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What is Next Nature?

With our attempts to cultivate nature, humankind causes the rising of a next nature, which is wild and unpredictable as ever. Wild systems, genetic surprises, autonomous machinery and splendidly beautiful black flowers. Nature changes along with us.

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Food Technology

modernist cuisine Photo Credit: Ryan Matthew Smith / Modernist Cuisine, LLC
Sweet, Sour, Salty, Science

Food is marketed as ‘wholesome’, ‘farm fresh’, and ‘all natural’, but there’s a whole lot more going on in that can of Pringles than plain fried potatoes.

Of all technologies, food technology does the best job of wrapping futuristic advancements in a veneer of old nature. Fake flavors become natural, while “fresh” food lasts for years. But don’t be deceived: bread comes from a can, eggs come from a tube, and everything else comes from the lab. With the development of molecular gastronomy and 3D printers, gastronomes have even taken industrial food science and turned it into an art.

The Spice Trade Expedition

The Spice Trade Expedition

Explorers Jon Cohrs and Ryan Van Luit travel by canoe past massive cargo ships and factories in search of the numerous artificial flavoring factories of New Jersey, the flavoring capital of the United States.

The Story of Our Food

Every time we eat a piece of food, we take a bite out of the world. All these small bites tell a dozen stories. A carton of eggs presents the story of contented hens, a bottle of olive oil the tale of Italian grandmothers. Yet these pastoral scenes barely hide the realities of a food system that leaves one billion people starving and another billion overweight. Moving beyond food-based fictions, how should we react to the truth?

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It is quite obvious that our food is not natural and hasn’t been so for a very long time.

Maartje Somers, The Story of Our Food

Digital Gastronomy

The food printer seems to be one of those lustrous concepts that continues to pop-up in the fantasy of techno-connoisseurs. Some years ago James King already proposed a printed designers steak after being inspired by the disembodied cuisine project. Since then we have seen inktjet printed sushi, the candy printer and the Philips molecular food printer.

While some are already dreaming of printing human organs, we are still waiting for an affordable food printer to arrive in our kitchen. Perhaps the …

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Food Design in the 21st Century

We want a printed steaksquare fishsticksdinosaur nuggetsorganic coca-cola,hyper fruitcloned meatpotato-free potato chipsfrankenweinvegetarian hamburgers and hypernatural tomatoes. We want vitamine+Q10 yoghurt that makes you loose weight. We want to hear the sound of a sausage when we bite it – we want notice how well designed that sausage sound really is.

Already for thousands of years people have been food designers. How will food technology develop itself into the 21th century? The Philips Food Design Probes investigate how we will eat and source our food in the future, like in 15 to 20 years. There are 3 products we might have in our homes by then:

Food Design in the 21st Century
With CandyFab, high-tech confectioners can 3D print with liquid sugar. With CandyFab, high-tech confectioners can 3D print with liquid sugar.

Natural-Born Junkies

Hippopotamus: a 2,5cm-long tablet-shaped nonliving chewable animal, member of a multi-species flock known as the Animal Parade, which tastes like fruit and is found in little pill boxes on supermarket shelves.

This definition of hippopotamus might seem exaggerated or even a bit ridiculous, and surely unnatural; but I’m afraid it is not, especially for little children. Supermarkets, pharmacies, and online ‘health’ stores are fraught with food (or energy if you prefer) supplements and their rapidly growing sub-category of specialized supplements for children, in which flora, fauna, chemistry and advertising blend together forming the strange nutritional abnormalities of the aforementioned kind.

I will not argue here whether it is beneficial or not for children to consume such supplements from a nutritional standpoint, because food is not just about calories, vitamins, and other kinds of quantitative analytics. Food is also a means for conceiving and apprehending the world, first through its form, taste, color, smell, structure and texture, but most importantly through its origins. No previous practice that alienated food from its distinguishing qualities (i.e. importing, packaging, off-season ‘greenhousing’, fast food) has ever been more successful than the design of food supplements. Food supplements are arbitrarily mashed and shaped, artificially colored and perfumed (with natural flavorings!), enhanced with magical features, and served in pill boxes. They are hyper-distillates of good things only, purged from anything bad, sanitized from the dirtiness and the impurity of the real world. Consuming them doesn’t comprise an experience at all; they have no origins, no actual points of reference; they are pure fiction employing biomimicmarketing to legitimize their existence; and (super)naturally, they are better than the real thing. Food …

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Want Ketchup with those Flies?

Want Ketchup with those Flies?

Industrial-scale in vitro meat may be a long way off, but for meat-lovers looking for a cheap, eco-friendly source of protein, there’s no need to wait. We just have to swear off creatures with four legs and a backbone and look to tasty livestock with an exoskeleton and six, eight, or a hundred legs.

Bugs Originals, based near Amsterdam, is trying to introduce arthropods as the food of the future. Originally associated with primitive lifestyles or times of famine, entomophagy- the eating of insects- may be an ideal solution for growing world with an appetite for protein.

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