Most people base their diets either on what they like to eat, or what they should be eating. Since I already discussed this topic once before, in an editorial, I won't go any further on the subject of meat and plant education, but since this is a futurist article, we’re instead going to be talking about the future of food. Referencing back to the first sentence, in the future of food, it won't matter what you should, can, or will eat, because you’ll be able to eat anything you want, without consequence. The future is not veganism, not by a long shot. However, eating meat won’t be something that goes on either. People will no longer eat meat, nor will they eat plants, in fact, you won't even be eating food at all.
G’ Day mates! Welcome to another addition of Society Smash, and today, the subject is food, the future of food, and how you’ll be or could be getting your fill, in say 15 to 20 years from now. That’s right; by 2030 our technological advancement has shone a high probability of fixing world hunger problems relatively easily, provided that all goes as planned. However, I’m not a time traveler or anything like that, so let’s get into why I think that the future of food is so great, and the predictions I used to come up with this conclusion. In this article, we’ll go over a brief history of agriculture, the Neolithic revolution, and of course, what I think the solution will be to hunger in the future. In addition, I will be referencing an invention that was thought to be impractical just a few years ago, and how it could be shedding light on some potential progress in the near future.
The First Farmers
It all had to start somewhere, right? Naturally, hunter-gathering tribes didn’t work out to well once the first civilizations started to crop up, and it became a necessity to live in one place, without wandering too far from it. The Neolithic, or Agricultural Revolution, which took place around the dawn of civilization, was the first human revolution in technology, culture, and religion, that put a new focus on staying in one place, settlement, the next generation, and of course, farming. By far the biggest innovation, that became possible, or at least someone figured out it was possible, was to transplant plants into a safe enclosed area, where they could grow, be eaten, and the seeds could be replanted to grow more of that same plant in yearly cycles. This process is called domestication, and it worked for both plants, and animals. That means, in addition to plants, gatherers could, also, round up animals to breed, grow, eat, and repeat the process. At first, the agriculture of the first civilizations was bland, and lacked nutrition, as most settlements only had one type of animal, and two or three types of plants. It wasn’t until the late BC times that the world infrastructure and trading started to develop, and it became more common to be eating a whole bunch of different kinds of food, not just the ones that grew in your hometown.
Later, in the 18th century and outward, however, the history of food gets more complicated, as food supplying becomes a corporate matter. The rise of capitalism in the Renaissance has led to most food supplies being directly controlled by corporations. This was both a good and bad thing. The good thing that came about, just as every time money gets involved, was competition, and that is a big thing. That means that big companies want your money, and they’re not afraid to invent, expand, and innovate to do it. The introduction of machines into the farming industry, irrigation, seed drills, and many more inventions led to the cost of food in industrialized nations to drop extremely low, by making it better grown and more plentiful. As a side effect, however, especially today, the food we once ate is no longer present, at least in its basic form. Many foods, both animal and plant alike, are being genetically modified, and pushed to the limits in terms of what they can do, and it’s become a real concern for everyone. Not to mention, population, which is growing too fast for anyone to supply in time (as food production tends to grow linearly, population tends to grow exponentially), and many predict will cause drastic problems in the future. However, there aren’t many people factoring in the one innovation that could lead to a revolution in food production, even bigger than when company’s introduced machines to the fields, and that, is synthization.
Food for Everyone!
To synthesize means to produce something artificially, especially through chemistry. I believe that the future of food rests on this principle, made famous my Star Trek’s replicator technology. Imagine being at the movies, walking up to a machine, and pushing a button, like a soda dispenser, and having a steak dinner appear on a plate below you. How cool is that? So long as there is enough power, and enough of an organic base to build it off of, essentially, you have an infinite amount of whatever food you want! This may not be possible for a while, sadly, but as I said before, in the next twenty years or so, it will be very much possible for the precursor of this process, to be carried out all over the world. It’s already, in fact, happened. This first synthesized hamburger, made in a laboratory, has already been eaten by someone. Using a process in which samples of all the ingredients are grown into the full size ones, with a lot of time and money, it was possible to do with our current technology. Sure, it took five years, and over 300 thousand dollars, but think of how far we could get in twenty years. Even though we still need to collect the samples from somewhere, we could still gain a significant edge over Mother Nature. Since synthesizing this way only required about 10,00 cells (not a lot in the physical world), imagine how much food we could get from just a few cobs of corn, or even a cow or two. The same people who took part in this experiment estimated that it would be at least another ten years (this was in 2013), so it’s not too unreasonable for a twenty year estimate on this technology. Sure, sure, I know what you’re thinking. This is way to impractical, it will never take off, but I point you to some other inventions that no one thought would go anywhere, and amount to nothing, all of which are now ironic staples of modern day culture.
