357 results for “Food Technology”

Next Generation: 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.

"This project is a celebration of the egg"

The project started as a response …

Five (un)mundane things to do at Dutch Design Week 2019

Freya Hutchings
October 17th 2019

Lining up plans for Dutch Design Week? Once more, 2600 designers gather in over 120 locations during 450 events. So whether you're a local, new in town, or just passing through, you may still be agonizing over the extensive program in order to prioritize your favorites.

With this guide, we’re going back to basics. These five highlights will transform your mundane, everyday actions into extraordinary interactions — be it with other humans, data, organisms and even furniture.

Somewhere to ask…

Aleph Farms just grew meat in space for the first time

Freya Hutchings
October 9th 2019

Hello meat lovers! In vitro meat innovator Aleph Farms has taken the saying 'one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind' to a whole new level. The startup has succeeded in producing slaughter-free meat on the international space station (ISS), 339 km away from any natural resources, in one of the most extreme environments imaginable. Let's get you up to speed.


Didier Toubia, Co-Founder and CEO of Aleph Farms says that the project — a collaboration with …

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 …

Future Food, the exhibition

NextNature.net
June 5th 2019

Imagine, it’s 2050 and you are feeling hungry. What will be on your plate? Where will your food come from, and how will it be produced? It may be juicy ants from the nearest supermarket, an cultured meat creation from our In Vitro Meat Cookbook, or powdered food that suits your DNA profile.

It may sound like a science fiction, yet the pressing challenge to feed the fast-growing population is more important than ever. Scientists, food technologists, designers, startups, producers …

Artificial ceramic bones for a natural meat experience

Ruben Baart
March 22nd 2019

The world is developing, climate change is happening and it's time for us to do something. Now.

One strategy would be to simply stop eating meat — or at least reduce the amount of our consumption. “Why?”, you may think. Well here are some numbers: If you do not eat meat for a week as an adult, you save 130 liters of water, 76 kilometres of driving a car and 770 grams of animal meat.

Sure, some people may find …

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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.

"This project is a celebration of the egg"

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. 

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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Lining up plans for Dutch Design Week? Once more, 2600 designers gather in over 120 locations during 450 events. So whether you're a local, new in town, or just passing through, you may still be agonizing over the extensive program in order to prioritize your favorites.

With this guide, we’re going back to basics. These five highlights will transform your mundane, everyday actions into extraordinary interactions — be it with other humans, data, organisms and even furniture.

Somewhere to ask questions

When we arrive somewhere new, we are always full of questions. You may be wondering, 'which way to the superhuman-space-suit-warrior exhibition you can’t remember the name of?' Or, 'where can I imagine a post-drought future?' And perhaps, 'when can I take shelter under a living pavilion?'

Once practical matters are out of the way, you may want to ask some more profound questions.

That's where RealiteitBureau steps in. They are here to remind us that design is not just something we go to see, but something that can facilitate meaningful interactions and in this case, ask questions.

What? A meeting point
When? All week from 19 to 27 October
Where? Plan-B

Somewhere to eat

After spending a couple of hours ticking off your must-see list, you may start to feel hungry. We suggest you go and sink your teeth into some delightfully sustainable snacks at the Future Food Experience, curated by NNN fellow Chloé Rutzerveld, where every bite tells a story.

You can enjoy an array ecologically conscious dishes, from Dutch delicacies frikadellen made from saved oyster mushroom stems, to algae burgers and tomato-stem sausages. All the food available is mostly plant based and locally produced.

And did we mention you can design your own vegetables?

What? A future food experience
When? 21 to 23 October
Where? CWF House, Level 3 Foyer

Somewhere to lie down

After enjoying some tasty sustainable treats, you may be in need of a lie down while your digestive system does the hard work. Make your way over to The Algae Bar and take a moment to rest under the specimen table.

