61 results for “Food”

Next Generation: Why Annie Larkins’ egg project is essential for future food thinking

Freya Hutchings
November 29th 2019

This story is part of Next Generation, a series in which we give young makers a platform to showcase their work. Your work here? Get in touch and plot your coordinates as we navigate our future together.

For her MA Material Futures graduate project, designer Annie Larkins set herself the impossible challenge of reverse engineering the humble chicken egg from scratch... That is, without a chicken.

The project started as a response to concern for the environment, an interest in …

Why you should attend ADE Green

Ruben Baart
October 1st 2019

ADE Green returns for the seventh consecutive year to the DeLaMar Theater in Amsterdam. Once more, Amsterdam Dance Event organizes this leading event to ignite sustainable action, innovation and social change through the (electronic) music industry. The result is a tasty mix of local heroes and global game changers that unite to answer pressing questions from within the music industry — and beyond.

To give you an idea, the conference asks whether it's possible (and how) to keep your ecological …

Next Nature Night: Future food is on the menu

NextNature.net
September 10th 2019

Always thinking about food? What about food that doesn’t exist yet? On the 18th of September at De Studio, Next Nature Network will host a night of talks on the future of food and beyond. The event will expand on themes presented in the Future Food exhibition, a collaboration between NNN and NEMO science museum, currently being shown at the same location.

What will we eat in the future? How will it be made and how will we consume it? …

Future Food: Here’s what we’ll be eating in 2050

NextNature.net
August 1st 2019

What will you be having for breakfast, lunch or dinner in 2050? Where will this food be sourced? And how will it be prepared? Edible insects? A hamburger made from cultured meat? Or powders based on your DNA profile?

It may sound far-fetched, but with a growing world population we must carefully consider how to grow our food in the future. At our Future Food exhibition (i.c.w. NEMO Science Museum) you will get an insight into your future meals based …

A vegan meat revolution is coming to global fast food chains

Malte Rodl
July 2nd 2019

A few years ago, convincing meat-free “meat” was nothing more than a distant dream for most consumers. Meat substitutes in supermarkets lacked variety and quality. Plant-based burgers were few and far between in major fast food outlets – and meaty they were not.

But realistic alternatives to environmentally damaging meat are now big business – and global fast food chains are finally starting to take notice.

Burger King has announced that after a hugely successful trial, it will roll out …

10 Next Nature dinner table conversation starters

Ruben Baart
June 27th 2019

Summer is here and the sun is out, and yes, this is awesome. After a long day in the sizzling summer sun, you get a group of people together to share some delicious food, catch-up, and, of course, have dinner table conversations.

Dinnertime can be the perfect time to talk with your family, friends or colleagues. However, after a long day, you may find yourself having not much to say at the dinner table. Then, the pre-dinner party fear starts …

Why some plastic packaging is necessary to prevent food waste

Manoj Dora and Eleni Iacovidou
June 13th 2019

There has been a surge in awareness of the damage that plastic pollution does to our planet in recent years. It has spurred a number of campaigns to remove single-use plastics from our daily lives. This extends to food packaging, with a Waitrose supermarket in the city of Oxford recently launching a package-free trial.

Many people bemoan the large amount of packaging that supermarkets use, particularly for fruit and vegetables, most of which have their own natural protection. Nonetheless, a …

How an app is helping restaurants cut food waste

Meike Schipper
November 14th 2018

Globally, humans produce enough food to feed 10 billion people (we are only 7 billion now) yet somehow we waste a third of this. Food waste is one of the biggest climate challenges of our time. Luckily there are some brilliant ideas out there aiming to tackle this global problem. The ECO coin Award 2018 looks to recognise these innovators and has nominated 3 international projects. These nominees caught our attention with their out-of-the-box concepts, international communities and strong visions …

Turning surplus bread into craft beer

Meike Schipper
November 7th 2018

Globally, humans produce enough food to feed 10 billion people (we are only 7 billion now) yet somehow we waste a third of this. Food waste is one of the biggest climate challenges of our time. Luckily, there are some brilliant ideas out there aiming to tackle this global problem. The ECO coin Award 2018 looks to recognise these innovators and has nominated 3 international projects. These nominees caught our attention with their out-of-the-box concepts, international communities and strong visions …

Why insects are not the new sushi

Jonas House
October 16th 2018

People across the world have been eating insects for thousands of years. We know that approximately 2,000 species are edible and that these insects are eaten in many different ways. The exception to this is the Western world, where insects are not a traditional food. This may be attributed to the fact that merely two per cent of edible insects occur naturally in Europe in comparison to the larger variety available in Asia, Africa and South America.…

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This story is part of Next Generation, a series in which we give young makers a platform to showcase their work. Your work here? Get in touch and plot your coordinates as we navigate our future together.

For her MA Material Futures graduate project, designer Annie Larkins set herself the impossible challenge of reverse engineering the humble chicken egg from scratch... That is, without a chicken.

The project started as a response to concern for the environment, an interest in vegan alternatives and sustainable food production, as well as a genuine appreciation for the complexity and dynamism of eggs; their form, nutritional value and symbolic existence across a range of cultures. An Egg Without A Chicken draws on an often overlooked history of unnatural processes that have shaped how ‘real’ eggs exist today, and forms a playful challenge to our current understandings of what is natural, or sustainable. 

"This project is a celebration of the egg"

Why make an egg?

Larkins identifies the intrinsic value of eggs as a versatile, nutritional and widely eaten food source: “eggs are a biological masterpiece; eaten across every culture and have been seen since prehistory.”  Moreover, she recognizes how eggs intersect with human culture in multiple ways: “eggs are highly symbolic, associated with religion and folklore, life, creation, fertility, beauty, health, purity, mystery and nature to name a few.” 

