Whether you're a foodie or preoccupied with the planet, or both, the future of food is an interesting subject. We're becoming more aware of the environmental costs of our current food habits, like how cattle farming uses a ton of resources, as do avocados and almonds (turns out that your almond milk latte may not as good for the environment as you think.) Food trends come and go, but more and more research is being put into sustainable alternatives to not-so-sustainable foods, we're seeing more and more outlandishly futuristic foods emerge on the food landscape. While cockroach milk has been debunked as the next superfood, there are plenty of sustainable, futuristic foods that are already on our shelves.
Superfoods are enormously popular; every minute somebody brings out another obscure grain or berry that's claimed to have magical properties (which probably only exist if you eat several pounds of it a day). Food security, though, is a serious issue. The UN points out that the world needs to produce at least 50 percent more food by 2050 to support the global population, preferably without causing a massive environmental catastrophe, and to do that we're going to need to get creative (and, of course, reduce food waste as much as possible). As consumers this means we're getting a taste of new ideas — and they might just be the future of cuisine.
As we try to find crops that use less water, many companies are looking to the sea for natural food sources. And algae is looking like the newest, high-nutrition futuristic snack — without the sliminess you associate with those green squelches on the beach. Variations on it have been on the menu at high-end restaurants for several decades, and now, as with a lot of food trends, it's coming to the masses, as protein bars, probiotic shots, and even cocktail mixers. It'll likely expand from the superfood aisle at the health food store to the local grocery pretty rapidly.
Seaweed is hardly a new idea; but it's caught on rapidly and, like other algae-based foods, is being touted as the food of the future for its low-impact production and serious health benefits. Seaweed snacks can be found almost everywhere, from crisps to more traditional sushi, and it's often used in ice cream. And it's very likely that you'll end up crumbling it on virtually everything.
The protein source of the future? That's what insects have been predicted to be for some decades now. (Of course, many cultures have consumed insects for centuries, but their merit is starting to catch on in other parts of the world.) It takes a lot less water and space to farm, say, grasshoppers, than cows or chickens. And now you can get them in your supermarket order — in ways that won't involve any creepy-crawlies. Energy bars made of insects are now on the market, and you can get them freeze-dried, dehydrated or in packets specially made for kids.
4. GMO Fruit
Genetically modified organisms, aka GMOs, aren't actually going to kill you, despite what scaremongers might tell you. GMOs are just produce that's been modified to make them more resistant to diseases, healthier, and more nutritious. And it's already on the market; Arctic apples are GMO fruits designed to be much less liable to bruising.
5. The Impossible Burger
Trying to eat less meat? Worried about how your love of beef affects the environment? Fortunately for you, it's now possible get tasty hamburgers that have been created not in a paddock or a farm, but in a laboratory. It's a much more environmentally friendly process, and it's hopeful that places like Impossible Burger will take up a bigger portion of the market in the future.
6. Edible Water Bubbles
Water bottles are among the biggest pollutants of oceans and landfills worldwide, and there's actually an innovative new solution that hopes to phase them out: edible water bubbles. Instead of storing your H2O inside a bottle, products like the ooho bubble make it far easier and more environmentally friendly to get your dose of hydration. They're definitely part of the wave of the future.
Vegans have known about this one for a while: jackfruit is an extraordinary fruit that has the protein-y feel of meat. And it's gradually making its way into many more menus. As meat will likely get more expensive in the future, it's one of the prime candidates for a large-scale meat replacement, and as it grows in popularity you can now get it pretty easily. Try it as a replacement for pulled pork and you'll be prompted to give up meat for good.
Buying local, not wasting food, and being mindful of the seasons are three excellent ways to move towards more sustainable food habits, but science is also improving the way we'll be eating come 20 years. But the best part is you can start sampling these foods right now.