The future never looks the way we expect it to. The world adapts and changes at variable rates, making it impossible to know with any certainty what the next week will look like, let alone the next ten years.
However, we can use certain trends and history to make educated guesses about the future of staples like food.
Futuristic foods will prioritize sustainability. Science is developing fruits, vegetables, and meat alternatives that will feed more people with less of an impact on the environment.
The article details some of the most exciting futuristic foods we have to look forward to.
Algae isn’t immediately appealing, but it contains plenty of important nutrients: omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin k, iron, and zinc.
The word conjures images of a slimy, green aquatic presence. However, algae come in many forms. It’s a bit like mushrooms.
There are many varieties, some of which are edible and some of which are toxic. It’s best to let professionals gather your algae to avoid tragic accidents.
The four types of edible algae are the following:
- Sea Moss
Each has a unique flavor. Adventurous chefs can add algae to bread and pasta for a delicate, aquatic flavor and an unusual pop of color.
I tried a Korean rolled omelette with seaweed the other day, and I definitely recommend it.
I can’t find the courage to try insects, but I had to include them in the list since they’re becoming more and more popular.
Eating insects seems like the province of double-dog dares and reality television shows. However, our creepy-crawly friends make a unique source of protein.
More than 2,000 insect species spread across the globe are edible. Savvy chefs prepare the bugs whole or pulverized into dust and use it as an additive.
Because the thought of insect consumption turns off many casual eaters, the food industry has sought ways to make them more palatable.
Companies focus on turning the following bugs into powders and flours that are easily incorporated into recipes:
- House crickets
- The Tropical house cricket
- Black soldier fly
- European migratory locust
My dog enjoys treats with insect protein, but I’m not quite there myself.
Lab-grown meat sounds like a plot point in a David Cronenberg movie. Despite its unnatural origins, the food provides an organic and humane alternative to animal byproducts.
Scientists create the vegetarian-friendly beef by combining cow stem cells with carbohydrates and amino acids.
Lab-grown meats have all the flavor of cow and chicken-harvested meat, though the texture differs slightly.
Singapore is currently the only country enjoying science’s favorite burgers; however, the United States Food and Drug Administration labeled lab-grown meat safe for human consumption in 2023.
Lab-grown meat has similar nutritional value to its animal counterpart.
However, as technology advances, scientists may be able to customize the nutritional profiles of this cruelty-free alternative.
GMO is an acronym meaning “genetically modified organism.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines GMOs as “organisms (i.e., plants, animals, or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.”
Culturally, we’ve attached a stigma to GMOs based on our limited understanding of precisely what the term means. GMOs aren’t bad; they’re simply the next stage of food development.
Scientists cross-breed species. They can alter the DNA and genetic makeup of seeds to create something more durable.
Labs create seeds that yield greater crops and survive difficult weather conditions. This helps create more food for larger quantities of people and reduces the overall cost of groceries. Most corn grown in the US is a GMO, so it’s likely you’ve already consumed genetically modified crops.
Edible Food Packaging
Edible food packaging is nothing new to those of us who grew up with Fruit Stripe bubblegum.
However, those with more sophisticated palates (and better taste in gum) probably consider the notion of chewing up their dinner’s containers pretty radical.
Edible food packaging is a great development for the environment. These wraps and containers are made of plant products, allowing us to digest them.
Even if the idea of eating your food packaging makes you squeamish, these edible options are more sustainable than the synthetic variety.
Because they are made of plant-based products, they biodegrade much faster and more naturally than plastics and aluminum foils.
Fake Fish and Seafood
Fish and seafood are delicious and healthy. I try to avoid meat whenever I can, and so I seek protein in shrimp, salmon, or whatever fish is on the menu.
These aquatic treats are chock full of nutritional value, providing valuable fats and iron.
Unfortunately, we risk overfishing our oceans. This practice destroys ecosystems and causes long-term environmental ripples.