While you rest, you will have the opportunity to donate Co2 and heat from your body by breathing into tubes that are linked to growing algae. Once the organisms have received the perfect amount of nourishment, they will return the favor: you will receive a nutrient-packed algae shot, smoothie or cocktail. This hidden gem of a food source is packed with proteins, carbohydrates, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

What? An interactive installation
When? 21 to 23 October
Where? CWF House, Level 3 Foyer

Somewhere to read

Re-energized? Good! Now it's time for a good read. Julia Janssen will be enlisting the help of hundreds of visitors in order to read aloud 835 privacy terms and conditions. This laborious task is usually avoided with a single click in just 0.0146 seconds.

This collective performance will take hours of reading over a number of days. By facing the sheer enormity and exploitative demands of the data economy, why not step in and help complete this inhumane task together and reconsider what we mindlessly ‘Accept’.

Participate as a reader by signing up here.

What? A public reading group
When? All week from 19 to 27 October
Where? Ketelhuisplein

Somewhere to sit

You’re a few design shows down, it’s late in the afternoon and you need to relax a little. Well, don’t get too comfy. When we say sit, we actually mean act, sing and dance. Confused? Go with it, the results could be enlightening.

Head over to MU and explore the movement of bodies. Here, we use experimental dance as a way of communicating how we interact with our furniture. Naturally, NNN fellow Govert Flint is among the participants, to showcase a series of seating arrangements that allow your brains to engage with your surroundings — in an entirely new way.

What? A theatre, a concert, a cinema, a gym and an exhibition in one
When? All week from 19 to 27 October
Where? MU

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Hello meat lovers! In vitro meat innovator Aleph Farms has taken the saying 'one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind' to a whole new level. The startup has succeeded in producing slaughter-free meat on the international space station (ISS), 339 km away from any natural resources, in one of the most extreme environments imaginable. Let's get you up to speed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-_Zy-arDb0&feature=youtu.be

Didier Toubia, Co-Founder and CEO of Aleph Farms says that the project — a collaboration with 3D Bioprinting technologies (RUS), Meal Source Technologies (US) and Finless Foods (US) — is a “keystone of human achievement” that “marks a significant first step toward achieving our vision to ensure food security for generations to come, while preserving our natural resources.” Put differently, this could have huge implications for the future of our food production.

How does it work?

The beef is produced under highly controlled conditions that mimic the natural process of muscle-tissue regeneration found in cows. 3D bioprinting technology is applied to replicate this process, resulting in the production of nutritious steaks made from in vitro meat cells. This method uses minimal resources and drastically diminishes the need for livestock, water and land.

What are the wider implications?

In September of this year an intergovernmental panel report on climate change, established by the UN, highlighted the hugely damaging effects of animal farming methods on the environment. Indeed, it takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef, and runoff from factory farms and livestock is one of the leading causes of pollution in rivers and lakes.

Moreover, in the US alone, 56 million acres of land are used to grow feed for animals, while only 4 million acres produce plants for humans to eat. Here we clearly see the huge potential for change when the resources needed to produce meat are dramatically decreased.

This could be a revolutionary possibility for feeding the world’s ever-increasing population - set to reach 10 billion by 2050. This development proves nutritious food can be created anywhere and in the most unlikely of environments. With land disappearing due to rising sea levels and desertification, the possibility of growing food in space could be a gamechanger.

What’s next?

Now we know it's easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of space travel and imagining future solutions for rapidly increasing climate change. However, these technologies may also be essential for addressing current issues on earth where arable land and water is already scarce. Could Aleph farms’ breakthrough provide nutrition for populations that already suffer from food shortages?

Indeed, while technologies of this kind work to ensure future food security, we should consider how they can be implemented as a solution for present day food shortages in areas of the world where a lack of food is not a distant, science-fiction nightmare but a daily reality.

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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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Imagine, it’s 2050 and you are feeling hungry. What will be on your plate? Where will your food come from, and how will it be produced? It may be juicy ants from the nearest supermarket, an cultured meat creation from our In Vitro Meat Cookbook, or powdered food that suits your DNA profile.