"Eggs are so commonplace that we overlook this everyday masterpiece."

However, in the context of our current food culture, eggs do not wield this kind of symbolic power or appreciation. Larkins highlights how “meat, eggs and dairy are so ubiquitous that they are no longer respected as they should be [...] eggs are so commonplace that we overlook this everyday masterpiece. By attempting to recreate them, perhaps the value we place on the original will be reconsidered.” What emerged from the project was a range of curiously shaped plant-based eggs that tell an important story.

Looking back to go forward

Larkins' humorous faux egg creations are inspired by a more serious history of human design when it comes to seemingly ‘natural’ chickens and their eggs. Her research charts developments such as the first dispersal of chickens away from their origins through trade, the ‘hen craze’ of the nineteenth century, which saw an unprecedented acceleration in selective breeding, through to the use of incubators and battery cages that mark present-day exploitative industrial farming methods. 

The designer’s research process also sheds light on how the taken-for-granted process of a chicken laying one egg per day is far from natural - laying habits have been manipulated by humans through selective breeding and the use of artificial light. Larkins recognizes how historical stages of human intervention have gradually “transformed the egg laying hen from an animal to an egg making machine.”  Furthermore, she emphasizes how “the contradiction between natural and unnatural in the chicken egg epitomizes the wider problem with industrial production of food.” 

“The contradiction between natural and unnatural in the chicken egg epitomizes the wider problem with industrial production of food.”

The project asks, can we break the cycle of human exploitation by reconnecting with our food, by trying something new in order to confront the animal and environmental impact of current practices? For Larkins, “it is clear that our current system of industrial farming is unsustainable. We will continue to need protein as part of a healthy, balanced diet so alternative forms of protein need to be explored [...] The reality is we need a variety of approaches against our broken food system.”

What makes an egg an egg?

When researching current vegan replacements for eggs, such as ‘egg-white’ powder and developments in lab-grown substitutes, Larkins was left unsatisfied - “I felt that many [existing] egg alternatives missed the essence of what an egg is.” It became essential for her to create an egg that would look, taste, behave and be of the same nutritional value as a ‘natural’ egg. After tireless experimentation, and the use of the molecular gastronomy technique of spherification, Larkins’ final ‘eggs’ were made using pea protein, salt, food coloring and algae-derived acid, before being dipped into Candelila wax to create a cracking shell.

With the unnaturalness of eggs forming the starting point of her project, Larkins pushed the boundaries imitation and familiarity by creating three impossible eggs: a long egg, a multi-yolk egg and a square egg. These exaggerated eggs are a playfully absurd speculation on what eggs might look like when no longer subject to the biological constraints of a chicken.

They also play on the fact that eggs have always been shaped by human needs, and consider, how might these needs translate in future adaptations of the egg? Like real eggs, Larkins’ impossible eggs are also influenced by human desire; the multi-yolk and long egg satisfies our need for more, whilst the square egg could result in more economic and efficient packaging. All ask us to question, how different are Larkins' egg replacements from the 'natural' eggs we encounter everyday? How do we define what is unnatural? Where do we draw the line, and who decides?

The future of eggs?

Is this project an operational plant-based alternative to eggs? In sum, no. Rather than boasting the perfect egg replacement, Larkins claims her project succeeded in creating "a range of edible objects that vaguely resemble an egg.” She states truthfully, “my egg tastes worse, is less nutritious, has an appearance nowhere near as satisfying, is less versatile, and has an incalculable environmental impact of its own that is almost certainly larger than a chicken egg.” But should this matter? After all, creating the perfect egg substitute was not the point of the project  - from the beginning Larkins acknowledged it was an “impossible task.” 

"Future food explorations need not always be working prototypes but can exist as valuable thought experiments."

Rather than evaluating the project in terms of its success as a plant-based alternative, we should consider it an impactful narrative that reconnects us with the uniqueness and complexity of this normalized food source, and consider the outcomes as tangible guides for difficult conversations regarding the hidden exploitation and contradictions inherent in chicken egg production. At the same time, the project is light hearted; it employs humor and absurdity to help us reassess our present. Larkins celebrates the fact her project will not be widely consumed: “the egg will not be tasted by most who encounter the project, which again helps to position it as an object of discussion.”

So, what to take away from this project? Importantly, that future food explorations need not always be perfect replacements but can exist as valuable thought experiments. An Egg Without a Chicken fosters a newfound respect for the biological complexity of ‘natural’ eggs, as both shaped by human desire but at the same time impossible to recreate (yet). For sure, Larkins did not end up with an egg, but rather a set of storytelling egg-ish objects that reflect the past as well as a hopeful future for eggs - “this project is a celebration of the egg, which is both hugely complex and yet so familiar it is unexceptional. It aims to re-frame the egg as more valuable than its price reflects.”

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ADE Green returns for the seventh consecutive year to the DeLaMar Theater in Amsterdam. Once more, Amsterdam Dance Event organizes this leading event to ignite sustainable action, innovation and social change through the (electronic) music industry. The result is a tasty mix of local heroes and global game changers that unite to answer pressing questions from within the music industry — and beyond.

To give you an idea, the conference asks whether it's possible (and how) to keep your ecological footprint in restrain when you pursue an international career, or book artists from abroad and organize events in different part of the world.

Sure, the rise of electronic dance music has helped to reduce the amount of equipment and band members being flown around the globe, but the biggest contributors to the industry’s carbon emissions remains touring and festivals — and not to mention audiences flying in. So what’s being done about that?

