May 18, 2022

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Focus on Next 30: What will the food of the future be?

Hold on tight: In 30 years, perhaps, we’ll put on the table a dish based on crickets and locusts, or food “cooked” in a lab or assembled by a 3D printer: Insects and artificial foods really seem like two of the most likely answers to the need to feed less than Just 10 billion people, how many estimated we will be in 2050. It will be difficult to succeed by increasing the yields of agriculture and livestock to provide the products we are accustomed to today: it will have a devastating impact on ecosystems.

Because insects will be the food of the future. Thus, for several years now, we have been talking about ants, larvae and the like: they are excellent sources of low-cost proteins and some species, such as mealworms, migratory locusts and domestic crickets, already have a positive opinion for human use by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Those who have tasted it swear that it is also good, but it certainly will not be easy to get used to it because “eating is also a cultural issue and in us insects are disgusting, but surely they will be increasingly used in animal feed for farms and sooner or later they will enter” processed human food, for example in Precise form,” says Andrea Giselli, president of the Italian Society of Food Sciences.

However, introducing them would not be trivial, but rather disgusting, because, as explained by Ermolaus Verfreis, the EFSA expert who coordinated the first opinion about insects as new foods, “many food allergies are linked to proteins, so it will be necessary to understand whether those insects are They can provoke them or give reactions with other allergens. Moreover, they are still complex organisms, all parts of which are consumed, so it is not easy to describe the composition of the resulting food products. “

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Hamburger in the lab. So it will take more time, but the way seems to be set; Something similar could also happen to artificial foods, from meat in test tubes obtained from stem cells, to 3D printers being created. foods suits for your nutritional needs. Food grown in the laboratory is actually relatively easy to make: it is enough to reproduce the stem cells on the farm, providing them with the necessary nutrients under controlled conditions (which also eliminates the need to use antibiotics to avoid contamination and effectively eliminate production waste).

Today cultured meat burgers still cost about $150-200 and the taste could be improved (we’re working on stem cells that could give fat cells or fat cells to give burgers softness and flavor), but expectations are very high given the business appears to be worth $25 billion by 2030. We are also moving into the field of food printers, meeting not only the needs of star chefs who want to taste foods of unusual shapes, but above all the needs of people with specific dietary needs: at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, a method for creativity has been developed food inks For molding shapes starting with fresh and frozen vegetables, with no additives added.

They can be useful for people who have problems swallowing, because with the new method the desired shapes and softness are obtained, while preserving the flavor and nutrients. A solution even to children who are rebellious in front of the carrot: present it under the guise of a pet that can make them appreciate it, with an easier procedure than juggling knives or blenders, in which it is enough to press a button.

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Bacteria and health. If the kitchens of the future were to have printers on the counter and “synthetic” meat in the fridge, it’s also possible that we’re actually eating our best and we’ll have to do more lab testing. Nutritional innovation has already begun, explains Pasquale Strazzolo, president of the Italian Society for Human Nutrition (SINO): “The next limit is the personalization of the diet. The same food can have different effects on different people because we each have our own genome that influences the way we ingest food; Each has a specific and unique intestinal flora, that is, a group of bacteria in the gut. In recent years it has become clear that the composition of the bacterial flora is greatly affected by what we eat, which also becomes food for these intestinal microflora, and that in turn has a fundamental impact on public health.”

Intestinal bacteria metabolize and transform every food we serve, thus greatly affecting the effect any food has on the body: the challenge in the future will therefore be to understand who they are. roommates Each of us has to find the right diet to make the good bacterial species thrive, so as to stay healthy.