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Future foods: the novel ingredients that will shape the way we eat

Future foods: the novel ingredients that will shape the way we eat

More and more 'future foods' are being developed in direct response to climate change and food insecurity.

Future foods: the novel ingredients that will shape the way we eat

With the global food system facing the threats of climate change, scientists and businesses are making exciting developments in the food space.

From pasta made from insects, to meat made in a lab, these future foods might soon find their way on your plate.

Insects

A recent report by researchers at the University of Cambridge has named insects as one of the ‘future foods’ that could be used to combat malnutrition.

State-of-the-art greenhouses that breed insects like flies and mealworms have the potential to withstand environmental changes, pests and diseases.

To overcome consumer reservations about eating these novel foods, the researchers suggest using these insects as ingredients in foods like pasta, burgers and energy bars.

Sea grass

Spanish Michelin-starred chef Ángel León is looking at ways to harvest a grain from seagrass meadows. The small grains are found in the base of eelgrass, an ocean plant that grows around León’s hometown of Cádiz.

Working with local university researchers on a pilot project, the chef developed a ‘marine garden’ of salt marshes where he could cultivate and harvest the grain.

He was able to turn it into flour for bread and pasta, as well as use it as a grain for traditional dishes like paella. Like algae, seagrass is incredible at absorbing carbon dioxide.

A WWF report stated that despite covering just 0.2 per cent of the seabed, seagrass absorbs 10 per cent of the ocean’s carbon every year.

Cultured meat

While the idea of eating meat grown in a lab may still have to gain mainstream acceptance, new startups and large companies around the world are pumping millions of dollars into this growing area of ‘cultured’ or ‘cell-based’ meats.

“These meat substitutes have the potential to provide a future source of meat with significantly fewer environmental impacts, although there are challenges to replicating the texture and taste of meat,” says Dr Rachel Carey, a lecturer in food systems at the University of Melbourne.

Seaweed

Seaweed is often cited as a versatile and sustainable food source of the future. The seaweed industry is rapidly growing, used in food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and fertilisers.

Kelp farms are on the rise, due to seaweed’s impressive ability to absorb more carbon dioxide than trees, while also extracting nitrogen from the sea.

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