Elon Musk for one, thinks we should be using lithium-ion batteries for electric flights?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx3auTD85Fw

And what about the use of plastic during events? For years now, festivals, cup-suppliers and drinks brands are collaborating to create a circular cup system and create awareness among visitors. What are the lessons learned and how could the system be improved and expanded? ECO Coin anyone?

What it comes down to is this. There is an urgent need for a more sustainable music and event industry, but in order to establish such a thing, we need new ideas. These ideas then need a platform, an audience, and a network opportunity to be dealt with. It's exactly this that ADE Green is providing this year.

And if you’re already organizing a conference that flies in a lot of people — at least dedicate some time to sustainability.

What? ADE Green Conference
When? 18 October 2019
Where? DeLaMar Theater, Amsterdam

? Get a closer look at the full program here.
?️ Tickets for ADE Green can be purchased here.

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Always thinking about food? What about food that doesn’t exist yet? On the 18th of September at De Studio, Next Nature Network will host a night of talks on the future of food and beyond. The event will expand on themes presented in the Future Food exhibition, a collaboration between NNN and NEMO science museum, currently being shown at the same location.

What will we eat in the future? How will it be made and how will we consume it? Will our relationship with food change as a result? Three visionary speakers will contribute to the debate by sharing their thoughts on the intersection of food, design, science and technology.

Kicking off the evening, NNN’s Koert van Mensvoort will shed light on our co-evolutionary relationship with technology. Leave your preconceptions at the door, and expect an uplifting discussion of the exciting possibilities that surround food and biotechnology.

Next, Mathilde Nakken, a recent graduate from Design Academy Eindhoven and celebrated NNN fellow, will discuss her project SEA KALE-REVISED. Her research combines coastal engineering with saline agriculture. The project calls attention to the resilience of sea kale and its rare ability to flourish in cold salty water, as well as a global need for saline farming. Through synthesizing man-made structures and the needs of this underrated primeval plant, Nakken links coastal engineering to Dutch cuisine.

Last but certainly not least, self described 'eating designer' Marije Vogelzang will discuss her unique application of design thinking to the process of eating - and everything that surrounds it. She describes food as a ‘social glue’ and calls for new tools, rules, rituals and traditions to accompany new technical processes involving food. Her work reveals the urgency and potential of food and design in exciting ways. Vogelzang has started a restaurant-studio, published a book called ‘EAT LOVE’, is head of the new ‘Food non Food’ department and Design Academy Eindhoven, and initiated the Dutch Institute of Food & Design.

Following these talks, you will have the opportunity to accompany Koert Van Mensvoort for drinks and a guided tour by NEMO curator Tanja Koning of the Future Food exhibition. We start at 6pm. For tickets, head here. Join us for this tasty programming and change the way you see food forever!

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What will you be having for breakfast, lunch or dinner in 2050? Where will this food be sourced? And how will it be prepared? Edible insects? A hamburger made from cultured meat? Or powders based on your DNA profile?

It may sound far-fetched, but with a growing world population we must carefully consider how to grow our food in the future. At our Future Food exhibition (i.c.w. NEMO Science Museum) you will get an insight into your future meals based on plantbased, animal based and functional food scenarios.

From exploring fungal futures and designing your own vegetables, to getting to know Ira van Eelen and browsing through speculative dishes from our bistro in vitro — this will be a date to remember.

Workshops

Besides a visit to the exhibition you can also participate in workshops such as tasting insects, testing your nose and developing your future recipe. Workshops are held in both Dutch and English.

Evening programme on Wednesdays

In addition to a visit to the exhibition, you can also attend various workshops, lectures and other events on Wednesday evenings. Please note most of these activities are held in Dutch. You can find the full programme here.

Location, opening hours and tickets

You can visit Future Food between 10 July and 6 October 2019 at the Studio at the Marineterrein. The Studio is open on Wednesdays from 10:00-22:00 and Thursday through Sunday from 10:00-17:30. The Studio is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. 

Your NEMO ticket includes a visit to the Studio. If you only wish to see the Future Food exhibition, get your ticket here.

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A few years ago, convincing meat-free “meat” was nothing more than a distant dream for most consumers. Meat substitutes in supermarkets lacked variety and quality. Plant-based burgers were few and far between in major fast food outlets – and meaty they were not.

But realistic alternatives to environmentally damaging meat are now big business – and global fast food chains are finally starting to take notice.

Burger King has announced that after a hugely successful trial, it will roll out its partnership with plant-based meat company Impossible Foods across the US. McDonalds recently introduced the similarly meaty Big Vegan TS in its outlets in Germany, one of its five largest international markets.

Now finally able to produce meat-free imitations that are for many indistinguishable from their beefy counterparts, the rapidly growing industry appears set to make serious waves in the once impregnable bastions of cheap meat. In so doing, it could kickstart a rapid decline in meat’s contribution to the climate crisis – driven not just by a global minority of vegans and vegetarians, but by millions of meat-eaters too.

Joining the meatless burger bandwagon

Thanks to rising interest in food technology from Silicon Valley’s start-up scene, such indistinguishable vegan meat came on the menu a little over five years ago. Helped by huge investments, sophisticated marketing, and a friendly regulatory environment, US companies leaped to the forefront of vegan meat innovation. Products such as the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger soon entered into many smaller US restaurants and fast food outlets, before Burger King made it widely available across the country.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ng4C2HMH664

In contrast, for a long time, tighter food regulations in Europe stifled meatless meat innovation. Thanks to the European Union’s precautionary principle, companies face much more stringent checks to show that new ingredients and foods aren’t harmful before they can go on sale. Quorn, a low-cost meat substitute that is now a household name, took almost ten years to be approved as a legitimate foodstuff, because its use of fungi was unprecedented.

