prompt more consumption of easily prepared and single serving foods.  Soup, salad, and sandwiches are already typical American meals. Warmer weather will end the seasonality and the expense of fresh fruit and vegetables.  The current obsession with types of coffee beans has already extended to varieties of apples and greens.  It will expand to other varieties of produce including herbs and spices.  Boutique produce departments that are now the province of major grocers will become independent brick and mortar stores.  Instead of online shopping for home delivery, they will establish regular truck routes.  Consumers will be able to purchase fresh produce on their doorsteps a couple of times per week.  Unlike the predictions of science fiction, future foods will be neither processed nor synthetic.  American ingenuity is again on the verge of meeting the challenges of its changing fortunes.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2011

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