Future of food
Around the world, leaders in food are creating delicious burgers, meatballs and fillets using plants or cell-based technologies. This means enjoying our favourite foods without the same adverse consequences. It’s good for people, great for business, and better for our planet.
Meat is the centerpiece of so many meals; it’s tasty, familiar and easy to prepare for busy families. So, what if we could enjoy the same delicious experience and convenience in a way that’s better for our bodies and the environment? Well, thanks to creative entrepreneurs, scientists and chefs, we now can.
A growing number of visionary food start-ups are harnessing plants and food technology to create plant-based meat that tastes, smells and cooks just like conventional meat, at equal or greater nutritional value. They ask a simple question: what makes meat, meat? The answer is simple: amino acids, fats, trace minerals and water. The exact same nutrients found in plants.
Food experts find and combine these components from particular plants to create the taste, texture and overall experience of meat we’ve come to know and love, while satisfying demand for affordable and sustainable protein.
Various fruits and vegetables have naturally occurring characteristics that offer a meat-like texture and utility, making them convenient substitutes for conventional meat. Jackfruit has quickly become popular for its textural similarities to pulled pork, and banana flowers are gaining the attention of chefs and consumers for their flakey texture not unlike fish fillets. Certain kinds of mushrooms also become firm and fleshy when cooked or dried. These are nature’s mimics, naturally healthy, unprocessed foods that replicate particular characteristics of conventional meat, making them sought-after options for culinary innovation.
There is a growing market of flexitarians, those who want to reduce their meat intake by supplementing their diet with plant-based proteins. Blended meats are products which use conventional meat, and combine them with add-ins like mushrooms, grains, soy and other vegetables, creating a hybrid product that offers the familiarity and flavour of meat, boosted by the texture, fibre and nutrients of plants.
Pioneering developments in food science are giving us new culinary experiences. And they’ve got scientists, industry and food-lovers seriously excited about the future of meat.
Cell-based meat, or ‘clean-meat’, involves growing animal cells instead of entire animals. A sesame-seed-size sample of cells from an animal is placed in a nutrient bath containing the same nutrients that animal would normally consume – water, vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
The cells grow to become meat – except without the animal, and the pathogens, antibiotics, or adverse environmental impacts that animal farming can present. Genetic modification isn’t required. In fact, at scale, it looks much less like a laboratory and more like a beer brewery, with meat created in tall steel cultivator tanks.
There’s even the opportunity to produce nutritionally superior meat, by reducing the level of harmful saturated fats and cholesterol, while increasing those nutrients that our bodies need more of, like fats high in omega-3. This is an emerging field that gives industry and researchers the chance to lead innovation benefiting the community, our economy, and our planet.