Luckily, synthetic seafood options are currently on the market. Fish fans can grab plant-based
These products are fusions of soy, yeast, legumes, seaweed, and vegetable oils.
Additionally, scientists are developing lab-grown seafood similar to the lab-grown meat.
Farmed Fish and Shellfish
Fish are not the first animals that spring to most of our minds when we think about farms.
Fish farms have no barns or Old McDonalds. These specialized growing environments exist largely within major bodies of water.
Fish farmers set up enclosures in lakes, oceans, and rivers. Some keep their fish in large tanks.
Farmed fish generally cost less than wild-caught fish. This seafood owes its lower price tag to the easy availability of the fish; if the creatures are contained in a pen, there’s no guesswork as to where to find them.
While there is some concern about the environmental impact of farmed fish, they are very safe for human consumption.
The United States dedicates a remarkable amount of oversight to ensuring farmed fish and shellfish are safe, requiring checks from the FDA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the EPA.
3D Printed Food
3D printing is developing faster than our imaginations can develop uses for it.
It was only a matter of time before we began applying the impressive technology to food production.
3D food printing converts discarded and underused foodstuff into impressive dishes.
The process uses ingredients chefs might be leery of in their raw form – things like algae, insect, and beat leaf proteins to create new and more appetizing meal options.
3D food printing also allows for a great deal of customization. Some 3D food printers contain their own recipes that can be modified via the user’s computer or wireless device.
Many vegetarians choose this lifestyle for health and humanitarian reasons.
Just because we don’t eat meat doesn’t mean we don’t find it delicious! Plant-based meats like Beyond and Impossible products allow us to enjoy the flavors of chicken, beef, and even bacon without animal byproducts.
Plant-based meat has made massive strides in recent years. The texture and flavor more closely mirror its animal counterparts.
Food scientists make plant-based meat from water, fat, minerals, vitamins, and proteins.
Besides being delicious and humane, these alternatives are healthier. Plant proteins lower many health risks, including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
Plant-based meats are widely available and come in a variety of brands. If you don’t like the first plant-based meat you try, dust yourself off and try another.
Sushi fans have long known and sang the praises of eating seaweed.
Asian countries have long relied on the aquatic delight as a culinary staple. China, Korea, and Japan trace their histories with seaweed to the prehistoric era.
Seaweed contains many valuable nutrients, including:
Because seaweed is a naturally occurring phenomenon, it’s an environmentally-friendly food choice.
While few choose to eat the algae on its own, seaweed makes a great ingredient in several recipes, including soups, sushi, salads, noodles, and snacks. Some farmers feed their livestock with seaweed.
Not all seaweed is edible. Chefs stick to red, green, and brown algae for food preparation.
Beans, Legumes, and Nuts
Beans, legumes, and nuts are timeless. These foods have always been around and will outlast everyone reading this article.
Their durability alone makes them futuristic. However, beans, legumes, and nuts also defy the limits of their diminutive forms.
These proteins have multiple uses. Nuts, legumes, and beans are all used as alternative proteins to fashion faux meat from.
These proteins don’t impact the environment the way that raising beef does. They don’t produce methane the way large farms of cows do.
Beans, legumes, and nuts serve as filling and inexpensive ingredients. They help round out a diet, providing plenty of fiber and protein. I love adding a few nuts to salads.
Sustainable fishing ensures we’ll have seafood for years to come without destroying our aquatic ecosystems.
The overfishing of the ocean has vast and lasting implications that are difficult to reverse.
Sustainable fishing monitors a variety of data to ensure no species is eradicated. The fishers observe reproduction rates to avoid wiping out fish that aren’t mating at higher rates.
Additionally, sustainable fishing works hard to ensure that only edible and marketable fish are caught.
This protects endangered fish or those with no commercial value from being caught in nets aimed at the more desirable species.
Sustainable fishers work hard to preserve natural habitats and leave the ocean in as good of condition as we found it.