It may sound like a science fiction, yet the pressing challenge to feed the fast-growing population is more important than ever. Scientists, food technologists, designers, startups, producers and philosophers are now combining their efforts to design our future food system. Their shared perspective on food will be served during the upcoming exhibition Future Food by Next Nature Network, in collaboration with NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam.

You are cordially invited for a journey alongside the food of the future. Divided in the scenarios of plant-based, animal-based and functional food, visitors will get a glimpse of their future meal. Will it involve insects, in-vitro meat, genetically modified organisms, biotechnology, plant-based alternatives, food as medicine, alternative cultivation methods or entirely new sensory experiences with food?

Curated by Next Nature fellow, food designer Chloé Rutzerveld, it involves a broad range of visions by (inter)nationally renowned artists, designers and scientists. Among others, filmmaker Mathijs Diederiks shows the documentary about his year-long adventure of living on solely functional, liquid food. Ira van Eelen, daughter of in-vitro meat inventor Willem van Eelen, collaborates with the University of Bath to satisfy everyone’s curiosity and gives and insight into how in-vitro meat is made.  

design vegetables
Future Food Formula: Design your own vegetables

Future Food Formula

The interactive installation Future Food Formula by Chloé Rutzerveld invites visitors to step into the shoes of a high-tech farmer and design your personalized future vegetables.

Growing conditions like water, the amount and color of light and pH value influence the taste, color, size and nutritional value of our crops. Scientists are already experimenting with this technology, but mainly for efficiency purposes.

Because what happens if we make smart use of the technology and create entirely new generations of crops with unique characteristics? Without the use of genetic modification, but by using nature and scientific knowledge. Moving forward to an era in which we will be cooking with growth-recipes instead of ingredients!

Starting this summer, NEMO will launch programs for the public in The Studio, the new location on the adjacent Marineterrein.

The Studio

Future Food is the first exhibition in The Studio of NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam. It's their additional venue that invites an adult audience to explore the fun and play in science and technology. “It is important that all citizens are informed about scientific matters and technological developments,” NEMO director Michiel Buchel states. “Not only to be able to define their own opinions, but also to actively contribute in finding solutions for their own living environment.”

Future Food opens at 10 July and will be on show until 6 October, from Wednesday to Sunday at The Studio of NEMO Science Museum.

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The world is developing, climate change is happening and it's time for us to do something. Now.

One strategy would be to simply stop eating meat — or at least reduce the amount of our consumption. “Why?”, you may think. Well here are some numbers: If you do not eat meat for a week as an adult, you save 130 liters of water, 76 kilometres of driving a car and 770 grams of animal meat.

Sure, some people may find it to be hard to stop eating meat, yet there are innovative solutions on its way that may help you overcome the inconvenience of not eating meat. Like eating in vitro meat!

Grown in bioreactors from animal cells, in vitro meat could be a sustainable and humane alternative to raising a whole animal from birth to slaughter. The first lab-grown hamburger is already here, but in vitro meat technology could also bring us entirely new culinary experiences.

A future scenario

One of these experiences would be to eat from an artificial ceramic bone — for a natural meat experience. And while it may sound farfetched for now, there's one designer living ahead of us in envisioning such a future.

Meet Yossi Roth, industrial designer based in Jerusalem, Israel. In his latest project, Future Carnivore, he imagined a scenario in which in-vitro meat has become the norm.

As the slaughtering of animals is out of the equation, it's no longer possible to nibble the remaining bits from the bone. And that's where his project steps in.

These bone-shaped ceramics emphasise on the gap "between the brutality of slaughtering an animal for our food, as on the sterile process of growing meat inside a lab." Roth's eating utensils remind us what savage hunters we once were — or perhaps, still are.

We recently caught up with Roth to discuss the future of meat, how to market such a product, and why industrial designers may be the next butchers.

Tell us a bit about the project, Future Carnivore.

