A food marketing researcher named Harry Balzer with the NPD Group has an interesting comment in today’s New York Times magazine cover story that focuses on America’s cooking habits and TV food shows. It’s worth considering not just in its literal context, but in what it means for all of us who spend considerable time trying to envision the future.

“A hundred years ago, chicken for dinner meant going out and catching,
killing, plucking and gutting a chicken. Do you know anybody who still
does that? It would be considered crazy! Well, that’s exactly how
cooking will seem to your grandchildren: something people used to do
when they had no other choice. Get over it.”

Certainly, much has changed on the home front over the past century. I wrote about this a couple of years ago on the occasion of my grandfather’s 100th birthday party and the speech he gave about how life changed since he was a boy.

Even reflecting on the changes in homes, technology, and more over the past 30 years, they have been quite significant.

But thinking about radical change is a much bigger deal. Considering how consumers, prospects, and customers will adapt their behavior becomes pretty important to long-term planning.

Most change takes time, however. Looking back at the cooking analogy, it has taken quite some time to get where we are today. Processed chickens, frozen food, microwave ovens, and other innovations didn’t take root overnight. They steadily crept into homes and habits.

Those homes and habits continue to evolve. Understanding the trends helps us all create better products, but contemplating the radical future where we’ll end up can be just as important.