Whether it’s flying cars or human-like artificial intelligence, people often wonder what the future holds for humanity.
Now, some experts are predicting what Christmas dinner might be like in 2050 – saying robot-harvested foods and insect-based dishes could be included in traditional menus.
Christmas dinner in 2050 could look drastically different than this yearPhoto credit: Getty
Insect-based dishes could enrich your dining tablePhoto credit: Getty
Scientists, food tech startups and restaurateurs have been experimenting with food in recent years to create dishes that are more sustainable in the face of climate change threats to agriculture.
In particular, many are turning to non-traditional foods to fill expected shortages of meat and other key food groups.
Here are the top 5 wild food trends you might see on your Christmas table in the future.
Insect based dishes
Experts have repeatedly warned in recent years that food and meat production will have to increase drastically in order to keep up with global consumption and a growing world population.
While some are turning to plant-based proteins, others are looking for bugs that also pack a big protein punch.
Illegal Oats, which makes cereal with mealworms, says the bugs are 56% protein.
“This means that we no longer have to eat meat as the main source of protein in our diet, but can replace it with insects.”
Dror Tamir, co-founder and CEO of Hargol FoodTech, has also touted the use of insects as a protein.
Tamir recently told reporters that locusts are naturally “72% complete protein” and “rich in essential nutrients,” according to the Jerusalem Post.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), billions of people already include insects in their diet.
The Pieminister restaurant in Bristol, England, also integrates Käfer into its menu.
In 2017, according to the Bristol Post, the restaurant launched its cricket pie in hopes of raising awareness of sustainable sourcing in food production.
Families could also see machine-harvested cropsPhoto credit: Getty
Scientists have made tremendous technological advances in the development of artificial intelligence in recent years.
Now some are turning to robots to help with algae and seaweed production.
According to the BBC, SPoke (Standardized Production of Kelp) used a robot to attach the threads of the seaweed seedlings or harvest the plant.
Another machine called the “algae spinner” simply focused on winding the juvenile menaces onto lines.
Over the years, kelp has been consistently cited as the latest “food trend” and could likely find its way back into people’s diets for years to come.
Another trend that could be coming to the family table is soilless plants.
In recent years, many farmers have used hydroponic systems.
This means the plants are grown in trays and fed by a “constant flow of nutrient solution” according to Maximum Yield.
A wide variety of crops can be grown in these systems, including beets, radishes, lettuce, herbs, cucumbers, tomatoes, chili, and other vegetables.
A 2020 review of soilless cultivation by the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry found several benefits of the system, including year-round production, higher and more consistent quality, insect management, and reduced resource consumption.
“Soilless cultivation has enormous potential to become popular in the coming generation,” the magazine predicted.
“These advanced technologies and techniques associated with soilless vegetable cultivation can be called next-generation plant science, therefore they can open a door to establish a new civilization in space.”
In 2020, Finnish scientists announced they were working to create a protein “from scratch” that could compete with soy – a protein made from soybeans – within the next decade.
The protein flour – called solein – tastes like nothing and would serve as a neutral additive to foods like cakes, ice cream, bread or even cultured meats, according to the BBC.
It’s made by feeding hydrogen, which is broken down from water and carbon dioxide from the air, to bacteria, according to the outlet.
While it could be years before the protein could meet global supply and demand, the scientists say it could be grown with nearly zero greenhouse gas emissions using only solar and wind power.
Plant-based meats are already very popular in the United States and other western countries.
Companies like popular producer Beyond Meat have garnered the support of top celebrities and their products can be found in almost every major grocery store across America.
According to a survey by the International Food Information Council, 22% of people in the United States are already eating plant-based nuggets and burgers every day.
Meanwhile, a recent study by Deloitte found that 46% of consumers would be willing to pay a premium for plant-based meat, and 60% said they believe it’s generally healthier than fresh meat.