For Future Carnivore I imagined a scenario in which in-vitro meat has become the main source of protein. A future where animal meat is no longer needed. How will everyday events like family meals, cooking or buying meat look like? Today when we go to the butcher and look at the selection of meat we see a lot of dead animals cuts, bleeding red, inner organs, fat and bones… Sounds disgusting, doesn't it? But somehow we've gotten OK with it. No longer do we hesitate to buy the most beautiful dead piece of animal; it has become natural to us to do so.

The objects I created are artificial ceramic bones. They function as tools for eating and cooking meat. The bones are a reminder of the animal we used to kill in the 'past'. They are here to remind us what savage hunters we were, and how we shouldn’t stray from the path of finding more viable solutions to consume protein — while maintaining a ecological balance on our planet. The bone acts as heat vessel to disperse heat through the meat in the cooking process. In addition it adds weight and visual appearance.

What were the first reactions to the project?

In-vitro meat still seems like sci-fi to some people, even though it's literally here. People who saw the project, told me they gained a better understand towards the advent of in-vitro meat. My intention was to confront the viewers with the brutal way we are consuming meat today, in which I succeeded: When people were holding and using the artificial bone, this idea of holding and eating from a real bone suddenly seemed violent, brutal and even absurd.

Why did you choose for a 'bone' as your medium (as opposed to a different not-animal-related tool)?

Consider this, our hunter-gatherer ancestors used every part of the animal; for food, clothes and tools. With that, the animal bones were used for tool making, hunting, utensils and jewellery. I’ve chosen to use the bone to emphasise the major contrast between the time periods, between the brutal act of killing an animal, and the sterile process of growing meat in a lab.

The bone as such, plays an important role in our experience with meat. I mean, we use it for cooking, we hold the bone while eating, and it gives weight, flavor, heat etc. I used the bone as a gesture and reminder to better remind ourselves where it (and we) came from. The bone says a lot about us, our culture and history.

You could compare it to the shutter sound on our phone; the shutter does not need to make this sound no more, but it does help us understand its function.

Do you eat meat yourself?

I experimented with vegetarianism for couple of years in the past, but only after a few years I returned to eating meat. Today I eat meat scarcely, mainly due to environmental awareness and the problem of meat farms. Yet I have the means in my region to find a cheap and healthy substitute. I believe that many people around the world share this feeling, but experience difficulties to substitute meat (which mainly has to do with its unique flavor and texture).

While researching in-vitro meat, I got very impressed by the advantages of this technology. This led me to think, as a designer, what fascinates me the most is the role of design in this radical revolution. From there I started to wonder how this innovation could affect user experience in the future — which led to the Future Carnivore project.

Do you think that people are ready to stir up an appetite for eating in-vitro meat?

I think we will have to go through a long process until we get used to (the idea of) in-vitro meat — but it's a process that already has begun. Our habits are hard to change, even harder when it comes to our food, and meat in particular. When I asked people whether they’ll try it or not, the majority told me that they would. I guess we are going to see in-vitro meat in the near future, whether we like it or not.

Any thoughts on how we could introduce eating in-vitro to the world at large?

In 2008 the MOMA hosted an exhibition titled “Design and the elastic mind”. The 'elastic' refers to the way we’re accepting and adapting to new ideas and technology. Designers hold to unique opportunity in dealing with and creating this elasticity in our brains. They have the ability to transform science and technology into objects that we can comprehend and use.

I, as a designer, don't know how to make in-vitro meat more tastier, but I can certainly think about the look and feel of the technology. It's not only a matter of taste, the “UX” (user experience) of the meat needs to be dealt with. The experience we have while eating a steak has multiple sensory and emotional factors that add to the overall experience - visual, tactile, smell, weight etc. If we can deeply understand this experience, the introduction can be successfully made.

Are industrial designers the new butchers?

Lol. It is pretty hard to find a job as a designer, so perhaps exploring the field of 'meat design' would be an interesting opportunity...

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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.

"This project is a celebration of the egg"

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. 

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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