Food For Thought From Floriade 2022

Diagram of future food | Food for Thought, Floriade 2022

We’re recently back from visiting Floriade Expo 2022, a ten-yearly international horticulture event taking place in Almere, The Netherlands. I wanted to share this idea from a display in the Natural Pavilion about how the food of the future could be customised to suit our body’s make-up and our individual tastes.

The exhibitors imagined a future where nutrient-producing microbes are grown in controlled bioreactors. High-quality food powders are produced when the microbes are drained, filtered and dried.

“Supermarkets slowly become pharmacies full of powders, capsules and liquids. These deliver high-quality carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, vitamins, fibres and minerals for the basis of each meal. Also available are colourants and aromas. Supermarkets of 2050 provide DNA and health analyses, so everyone knows exactly what their bodies need in order to flourish.” – Floriade 22

Households are equipped with Artificial Intelligence systems that offer unique recipes, tailored to the residents’ bodily needs, preferences and past behaviour. The look, feel, taste, smell and even sound of food can be customised, then prepared by a food printer. The same nutrients can be sweet, spicy or sour; crunchy or creamy; can smell of fruit, honey, bacon or fish; can be bold red or pale green; striped or speckled. Food has become a personal art form.

“New eating tools, rituals, and habits will appear by 2050. Perhaps there will be sensory dice for random recipe-development, or new ways to make meals coordinated or communal. There may be tableware to stop spherical foods from rolling off the table or mouthpieces that enhance your drinking experience.” – Floriade 22

The theorists went on to consider how a completely new food system such as this may affect our bodies, brains and behaviour. Over time, they speculated, stomachs and intestines may shrink, the appendix may disappear, and our jaws and teeth may change.

Floriade’s themes include sustainability, liveability and a hopeful future, and there is plenty to hope for in all this: malnutrition and some common diseases may be eradicated. On the other hand, there was no mention of how our political systems would need to rise to meet scientific advances in food delivery.

How far off are scientists from making any of these predictions come true, I wonder? At what cost, financial and social? Who would hold the intellectual property rights? How, by 2050, could we have the collective will to make sure such a system benefits all? Food for thought, indeed.

40 Replies to “Food For Thought From Floriade 2022”

  1. This all sounds utterly distasteful. Beyond that, it’s analogous to the current advice to “just buy an electric vehicle.” Those struggling to pay $30-40 for a gallon of gas can’t afford a standard used car, let alone an EV. The worrisome divide in society these days increasingly is that between the wealthy who control the tech world, and humans trying to adapt to their utopian dreams.

  2. There are two things I like about this: imagination and hope. Hunger is with us near and far, and, though imagination and hope don’t feed anyone at the moment, they give us reason to think that some day all people will have food. If only.

    1. Family recipes could be passed down accurately by replicator, but it would take a few generations and some ingredients common now, such as sugar, will surely be frowned upon. It seems ironic to think of designer food combinations and ideal nutrition when so many people are struggling.

  3. Sounds like hell on earth! I grow my own vegetables and fruits, and as they are organic, I can eat them from the trees or even soil, no powders for me!

    Joanna

    1. A lot would have to change before I’d choose powder rather than freshly picked fruit. The wild raspberries have been very tasty this year along our walks.

  4. The intellectual property ownership rights are crucial and it’s unlikely they will be shared with the masses. Already bigtech agri is trying to claim indigenous seed sources as their own and patent them. Or else limit farmers to their own GM seed varieties that involve massive pesticide use during growing and the dessication of the crop prior to harvesting. Eat, grow and buy real food locally is the way to maintain healthy, autonomous beings. Not easy though to push against the tide of centralised control.

  5. A fun thought exercise, but it does feel a bit fantastical like ‘Soylent Green.’ 🙂
    Personally, I like texture and roughage, 😉 not to mention the pleasure of pulling fresh produce from the garden.

  6. Food for all is a great thought but I’m inclined to agree with some of the other comments. There will likely always be vested interests who will profit from this to the detriment of others and I don’t much like the sound of artificially produced food. Good to know someone is thinking to the future though.

    1. I do not know where I stand on genetically modified food in a normal sense, let alone this. Perhaps they’ll go down the additives route first for the people who add powder to their smoothies. I half-heartedly looked at buying dried strawberries for some recipe or other, not long ago, but they seemed ridiculously expensive.

  7. Some excellent comments generated here which I agree with. I personally would like to see supermarkets offering less choice and more local produce (especially fruit and veg in season) there must be so much wastage. In fact I’d be happy to go back to the time when all we had were local grocers. Here we have farm shops which are far too expensive for most people, but few proper markets.

    1. Mum, my sister and I were being nostalgic yesterday about when there was a fruit and veg shop on the next corner (and when all peas in their pods were sweet). One of my concerns about Brexit was continued access to affordable, high quality fruit and veg. I can’t take for granted the chance to buy big, fresh, red bell peppers for 50p, when in the US I’ve often seen relatively puny, half-shrivelled ones offered for $2.

      1. When I first visited Australia (1998) I was appalled at the poor quality of their fruit and veg and how expensive it all was. I guess the best stuff is exported.

    1. I remember when the year 2000 seemed like a long way off! At 105, we’ll perhaps be glad of some other way than standing over a stove to make dinner.

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