These tight regulations also stipulate that genetically modified ingredients have to be labelled, which may explain why the widely heralded Impossible Burger – which uses genetically modified yeast to produce the blood-like plant protein that tastes so much like beef – has not yet landed in European countries.

Combined with differences in language, food culture and investment climate across European states, innovative start-ups looking to bring high-quality meat analogues took longer to thrive in Europe.

But while the US may have had a head-start in high-quality vegan meat innovation, it may surprise you to know that plant-based alternatives are much more popular in parts of Europe. While some European states such as France, Portugal and Switzerland are yet to warm to fake meat, the average Briton (750g) or Swede (725g) consumed nearly twice as many meat alternatives in 2018 as in the US (350g), where vegan meats are have typically been more realistic and thus higher-priced than in much of Europe.

With the market growing at times by orders of magnitude as traditional meat-eaters switched on to plant-based products, it was only a matter of time before major European companies started cottoning on to the potential of high-quality meat imitations.

In 2017, McDonald’s was quick to roll out a vegan burger, the McVegan, at its restaurants in Finland and Sweden. But it was not designed to closely resemble meat, and was marketed primarily at vegans.

In the UK, where more than half of British people have either already reduced or are considering reducing their meat consumption, Greggs decided to blaze the trail. Having only last year considered vegan sausage rolls “too difficult” a proposition, they are now returning record profits thanks to an offering so popular that the bakery has struggled to keep up with demand.

In traditionally meaty Germany, meat alternatives were practically non-existent ten years ago. But Germans now aren’t far off the USA in fake meat consumption, thanks in part to prominent processed meat brands entering the market. It’s no coincidence that McDonald’s in Germany has since decided to partner with Nestlé, a new major player in the meatless meat game, to offer a vegan burger there.

The market for plant-based meat is rapidly growing across Europe and the USA. Malte Roedl/Euromonitor International, Author provided

If news of out-of-reach vegan burgers is giving you food envy, there is no need to worry. Different cultures, tastes, prices and administrative hurdles mean that developments will not happen everywhere at the same time. But in the next couple of years, expect to see a lot more plant-based meat coming to fast food chains near you.

Realistic chicken imitations have thus far proved difficult to master, but KFC plans to trial a vegan version of its chicken fillet burger from June 17. Meanwhile Burger King is already exploring how best to bring its vegan burger to Europe.

And, given the whopping 30% increase in sales brought by the Impossible Whopper, McDonald’s and Nestlé are already considering expanding their partnership beyond Germany.

Crucially, these fast-food vegan meats are not just aimed at vegans and vegetarians, but meat-lovers too, who still make up the vast majority of the country populations across the world. The Impossible Whopper, for example, is marketed not as a planet-saving treat, but a healthier way to enjoy the same meaty taste their customers are used to.

Some vegans baulk at the idea of replicating the taste of animal flesh – but the bigger picture is that such products will play a major role in realising projections that the majority of “meat” will not come from dead animals by 2040.

Taste and health still far outweigh concern for the environment and animal welfare as factors that determine whether people are willing to purchase plant-based meat. By tapping into these, vegan meat can massively reduce the hefty emissions burden and animal suffering caused by animal agriculture.

Bring on the vegan meat revolution, I say.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Summer is here and the sun is out, and yes, this is awesome. After a long day in the sizzling summer sun, you get a group of people together to share some delicious food, catch-up, and, of course, have dinner table conversations.

Dinnertime can be the perfect time to talk with your family, friends or colleagues. However, after a long day, you may find yourself having not much to say at the dinner table. Then, the pre-dinner party fear starts to kick in, and you wonder what you were ever thinking organizing such a disaster. Except, it won't be a disaster.

Leading up to the opening of our Future Food expo at NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam, a journey alongside the food of the future that will surely serve plenty food for thought, these dinner table conversation starters can already help you ensure that, whatever the connections, the conversations flow as smoothly as a glass of NANO Wine.

1 Did you know that meat-eating made us who we are today: evolved, intelligent humans, able to use a verbal language.

2 Intelligent beings as we are, eating meat has harmful consequences for the planet, thus we seek for alternatives: In-vitro meat. It's already here, but the government does not allow us to taste it.

3 Another alternative to eating meat: Insects! Believe it or not, insect ramen is a big hit in Japan.

4 Staying with insects, cockroach milk is here. The next superfood? Oat milk is sooo 2018.

5 Bionic spinach could be used as biological bomb detectors (talk about superfoods).

6 Rather design your own vegetable? You can! This kitchen application allows you to design your own vegetables.

7 That banana you buy in the supermarket is a product of nature, right? Not really. It's a product of design.

8 Into futuristic kitchenware? Meet the robot fridge that forces you to smile for your food (say cheese, literally).

9 Edible packaging: How seaweed could replace plastic in disposable packaging.

10 Ever wished to eat anything you want without worrying about calories or allergies? It could be possible thanks to augmented reality.

PS: Not sure what to serve at your dinner party? There's an app for that. Chef Watson is an artificial intelligence from IBM that knows over 10,000 recipes from all over the world and is capable of combining any ingredient while following your personal food preferences.

Cover image taken at Mediamatic during our dinner with Chef Watson.

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There has been a surge in awareness of the damage that plastic pollution does to our planet in recent years. It has spurred a number of campaigns to remove single-use plastics from our daily lives. This extends to food packaging, with a Waitrose supermarket in the city of Oxford recently launching a package-free trial.

Many people bemoan the large amount of packaging that supermarkets use, particularly for fruit and vegetables, most of which have their own natural protection. Nonetheless, a major reason that supermarkets use so much packaging is to protect food and prevent waste – particularly with fresh food. Removing plastic entirely from our food supply may not be the best solution when it comes to protecting the environment and conserving valuable resources.

