When we were little, our moms and dads imagined that in the future all food would be packed in tubes a la toothpaste, as for space. Well, that's perfectly understandable. In the middle of the last century, the whole world was raving about space. Space was synonymous with the future of humanity. Children wanted to become astronauts and for this they ate porridge, which, thus, turned out to be indirectly related to distant galaxies. And at the same time - borsch, cottage cheese and cutlets.
The fantasy of a man of the 20th century refused to look for a substitute for familiar and intuitive dishes, and the traditional menu in its entirety (and puree-like consistency) migrated to the orbital stations. Today, you don't need to fly anywhere to eat the real Space Food produced by the Space Food Laboratory. Tube food is sold in conventional vending machines, like energy bars and soda. This is already our present. What does the future hold for us?
Food with software
We are more inventive about this than the generation of the 1950s. And we look much further. There is, for example, a series of rather detailed forecasts of the development of mankind up to 2099 from the famous American futurologist, scientist, inventor and Google CTO Ray Kurzweil. Kurzweil predicts that by 2049, all our food will be produced by micromachines at the molecular level, and the quality will be the same as usual, only better. All parameters, including calories, amino acids, vitamins and microelements, will be adjusted using a computer program.
Another Kurzweil forecast for the middle of the XXI century is the disappearance of the border between virtual and ordinary reality, as well as the acquisition of the ability by physical objects to change their properties. Considering that Kurzweil's previous predictions came true with an accuracy of 85% (with an error of a couple of years), then in 32 years on our table will be anything but borsch and porridge. And the presence of a table in the form that we have become accustomed to for two thousand years raises some doubts.
The world's most bearded gerontologist, futurologist, founder of the SENS Research Foundation, Prize, Man-Made Minions Ltd. and Aubrey de Gray, an adherent of regenerative medicine, believes that food, or rather, food restrictions, is one of the important components of our longevity.
It is no coincidence that intermittent fasting is popular among Silicon Valley professionals. De Gray's goal is to develop a strategy to achieve negligible aging by engineering. Someone calls it immortality. But de Gray prefers to remain within the framework of scientific ethics and speaks of the maximum extension of life. Just imagine - 7.3 billion centenarians! Although no, by the time everything works, there will be much more of us, and, of course, it is technically impossible to feed this whole army with farm beef forever. Therefore, in Aubrey de Gray's model of the future, our meat does not grow in barns, but in test tubes.
As we learn to read yogurt labels, science fiction is moving from research centers to manufacturing. Biochemist Patrick Brown's Impossible Foods project began producing artificial meat last March. The production is designed for almost 500,000 kg. finished products per month and will expand. To obtain an artificial cutlet, Brown uses hemes - complex compounds that make up hemoglobin and are responsible for the red color of blood. A burger with such a cutlet costs twice as much as usual - about $ 12, but work continues. Behind Brown are Bill Gates, Lee Kashin and Silicon Valley venture capital funds as investors.
If De Gray's future wins and we live longer, and Kurzweil's future, along with the micromachines that can cook anything, is late, we have a problem. Humanity already uses 80% of arable land. Alternatively, progressive companies like Birds Eye are proposing to build skyscraper farms in cities. Hundreds of different crops can be grown in such skyscrapers all year round - from greens to kombucha (“kombucha” has penetrated the future!).
Vertical farming does not need land, uses pesticides, does not produce waste, and can help large cities with recycling. A pilot project to merge cities and villages - Plant Chicago - was launched in 2014 by Bubbly Dynamics, LLC. So, on an area of 93,500 sq. feet of the former meat processing plant, an innovative farm has grown with an algae bioreactor, mushroom and aquaponic farms (aquaponics is a symbiosis of fish farming and hydroponics, when the cultivation of fish and plants turns into a mutually beneficial cycle). It is even slightly more than a vertical farm. This is a business complex of the future (read also: "How to find an idea for a business in just 15 minutes").
In the future, more and more people will be concerned about the issue of respect for food. According to the UN World Food Program (WFP), today there are about 795 million hungry people in the world. At the same time, in developed countries, a third of quite suitable products are sent to garbage cans. Dumpster diving, or freegancy, is a movement that arose as a protest against the thoughtless waste of food. Freegans are not beggars. On the contrary, as a rule, these are wealthy educated people who, instead of buying food, use what supermarkets and restaurants throw out every day.
Until recently, it was the choice of individuals, but gradually freganism is gaining supporters. One of the most striking events was the opening by the Italian chef Massimo Bottura (3 Michelin stars) of the RefettoRio free dining room for the poor during the Rio Olympics. The food in the canteen was prepared exclusively from waste - from unrealized parts of carcasses and other food left over after preparing food for athletes.
On the leftovers from the master's table (230 tons of food was allocated daily for the athletes' food) Massimo Bottura fed the Brazilian homeless like kings. The social project ran for 55 days with the support of the Food for Soul Foundation, the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture and the mayor of the city of Rio. In the direction of economy are the French (read also: "Why the Russians are easier to feed than the French"). For people who throw away 30 kg every year. food per person, the future came in 2015, when the French parliament passed a law against excess food waste. This law prohibits supermarkets from disposing of unsold but good food.
