How we’re going to feed people in the future is – between excessive meat consumption and global warming – a major concern. Talk of eating nutrient and protein rich insects is rife (you can already buy edible bugs – from mealworms to crickets), while the production of lab-grown meat is necessarily ramping up.
But there are lots of smaller ways in which food consumption and production is already beginning to change. As part of London Food Tech Week, we checked out a pop-up Food Tech Village at Borough Market, which has been showcasing some of those ways, and the minds behind them. Here’s what we learned…
1. We could be growing leafy greens in shelving units instead of soil
We’re used to rolling farmers’ fields, but LettUs Grow have developed technology for vertical farms. It’s basically stacking shelves for growing plants, designed for use inside warehouses, and eventually homes – for instance, if you’ve got a dark corner of the garage going to waste, you could start growing your own herbs using this aeroponic tech (where you grow plants in air, using nutrient misting, rather than soil).
The idea is to reduce the waste and carbon footprint of fresh produce, but also get high yields and reliable crops within a small space – and the fennel leaves reallly are good to nibble.
2. All that wasted wonky veg might actually get used up
Around 40% of British crops are rejected and wasted because they’re a bit misshapen, too big or too small – it has nothing to do with flavour or taste. ChicP is just one company – making super colourful raw vegetable hummus – that uses ‘imperfect’ veggies in their products. Hopefully it’ll catch on.
3. We might end up eating and drinking algae
Swedish company Simris Alg is trying to solve the problem of mass produced animal products, and they reckon algae might have the answer. They are algae farmers, using the nutrient packed, microscopic marine plants to create omega-3 supplements, providing an alternative to fish and fish oil, meaning a possible, and sustainable, solution to overfishing the oceans.
4. We might stop drinking alcohol
A sugar-free, non-artificial, zero-calorie, zero-hangover spirit, you say? Nonsense. And yet that’s what Seedlip has developed – the world’s first non-alcoholic spirits, that come in rather nice bottles to boot. Meat alternatives already abound, so it’s about time convincing alcohol substitutes came to exist too.
5. It’ll be possible to see bacteria on our kitchen counters
Worried your chopping board isn’t quite clean? Or unsure whether you should be re-using that plastic water bottle? Fresh Check, the brainchild of three PhD students, is designed to alert you to what to keep, what to clean and what to chuck, making bacteria visible and colour-coded.
At the moment it exists as a spray to mist over possibly contaminated or infected areas, to highlight any harmful bacteria to be aware of. If there is, the sprayed area will turn orange, but if it’s safe for consumption/use, it’ll turn blue – magic. The hope is the nifty bit of kit will help cut down on food waste and food poisoning.