Food supply chains are complex networks with lots of parts. In Europe alone, 12m farms produce agricultural products which are processed by around 300,000 food and drink companies. These are then distributed by 2.8m food retailers and food services, serving around 500m consumers.

Food typically travels from the fields where it is produced to a storage facility for processing. It is then stored until it is needed. Then it’s packaged, transported and distributed to shops, where it is marketed, before being bought and consumed. This takes a varying amount of time, depending on where it is farmed and how long it stays in someone’s fridge or cupboard.

Plastic packaging is used in the food supply chain because it supports the safe distribution of food over long distances and minimises food waste by keeping food fresh for longer. A 2016 review of studies on food waste found that 88m tonnes of food is wasted every year in the EU – that’s 173kg per person and equals about 20% of food produced. Minimising this wastage is crucial for environmental protection, as well as food security.

Reducing waste

More than 50% of food waste takes place in households and nearly 20% is wasted during processing. Plastic packaging may be a necessary evil to reduce this high level of waste in both areas. A number of factors must be taken into account when determining how useful plastic packaging is in the food supply chain, as it has the potential to preserve food and prevent its wastage.

For example, the use of just 1.5g of plastic film for wrapping a cucumber can extend its shelf life from three days to 14 days and selling grapes in plastic bags or trays has reduced in-store wastage of grapes by 20%.

Plastic protects and preserves the freshness of a lot of fruit and vegetables. Shutterstock

A lot of food is air freighted, so prolonging its shelf life has important benefits for the environment. It minimises waste and conserves all valuable resources involved from farm to shelf. Recent estimates from Zero Waste Scotland suggest that the carbon footprint of food waste generated can be higher than that of plastic. Specifically, 456,000 tonnes of food waste produced in Scottish households were found to contribute to around 1.9m tonnes of CO₂, three times higher than that of the 224,000 tonnes of plastic waste generated.

Plastic packaging maintains food quality and safety. Food that is naturally wrapped in its own skin and can be safely transported and consumed without the need for single-use plastic packaging often draws attention. But research shows that these products appear to be sustainable only where short food supply chains exist. When food is transported from further away, as a lot is, plastic can play an important role in protecting it from becoming waste.

Furthermore, plastic packaging is more flexible and lighter than alternatives such as glass and card. This reduces transportation costs and the carbon emissions that come with them.

Possible solutions

Simply removing plastic from food packaging is not as sustainable as one might think. There are lots of cases where plastic packaging can be beneficial at reducing waste. But food sellers need to think of ways to reduce and reuse the plastic where possible.

To reduce the amount of plastic that is needed, short food supply chains must be developed, as this involves very few intermediaries between where the food is farmed and where it is bought and consumed. It may mean switching to more seasonal diets. Farmers’ markets, community-based growers and basket delivery systems helps connect consumers to where their food is produced in ways that can also help reduce food packaging and waste.

The challenge here is how it can be scaled up in ways that are economically feasible. Most sellers will have economic concerns that influence how they use plastic. It is often not just used for preservation but for marketing and the desire of retails to get people to buy more (think, multipacks), which can lead to waste.

Another solution is to develop a more circular economic model where plastic is reused and recycled a lot more. This makes economic as well as environmental sense.

Work is also being done into new, bio-based packaging that can perform the same role as conventional plastic in terms of protecting food and preventing food waste – and could also be biodegradable. But a lot of questions remain as to whether bio-based plastics are actually sustainable in the long term, especially if vast amounts of resources are needed to produce them.

Until a sustainable packaging alternative is developed, big retailers will continue to rely on plastic to protect food from going to waste. Plastic itself is a very useful material. We need to use it more effectively and more sparingly in some cases but we shouldn’t get rid of it altogether.

This article is written by Manoj Dora, reader in Operations & Supply Chain Management, Brunel University London, and Eleni Iacovidou, Lecturer in Environmental Management, Brunel University London. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Globally, humans produce enough food to feed 10 billion people (we are only 7 billion now) yet somehow we waste a third of this. Food waste is one of the biggest climate challenges of our time. Luckily there are some brilliant ideas out there aiming to tackle this global problem. The ECO coin Award 2018 looks to recognise these innovators and has nominated 3 international projects. These nominees caught our attention with their out-of-the-box concepts, international communities and strong visions on the future of food.

As part of our quest to this year’s winner, we’re interviewing each of the three finalists to learn about their values, insights and future visions. We are excited to introduce you to nominee Too Good to Go, a mobile application that connects restaurants with individual customers who can buy their surplus food before it is wasted. The app has only be launched less than two years ago and has been exploding in popularity ever since. At the moment, Too Good to Go is active in 7 European countries. In this Q&A, they tell us more about their drive, vision and future plans.

You originally launched the app in 2016 in Denmark. What triggered you at the time to take action and tackle food waste?

The world population is increasing significantly. Currently we are inhabiting the planet with over 7 billion people and are expected to grow to 20 billion by the year 2050.

Unfortunately, our current food system is not capable of sustaining the increasing population, to do so a transformation is necessary on multiple levels. A few key challenges come to mind when analysing our food system: The range of land needed for cultivating and agriculture, the large amounts of water and energy needed for the food system, and the fact that one third of all food produced is wasted somewhere within the supply chain.

All these challenges are intertwined and have a huge environmental impact, but this last challenge specifically is why Too Good To Go was founded. This is also the foundation of our vision which is:

All the produced food in the world = food consumed.

Why did you choose to focus specifically on food waste of the catering and retail sector?

Our core business is food waste which means we are constantly looking for new ways to broaden our horizon. 19% of the food wasted occurs within the catering and retail sector, 39% occurs within production and the largest amount of waste occurs within households, 49%. This means we are building our community to inspire and empower them to be part of this movement, which hopefully spreads and creates awareness with all stakeholders and especially in households.

