Five technologies that will change how we eat in the future

Innovation25 Jul ’22 09:57Author: Jigal Newspaper

Reporter Jigal Krant examines the future of our food on the basis of five beautiful reports this summer. You can listen to all episodes right here.

Those vegan cowboys

After Jaap Korteweg and Niko Koffeman sold The Vegetarian Butchers to Unilever, the entrepreneurs shifted their focus from meat substitutes to cheese. With These Vegan Cowboys, they want to make real cheese, which is produced without interference from cows or other animals.

In the technology park at Ghent University, the duo took over Oxyrane, a team of biotechnologists who had recently completed a pharmaceutical project. Since then, lab workers have been trying to engineer the protein casein. Casein is the main component of milk and is considered the holy grail of vegetable cheese farmers. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, but the fact that mozzarella and camembert will be produced on a large scale in a few years without animal suffering and huge climate impact is certain for these vegan cowboys.


Growing

One of the ways to make agriculture more sustainable is to move from rural areas to urban areas. The business park on the outskirts of the city is the ideal place for vertical farming: a cultivation system controlled by computers and robots, where crops grow in stacked containers under purple LED lights. The uneasy connection with mega stalls is obvious, but in addition to the vertical farms themselves, the researchers are also convinced that vertical farming will make the sector significantly more sustainable.

Ard van de Kreeke, a farmer from Zeeland, left his organic farm to grow herbs and seedlings in a commercial building in Amsterdam-Zuidoost. With his company Growy, Van de Kreeke hopes to realize his green dream: local horticulture that is cheaper, more nutritious and, above all, more sustainable.


Redefine meat

While competitors in the Israeli high-tech sector are fully committed to cultured meat, start-up Redefine Meat decided to breathe new life into the apparently fully developed technology for plant-based meat substitutes. Using the 3D printer, the company, which is located in Tel Aviv, Berlin, London and Amsterdam, produces meat substitutes that resemble real meat not only in taste, but also in mouthfeel. Where existing plant-based meat substitutes almost exclusively mimic minced meat products – burgers, sausages, croquettes – Redefine Meat also markets steak. Because this is printed layer by layer, the fake meat takes on a texture that is almost indistinguishable from real meat.

Redefine Meat’s meat substitutes are now on the menu in dozens of restaurants in the Netherlands. Most notable was the collaboration with star chef Ron Blaauw and steakhouse Loetje. The latter, famous for its Beef Steak Bali, put the 3D-printed steak on the map as Steak Bali 0.0. The launch had meat lovers and vegans lashing out at each other on social media.

In Best, near Eindhoven, Redefine Meat has bought a former meat factory to meet demand from the European market. Until the first steaks roll out of the 3D printer, the meat substitutes are flown in from Israel.

By the way, Beefsteak Bali 0.0, which is on the menu in nine of Loetje’s 29 branches, is served in a sauce that is vegetarian but not vegan. Loetje says that she is working on a vegetable sauce.


The waste factory

According to the latest figures, 5 billion euros of fine food ends up in the bin in the Netherlands alone. Around thirty percent of the waste of vegetables takes place in the chain from farmer to consumer. Verspillingsfabriek, part of the Hutten catering company in Veghel, collects as many of these discarded vegetables as possible to make soups and sauces. In this way, the company wants to make the food industry more sustainable.

Verspillingsfabriek was founded in 2015 after Hutten, in collaboration with Wageningen University, had made fresh soup from overripe supermarket tomatoes as a pilot. This year, Affaldsfabrikken expects to recycle almost one million kilos of vegetables.


The Farm of the Future

More than a hundred hectares of agricultural land in Flevopolder, near Lelystad, is being used by Wageningen University as a test site for agricultural innovations. With the so-called Farm of the Future, the agricultural university wants to contribute to the necessary transition to more sustainable cultivation, with more attention to biodiversity.

Experiments are also underway with farming methods that are more resilient to prolonged drought, heavy rainfall and other extreme weather conditions that farmers are increasingly confronted with due to climate change.

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