Julian Spector is a former editorial fellow at CityLab, where he covers climate change, energy, and clean tech.
Anticipating a future of climate change and population growth, a group of artists cooked up renderings of more sustainable, meatless "meatballs."
People won’t be eating the same way 20 years from now.
The commercial meat industry is wildly unsustainable, ecologically speaking, and the UN has estimated that food demand will increase 70 percent by 2050. To keep the world’s ever-growing population fed, we’re going to need some alternate sources of protein to go mainstream.
One group is using the humble meatball as a vehicle to explore what the future of food could look like. The creative team at Space10—a “future-living lab” in Copenhagen sponsored by the company that franchises IKEA—decided to visualize this transition by making and photographing “meatballs” composed of eight viable meat substitutes.
The “meatballs” range from the Mighty Powder Ball—all distilled nutrients without the texture or color that makes food delectable—to the Crispy Bug Ball, which mixes wax moth larvae with mashed potato, pumpkin, and cheese. Creative director Kaave Pour writes in an email to CityLab that they wanted people to get more familiar with foods they hadn’t considered palatable before—after all, he says, people in 80 percent of the world’s nations dine on a total of 1,000 insect species.
”If you had never seen a shrimp before,” Pour writes, “would you think it looked delicious? It is a stalk-eyed insect-looking animal with long whiskers, small legs, and a long tail, and some turn pink when cooked. Would you eat that? Yes, because you are familiar with shrimp and know it tastes delicious.”
These aren’t meant as literal predictions of how we’ll eat, notes chef and food designer Simon Perez, who created most of the models with produce from his urban farm in Copenhagen. For now, then, feast with your eyes—and later, maybe, with your mouth.