Hugh Pickens writes writes "BBC reports that rising food prices, the growing population, and environmental concerns are just a few issues that have food futurologists thinking about what we will eat in the future and how we will eat it. In the UK, meat prices are anticipated to have a huge impact on our diets as some in the food industry prognosticate meat prices could double in the next five to seven years, making meat a luxury item. "In the West many of us have grown up with cheap, abundant meat," says Morgaine Gaye. "Rising prices mean we are now starting to see the return of meat as a luxury. As a result we are looking for new ways to fill the meat gap." Insects will become a staple of our diet. They cost less to raise than cattle, consume less water and do not have much of a carbon footprint. Plus, there are an estimated 1,400 species that are edible to man. "Things like crickets and grasshoppers will be ground down and used as an ingredient in things like burgers." But insects will need an image overhaul if they are to become more palatable to the squeamish Europeans and North Americans, says Gaye. "They will become popular when we get away from the word insects and use something like mini-livestock (PDF)." Another alternative would be lab grown meat as a recent study by Oxford University found growing meat in a lab rather than slaughtering animals would significantly reduce greenhouse gases, energy consumption and water use. Prof Mark Post, who led the Dutch team of scientists at Maastricht University that grew strips of muscle tissue using stem cells taken from cows, says he wants to make lab meat "indistinguishable" from the real stuff, but it could potentially look very different. Finally algae could provide a solution to some the world's most complex problems, including food shortages as some in the sustainable food industry predict algae farming could become the world's biggest cropping industry. Like insects, algae could be worked into our diet without us really knowing by using seaweed granules to replace salt in bread and processed foods. "The great thing about seaweed is it grows at a phenomenal rate," says Dr Craig Rose, executive director of the Seaweed Health Foundation. "It's the fastest growing plant on earth.""
The tree of research must from time to time be refreshed with the blood
of bean counters.
-- Alan Kay