What’s the future of food?

I had and an interesting thought the other day: Why do we eat what we eat? Do we eat same things? What will we eat in the future? Well, it was not easy but I think I’ve got the answers…

  • Why do we eat what we eat?
    Our traditions and cultures shape the way we think about food and the way we cook it. Per instance, the rice is cultivated all over the world but in Japan people cook sushi, in Spain paella and in Italy risotto.
  • Do we eat same things (looking on a world scale) ?
    Let’s check it in scientific sources. The food pyramid is really good approximation. It can give us all we need. So everywhere we eat more or less same things: grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, meats, oils and sweets.
  • It’s not clear what we’re going to eat in the future. But I have some thoughts on it (later in article). Now let’s talk about the problems which will definitely have an affect on everything.
Problems

Going forward we’ll have to solve a lot of food related problems. Per instance…

  • Climate change. 
    It’s a global problem that affects everybody. Changing climate can harden conditions and shrink land available for food production.
  • Growing population. 
    It’s not a secret that human population is growing and it will require a lot more resources. Right now, we produce just enough to sustain ourselves (and even that’s not always true).
  • Food shortages in poor regions.
    We live in 21 century but still many people are fighting for survival in poor parts of the world.
  • Overconsumption in richer countries. 
    Sadly, it’s a real problem in richer countries. People buy more than they can consume and plenty of food get wasted.
Something to think about

There’s no easy solution for all of these problems. Hopefully, we’ll figure it out in the future. As right now, all we can do is to stop overconsumption and help the poorest regions. In a way it could balance everything. We’ll need much more ingenuity to overcome climate change and the struggle to feed growing population. Regardless, let’s consider what logical solutions are out there.

1) Eating less animal based food +1

In short: If we eat (or at least try to) less animal based products, we might be able to reduce emissions and produce more food.
In full: Currently agricultural productions is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. It creates about 13 % of all green house gas emissions and animal based production is responsible for 85% of it. Decreasing surely will help our environment. We’ll spare a lot of food which otherwise would be fed to the animals. Additionally animal based food industry is one of the least efficient ones. Only between 3% and 17% of eaten plants consumed by animals are converted to food.

2) Change of diet +1 

 Why would meat eater change diet?

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.Wikipedia

What am I talking here about? Well, plant based meat (aka “meatless meat”) significantly progressed in recent years. You would be surprised how much. Sometimes even professional chefs can’t distinguish where’s real meat and where is vegan meat. The plants can taste the same, can provide better energetic value and can help the planet. Why not to consider it?

3) Thinking outside of box +1 

Not long time ago raw fish aka sushi was considered as something unthinkable. People were disgusted of eating it. Nowadays it’s just normal food and “fast food” for some. Probably vegetarians and vegans won’t take it lightly (but anyway let’s think about it). So I’m talking here about insects.

Why on Earth would you eat insects?

The future to come

A lot of things can change, but what should we expect in the future?

  1. Unless food producers are able to supply whole and detailed history of products they sell, we might go back to farming ourselves or maybe outsourcing it to local communities (which will be able to answer these questions and produce food of really high standards). It’s not something crazy to think about. What is worse? To buy cheap food of unknown origin or to pay a bit more for quality food from local community.
  2. Another thing is food chemistry. Sugar won’t stick for long. Nowadays it is a massive problem. Daily we consume huge amounts of sugar. Our ancestors ate a lot less of it. Sadly sugar is not the only problem and a lot more work is yet to be done.
  3. Personalized diets and personal health monitors might become a thing. Many different researches find what is good for one person might be not so good for another. Our genetics plays key role in this process. Therefore diets might get personalized.
  4. Slowly our kitchen is getting automated. Now we have smart fridges, 3D food printers are on the way and almost sure will become our “new microwaves”. Smart robots chefs is the next logical step.
  5. Food pharmacy is a real possibility too. A lot of people hate cooking. Replacing it with just a pill might be something really tempting.

Will it happen? Yes, it’s possible, why not. Everything is in our reach and might come to our lives sooner than we think. Innovation moves at exponential pace. Therefore it’s all just the question of time.

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Paul Cable
I am a software engineer, amateur astrophysicist and futurist. I like tech and science. My free time I spend taking photos and making videos.

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