What’s For Dinner in 20 Years?

What to eat tonight? This is a daily inevitable question. Usually, when we think about food, it’s either the next meal or what are we going to eat the next day. Occasionally, it could also be a special occasion a few days from now, but do we ever ask what we will be eating in 20 years?
Here are some sustainable and novel ingredient options:

Seaweed
The first one is not a novel ingredient, but unlike the others that will follow, it won’t make you scrunch your nose in distaste.
Seaweed, a source of nutrition for marine life and humans, has long been used in Asia as an essential culinary ingredient. Due to its reputation as a superfood and environmentally friendly crop, the practice of seaweed cultivation is gaining attention out of Asia too, as countries are trying to meet future needs for alternate natural resources for food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, fuel, animal feed, etc.
However, there’s the chance of environmental risks associated with the development of seaweed farming in other parts of the world.
Seaweed itself has a positive environmental impact. Some varieties of seaweed grow fast without the need for fertilizers, pesticides, or habitable land. Moreover, seaweed helps remove various environmental toxins such as heavy metals and pollutants, by converting them into salts that the human body easily eliminates. Not only it has water purifying properties but it also has a negative carbon footprint, and it ameliorates acidification, deoxygenation, and other impacts of global warming. According to the DownToEarth organization, if nine percent of the ocean will be afforested with seaweed, it could remove 3 billion tons of CO2 annually.

But, there’s always a but.

Even though many researchers consider seaweed a solution to climate change, the former like anything else on the planet is being affected by climate change. Seaweed forests face no risk of fire, yet they still face various threats, namely: deteriorating water quality in some coastal areas, contaminants, increase in seawater temperature, nutrient enrichment, habitat alteration, etc. Seaweed act as bioindicators of marine chemical damage. Algae bloom when household, agriculture, or industrial waste causes a nutrient imbalance in coastal regions. Moreover, some species of invasive seaweed can cause damage to coral reefs and even kill them. In the meantime, unsustainable practices in seaweed harvesting such as people breaking corals while collecting seaweed or irresponsible collection cause damage to different types of algae.

On their part, researchers in Europe mention some risks related to the development of seaweed farming. They highlight facilitation of disease, alteration of population genetics, and also alterations to the local physiochemical environment.

One solution would be to change farming approaches and techniques in order to reduce risks related to pests and diseases, global warming, or extreme weather conditions. Indoor land-based recirculating aquaculture farms have been considered as a solution in the case when outside risks will be uncertain or unable to control.

Fungus, mealworms, and innovative farming systems

The same technique of indoor shield farming can be used for the cultivation of mycoproteins and mealworm larvae. These products are rich in nutrients and fiber and they make good food options. According to a study on ‘Future foods for risk-resilient diets’, seaweed, mycoprotein, and mealworm have been suggested as sustainable food options for the future. The cultivation of these dietary elements in closed systems makes it possible to use them even in isolated areas. This could be a solution to fragile agricultural systems and reduce dependence on global supply chains

Can you now imagine the additions to a shopping list or a restaurant menu in 20 or 30 years?

Do you know an ingredient that could be sustainable food now or in the future? Are you interested in sustainable and innovative solutions? You can learn more about sustainable entrepreneurship by taking the free online training offered by the Entrepreneurship Campus. These courses can help you create the mindset for smart and positive change. If you already have a sustainable idea or project that contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals, you can join the 2021 Citizen Entrepreneurship Completion. Submit your entry by September 30th.

Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash

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