3D Printing – Foods Best Friend
As with innovations that came before, it only took a decade or so for ideas like the automobile, the computer, and even more recent ones, like virtual reality, and yes: 3D printing, to become viable. All of these were once clunky machines, taking up lots of space, and not going anywhere. It took, however, just a few decades for them to all take off, becoming a minor, then major part of daily life, and in the case of VR and printing, could become a huge part of daily life. VR has come around for a new genesis since video gaming became a cultural phenomenon, but I think the story of 3D printing will be a greater success, and have more insight into what we can actually expect to happen with the future of food. Around the time that printing documents onto paper with machines became a thing in the 80s, the first 3D printer appeared, impractical, and expensive, but with some potential. In 30 years, up to modern day, we can already clearly see that it is not out or reach for such technology to go a few steps further, into everyday life, just as other inventions before it did in the same amount if time. In fact, as I said in the title, 3D printing could actually give the idea, of free food, a leg up. In 2013, NASA had already began a program to get 3D food out into space, the same year that the first fully synthesized food was made. Using the chemical processes mentioned before, as well as, the idea of printing it in the physical world, it would not be two unrealistic to harvest some cells, grow and multiply them, then craft them into a compound that a printer could use to make the food, at a lower cost than growing it or printing it exclusively.
Veganism – Impractical?
Obviously, growing food in a lab can be seen as being drastically similar to genetically modifying it out on a farm, so what should communities, like vegans, think about this? Well, for starters, labs are controlled environments. It’s pretty likely that there won’t be any reason to genetically modify anything, because firstly, there won’t be any diseases that there needs to be defense from, and there won’t be any shortage issues we need to bolster for, because we’re essentially (using the lab synthesis method) growing raw slabs of meat by the pound in a building. Assuming that this goes mainstream, we’ll use up less space farming, as the majority of the process takes place In labs, there will be less ethical issues towards animals, and if we can get these “farms” build up all around unused space, such as deserts, and swamps, we could not only be developing new land for profit, but also helping the developing world, develop. I may not know everything about this, how it will all work, what the labor cost will be, how the cells will be fed, but either way, it’s still a cool idea to be considering as a possible future we could be entering. Second, it’s worth pointing out that this idea could potentially make all kinds of food freely accessible to all kinds of people.
I mention veganism in the title, as the ideas of veganism will likely go away completely once this idea hits the markets commercially. The main reasons for being a vegan are to stop the mistreatment of animals, and to maintain a better diet. In the lab environment we mentioned before, we’ll only need about 10 to 30 thousand cells from say, a cow to make a hamburger. With this method of growing meat, using some math, if we were to take a single cubic inch of meat cells and use it to synthesize some meat, hypothetically, that one square inch could be used to synthesize 2.7 million hamburger patties (using 30,000 meat cells per burger, given the appropriate time to grow in lab conditions). Even if that number was just a thousand, or a hundred, or 10, that’s still way more meat than what was there originally. This idea could eventually help end animal suffering, ultimately meaning one of the main reasons for being vegan, is out the window. For example, on average McDonald’s sells roughly 225 million hamburgers each year, worldwide. Using the method mentioned above (assuming there are no time restrictions), if McDonald’s was to collect a cubic inch of cells from just 84 cows, a year, they could run off that supply for the entire year, without killing any one of them (assuming the idea lab conditions, mentioned above). The second, having a healthier life, if you’ll wait one second, is out the window too. Since we do have laboratory conditions here, since we have full control over the development of the cells, it wouldn’t be to unreasonable to completely eliminate the fat and cholesterol from meat, effectively knocking out two of the reasons people try to avoid it. With some modifications to structure and flavor, it would also not be to unrealistic to cut out allergy educing effects from food like peanuts and milk, without sacrificing taste. Imagine being free from your food allergies once and for all, and finally getting to taste nuts, milk, gluten, wheat, eggs, fish, and many more. Obviously I’m no expert, and once again, I’m not entirely sure how this would work, but I have no doubt that in twenty years, it wouldn’t be too far from possibility. Think about how far we’ve come in the last twenty years with mobile devices, the internet, and what not.
In conclusion: Since the dawn of civilization, the practice of farming has been around, both helping and hindering humanity, at times, and now more than ever, faces some serious pressure from both health professionals, and corporate backers. With innovations in 3D printing, organic printing, and food synthetization coming out in recent years, it is entirely possible that within the next twenty years, we could be looking at a drastically changed food market, full of vegans that can eat meat without feeling bad, and see greatly reduced hunger problems around the world, as well as, some needed development for it.
Thanks for reading this article everyone. Once again, I can’t give you exact numbers or figures, but as a futurist, I can give your ideas, ideas that may impact the world one day, and I’d like to make it known that this is in fact a real possibility. If you felt like you were informed, or got something out of this, I would appreciate a like or a follow over on my social media pages. If you what to contribute to the discussion of this topic, feel free to leave a comment on this post, and I’ll be seeing you next week for some more articles, so don’t go away: I’ll be back.
Some sources I used are listed below:
Myself , Future Timeline , Wikipedia , About - Inventors , BBC , YouTube - SciShow , Wikipedia , NASA
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