Tag: Supermarket

growing fruit into packaging
Economology

Growing Fruit into Its Own “Juice Box”

Brazilian ad agency AGE Isobar spent two years experimenting in order to grow fruits into the shape of Camp’s juice boxes. Immature limes, guavas and passionfruit were packed inside of plastic molds. As they grew, they took on the form of a box and the logo of the brand.

The stunt ostensibly goes to show that Camp’s fruit juice is all-natural. Though it’s only a marketing gimmick, we can still hope for the days that food produces its own packaging – or be content knowing that bananas already do.

Story and images via Design Taxi.

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Design-for-debate

A Winery in your Microwave

A delicious Montepulciano in only 6 seconds? This is now possible with the universal Nano wine. All you need is a microwave oven.

In 5,64 seconds at 1000 watt you have a sublime Romanée-Conti. Or create a surprisingly young Mouton-Rothschild 1945 in only 2,34 seconds at 650 watt. The possibilities are endless. The wine contains millions of nano capsules which depending on your mood and taste preferences can be activated by microwaves. Inactivated nano capsules move unnoticed through the body, while the opened capsules alter the taste, smell and color of the wine. Sweet!

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Food Technology

Glass Gem Corn Looks Like Jewelry

Most corn has been selectively bred over the centuries to be a single color: yellow, white or blue. Glass gem corn, a varietal grown by Greg Schoen, harkens back to the days when each kernel of corn was a different color. This variation is due to the fact that, rather than being identical, all the kernels are genetically distinct siblings.

The glass gem echoes the jewel caterpillar, another organism than by dint of its otherworldly beauty recently went from natural phenomena to internet phenomena. Even though we live in a time where computer graphics make every chimeric beast and landscape visible, we’re still just as – or even more –interested in natural freaks as our ancestors who once flocked to fairs and sideshows.

Corn 2.0 Survival of the cheapest By Sean Serafini
Food Technology

Corn 2.0: Survival of the Cheapest

Congrats to Sean Serafini, the winner of our April Next Nature Spotter contest. While we received many images of fake nature, Sean’s entry delves deeper into more diverse next natural concepts. As Sean pointed out in his title, these foods are engaging in something like natural selection, competing against one another for the consumer’s attention. Thanks to packaging, marketing, and all-natural flavors, food technology has differentiated one crop  – corn – into a cornucopia of different foods.

Sean, please contact us with your mailing info we can send you a copy of the Next Nature book.

Want to win your own copy of our book? The new Next Nature Spotter contest runs until July 31. Simply download our free iPhone app and start snapping. Don’t worry if you don’t have an iPhone – send your photos to submit@nextnature.net with “Next Nature Spotter” in the subject line.

Bring your phone or camera to the mall, to school, to your cubicle or your beach vacation. Let us know what you see. Entries will be judged on visual appeal and applicability to next nature concepts such as hypernature, manufactured animals, and anthropomorphobia. For more examples, check out our theme pages and FAQs.

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Food Technology

Algae in the Supermarket

As mentioned earlier, the world seems obsessed with algae. Not limited to producing light or energy, algae has also found its way to our plate as a new vegetable, and maybe even as a substitute for meat or fish.

As we all know, the world’s rapidly growing population is making it even harder to feed everyone. According to the Dutch company Phycom, the current food production system puts pressure on food quality and security, which will eventually become a great risk to public health. In response, the company developed ‘Essentials’:  Algae separated from water, and then dried from a sort of wet, green paste to powder.

According to Phycom, algae are the new vegetables. They’re 100% natural, and contain more fiber than leeks. Filled with protein, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, algae powder is already being processed into certain food products. A two-year research project supported by the Dutch government, slated to come out this year, will find out whether one day algae can become a substitute for meat.

If the results are positive, not only will we eat less meat, we may also stop chopping down trees for soya plantations, and possibly create employment for future algae farmers. Besides being used to produce light and biofuel, will algae also be the solution to the world’s food problems?

cutie orange
Food Technology

Creating the World’s Cutest Fruit

Just like corn, bananas, and essentially any other plant we cultivate, the Cutie mandarin is the result of a concerted effort to produce an ideal food. Mandarin oranges come from wild orange trees that grew in India, possibly as long as three millennia ago. Introduced to the West in the 19th century, the mandarin has since been carefully bred, even irradiated, to bring tasty new mutations to market.