In your experience, what makes the application so effective?

Simplicity - we made sure it would be attractive for everybody to join the app and mission.
The way the business model works is that consumers pay in the app and we keep a small fee after which we transfer the money to the stores. No cure no pay, consumers get a good deal, stores get money for their surplus food and most importantly, the food is eaten instead of thrown out. Everybody wins!

Also we entered the market at the right time. The overall interest in environmental protection and our food system is at an all-time high. This is why Too Good To Go is welcomed by so many people and the involvement is so high.

The concept behind the app is quite straightforward. Do you believe that solving the issue can be as simple as connecting producers with consumers at the right time?

As mentioned earlier there are many different challenges concerning this issue in society. We are aware that the app is not the solution, but we believe it is a start. The major improvements need to be supported by a horizontal movement. Food waste has 3 angles: environmental, economic and social, but we cannot take it all at the same time. Creating that movement and overall awareness will hopefully result in more action throughout the entire chain. Being the world’s biggest B2C platform against food waste, we can conclude the movement has begun and we are having a positive impact.

The movement has begun and we are having a positive impact.

What is the biggest challenge that you encountered in tackling the issue of food waste?

It wasn’t easy convincing stores to join in the beginning. But we managed to find 25 brave entrepreneurs in Amsterdam and we were very closely involved in the consumer experience.

After a tough start we have found amazing traction and have managed to scale up significantly. Today we have over 800 stores live on our app with whom we have saved over 130,000 meals. Our community consists of over 200,000 people only in the Netherlands.

And guess what: we were able to convince some of the biggest Dutch chains and retailers many of whom you know like HEMA and Albert Heijn.

What are your current and future plans for Too Good To Go? Will you continue to spread your service all over the globe?

At Too Good To Go we dream big, and we dream of the moment where the movement is big and strong enough to influence and transform the entire food system!

You’re nominated for the ECO Coin award, which celebrates innovations in sustainability. How do you feel your work fits in with broader sustainability efforts?

First of all, we feel honoured to be nominated for the ECO Coin Award 2018! It means that our impact is becoming more tangible, the movement is growing and most importantly, the awareness on the topic of food waste is growing as well.

But the word sustainability has become increasingly popular and sometimes it is important to take a step back and take a moment to think about what this word really means. The word sustainability is very broad and lacks clarity and understanding. At Too Good To Go we don’t focus on sustainability, but we are all connected by our core values to tackle the issue of food waste. We believe in a broader focus on impact, values and change.

Do you think that Too Good to Go should win the ECO Coin Award 2018? Cast your vote by tapping the heart below!

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Globally, humans produce enough food to feed 10 billion people (we are only 7 billion now) yet somehow we waste a third of this. Food waste is one of the biggest climate challenges of our time. Luckily, there are some brilliant ideas out there aiming to tackle this global problem. The ECO coin Award 2018 looks to recognise these innovators and has nominated 3 international projects. These nominees caught our attention with their out-of-the-box concepts, international communities and strong visions on the future of food.

As part of our quest to this year’s winner, we’re interviewing each of the three finalists to learn about their values, insights and future visions. Today we have a Q&A with nominee Toast Ale, a company that makes beer from leftover bread. The company is founded in 2016 by Tristram Stuart, a campaigner on the environmental and social impacts of our food system. In the UK, bread is on top of the most wasted food items, and Toast Ale is on a mission to bring this to an end.

The first beer recipe discovered 4,000 years ago, used bread as a key ingredient. How did you come up with the idea to reintroduce it?

It was in 2015 when the guys at Brussels Beer Project explained how they followed an ancient recipe for making beer from bread. Our founder, Tristram Stuart, immediately saw the three key ingredients for Toast Ale: he knew where industrial quantities of day fresh bread were being wasted all over the world; at the same time, the craft brewing movement had become a global super trend, and finally, Tristram had spent the past 20 years catalysing a global movement of food waste activists and entrepreneurs. Bring all these three phenomena together and you have a delicious pint-sized solution to food waste.

Can you tell us something about the production process of Toast Ale?

The brewing process is very simple – staying true to some of the earliest beer recipes on earth. Beer is one of the earliest known ways of preserving the calories in bread. The sugars in the carbohydrates in the baked grains are converted to simple sugars by enzymes, which ferment over time with the presence of yeast to produce alcohol.

In simple terms, we just replace a third of the barley at the beginning of the process with bread and let it do its magic.

You published a home-brew recipe so households can brew their own bread-based beers. Do you believe Do-It-Yourself is the way to go?

DIY is an important part of the story. Bread waste is so systemic in the UK – from industrial to household waste – and so much bread is never consumed.

We look to tackle problem across three tiers: by addressing the industrial waste through our core range of national beers, tackle waste at a local level through our collaboration programme (which partners local bakers and breweries), and then household waste by raising awareness of the issue. DIY home-brews are a great example of us demonstrating that the solution to these challenges can be both fun and delicious.

The solution to these challenges can be both fun and delicious.

You are donating all your profits to the charity Feedback. How does Feedback aim to reduce food waste?

Feedback works internationally to improve the environmental impact of food. They lead initiatives like Feeding the 5,000, where they cook meals for 5,000 people using quality food that would have otherwise been wasted, or The Pig Idea, where they look to encourage surplus food being fed to livestock and to change EU regulation preventing catering waste being fed to animals.

Toast Ale was setup to convert waste bread into revenues for this work: 100% of Toast Ale's distributable profits in the UK go to Feedback, and even more goes to our partner charities overseas.

What does the future hold for Toast Ale?

