Throughout human civilization, food has transcended from being a means to survival to being a source for sensory pleasure. Today we enjoy food visually, on social media and have made it a central part of art & culture. Can this be affected by the impending environmental changes?
Contrary to the climate change warnings regarding food shortages, the urban crowd today seems to be enjoying an abundance of food like never before. Our sci-fi movies never factored in that climate change can potentially damage all our ecosystems and make it even more difficult to grow a variety of food. As this future approaches our doorstep, we also need to adapt to new concepts of food that haven’t gone mainstream yet. Food that can be grown favorably in the new climate!
So here are the aspects innovators are looking for when they think about the food of the future? We need to make sure:
– If the product can grow using the least freshwater resources.
– If the product is available in abundance.
– If the product is fast to grow or reproduce for mass scalability.
– If the product is nutrient-dense and can keep large populations healthy at a low cost.
Considering all of the above, let’s look into what the menu looks like!
Algae, the common microgreen mush found in water bodies, perfectly fits the requirements to become the food of the future!
We are aware of Algae as a marshy swamp organism, but did you know it’s also a great source for protein? It is rich in omega 3 and protein. It can be used easily as Algae powder in any recipe, thus easy to incorporate into our foods. It is the cheapest source of nutrition. Algae farmers have chosen a species of Algae that grows easily in saltwater. Why saltwater? Because lucky for us that 70% of the earth’s surface is covered in it! So the scarcity of resources isn’t something we will need to worry about. In fact Algae has already entered the market in the form of capsule pills and is projected to become a multi-billion dollar industry. It is set to become a very viable option as the food of the future.
We cringed when we found out about this one. It really felt like we have dark times ahead of us if humanity has to be reduced to eating insects. But then we recalled that in many parts of the world eating insects is completely normal even today. The repulsive feeling is mostly built in our culture. We have made celebrities eat insects as a daring challenge on reality shows, but it may soon become a commonplace reality for most people around the world in the future.
Why are edible insects our future? Well, first of all, insects can be reared in sterile clean conditions in labs, eliminating the need for land use. They replicate very quickly and exponentially. And they are a resource-efficient source of protein, unlike the current poultry industry which manufactures food leaving behind a high carbon footprint, using fresh water and land use.
So how will the world adjust to the idea of snacking on insects? Well, firstly you don’t have the face the insects (literally) in their whole form. They are powdered to make it more palatable for our consumption. This edible insect protein powder can be mixed in any recipe and presented to your plate in the most Instagram worthy aesthetic. If we are eventually able to get past our initial repulsion, insect protein is actually a very smart option for our future.
Of course, keep in mind, edible insects will not be caught from the wild. But the resources that go into rearing them in a lab will be considerably lower than what we end up using for larger animals and poultry. Which gives it the potential to become the food of the future.
Meet the Meat made in a lab! Also known as “Clean Meat”.
A few questions arise when it comes to the acceptance of this food revolution. Firstly would people who are shifting away from animal products for ethical reasons, be okay with cultured meat? The answer for this is a yes because it does not involve abuse or slaughtering of animals.
Secondly, would people who enjoy meat products currently, consider trying cultured lab meat instead? This has been a slightly more tricky, as some find the idea of cultivating meat in a lab “unnatural”.
The motivation behind developing synthetic meats was inspired by the idea of trying to create meat products without the need for slaughtering animals. How is this done? You take tissues of cells from the animal, let’s say a hen, and then culture it in a box of protein liquid. The cells divide and multiply until they form a mass of meat that’s exactly the same as the one found in the animal! It uses less space, fewer resources, much lesser water. But this technology is currently very expensive, so the debate is still on for whether it can be a sustainable option in the future. And companies like Just Meat are trying to achieve this future!
Watch this video to see how this ethical real meat revolution is trying to spread!
NEW FARMING TECHNIQUES
Our current Farming system involves excessive dependence on pesticides and chemicals to grow food. The pests adapt to these chemicals and get stronger as well. The food that grows may look big but now it has less nutritional value than the one that grew before it. Due to this farming technique, the area of fertile soil is now reducing all around the world. 60% of the fertile soil will be lost just within this century. This war against worms and insects leads to a vicious cycle where the only person who loses is the one who eats this chemical-laden produce.
The need for Chemical-Free & Naturally Grown Produce is growing among consumers today. New farming techniques like Vertical indoor farming, greenhouse farming are enabling natural chemical-free farming once again. Farming techniques that involve minimal use of water will become a viable option in a world with growing water scarcity. Aquaponics and Hydroponics are such techniques that have the potential to grow abundant quantities of produce in minimal resources. Bangalore Based Services like Eat Neat aim to make organic produce more accessible by helping set up a farm in your community.
Yet, naturally, grown food is considered a luxury today. But it does not need to be that way. Compost from individual houses can be collected and used to make community gardens that grow food for all. Many large corporations have tried to buy the Intellectual property right to crops in order to prevent this free society from taking shape. But many lawyers are working hard to end this atrocity. Nature cannot have any legal ownership as it belongs to all of us. This rebellion is in the hands of the consumers and how quickly we get to work when it comes to fixing our earth.
If you live in Bangalore, Click here to check out our favorite grocery service that sends nutritious & naturally grown food to your doorstep!
Many of the ideas you read today sound too far fetched, quirky, cringy or weird. But if the solution fits the needs of civilization and the timing is right, it won’t be too long before they become part of our culture & our normal lives!
Just like any other technological revolution, the Food revolution has the potential to change the way we live. The concepts will be hard to accept at first by the public. There may even be backlash from traditional industries that will be phased out eventually. Our cultures will be affected by it. The ideas of what normal ingredients look like can potentially shift in the next few decades.
Don’t worry, Tandoori flavored roasted crickets dipped in algae sauce might not be on the menu tomorrow. But educating yourself on what is being explored today as a solution, might prepare you for an impending culture shock that awaits all of us!