The Cutie’s peel comes off like zipper. The fruit is small, seedless, and sugar-sweet. Gone is the hassle of wrangling with a tough peel, or spitting out pips with every bite. The Cutie is, in fact, about as close to a candy bar as a fruit can get. There’s even a saccharine marketing campaign to go along with them: Cuties are made for kids.

The mandarin’s perfection, however, dispenses with a relationship that’s as old as flowering plants. Like all citrus, Cuties produce seeds when they’re pollinated. To produce a dependable snack, Cutie growers must protect their orchards from bees and other pollinators via nets, physical isolation, or other means. Effectively fencing out bees from huge sources of nectar, this widespread farming practice may be a contributing factor to hive collapse. Developers of the Tango, another mandarin variety, have bypassed this issue by producing a completely sterile fruit.

Via Smithsonian Magazine.

homemadevanilla
Food Technology

Real Vanilla is Natural, but Natural Vanilla is Fake

What most gourmands would define as “real” and “natural” vanilla flavoring is simple: Vanilla beans steeped in alcohol. But vanillin, the chemical responsible for vanilla’s taste and flavor, is a far more complicated beast. Chemically identical to real vanilla, artificial vanilla can be made from clove oil, pine bark, coal tar, bran, even cow dung. Until fairly recently, the chemical lignin, derived from wood pulp, was the most common way of synthesizing vanillin. Most artificial vanilla is now derived from guaiacol, a chemical derived from creosote or Guaiacum flowers.

The United States Food and Drug Administration has thrown a hint of confusion (and a note of lychee) into the cut-and-dry definitions of “real” and “fake” vanilla. Any flavor derived from edible sources can be labeled a natural flavor. Therefore, vanillin made from bacterial fermentation of corn or rice bran is a “natural” vanilla flavor – just not “real” vanilla flavor. However, vanillin made from cow dung, while natural in all senses, is not legally “natural”, because dung normally isn’t a source of food.

If this legalese has given you a headache, try some real/natural/artificial vanilla aromatherapy. Most people prefer the fake stuff anyway, if they can even taste the difference at all.

Via Edible Geography.

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Meat the Future

Hybrid Meat

On society’s search to becoming a meatless one, several new kinds of ‘meat’ pop up in the food industry. From so called ‘hybrid’ meatballs, to ‘the chicken that isn’t’, when will we really stop eating meat and long for substitutes?

According to 23 producers of meat substitutes, called Het Planeet, this will actually be in the nearby future. They produce substitutes based on soy, lupins and peas, but also on proteins like insects and algae. Het Planeet claims that the biggest threshold is not the quality, but the acceptance and perception of these protein ingredients and products. That quality should no longer become an issue, became quite clear during a taste test at the castle of Woerden in January. The battle between whole meat and hybrid meatballs turned out quite tough, since the best meatball was a whole meat one, while the second best turned out to be a hybrid: a combination of meat and 30 percent plant product. Replacing 30 percent of a piece of meat by plant product will, according to Het Planeet, cause a 15 percent reduction in meat consumption per person.

Meanwhile, in Missouri, they are less subtle in replacing a nice piece of meat. Their soy-based chicken substitute not only replicates the taste of real chicken, it also mimics the same texture and appearance  of real chicken meat. Over 20 years of research has made it possible to produce something that has nothing to do with chicken, but according to the New York Times, certainly shreds like one. Sounds like acceptance is on its way.

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Dynamic-architecture

The “Plantascraper” Sprouts in Sweden

We’re used to seeing proposals for high-tech vertical farms that never seem to translate to real life, but the city of Linköping in Sweden has finally taken these buildings out of the realm of glossy CG models. Plantagon International is building a 17-story vertical greenhouse, slated to open by 2013, that will have a “transportation helix” to transfer vegetables and grains within its enormous spherical space. The greenhouse promises to parasitize  on the excess heat, CO2 and waste produced by the city, using it for warmth and fertilizer. The design cuts transportation costs, and perhaps most impressively, promises the equivalent of 100,000 square meters of arable land on a 10,000 square meter footprint. Still no word on whether building a gigantic steel and glass structure is more carbon-efficient than conventional farming, but retrofitting existing office buildings might help take care of this problem.