We will soon brew with our 1 millionth slice of bread. We want to brew with 1 million more next year, before hunting down our big hairy goal of rescuing 1 billion slices of bread.

In doing so, we want to continue to collaborate with the entire brewing industry to encourage the reintroduction of bread into the brewing process as standard, as well as raising awareness of the environmental impact of all the food that is regularly wasted.

Ultimately, our ambition is to create a circular bakery/brewery economy - not just a circular product or business.

We will soon brew with our 1 millionth slice of bread.

You're nominated for the ECO Coin award, which celebrates innovations in sustainability. How do you feel your work fits in with broader sustainability efforts?

Our circular product story looks to tell a pretty clear message: that the solution to waste can be pint-sized and delicious.

By taking the humble slice of bread and turning it into a recognisable consumer product, we are demonstrating to consumers that sustainability doesn't have to mean wholesale lifestyle changes, it can start with a couple of different choices or tweaks to kick start the process. By trying to simplify what a sustainable lifestyle looks like, we're hoping to provide consumers with the opportunity to make more sustainable choices.

Do you think that Toast Ale should win the ECO Coin Award 2018? Cast your vote by tapping the heart below!

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People across the world have been eating insects for thousands of years. We know that approximately 2,000 species are edible and that these insects are eaten in many different ways. The exception to this is the Western world, where insects are not a traditional food. This may be attributed to the fact that merely two per cent of edible insects occur naturally in Europe in comparison to the larger variety available in Asia, Africa and South America.

Food security

Insects as food became a much-discussed topic around the world when the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations published the report Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security by Wageningen University & Research (WUR) insect expert Arnold van Huis et al. in 2013 which drew considerable media attention. A few years prior to this, insects had already been identified as a new sustainable source of protein for food and animal feeds in the Netherlands in the context of research regarding food security. In the FAO report, the scientists explain the facts regarding the eating and farming of insects. By clarifying the misconceptions about insects, they hoped to make a positive contribution to the development of the sector.

The combination of expertise from WUR and contacts in the business community quickly resulted in the founding of an association for Dutch insect farmers (VENIK). Four varieties of edible insects were marketed: mealworms and buffalo worms, house crickets and grasshoppers.

Novel food

Despite the extensive publicity and efforts, people are not lining up to eat insects. It turned out not to be ‘the new sushi’ as many had expected it to be. After all, sushi was also once considered novel food and has since become widely accepted. To discover the reason for this, sociologist and social geographer Jonas House from WUR analysed why sushi gained a foothold in the USA in the 1960s, long before its introduction in the Netherlands. He compared the acceptance of sushi there with the introduction of edible insects in the Netherlands. House is interested in changes in diet, which factors lead to the successful introduction of new foods and what makes people consider something to be edible.

The role of Japanese restaurants

The introduction of sushi in the USA happened via Japanese restaurants. The restaurants created sushi bars that were also found in Japan. Here you’d sit on high bar stools and watch as the chef created small, artistic dishes; a concept that was entirely new to the country. The restaurants simply bought the ingredients at the wholesale, while the chefs were flown in.

This was a time when going out to eat became more popular. Japanese businessmen took their Western colleagues to taste these exquisite dishes and, as many Hollywood films were being filmed in Japan, the jet set also became familiar with the food. According to House, this also imbued sushi with a symbolic meaning as being something authentic that you could use to distinguish yourself. This is exactly what the metropolitan elite did and this, in turn, led to the anchoring of sushi in Western society.

Farmability

Up until now, the introduction of insects in the Netherlands has not met with the same success. There are no foreigners who are introducing eating insects as part of their own food culture and no African or Asian restaurants which are putting insects on their menu.

In the Netherlands, the first insects to be brought onto the market were easy to farm and had already been used as animal feed. This was followed by the development of products and recipes to encourage their consumption. Insects are being processed in hamburgers which are marketed as substitutes for meat. However, these are more expensive than vegetarian burgers and don’t taste all that different while there tends to be an air of secrecy around it reminiscent of the adding of horse meat to beef sausages. They are also sold freeze-dried, which is unique to the Netherlands, and sold predominantly online. This is more common for food in the Netherlands but not so for speciality shops.

Not distinctive enough

So what it is about insects that sets them apart? ‘The how, what, where and why of food influences what we eat. Firstly, there is no history of eating insects and secondly people didn’t introduce the practice in the Netherlands,’ explains House. ‘If you then hide insects in food like hamburgers, it simply becomes yet another alternative for beef. They’re not distinctive enough in terms of taste or appearance. The insect products available in the Netherlands have little exceptional taste or appearance which means that it lacks a trendy image or status as a delicacy; they simply don’t have the wow-factor. They lack an authentic cuisine.’

Simply being available in supermarkets might lend them the label of being edible, but that doesn’t automatically mean that people will start eating it regularly. Stinging nettles and ground elder are also edible, yet people aren’t going out en masse to harvest them.

Flavour

According to House, if you want to successfully introduce a new type of food, you should not focus on removing barriers, the rational resistance, such as the yuck-factor for insects. The low level of acceptance for insects as food is not the result of a cultural barrier. After all, we started eating sushi. ‘If the flavour of the food is not deciding, it’s likely to fail.’

‘To try and make something new like edible insects acceptable, you need to focus on their preparation, on the culinary element. Food is essentially about how tasty it is, so the flavour and appearance needs to be good. This was the same for the introduction of sugar and tea, where pioneers prepared the way for the masses.’

This story originally appeared on the Wageningen University & Research blog. Read the original piece here.

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This story is part of Next Generation, a series in which we give young makers a platform to showcase their work. Your work here? Get in touch and plot your coordinates as we navigate our future together.

