WHETHER it is flying cars or human-like artificial intelligence, people often wonder what the future holds for humanity.
Now, some experts are predicting what Christmas dinner may look like in 2050 – saying robot-harvested food and insect-based dishes could be featured in the traditional food lineup.
Scientists, food tech startups, and restaurateurs have been experimenting with food in recent years to create dishes that are more sustainable amid climate change threats to agriculture.
Specifically, many are turning to non-traditional foods to supplement expected shortages of meat and other major food groups.
Here are the top five wild food trends you might see on your Christmas table in the future.
Insect Based Dishes
In recent years, experts have repeatedly warned that food and meat production must rise drastically to keep up with global consumption and an increasing world population.
While some turn to plant-based proteins, others are looking to bugs, which also pack a large protein punch.
Illegal Oats, which makes granola with mealworms, say the bugs contain 56% protein.
“This means that instead of needing to eat meat as the main source of protein in our diets, we can replace that with insects.”
Dror Tamir, co-founder and CEO of Hargol FoodTech, has also touted using insects as protein.
Tamir recently told reporters that locusts naturally contain “72% complete protein” and are “rich with essential nutrients,” according to the Jerusalem Post.
Billions of people already include insects in their diet, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.
In Bristol, England, restaurant Pieminister also integrates bugs into their menu.
In 2017, the restaurant rolled out its cricket pie with hopes it would raise awareness of sustainability sourcing for food production, according to the Bristol Post.
Scientists have made massive technological strides in developing artificial intelligence in recent years.
Now, some are turning to robots to assist in seaweed and kelp production.
According to the BBC, SPoke (Standardized Production of Kelp) used a robot to attach seaweed seedling threads or harvest the plant.
Another machine called the “seaweed spinner” simply focused on wrapping the juvenile threats onto lines.
Over the years, kelp has repeatedly been dubbed the latest “food trend,” and could likely make its way back into people’s diets in the coming years.
Another trend that might make the family dinner table is soil-less plants.
In recent years, many farmers have been using hydroponic systems.
This means the plants are grown in trays and are fed through a “constant flow of nutrient solution,” according to Maximum Yield.
A large variety of plants can be grown in these systems including turnips, radishes, lettuce, herbs, cucumber, tomatoes, chili, and other vegetables.
A 2020 review on soil-less cultivation by the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, found several benefits to the system including year-round production, higher and uniform quality, insect management, and less use of resources.
“Soil less cultivation has huge potential to become popular in upcoming future generation,” the journal predicted.
“This advance technologies and techniques involved in soilless vegetable cultivation can be said as next generation crop science hence, it can open a doorway to establish a new civilization in outer space.”
Air Based Proteins
In 2020, Finnish scientists revealed they were working to complete a protein “from thin air” that could compete with soya – a protein from soybeans – within the next ten years.
The protein flour – dubbed Solein – tastes like nothing and would act as a neutral additive to foods like pies, ice cream, bread, or even cultured meat, according to the BBC.
It is made by taking hydrogen split from water and carbon dioxide from the air and feeding it to bacteria, according to the outlet.
While it could be years until the protein could meet global supply and demand, the scientists say it could be grown with near-zero greenhouse gas emissions if only using solar and wind power.
Plant-based meat is already wildly popular across the United States and other Western nations.
Companies like the popular producer Beyond Meat have received top celebrity endorsements and their products can be found in nearly every major grocery store across America.
According to an International Food Information Council survey, 22% of people in the United States are already eating plant-based nuggets and burgers daily.
Meanwhile, recent Deloitte research found that 46% of consumers would be willing to pay a premium for plant-based meat and 60% said they believed it is generally healthier than fresh meat.