Dishes of worms and insects
While Europe is learning to save money, Asia is thinking about how to feed people using available means. More precisely - pasture. These are, first of all, insects, which have been eaten in Africa and Southeast Asia for centuries. In the best of times - as a snack. At worst - as the only source of valuable protein. Obviously, we are somewhere in between, and the task of scientists and chefs is to prepare something nutritious and pleasant enough to look and taste from insects.
Five years ago, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) presented a list of 1,500 edible insect species. This variety leaves no chance for mammals on our table. And this is correct - in the context of the coming era of humanism. It's just not very clear whether it is ethical to eat insects. We have yet to figure this out. But healthy - for sure, as they are also a source of Omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, insects have a higher production ratio per unit of feed nutrition than livestock, and it is more budgetary and less resource-intensive to grow them.
Apparently, ordinary food, prepared in familiar, proven ways (and in more modern ways, to which you just can't get used to - like molecular cuisine), will not disappear in the coming years. The experiment, started by two legendary chefs, Englishman Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck restaurant) and Catalan Ferran Adriá (El Bulli restaurant), who crossed culinary with science, continues all over the world.
Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Pierre Gagnaire in Paris, Nom in Copenhagen, Rogue 24 in Washington - all these are outstanding establishments, where they come not so much for delicious food as for new experiences. Still, few people cook at home using a laser and a siphon. According to foodies, molecular cuisine remains one of the main trends in gastronomy. An innovative food processing technique that turns anything into anything - espums, soufflés, ice cream, chips, or a sphere with hard walls and liquid contents - is too eye-catching and offers endless variations in textures and flavor combinations for the restaurant business to abandon it all. 25 years after invention.
Food and economics
For some, eating is a biological function. For some it is a pleasure, a way to have a good time. But food is also an influential factor in the economy. Several years ago, the Peruvian government made a bet on gastronomic tourism, and here you are - Lima is recognized as the gastronomic capital of Latin America. Everyone is crazy about ceviche and rokoto relleno It is likely that neighboring countries also have something to offer, but our choice has already been made. The trick is to explain to tourists and its citizens the value of the national culinary tradition and local products.
Obviously, for the French, all the best is growing in France. For Italians - in Italy. For Turks - in Turkey. The nature of Northern Europe is not so abundant, which requires ingenuity and knowledge of the subject from the local chefs. In the so-called "Manifesto of Scandinavian chefs" - New Nordic Cuisine, proclaimed in 2004 - the main values of the new cuisine were the following of seasonality and preference for local products. We are also in trend. In Russia, the embargo on the import of a number of products has played into the hands of the local manufacturer.
California remains the flagship of healthy lifestyle and nutrition. Looking at what is happening in San Francisco, we see what awaits us. There is less meat and more vegetables. In the supermarkets of the future, huge sections with vegan and vegetarian food await us, where all kinds of substitutes for meat, eggs and milk will be presented. Already, healthy food is a whole industry supported by stars such as Moby, Leonardo DiCaprio, Peter Dinklage, Jessica Chastain, Emily Deschanel. When people come to a restaurant, they want to be sure that they will be fed not only tasty, but also right.
In the West, collaboration between chefs and nutritionists is a common practice, but in our country it is a promising direction, as well as services for the delivery of nutritional rations. Food-constructors are a new stage of consumption, at which it turns out to save time and at the same time eat consciously. While this is the choice of the most advanced, but this is the beginning. Faith Popcorn, an American futurist, marketer, head of the consulting firm BrainReserve, has long predicted the tendency to cocooning - the departure of a modern person into a cocoon, away from pressure from bosses, government environments and crowds of people.
The time has come for telecommuting and online shopping. Marketers consider the purchase of the American grocery chain Whole Foods Market by the online retailer Amazon as the beginning of the end of the supermarket era. The next step, according to Faith, will be to completely eliminate intermediaries in favor of intuitive shopping. To do this, it will be enough to build a chip into the brain, and any our desire - I want a watermelon or smelt - will be immediately fulfilled.
Products we lose:
Honey can disappear due to the fact that honey bees suffer from mites that infect entire families. Moreover, natural honey is difficult to compete with artificial one.
Cavendish bananas are dying out due to the Tropical Race 4 fungal disease.
Some varieties of apples cannot live without cold winters. In the face of global warming, they will not survive.
Mussels disappear due to desalination of water bodies. Algae and plankton, which molluscs feed on, die.
Fish. A disturbance in the pH level of the water is dangerous for marine fish. For a river - a rise in temperature, at which the toxicity of pollution and pesticides increases.
Avocados are not profitable. More than 300 liters are required. water to grow 1 kg. avocado. Over the next 30 years, the number of fruits grown will decrease by 40%.
Rice and beans will be with us this century. But due to climate change, yields in tropical areas will decline. Rice - 50%, beans - 25%. The amount of potatoes, cocoa beans and coffee will also decrease.
Photo: Getty Images
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