Are you prepared for the food revolution?
News articles can be confusing and contradictory, I have seen some articles saying that food is going to get SUPER expensive as climate change renders land useless. This is going to create food scarcity and this push prices up.
Yet on the other end of the scale I am seeing the opposite, I am seeing a reinvention of food as it moves away from farm and into the lab. Whilst this is a concept that might scare a lot of people, the reality is that science has played a huge part in our food for as long as humans have been farming and whilst it might not be the food you and I know today, it will be able to bring the sustenance needed to billions of people around the world who might die without it, so lets look at 4 new break throughs contributing to the food revolution.
Plant Based Meat
Whether you believe it to be a fad or a revolution there is no doubt that plant based meat (or fake meat) is gaining a lot of traction. Whilst vegetarian alternatives of meat products is nothing new, plant based meat is a whole different kettle of ‘fish. To create plant based meat, scientists started by deconstructing meat to determine what actually made meat ‘meat’ determining the proteins and minerals as well as the structure. They then recreated the ‘meat’ using the same proteins and minerals sourced from plants and layered them in the same structure. This is what defines plant based meat from vegetarian alternatives. It gives the new ‘meat’ the same texture as meat and scientists have even been able to recreate the taste. In fact in many experiments, the subjects didn’t even realise they weren’t eating meat.
Whether you are for it or against it, this new technology is hugely important when we talk about the rising billion. Meat has long been tied with wealth and prosperity and as nations wealth increase their demand for meat increases putting a huge strain on resources and has led to the factory farming model we use today. As the poorest billion on the planet are being lifted out of extreme poverty, their appetite for meat is going to increase and what will be the effects on the planet with even more factory farming and animals emissions. The real revolution when it comes to plant based meats is the technology to ensure everyone gets the right sustenance they require without the detrimental affects that farming at that calibre has on the planet.
Traditionally farming has been a seasonal activity, requiring a lot of labour, infrastructure and dangerous machinery. All of that changes when it comes to vertical farming. Vertical farming allows for plants to be grown inside using stacked pods to increase the yield per square meter and decreasing the cost of growing food.
Currently vertical farming is only profitable for small leafy vegetables with a high sale price — things such as micro greens and herbs, but as the technology becomes more common place and we create economies of scale we will be able to get the price down and start growing different types of vegetables.
The main disruption with vertical farming is that it removes the transportation and distribution cost and means customers are getting fresher food. Vegetables can be grown in city centres and in fact a common trend starting to emerge is for vertical farms to operate above supermarkets, allowing instant access to fresh healthy food. The real breakthrough however is in being able to grow food all year round without any weather impact plus the reduction in the amount of water used in producing the food.
3D Printed Food
Whilst 3D printing is now probably considered ‘normal’ the 3D printing of food is still very much in the early days. Yes you can buy you own food 3D printer for the home, but it is still very limited in what you can use it for. Today 3D printed food is really only used for making interesting shapes or for ‘food art’ especially in the chocolate world. However tomorrow 3D printers could have a lot more important uses when it comes to feeding you.
The biggest reason is health. Being able to 3D print a meal which has exactly the right nutrients, vitamins and minerals your body needs will one day be possible. Whether it is because you are on a special diet or even for hospital patients who can fast track their recovery with the right meals. It allows ultra personalised meals, including one day being able to implement medication into the ‘cooking’ process which would well and truly make the saying “food is medicine and medicine is food” 100% fact.
Food from thin air
Finally we get to the wackiest of them all, yet this is science fact, not science fiction as Solar Foods in Finland is using NASA technology to create food out of thin air. Don’t go expecting magic doughnuts popping out though, whilst I say ‘food’ the product called Solein is more like a flour and the scientists expect to compete against soya on price within the decade and be used as a food additive, mimicking palm oil in things such as pies and cakes or it could even be a cheap feed for livestock.
So what exactly is it?
To make Solein, water is “split”, using electrolysis to make hydrogen. The hydrogen, carbon dioxide from the air and minerals are fed to bacteria, which then produce the protein.
To be honest it is all pretty scientific I am not sure I understand it myself, so maybe read more here
So yes, maybe food as we know it will become scarce, but I have always been a big believer that technology can solve all the world’s problems, we just need to find entrepreneurs dedicated towards solving these issues.