Reimagining the Edible: Changing the World with Food
It’s out with the old and in with the new. In some cases, genetically-modified foods have the potential to solve crippling environmental concerns, while in others, the exotic meals of other regions are slowly making headway into the Western hemisphere. Take a look at the menu of the future:
1) Grasshopper Taco
Eating insects seems revolting, but it’s a low-cost, low-calorie food stuffed with protein. That explains why approximately 2 billion people in Asia, Africa, and Latin America consume the grasshopper on a daily basis. In contrast, the meat of large mammals still reigns supreme in North America. However, varying studies report that the livestock sector may contribute more greenhouse gas emissions than even transportation; the resources needed to maintain livestock are staggering – polluted water resources, degraded land, and destroyed biodiversity. Eateries like the popular Antojera La Popular in New York City have spearheaded the introduction of grasshoppers into the Western diet, by fashioning them into tacos. If rice and seaweed seem more like a suitable accompaniment, Sushi Mazi in Portland is also serving grasshopper sushi.
2) Test-tube Burger
If grasshoppers aren’t your style, perhaps a good old burger will suit your taste? Although the patty is an in-vitro burger, it bypasses the ethics related to raising and killing animals for food. Production of this burger uses 45% less energy and 99% less land compared to existing methods of meat production. Vegetarians could even be convinced to take a bit out of these patties, since animals are completely removed from the equation; the burgers are grown from cow stem cells. In fact, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) endorses this innovation, offering a $1 million prize in 2008 for the first producer able to mass-produce test-tube meat. A prototype was released in August 2013, but also racked up $331,400 and three months; definitely not offered at your neighbourhood McDonald’s anytime soon.
3) Kelp Salad
Connoisseurs of Korean and Japanese cuisine will already be well acquainted with seaweed. Served as an appetizer in salad form at many Asian restaurants, kelp, a type of seaweed, is rich in nutrients, low in fat, and also an extremely fast-growing plant. A 2010 report from the Netherlands approximates that only 1% of the ocean’s surface will be needed to grow an amount of seaweed that is equivalent to all the food currently grown on land. The oceans seem like a vastly untapped resource, covering over 70% of the Earth’s surface but only producing 2% of its food. Not only does it have the potential to solve world hunger, it also dramatically cuts down on pollution due to food production and has the potential to save coral reefs by reducing acidification.
4) 3-D Printed Noodle
3-D printing seems to be the next big innovation – users have managed to print anything from jewelry to even guns. The apparatus is set to solve a large barrier of extended trips in space. Refrigeration and freezing food requires too many limited resources on a spacecraft. Free-dried food is also not the most pleasant to eat, and also has a shelf life of less than five years, which is much too short for extended space missions. 3-D printing allows astronauts to create meals from easily stored ingredients that are healthy, and even customizable. Seeing the promise of such an innovation, NASA funded a 6-month study with $125,000 to explore its feasibility.
This is only a taster’s menu. With the hint of using invasive species like the Asian carp as sushi, and the use of sound and its surprising effect on taste, the culinary landscape is set to experience great changes. Prepare your taste buds for the food of the future!
By Ronald Leung
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