Food of the future: what are we going to eat tomorrow?

6639227155_ffde931730_bToday we are 7 billion people on Earth, but in 2050 we will be more than 9 billion. 9 billion people to feed. But there is less and less available land for agriculture and catering; and more and more people needing proteins. Also, more and more people will live in cities, which means that they will not be able to produce their food and will depend on an external industry. We know we are in an environmental crisis and producing meat and dairy is really energy consuming. We also know that the planet will not be able to produce at the same pace as today forever.

A lot of scientists, politicians, business men, farmers are working on what will be the food of the future. What are the main ideas about it?

◊ As meat does not seem very good for the environment, some laboratories are working on replacing meat by plant-based ingredients. Of course, a lot of alternatives already exist and vegetarians and vegans know it. But as the aim is to reduce or replace the meat consumption of meat eaters, they are working on a substitute that will look, smell and taste like meat, without an ounce of animal product inside. This idea is not to stop the small farmers from developing countries who will without a doubt conserve their cattle, but to stop the intensive factory farming. It will have to go further than just food as people will have to go beyond their basic idea of meat as an indispensable ingredient of a balanced diet. Some people are calling it Frankenfood as the experiences are done in laboratories. They also experiment milk done without any cow but by reproducing the protein in laboratories.

EatGrub0178◊ Another consequence of meat being so energy consuming is the search of other sources of protein in other living organisms. The UN and the FAO did research on the possibility to replace meat by insects. In fact, nearly 80% of the people traditionally eat insects, it is called entomophagy. The FAO considers that it can be the best answer to malnutrition and environmental challenges: as insects have more protein than meat and less fat. To adapt it to the occidental market, some companies are incorporating insects in other products as crisps, snacks, energy bar, flour… Here the mental barrier is also big, it is about not thinking about what is in our plate as a living organism but as food, something we already succeeded in with meat. This is why this new market is sometimes first presented to children, because they have less conceived ideas about what food should be.

street-market-fruits-grocery◊ Some searchers and farmers are rethinking the agriculture model. They want to relocate the mass production and turn it into a local model: short distribution channels, modest scale factories, food education in school… They promote an “eat less, eat better” way of life. They are also thinking about plants that can resist to unexpected events as natural disasters. Some also want to try to feed animals with a home-made plant-based diet instead of industrialized grains.

Of course you can find many other ideas for what food will look like in the future: a powder replacing a complete meal? Jellyfish instead of meat? Seaweed farms? In today’s world you can already meet some initiatives that will maybe become what will be in our plate tomorrow. And you, where is your imagination leading you on this subject?

by Amelys Erard

Images: : a UK company selling edible insects
From the movie Conquest of Space



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