Have you ever wondered about the future of food? Josie Ung, Account Director at Mindshare UK has and also done extensive research on the subject. In her presentation at Mindshare’s Huddle 2017, she posed the question ‘What are we going to be eating in 2050?’ And based on her findings, she presented the audience with a captivating and informative answer.
Josie told the huddle that we are on a road to a world of hunger, and that there are four plausible alternatives to the way we will be eating in 2050. Our food and attitudes towards it will either flourish or flop.
The possible futures for food will range on a scale of fuel to flavour. We could be utilising urban farming techniques such as micro greens and indoor farming. We might also be eating foods such as egg free mayo, meal replacement smoothies, and plant based burgers produced in a lab to look and taste like real meat. On the other side of the spectrum, we could be eating purely to fuel our bodies, by filling them with liquid food and pellets that contain all the nutrients we need to live.
Josie believes the future of our food will entail a combination of these possibilities depending on our attitudes towards food.
Immediately after the presentation, the team from FAB News was hooked, and wanted to know more. So, we sat down with Josie to get a better understanding about her research:
Q) Are there any steps we can take now to prevent a damaging future of food for ourselves or the environment?
A) Knowing that we are going to have increased population by 2050 and that we are going to have to increase food production by about 70% in order to feed everybody, I think the main thing at a consumer level that we can do is have a big focus on less waste.
This comes in three ways; in terms of the crops that are thrown away, so the ones that don’t make it to the supermarket because they’re not pretty enough; less food waste in the home by managing the food we buy properly; and then at a broader level beyond the actual food, but what the food is coming in, so less waste in terms of the plastic and packaging that our food is wrapped in.
I think that as a collective would have the biggest impact on preparing and protecting for the future.
Q) Which of the futures you discussed is most plausible?
A) There is so much that can happen between now and 2050. I think that unfortunately what’s going to shift us into one of those scenarios over another is going to be environmental factors beyond our control.
Ideally, I would like it to be a future where we are in control and we’ve made advances in agriculture so that we’re more closely linked to natural food, but it’s definitely a tricky question!
Q) What is the most surprising thing you’ve discovered while doing your research on this topic?
A) I think the most surprising thing would be all of the innovations that are happening in lab meat and more specifically in the production of other animal based products using plants. We hear a lot through the media about food that is being made in labs, but in my research, I learned that there is so much more that is happening in the space behind the scenes.
It’s products that aren’t currently commercially viable, instead they’re contained within a tech space. The level of machine based learning to understand the structure of animal based products and predicting how we can imitate that with plants is just incredible.
Q) What is your personal attitude towards food and how do you think it is going to change as we get closer to 2050?
A) I’m obsessed with food! I’m always thinking about what I’m eating next and spend way too much time at the supermarket. But I think moving forward, what’s going to change for me the most is looking at food more closely.
So being conscious about where our food is coming from, how its produced, how its packaged, and the sort of impact that those choices are having on me and my body, on the environment, and on the future as well. Although, there is a big focus on health now and eating well and fuelling our bodies properly, it’s going to get bigger than that in terms of the impact it’s having.
Q) How is the culture surrounding food going to change as we start adopting new ways to feed ourselves?
A) What we cook and what we eat defines who we are as people and what’s important to us. Everything we eat means something to you whether you consciously realise it or not and food is about much more than just food, it’s culture, it’s civilisation, it’s comfort eating if you’ve had a bad day.
So, I don’t think if we’re eating pellets or lab meat our culture will change. I can’t see it changing too much, either way people are still going to gather together over some sort of food whatever that food may look like. That time together will always be important.
A) I hope not! But I don’t think it’s too difficult to imagine a world where we live purely on products that are designed to fuel us.
We see a lot of that now, people are busy and it feels like we’re just getting busier, and time is more precious because we’re already eating breakfast on the run and lunch at our desks.
There’s definitely occasions where food for fuel can easily play a role in our lives and it’s sometimes better than the food choices that we make at the moment. I can see a future where that happens the vast majority of the time, but I think ultimately, eating for pleasure can’t ever truly disappear, not by choice anyway.
Q) What will be the largest shift in the way we eat?
A) I think we are going to be faced with some pretty big questions when it comes to the food that we’re eating in the future. Especially the tech advances that are happening in terms of what our perceptions of food are. I think a big one will be what it means for food to be natural.
If something is grown indoors and never sees the sun, is that still natural? Is fresh food grown inside going to be the new indulgence or will it just be that we accept that farming all happens inside? How quickly will these practices be accepted as main stream food and are they okay to be putting in our body will be the bigger questions and then shifts in our habits for sure.
Josie definitely provided us with some food for thought on this subject and we hope you found it as interesting as we did. So, remember to recycle those plastic packages, keep eating for pleasure, and think about what it means for food to be natural, and we’ll see you in 2050!
Article by Julia Brown, Correspondent, FAB News