Food for the future

Imagine it’s 20 years into the future, and the good old days of simply having a sandwich or whipping up a meal without a side helping of technology are seemingly long gone.

Instead, diners cluster around virtual restaurant tables at home, enjoying genetically reared fruits, synthetic wines, meat without animal origin, and fish that never even saw the ocean. Plant foods reign, and sugar has become the new tobacco.

But how did we get here? Let’s examine the potential scenario and see…

Consider the fact that the focus on food sustainability skyrocketed since the early 2000s, with the focus shifting on taste and indulgence to sustainability, environmental impact and ethics. Just a decade ago, humans lived through an agricultural crisis caused by global warming that prompted plagues and diseases and severely impacted the world’s food sources.

After this crisis, three-quarters of the world’s food supply stemmed from just 12 plants and 5 animal species – and thankfully, it seems that we are learning from our errors! Biodiversity is being embraced, kinder meat is being engineered in labs, and robotics are governing the future of farming.

However, these same technological advances could also create some massive changes in our culinary future, some of which foodies might even find horrifying to behold.

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Focus on Ethics and Sustainability

Now is the age of regenerative agricultural methods and a so-called age of ‘ultra-personalisation’, while also lacking privacy to a great degree. Our nutrition is heavily planned, which has been deftly demonstrated by China’s pilot programme that assigned a social credit plan rating to each of its citizens.

Chinese food businesses can now analyse even the tiniest details of our eating habits, even down to the sandwiches locals buy from vending machines and their carbon footprints. Sometimes, the purchase may even be denied if it exceeds your predetermined CO2 limits or if you have already taken in enough calories for the day.

Algorithms carefully count citizen’s levels of consumptions and balance them based on their habits – a sobering picture of the future of our culinary practices. Food Consumption Taxes will likely be a thing of the future too, allowing governments to scrutinise how we eat by means of digital implants, tattoos, and even edible nanobots.

Tele-transport All Your Favourites

Fast-forward to 2038, and much more emphasis will be placed on how we eat. Insurance companies will penalise those with poor lifestyle habits, and kitchens will be fitted with bioreactors that can prepare recipes in an instant. Urban gardens are replaced by robotic greenhouses that grow food at incredible speeds – up to 500 times faster than traditional growing methods!

On the other hand, that’s not even mentioning our future ability to tele-transport food – or its data – thanks to 3D printers and powdered food synthesisers. Companies will have digitised every type of food in the world to achieve this, perfectly emulating their colours, flavours, textures, shapes and nutrient values.

Even AI will play a role, potentially recreating our favourite tastes from our memories, matching our moods, and creating the most appropriate dishes for any given occasion.

Whichever way we look at it, the future of food is going to be interesting, and we’ll drink to that!

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