We certainly live in interesting times.
On the one hand it’s all high tech and disruption within the food industry while on the other demand is increasing for allotments and the capacity to ‘grow your own.’. Do we have to be on one side or the other or can we be rather agnostic and use the best from each camp?
Lab grown meat, for example, is now a reality
Reportedly, production costs are almost down to affordable levels; expect to see burgers from the lab hitting a restaurant pretty soon. Maybe this will be the way to stop even more rain forest being felled to provide grazing especially as we know that meat consumption is set to rise. Something has to be done but would you eat lab grown meat?
Biodegradable packaging is another thing that is well overdue.
We have all been shamed into revising our attitude to the rubbish we make and what our food is wrapped in. This move towards more biodegradable packaging may even give us the opportunity to recycle the tons of shellfish waste we currently don’t use and just dump. That would be a win/win surely?
What about vertical farming?
This is where the urban environment is used to grow more food within cities? Bearing in mind the heat islands that are being created through urban architecture we might even see exotics popping up on our high streets. It would also reduce food miles and may even help city buildings to stay cooler. By painting urban buildings white temperatures can drop by 10 degrees so imagine what difference vertical greenery could make?
Super crops are also being developed.
There is such a thing as ‘scuba rice’ that will tolerate being submerged for a fortnight without coping to harm. It’s all sci-fi, futuristic stuff that is not becoming science fact. For some it’s a step too far while others embrace the future and cannot wait to see what happens next.
However, there is no reason to abandon old or traditional skills
These are the kinds of things like curing, preserving, brining, jam and jelly -making that have served for centuries especially if these potential food shortage news items become a reality. Surely some of our issues with food can be resolved by shopping seasonally and also locally? Perhaps we should all get the ‘Dig for Victory’ spirit once more and begin to turn our concrete spaces into wildlife friendly allotments within our cities? To be outside and in touch with nature has always been a tonic physically and mentally. Why not, how great would it be if people had more access to home grown food?
How many seasonal foods do you eat?
As we move through the year there’s nothing wrong with punctuating life by eating the foods that are seasonal and learn to make jams, chutneys, pickles and the kind of products our great grandparents would have always had on their pantry shelves.
Food still needs that feel good factor
Yes, the food and drink industry always does have to innovate to survive
But have you noticed that alongside this drive farmers’ markets, traditional bakers, cheese mongers and butchers are making a come back. People want to talk about their food; they want to discuss foodie possibilities with professionals who can advise. They want a food experience that encompasses provenance, drama, taste, sight, sounds, smells and the feel good factor.
Yes it will also be exciting to see malnutrition transformed through iron rich beans or crops that can survive in super dry climates. Yet what we can do is learn to help ourselves and look around us at what is available now and is grown locally. Waste not want not is also an adage that may need to come back into fashion. What do you think? Do you think food tech is the answer or should we just make more small scale, practical changes?