Cricket sticks, synthetic steak, protein… air burger, smoothie with seaweed, fresh tart with preserved fruit made from 3D printer.
You may not have an appetite reading the menu, but it may be part of our daily diet in the future.
Even before the war broke out in Ukraine, a significant portion of the world's population – now close to 7.8 billion – was facing the specter of food insecurity and hunger.
Other armed conflicts, climate shock, COVID-19, centralization of food markets in supplies and stocks, supply chain problems and galloping inflation have driven global food prices soaring since mid-2020.
They are now at an all-time high, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine multiplying – the “bread basket” for much of the world – and accelerating the energy crisis.
According to the UN, the number of people in severe food insecurity has doubled in just two years: from 135 million before the pandemic to 276 million today, with half a million facing famine.
This is an increase of more than 500 % from 2016.
And as the world's population grows and extreme weather conditions intensify – excluding wars – the problem will intensify.
By 2050, in less than 30 years from now, the Earth's population is estimated to be has reached 9.8 billion people. Plus another two billion mouths to feed on…
A significant percentage of this increase is expected to be in sub-Saharan Africa, where desert conditions make agriculture a challenge.
In any case, it is estimated that in order to meet the greatest nutritional needs, food production should be increased by 70%. from all the transport together.
This is obviously a vicious circle, experts say.
Explosion of food insecurity
Due to extreme weather, deforestation and human development, many predict that food will be destroyed from the face of the Earth or will be too expensive to import.
Avocados in increasingly “thirsty” California, for example, are in danger of extinction by 2050.
The forecast for about 60% of existing coffee species over the next 20 years is similar.
“I do not know if in the future we will have in front of us a plate of crackers impregnated with specialized nutrients,” says Amanda Little, journalist and author of “The Destiny of Food”.
But “this sounds like a culinary hell, in which no one will want to live.”
, practices and several types of production, from agriculture to livestock.
In the meantime, the food industry – often without a clear regulatory framework – is implementing or considering various innovative plans for the next day.
In some cases, they follow in the footsteps of what some 15 years ago called the “future of food” with GMOs, that is, genetically modified foods.
In other cases, they try to find answers to the same τη Nature…
Shifting demand from meat to beans, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds could have substantial benefits for the climate. But Americans love meat. How do we shift those norms? https://t.co/FHgnrBaBe0
– Science News (@ScienceNews) May 15, 2022
Is meat what you eat?
With meat production at all stages being considered one of the most polluting industries, the trend for alternatives has begun to grow.
Plant meat substitutes are already in store refrigerators, reducing the need to raise and slaughter cattle and other animals,
water consumption, deforestation for land use (for grazing and feed) ) and greenhouse gas emissions.
Another practice under development is that of synthetic meat production, also known as in vitro meat, since it is grown in the laboratory.
Innovative technology has been applied since 2013, initially with the cultivation of ground beef. from cow stem cells.
It has now evolved into other types of “artificial meat” -even chicken- that looks, cooks, smells and tastes like normal.
🍗 & # 8220; It & # 8217; s been grown in vitro from animal cells. & # 8221;
Singapore has become the first country to allow the sale of cultured meat. Bloomberg’s Mark Cudmore has a taste test of @ eatjust’s lab-grown chicken that’s never seen a farm or factory. More: https://t.co/znlDTTvhbT pic.twitter.com/0nWrHQu9KL
– Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) December 30, 2020
Algae… with or without silk ribbons
Many believe that edible algae crops could provide a solution to the modern food “puzzle”.
They can be used to feed humans and animals and produced in abundance in salt and fresh water, seas and lakes.
They have been widely used in Asian cuisines for years.
Today, they have already found their place in Western markets even as a superfood.
In mainly dried form algae are also used in the food industry, e.g. as a flavor enhancer in protein από seafood from a San Francisco-based start-up.
A food substitute but also a response to overfishing, as well as the accumulation of heavy metals and microplastics in fish./p>
Insect eating is a common practice in African countries, Thailand, China, Brazil, Mexico and elsewhere.
For many, it represents the future of nutrition, either as a necessary solution to food insecurity or as a consumer choice.
Insects are eaten in various forms and textures: whole, in parts or as -powered or not- in food products.
Their advertised strengths include high protein content and the fact that they are responsible for less than 1% of the livestock carbon footprint.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, more than 1,900 species of insects are already used as food worldwide.
Among the most common are crickets, locusts and mealworms.
The latter are the first insect that by decision of the European Commission can be consumed in Europe.
In the context of the novel food regulation, the Commission stated that it had received several applications for the approval of other species of insects to be eaten. (tropical domestic cricket), Acheta domesticus (domestic cricket or crickets), Locusta migratoria (migratory locust) and Hermetia illucens larvae (black litter fly).
There & # 8217; s nothing like a home cooked meal (worm). Submit your solution for the future of protein: https://t.co/0XsRqLNCkf @WEFUpLink pic.twitter.com/afWvLSAnqJ
– World Economic Forum (@wef) January 21, 2021
According to Dr. Morgain Gay, self-proclaimed “food futurist”, the future of nutrition is… in the air!
Sounds crazy, but already start-ups in California and Finland use high-tech fermentation to turn air into food. and germs, with… “blender” special tanks.
The final product is nutritionally similar to meat, dairy or milk, with the difference that its production requires minimal resources and no use of farm or animal origin of raw material.
It will practically allow the preparation of nutritious food, in any texture, form and taste. And from Earth to space…
The future on our plate
In an effort to sample all scientific innovations and scenarios, the American Bon Appétit magazine tried to predict what might be on our plate in the coming years.
In 10 years, he estimates, the meat we will eat will be produced mainly by bioreactors in laboratories, food upcycling will be widespread and in many areas the water supply will be forced from over-filtered recycled wastewater, as much of it The planet will face fresh water shortages and rising costs.
In 20 years, personalized nutrition will be the norm, with portable electronic devices to monitor our health and alert us when and what we need in food and for hydration.
3D printing ovens will make hot meals with preserved ingredients.
Many foods will be fortified with protein (demand is expected to increase by 40% by 2050).
Large quantities of vegetables will be grown on indoor vertical farms, shielded from the outside environment.
< p> Genetically engineered seeds will be used in outdoor crops to withstand extreme heat and drought.
Revitalizing organic farming systems will be widely used to support and improve the soil and the environment.
For the next 100 years much is said and written, but no one knows.
Science fiction writers formulate various theories in recent books.
Sarah Blake writes in “Clean Air” (” Clean Air “) for plants that overproduce deadly pollen to save the planet's ecosystems, resulting in the death of millions of people, while the rest now live in domes and feed on oversized food grown by robots.
This is rather an optimistic view compared to the plot of Tochi Oniebucci's “Goliath”, according to which the rich will have migrated to space colonies, leaving the rest to the Earth damaged by radiation, where not a single coffee bean will be left “standing”.