Food. It is delicious, enjoyable, and nutritious, it is a necessity for life, but it is also the source of a multitude of problems. Lifestyle diseases, – obesity, diabetes and heart disease – can be seen as the direct result of the Western Diet, livestock is the second-highest contributor to atmosphere-altering gases (Bittman, 2007) and food is being wasted even before it reaches the table despite a sixth of today’s population suffering from malnutrition (Silverstein, 2013). Such issues combined with a growing population and an increase in food related technological developments became the foundations for our scenario design to create a possible future for the year 2050.
It is estimated that by 2050, the world’s population may reach 9.7 billion (Wilson, 2013), a number that will only magnify the numerous issues mentioned, unless there is a reassessment on our approach to food. In his book ‘Meals to Come: A History of the Future of Food’, Warren Belasco discusses a New Nutrition fair which aimed for food to become based on a more “scientific” and technological foundation creating a future that had an “industrialized food paradigm that treated eating as resource extraction”. Here, a future is offered where independence from tradition is valued and a greater importance is placed in nutrition over all the other elements of food (Belasco, 2006). This future, which Belasco titles as the “Modernist future” is comparable to our future scenario, which depicts a society that acknowledges food as fuel – a world developed as a solution to address the global health issues and the damaging consequences of farming and wastage. While the timeline of events leading to our scenario differs from Belasco’s technology dominated conception, the result is quite alike.
If we focus on the health aspect of our scenario design, Sobhy El Sohaimy’s ‘Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals-Modern Approach to Food Science’ also becomes relevant. While Sohaimy’s ideas are far less radical than what we have envisioned, his ideas on creating food to improve human health is not dissimilar. His notion of “functional foods and nutraceuticals” offers the body with required vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins etc., and aids prevention or treatment of diseases and disorders respectively, an idea that can be linked directly to a component that underpins our scenario.
To give a more tangible element to these three theoretical concepts, Johanna Schmeer’s ‘Bioplastic Fantastic’ project can be observed to examine a possible outcome generated from placing a focus on nutrition and the essentials of food. In her project, Schmeer forms synthetic foods through seven products, which use nanotechnology to produce essential nutrients in the forms of liquids and powders to substitute traditional foods (Howarth, 2014). Several parallels can be drawn from this project to our scenario design, including its primary purpose of feeding a growing population and the opinion of the need to “rethink food entirely” as stated by Schmeer (Howarth, 2014). However, as the project remains conceptual and carries a whimsical quality that pushes it almost into an art category, there may be a difficulty for general audiences when trying to relate to the ideas expressed. Nonetheless the project offers a starting point to a possible future for the year 2050.
Belasco, W. 2006, ‘Meals to Come: A History of the Future of Food,’ 1st Edition, University of California, California
Bittman, M. 2007, What’s Wrong With What We Eat, video recording, TED, viewed 20 October 2014, <http://www.ted.com/talks/mark_bittman_on_what_s_wrong_with_what_we_eat/transcript?language=en>
Howarth, D. 2014, Johanna Schmeer Imagines The Future Of Food With Bioplastic Fantastic, Dezeen Magazine, viewed 22nd October 2014, <http://www.dezeen.com/2014/07/02/bioplastic-fantastic-johanna-schmeer-future-food-show-rca-2014/>
Silverstein, M. 2013. The Future of Food, video recording, TED, viewed 20 October 2014, <http://www.ted.com/watch/ted-institute/ted-bcg/michael-silverstein-the-future-of-food>
Sohaimy, S.E. 2012, ‘Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals-Modern Approach to Food Science’, World Applied Sciences Journal, vol. 20, viewed 21 October 2014 <http://www.academia.edu/2345358/Functional_Foods_and_Nutraceuticals-Modern_Approach_to_Food_Science>
Wilson, S. 2013, ‘World Population to Reach 9.7 Billion by 2050 New Study Predicts’, The Telegraph, 2 October, viewed 20 October 2014, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/10348822/World-population-to-reach-9.7-billion-by-2050-new-study-predicts.html>