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.

39 Replies to “Food For Thought From Floriade 2022”

    1. I like the idea of dialling up the crunchiness and thinness of crisps or being able to specify exactly the right pastry and filling for a pie, but something tells me pies and crisps are not what is being imagined.

  1. This is absolutely fascinating, I am just beginning my preserving journey through this years delights from the farmer’s market. It would be a cosmic shift to get this same joy from producing supper in front of my printer.

    1. A cosmic shift for me too. All sorts of ideas are wrapped up in food, assuming we are lucky enough to have choices. Ideas about provenance, treats, family history, even the little details.

    1. I have no doubt some of this is not far off but struggle to see domestic food printers being available at a high spec for all, at an affordable price.

    1. ’This evening, Jackie programmed the replicator for…’ does not have the same ring. I feel sure she’d be able to make the best use of one though!

  2. This would make people absolutely dependant on government/companies. I’m sure tahat in that scenario they will make sure that people won’t be able to grow their own natural food. Anyway wright now we have enough dood to feed the whole planet. It’s not the matter of lack of food, but the lack of good will to provide food for everyone who need it. Take a look at your nearest supermarket, how giant diversity of food sits on the shelves and ask yourself is it possible that you, your neighbours will eat all that food in next couple weeks? For me personally, this scenario seems like nightmare. It takes away all the pleasure of preparing and eating real food. I refuse to be fed with artificial “fuel” doesn’t matter how “sustainable” they say it will be.

    1. Many reassurances would surely be needed. I would hope people would always able to grow their own food if they wanted to, but that would require access to a garden of some form, which not everyone has.

    1. Star Trek came to mind for me too. It could turn out better than my cooking. It would not be too difficult to surpass yesterday evening’s ‘different-tasting’ spicy pasta.

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