Future of Food
Plant based, friendly insects and genetically modified foods. A brief dive into our culinary future
Let us take you on a little trip down memory lane and look at the food trends in the 10’s: the paleo diet, avocado toast, almond milk, activated charcoal, matcha, poke bowls, kale. It becomes pretty clear that food doesn't escape trends. But, just like in the fashion world, trends are temporary, style is eternal.
With an ever growing population and a finite number of resources, science has been battling to find alternatives to feed us all. Preferably equally, as we still live in world where half the population is obese and half is battling famine.
Agents, like the Axfoundation, are pivotal in guiding society and politicians into more sustainable ways of producing and consuming food. The program Food of the Future has a group of people identifying problems and trying to find solutions. Among the revolutionaries, we find chef Jessie Sommarström, using her culinary skills and experience to contribute to projects such as circulatory fed trouts, the use of bycatch and plant-based locally produced meat alternatives.
It's been pretty widespread that the future looks more plant-based but what else? What are the coming trends? And most importantly, what is the coming style?
Revolutionizing the systems
The European Green Deal is a good example of countries coming together to solve the problem. The Green Deal aims to have Europe be climate neutral by 2050 through reducing carbon dioxide emissions and raising carbon dioxide sequestration. In easy words, not only producing less but also taking better care of the pollutants which are unavoidable. Agricultural land and forests cover around 75% of the EU area, having therefore a critical role in this process. Not only must the land be effectively used, to produce as much food as possible but also developed to absorb carbon dioxide, acting as a negativ emissor.
What's high in protein and good for the climate? We might have given it away in the title but yes, bugs! Although insect consumption is already a reality in many countries, the majority of the so-called developed lands don’t have it on their menu. The future of meat-free protein is crawling its way up the food chain, pun intended. Soon we will be able to find crickets, grasshoppers, worms and many other multileged friends in flour form, which can in turn be used in everything from protein bars to burgers and meatballs.
Genetically modified foods (GMOs)
GMOs is a known, and often fear-striking, acronym that we’ll be seeing a lot more. The term genetically modified organisms is pretty self-explanatory, describing species whose genome has been altered to display or hide certain traits. That can make them more resistent to certan diseases or make them omite allergenics, for example. That can help solve problems such as peanut allergy but it can also mean much more functional foods packed with nutrients and vitamins.
You’ve certainly had a spirulina och chlorella smoothie recently because that’s right, algae is not only for sushi anymore! Algae are climate friendly, nutrient rich and easily cropped and they can be used for both animal and human consumption. Their fishy taste can be a great alternative to fish eating, helping the repair of the marine ecosystem as well as reducing the human ingestion of pollutants and heavy metals.
Using stem cells, scientists have been able to provoke their differentiation into meat. This means cruelty-free meat grown in petri dishes. But don't worry, this product looks, smells, tastes and cooks like real meat so you don't have to be afraid of science class tasting burgers.
Our bodies don’t work the same, we’ve known this for a while. If we try to make it easier to understand, think about you and your friends drinking 3 beers each and how differently you react. We respond differently to everything we consume and what is maybe seen as extremely healthy for most of the population can be what’s making you tired and bloated. In the not so far future, everyone will be able to take a DNA sample and have a diet built around it. The field of science and nutrition called nutrigenomics aims to evaluate what foods and drinks match our bodies, giving us a personalized list of products.
Obviously the future is equal parts exciting and uncertain, and those characteristics are probably interdependent. What we know for sure is that our food production and consumption is not sustainable. Could it be the ultimate form of natural selection how open we are to trying new things? Only the future will tell.