Five things you need to know about the future of food
The world of food is changing – whether driven by health, technology, sustainability, or a desire for adventure, this most traditional of categories is evolving in exciting new ways. In restaurants, in our kitchens and in our supermarkets, old standards are being revised and new innovations taking place.
Flamingo Cultural Intelligence introduces five things to learn about the future of food:
1. Stripping Down
On the back of a few notorious television shows, nakedness has become a hot topic in recent weeks. However, food got there first. Whether it is the Bunyadi, London’s first “naked restaurant” which offers “ultimate freedom and liberation from impurity” as guests are invited to dine in the buff.
But Bunyadi is not just a gimmicky titillation, it is also an exploration of eating stripped back to its very essence. The restaurant operates without electricity or gas, serving food on handmade clay plates with edible cutlery in candle-light, while phones are banned, naturally.
This stripping down reflects a response to food culture which is increasingly complex, commoditized and superficial. When each week seems to offer a new agenda on what’s good for us and bad for us, and when we experience food more on Instagram than we do on our plates, stripping back to food at its most basic lets us reconnect with something more authentic, elemental and sensory.
2. Hacking Humans
If one of the features of the digital age is that everything is ripe for disruption and everything can be tinkered with, there should be no surprise that the same mentality is beginning to be applied to our bodies.
Hacking the body through food is taking place in the form of “Miracle Berries” which turn sour foods sweet, or snortable chocolate designed to boost serotonin levels. However, the frontline of this human-hacking is in fact the gut. We are increasingly turning to the microbiome in our bellies as we look to boost our mental and physical abilities, and ensure greater longevity in our lives.
For brands, this could be an opportunity in redefining probiotics – for example Ohso chocolate, which promises ‘The finest Belgian chocolate with around a million good bacteria’, or marketing products which take on our gut in positive, performance-enhancing ways.
3. Modular Togetherness
Not long ago, the phrase “food intolerance” would have just about covered a particularly bad allergy to peanuts or shellfish. Today a massive growth in awareness, acceptance and understanding of diverse food needs has transformed the world of dietary requirements, with “free-from” a booming category in its own right.
Yet this Brave New World of food understanding can be a double-edged sword to some. Meals and mealtimes need to cater for a host of different needs all at once, placing completely new pressures on recipes, ingredients and preparation. If everyone at a dinner table wants “free-from” something, what is there left to serve?
One way of overcoming this need to be eating separately but together, is to turn to tech. IBM’s in-house robot, Watson has recently donned a chef’s hat as part of the company’s Cognitive Cooking initiative. Through a combination of crowd-sourcing, Big Data and scanning details right down to the molecular make-up of different flavor compounds in food, Watson can offer up billions of recipes from an input of a handful of ingredients and preferences, meaning that, with the help of Watson, Vegans, Coeliacs and Pegans can happily dine side by side.
4. Creative Sustainability
Last week’s news that the UK’s plastic bag usage had dropped by an incredible 6 billion following the 5p ‘Checkout Charge’ shows that small changes can make a big difference when it comes to being sustainable.
For all its eco-credentials however, sustainability has rarely been the coolest of food and drink trends. But with the potential for catastrophic food shortages across the globe and ever-rising greenhouse gases from agriculture, the need to make sustainability creative and aspirational has never been more important.
The signs are there that sexy sustainability lies just around the corner. Whether it is the prospect of growing woolly mammoth meat in a lab, to open up the taste experiences of early man, new kitchen appliances which combine cutting edge design with sustainable thinking, or products which harness the power of insects for high protein, low environmental impact nutrition, the frontiers of sustainability are being pushed into exciting new places.
5. Bursting the wellness bubble
At what point does good for you become bad for you? The recent explosion in clean-eating and detox diets appears to be giving rise to a distinctly unhealthy shadow-side. Mental health professionals have noticed an increase in cases of orthorexia, an eating disorder which manifests itself in an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating, while all too often, the language of detox and cleansing becomes quickly conflated with body-policing and dismissive attitudes to anyone who chooses to eat differently.
But before the army of juice-wielding health and wellness bloggers control our diets completely, there are the rumblings of a fight-back. Last year’s immensely successful “This Girl Can” campaign from Sport England brilliantly championed health at every size, while comedian Bella Younger has taken the clean-eating brigade head on with her Deliciously Stella Instagram account, book and podcast. The hope is that the diet narrative can become truly balanced, before “fitness” joins “fatness” as society’s premier source of body-shaming.
- Article by Josh Dickins