hi @jpelaez1! I worked at noma before coming to work at OpenAg so this topic is very important to me!
1- I would love to see the knowledge-sharing that starts as hardware and software discussion as well as climate recipes growing into a place where all kinds of knowledge about food can be shared. So, it’s one thing to know how to grow 1000 kinds of plants but what do we do with it after it’s grown? Why bother growing plant X if it’s tricky (perhaps, because it is essential for a really interesting dish!). And, as restaurants become more interested and involved in growing food, they can give unique and invaluable insights on cooking-directed farming.
2-100% yes. I would argue that flavor is the most important tool we have to choose what to eat, especially with plants. An intense and complex flavor is the best proxy for an overall richness in phytochemicals, flavor molecules being one part of a larger group of phytochemicals, and nutrient and bioactive molecules being another overlapping group. Steadily since the 18th century we’ve moved to systems that are much less rich in both flavor and phytonutrients—through breeding as well as through growing techniques. I think its useful to think of the pleasure we get from complex, intense, and varied flavors not as an “extra bonus”, but as a key signal that we’re eating the right way! (note that this doesn’t apply to industrially processed, flavor-added foods, which bypass the evolved relationship between flavor and nutrition). We devote our largest family of genes, about 2% of our genome, just to be able to sense smells, which physiologically happens not just when we sniff but when we eat. What evolutionary pressures could be in place to spend the energy preserving the ability to distinguish between different types of basil, a raspberry or a strawberry, just by flavor?
I’m working on developing a more culinary-world-facing side of OpenAg so I’m glad you found our forum already!