November 5, 2018 |
As we continue to hurtle towards a world where tomorrow gets closer to being today at a rate unknown to man, I thought that I would tackle three subjects that vaguely tackle the notion of science and technology in food.
Firstly meat is becoming as popular as Harvey Weinstein at a casting audition and numerous, well-funded companies are sprinting towards domination of the meatless meat supermarket aisle, and with good reason. Every child and the occasional adult thinks that breaking wind is funny, but if you are passing a wandering cow and it lets loose then the humour and your speed of retreat is presumably fourfold. However, the methane output of livestock accounts for around 8-18% of greenhouse emissions and that certainly isn’t funny. Global meat consumption is expected to double by 2050 but the number of animals required to satisfy that demand is untenable given their contribution to global warming, that roughly a fifth of the world’s pastures have been destroyed by overgrazing, that 75% of human diseases originated in animals and that it takes a staggering amount of water to produce a kilo of beef. No wonder then investors such as Sir Richard Branson and Bill Gates are piling their cash into companies like Memphis Meats and Beyond Meats who are trying to develop a sustainable alternative to meat.
This knowledge has led to a huge increase in veganism, plant-based diets, flexitarians and fruitarians, modern lifestyle choices that are worn with badges of honour. I am just a vegetarian and am seriously behind the times, I need to ditch the dairy and start milking those almonds for all I am worth. The rise in plant-based diets has been spectacular, partly driven by the animal issues above and the general belief that meats have been modified to get them onto our plates as quickly as possible, but also driven by the Insta-culture of today where every picture of a plant-based dish is rich with colours, oozing with social cheese and generally showcased by tattooed beautiful people with unnervingly shiny skin and pure white teeth. But the movement is here to stay and I guess everyone has a choice to jump on or circle the wagons, after all you can’t pump an avocado full of additives.
Finally as we continue to read about self-driving cars, rocket ships to Mars and other transportation marvels, I travelled recently on the Metro, where you can’t eat, drink or even chew gum without being fined. There may well be a good reason for this as 144 different cuisines jostling mid-carriage for available nasal cavity space is a real cause for concern. So the impending/not happening (delete as required) Hyperloop may well take the not-eating-on-transport ruling to a whole new level. But there again you are only in the metal toilet roll for less time than it has taken you to get to this point and your biggest challenge may well be to keep any earlier meal within. I can’t see anyone pushing a trolley down the aisle asking if you want chicken or fish whilst the world outside hurtles past at breakneck speed. But when we get to long-distance hyperlooping – say New York to Los Angeles – we could get some sort of space age food where the speed of sound reconstitutes the dish in front of your very eyes. Or perhaps not.
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