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The Future of Food

What is the future of food?

I've asked people this and it usually starts with them not thinking it's a concern, then they start to mull it over for a while. We are currently facing an epidemic of obesity. Here's info from the CDC. Does this affect how you perceive the future of food? Does it make you want to consume healthier foodstuff?

Food is such an interesting topic because everyone eats. We eat on Earth. We eat in space. We will eat when we get to Mars.

What will affect the future of food? Some thoughts:

  • Scarcity of some sort of food item

  • Entomophagy - consuming insects as protein source

  • 3D food printing

  • Lab-developed food

  • Single-meal bars/pastes/drinks

If you're a Star Trek fan, you may know that their future post-scarcity culture came around with the development of a replicator. On the show we see this used to create food and drink, uniforms, and various objects. It's not a perfect device, but throughout each series we see problems and solutions regarding food.

3D Printed Food & Lab-Developed Food

Most food printers deal with something that can be piped into a stable form like chocolate, sugar-based foodstuffs, and noodle dough. There are some food printers that can handle ground meat, but they aren't typical for home or commercial use just yet. They are still in the testing stages. Above we have 3D printed food stuff (the article didn't name anything in particular) and 3D printed multi-color geometrical sugar cubes. It's fun and interesting, but leaves you questioning nutritional value.

We are starting to move towards 3D printed meat. At the end of 2019, Redefine Meat (Israeli company) created a 3D printed plant-based steak. Here's an article about it. It apparently cooks and cuts just like a real steak.

Do we trust printed fake meat? As a consumer, how can we check to see what's in it if this is what is served at a restaurant? What if there's something in it that someone has an allergy to? Just things to take into consideration. I'm not trying to knock it down. I just think it needs a little more development.

Entomophagy as the new protein source

It's kind of gross if you're not used to eating bugs. Crickets are the hot insect to eat right now. You can buy ready-to-cook crickets (cleaned and processed), cricket flour, and food items made with cricket flour. Bugs breed fast and can be contained in a small area. If you want to try something, pick up an Exo Bar (link). They aren't bad, honestly.

Single-Meal Options

Something that gets put into science fiction fairly often are single-meal options like nutritional food bars, single-meal drinks, food pastes, and even nutritional slop (from 'The Matrix', which looked like porridge). I'm sure some of this based on astronaut food items. Some people want to minimalize time spent in the kitchen and would prefer a faster, healthier grab-n-go type item. The reality of a single-meal nutritional bar is that it can save space and save time, BUT it also could take away from the social aspects of enjoying a meal with other people.

Vertical Farms

Perhaps the future of food lies with vertical farming. In a small footprint of space, vertical farming can produce a large quantity of food using a hydroponic system - which also reduces water usage for farming.

An interesting aspect of vertical farming is that it can be done with home models (countertop and stand alone options) or set up in a conex, in a warehouse, in a cabinet system for a restaurant, or whatever size space you have available. There are a variety of phone apps paired with AI systems to help monitor vertical farming, even for the home models.

The majority of vertical farming tends to be leafy greens and herbs, but sometimes includes tomato, cucumber, and peppers. You can grow almost anything with a vertical farm, as long as you have an idea of how the plant will be dealt with. Pumpkins or other winter squash or melons may pose a particular issue unless you have a plan on dealing with the weight of those plants.

Alright, so I was inspired to get this posted after I got a pile of seed catalogs in the mail. I like to think about what future food may be and I'm super interested in vertical farming. I wish I had to know-how to get us one step closer to food replication, but that's just not my field of expertise.

What do you think the future of food might be?

Are you a food minimalist or a food maximalist?

Have you worked out any recipes that you would consider to be "ultramodern futurist"?

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