For her MA Material Futures graduate project, designer Annie Larkins set herself the impossible challenge of reverse engineering the humble chicken egg from scratch... That is, without a chicken.

The project started as a response to concern for the environment, an interest in vegan alternatives and sustainable food production, as well as a genuine appreciation for the complexity and dynamism of eggs; their form, nutritional value and symbolic existence across a range of cultures. An Egg Without A Chicken draws on an often overlooked history of unnatural processes that have shaped how ‘real’ eggs exist today, and forms a playful challenge to our current understandings of what is natural, or sustainable. 

"This project is a celebration of the egg"

Why make an egg?

Larkins identifies the intrinsic value of eggs as a versatile, nutritional and widely eaten food source: “eggs are a biological masterpiece; eaten across every culture and have been seen since prehistory.”  Moreover, she recognizes how eggs intersect with human culture in multiple ways: “eggs are highly symbolic, associated with religion and folklore, life, creation, fertility, beauty, health, purity, mystery and nature to name a few.” 

"Eggs are so commonplace that we overlook this everyday masterpiece."

However, in the context of our current food culture, eggs do not wield this kind of symbolic power or appreciation. Larkins highlights how “meat, eggs and dairy are so ubiquitous that they are no longer respected as they should be [...] eggs are so commonplace that we overlook this everyday masterpiece. By attempting to recreate them, perhaps the value we place on the original will be reconsidered.” What emerged from the project was a range of curiously shaped plant-based eggs that tell an important story.

Looking back to go forward

Larkins' humorous faux egg creations are inspired by a more serious history of human design when it comes to seemingly ‘natural’ chickens and their eggs. Her research charts developments such as the first dispersal of chickens away from their origins through trade, the ‘hen craze’ of the nineteenth century, which saw an unprecedented acceleration in selective breeding, through to the use of incubators and battery cages that mark present-day exploitative industrial farming methods. 

The designer’s research process also sheds light on how the taken-for-granted process of a chicken laying one egg per day is far from natural - laying habits have been manipulated by humans through selective breeding and the use of artificial light. Larkins recognizes how historical stages of human intervention have gradually “transformed the egg laying hen from an animal to an egg making machine.”  Furthermore, she emphasizes how “the contradiction between natural and unnatural in the chicken egg epitomizes the wider problem with industrial production of food.” 

“The contradiction between natural and unnatural in the chicken egg epitomizes the wider problem with industrial production of food.”

The project asks, can we break the cycle of human exploitation by reconnecting with our food, by trying something new in order to confront the animal and environmental impact of current practices? For Larkins, “it is clear that our current system of industrial farming is unsustainable. We will continue to need protein as part of a healthy, balanced diet so alternative forms of protein need to be explored [...] The reality is we need a variety of approaches against our broken food system.”

What makes an egg an egg?

When researching current vegan replacements for eggs, such as ‘egg-white’ powder and developments in lab-grown substitutes, Larkins was left unsatisfied - “I felt that many [existing] egg alternatives missed the essence of what an egg is.” It became essential for her to create an egg that would look, taste, behave and be of the same nutritional value as a ‘natural’ egg. After tireless experimentation, and the use of the molecular gastronomy technique of spherification, Larkins’ final ‘eggs’ were made using pea protein, salt, food coloring and algae-derived acid, before being dipped into Candelila wax to create a cracking shell.

With the unnaturalness of eggs forming the starting point of her project, Larkins pushed the boundaries imitation and familiarity by creating three impossible eggs: a long egg, a multi-yolk egg and a square egg. These exaggerated eggs are a playfully absurd speculation on what eggs might look like when no longer subject to the biological constraints of a chicken.

They also play on the fact that eggs have always been shaped by human needs, and consider, how might these needs translate in future adaptations of the egg? Like real eggs, Larkins’ impossible eggs are also influenced by human desire; the multi-yolk and long egg satisfies our need for more, whilst the square egg could result in more economic and efficient packaging. All ask us to question, how different are Larkins' egg replacements from the 'natural' eggs we encounter everyday? How do we define what is unnatural? Where do we draw the line, and who decides?

The future of eggs?

Is this project an operational plant-based alternative to eggs? In sum, no. Rather than boasting the perfect egg replacement, Larkins claims her project succeeded in creating "a range of edible objects that vaguely resemble an egg.” She states truthfully, “my egg tastes worse, is less nutritious, has an appearance nowhere near as satisfying, is less versatile, and has an incalculable environmental impact of its own that is almost certainly larger than a chicken egg.” But should this matter? After all, creating the perfect egg substitute was not the point of the project  - from the beginning Larkins acknowledged it was an “impossible task.” 

"Future food explorations need not always be working prototypes but can exist as valuable thought experiments."

Rather than evaluating the project in terms of its success as a plant-based alternative, we should consider it an impactful narrative that reconnects us with the uniqueness and complexity of this normalized food source, and consider the outcomes as tangible guides for difficult conversations regarding the hidden exploitation and contradictions inherent in chicken egg production. At the same time, the project is light hearted; it employs humor and absurdity to help us reassess our present. Larkins celebrates the fact her project will not be widely consumed: “the egg will not be tasted by most who encounter the project, which again helps to position it as an object of discussion.”

So, what to take away from this project? Importantly, that future food explorations need not always be perfect replacements but can exist as valuable thought experiments. An Egg Without a Chicken fosters a newfound respect for the biological complexity of ‘natural’ eggs, as both shaped by human desire but at the same time impossible to recreate (yet). For sure, Larkins did not end up with an egg, but rather a set of storytelling egg-ish objects that reflect the past as well as a hopeful future for eggs - “this project is a celebration of the egg, which is both hugely complex and yet so familiar it is unexceptional. It aims to re-frame the egg as more valuable than its price reflects.”

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